Being a Music Therapist During the Holiday Season

Well, Christmas has passed and the New Year is almost here. To my fellow music therapists out there: Congrats! You’ve almost made it through the holiday season!

The holidays bring so much joy, cheer, excitement, and fun; they always provide for an interesting music-making experience. This is my first holiday season as a music therapist, and I’ve noticed just a few things:


Five Tall Trees

Five Tall Trees

I’ve been on a seasonal counting kick these last few months, which you know full well if you’ve been in a music therapy session or early childhood class at Music Therapy Connections this fall. In September we counted apples, in October we counted pumpkins, and right now we’re counting trees.

In keeping with the theme, we use five laminated “trees” cut of of green construction paper to accompany the song Five Tall Trees, which always brings our helpers to the front of the room during class (my son Parker is usually the first to run up and assist in counting!).

Counting trees during early childhood music class

Each time we take away a tree, we count the remaining trees, so our students get a lot of practice counting up to 5, 4, 3, 2, and then 1. We point to the trees as well as hold up the correct number of fingers, which encourages them to do so as well.

This song template is super simple, but it is a favorite in every session. Time to start planning counting songs — and making the visuals to go with them — for the winter months!

Members of Listen & Learn Plus! have access to this song along with just about everything else in my resource library and collection — come over and join us!

Learn more about Listen & Learn Plus

Christmas Song Round-Up!

Christmas Songs for Children

It’s holiday crunch time: those last few days before winter break when I try to fit in as many seasonal songs and activities as I can, because I know I won’t have the chance again for an entire year. I love, love, love Christmas time, especially the music, which is why I have been inspired to write so many original songs over the year.

I’m doing my best to make use of them, many of which I’m sharing with you below in case you need a little extra inspiration in the remaining days before Christmas.

It’s hard not to “catch the spirit” when you work with children every single day. This time of year feels so magical, which I try to capture and put into words with this song. It’s a great way to share in the excitement of this time of year with my little ones.

I wanted to write a song that includes all of the winter holidays, and one thing that they have in common is the lights — whether they are on the Christmas tree or glowing on top of lit candles. “Lights, Lights, Lights” has a mellow feel to it, which is a nice contrast to most of my more upbeat seasonal songs.

“Red and Green” is a song I’ve been having so much fun singing and playing in my holiday-themed early childhood music class this month. We use red and green colored shakers so that there is a visual component to the song, and take turns holding up and shaking the correct colored shakers as we sing about each.

You know I love a good counting song, and aside from the old standby, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, I rely on this one. “Ten Twinkling Trees” is all about picking out the perfect tree, and also works on counting backwards from 10 to 1.

My students seem to have a LOT of extra energy right about now, which of course is completely understandable! That’s where a movement song comes in handy, especially one where they can help come up with fun ways to work out all that energy. “Spread Christmas Cheer” is set to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, and I always sing the traditional lyrics at the end of the song.

One of the big topics of discussion with many of my students is how they will spend their holiday break. This song is a great way to get the conversation going, and prompt them to share their plans for spending time with family, traveling, or whatever other fun things they’ll be doing over those two weeks I won’t see them.

We all know the traditional song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, but there aren’t many songs out there dedicated to those other reindeer that help fly Santa’s sleigh. I wrote two songs just for them, both of which are included in this little album (which, as a bonus, also comes with the lead sheets and instrumental tracks).

I have just 5 more working days left to enjoy these songs along with the other many classics we all know and love. Let’s all go forth and “spread Christmas cheer” with all these musical goodies!

Rudolph & Co.

Reindeer Songs for Kids

Every December, I get to sing reindeer songs with lots of excited children at my church’s annual Breakfast with Santa event. This year just might have been the most fun yet, because my little boy was old enough to attend. He joined right in with the rest of the kids, playing instruments and singing along.

There are a few key ingredients to our reindeer singalong: castanets and rhythm sticks (because how else do you make reindeer hoof sounds!?) and the perfect tunes. “Do You Hear the Reindeer?” and “The Other Eight Reindeer” are two original songs that I wrote just for this occasion, and we round out our singalong with the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.

Reindeer Songs for Children

Since I get so much use out of these songs every year, I bundled them up — along with their instrumental tracks and notated lead sheets — into one little album. Listen to the songs below, and click through to get it for yourself.

Catch the Spirit

Catch the Spirit

We’ve caught the spirit BIG TIME in my house, and spread it to all of our friends and family at our annual “Tis the Season” holiday party last night. It’s highly contagious, but in the best possible way ;)

Honestly, though, I’ve been filled with the spirit for a couple of weeks now, thanks to all of my wonderful students coming through the door brimming with excitement about Christmas break and presents and everything else that come along with the holidays.

They inspired me to write this week’s song, which is all about catching the spirit of this time of year, and then spreading it to others. It’s one of those songs that just makes me feel good inside; I hope it puts a smile on your face and some cheer in your heart.

How are you spending this Christmas Eve? After some serious sleeping in and cleaning up after the festivities last night, I’m enjoying a relaxing day at home before dinner, church, and more holiday parties this evening. Have fun, be careful, and Merry Christmas!