The Body Song

I’m currently on maternity leave, and some of my colleagues have been kind enough to share their expertise through guest posts throughout the summer. The following comes to you from Michelle Erfurt, MT-BC.

This is the “Body Song” from Psalty’s Singing Song Book. Just like the name implies, the song talks about the purpose of a few body parts… the eyes, brain, heart, arms and ears. In this video, I share the song and an activity tip.

Listen to the recorded version here.

Michelle Erfurt

Michelle holds a B.S. in Music Therapy from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania as well as nationally recognized Board Certification. Michelle has also completed specialized trainings in Neurologic Music Therapy and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Music Therapy. She currently provides music therapy clinical services at Treasure Coast Hospice. Michelle also serves as the Membership Committee Chairperson and Student Advisor for the South Eastern Regional chapter of the American Music Therapy Association. Michelle also shares her tips for other music therapists through her blog, Music Therapy Tween.


Another Beautiful Day

I’m currently on maternity leave, and some of my colleagues have been kind enough to share their expertise through guest posts throughout the summer. The following comes to you from Wade Richards, LCAT, MT-BC.

“Another Beautiful Day” was a song improvisation I created for one of my groups consisting of young adults with special needs. It was just after lunch, everyone was trying to keep cool in the air conditioning, while the weather outside was sunny and hot. I noticed that some students seemed to have that “I have a headache” kind of look going on. You know, not as perky as usual, squinty eyes, hands over ears, insisting on putting their sunglasses on, or heads down on the lunch table.

I decided to lower the sensory bar a bit, so as the students came into the group, I turned off the lights (only letting in the lights from the window, and doorways to come through), picked up a frame drum, and decided we would work on a chant where each student would add in their own phrase about what they like to do outside when it’s a nice day. This was a great way to work on expressive language skills.

Throughout the song I encouraged participation by singing vowel sounds, taking breaths, and incorporating some tension/relaxation exercises. Each person was given a turn to play the drum softly and sing their line about what they like to do outside. After going around to 3 people, I would ask the group questions about what each person liked to do. This was a great way to bring attention and focus to each person in the group during the experience, and also work on memory skills. Using a simple drum pattern to accompany the voice is a great way to chill out on a hot day.

Another Beautiful Day

Another beautiful day.
Another beautiful day.
Let’s go outside and swing on the swing.
Let’s go outside and swing on the swing.

Another beautiful day.
Another beautiful day.
Let’s go outside and walk through the park.
Let’s go outside and walk through the park.

Another beautiful day.
Another beautiful day.
Let’s go outside and swim in the pool.
Let’s go outside and swim in the pool.

Another beautiful day.
Another beautiful day.
Let’s go outside and play in the backyard.
Let’s go outside and play in the backyard.

Another beautiful day.
Another beautiful day.

Wade created “What a Rainy Day” as a follow up experience to “Another Beautiful Day”. Members of Listen & Learn Plus! can read on to hear the song and find out how it can be used to address expressive language skills.

Wade Richards, LCAT, MT-BC received his Bachelor of Science degree in music therapy and applied voice from S.U.N.Y at Fredonia. He completed his internship at the Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in Binghamton, New York. He has been providing music therapy services in the Greater Rochester, New York area for close to 20 years.

Wade has served as Chair of the Music Therapy Department and Orff-Schulwerk Department at the Hochstein School of Music & Dance, and Program Director of the Trinity Assistance Corporation Blue Ridge Music Therapy Center. Currently, he is an instructor in the Music Education Department at the Eastman School of Music. Wade has pursued additional training in Orff-Schulwerk, Neurologic Music Therapy, and Performance Wellness.

The Sewist Behind the Stretchy Band

I’m currently on maternity leave, and some of my colleagues have been kind enough to share their expertise through guest posts throughout the summer. The following comes to you from Bear Paw Creek owner Janet Stephens, who creates many of the wonderful movement props I use and love.

As a child, my dream was always to be a wife and mom. I got married while living in Alaska in 1997 with a baby soon to follow in 1998. My husband and I wanted to raise our family in the “Lower 48,” so the fall of 1999 found us moving to Missouri.

Part of my dream was to be able to stay home with my children. Shortly after our move, I was trying to figure out a way to bring in some income. Enter my big sister with an idea. She was a self-employed music therapist and discovered a need for movement props and endless quantities of fabric bags to stay organized–my sewing business was born.

I started creating and sewing stretchy bands, bean bags, Q Chord cases, tone chime cases, puppets, and tote bags. I started on the sewing machine I purchased in high school but soon found the need for my first of several industrial sewing machines. Those were the days before YouTube had tutorials on how to use industrial machines. It has been a continual learning experience.

In the spring of 2012, I took Kat Fulton’s fantastic Online Zenn Course and started working on building my web presence. My favorite outcomes of the class are the connections I made and “meeting” some of the people that actually use what I sew. It’s a pretty humbling and awesome experience to see and hear first hand how they are used.

While my sister was visiting last year, we were able to do a video shoot showcasing the stretchy band. Rachel Rambach wrote a fantastic song especially for the event. Here is one of the long awaited videos.

We also have a new and exciting Stretchy Band “cousin” going to be released soon. Can you imagine a stretchy band that can be used in a straight line and then connected together, combining different sizes for your needs? Watch for the Connect-a-Band™ coming out soon! Come get connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. You’ll be the first to know about our new products and sale events.

As always, our products are proudly made in America. So are all seven of my children–my dreams being fulfilled!

5 Essentials for Hiring the Best Music Therapist for your Team

I’m currently on maternity leave, and many of my colleagues have been kind enough to share their expertise through guest posts throughout the summer. The following comes to you from Kat Fulton, MM, MT-BC, NICU MT.

It was just exactly a year ago that I alone was pushing 20-25 clinical hours per week, which means 50 hours of work including documentation and driving, plus blogging, plus preparations for the July launch of this massive online CMTE library. It was absolutely impossible to travel, because that would mean canceling sessions. Or even worse – rescheduling! Have you ever noticed that when you’re a one-woman (or man) show, scheduling/rescheduling/finding-subs is insane?

I asked for help, and I got it!
We’re now a team of 3 music therapists. My schedule this week follows: I ran 3 MT drumming sessions, volunteered at a kids camp (Camp Kesem – with kids affected by cancer), took some continuing education, completed some planning for the company, took on 2 consulting clients via phone, and met with my amazing team members. I planned ahead for some traveling.

I’ve completely reshaped my entire life in the past year. This is not to say that I’m not busy anymore…. but I’ve learned that I don’t have to do it all by myself. I’ve experienced first-hand how I can definitely *have* it all, but I don’t have to *do* it all. (See Marie Forleo for more nuggets like that one.)

What accelerated the evolution
The most rewarding professional changes in these last 12 months have been collaborating with others through hiring. I’ve worked with sub-contractors for many years, but when it came to employees, I had no clue how to get started.

Here’s how it happened: A good friend packed her bags and left San Diego in October 2012. The hospital program she built from zero to 35 hours per week in 10 months was also left behind. I offered to step in and help continue to build the program as an employee in December 2012. I ended up assisting the hospital in the interim.

Both the hospital and my clients were in full disclosure of my respective work. And my private clients needed to be served. So I hired someone full-time to take over my private clients. After two weeks of training and orientation, she was all set, and I could help build the hospital program.

Notice how smart the hospital was when their all-star music therapist left . . . The hospital decided to hire not ONE, but TWO therapists to take on the work. How clever is that? They hired one for most of the hours, then a second MT for overflow hours. In this case it was perfect: I took the lead with more experience, and the second MT, who was new to the field, could get supervision along the way.

When April came around, I decided to pass the baton to the second MT, for her to take off running with the program. I shifted 150% of my focus back to my business. We were able to solidify some programs at the hospital, and all this shifting in the past few months has been motivating for all three aspects: in my own professional growth, for the hospital’s MT program, AND for my business.

I would have never predicted this —
The wildest part of it all was— My first employee’s first day on the job marked our biggest revenue day for Music Therapy Ed…. by over 5Xs. I really believe it was a Divine message saying “You will make payroll. Don’t worry.”

But here’s my honest opinion— Looking back, I could have and *should* have hired an employee long ago. I could have easily combined my sub-contractors’ work with a few of my own hours and hired. It would’ve made my life easier AND helped us grow faster, building our base of clients.

What was holding me back? Fear of not making payroll. Fear that my clients wouldn’t pay us. Fear that the new MT will do something to tarnish my reputation.

Making decisions based on fear stunts your growth.
At one point earlier this year, I was juggling 3 jobs at the same time! I felt like I had multiple personalities. I know intellectually that if you try serving *everyone* then you end up serving no one. But it is difficult to take that first step, or LEAP rather.

I am thankful for all this experience because here’s the silver lining: Having the hospital work gave me the confidence to hire an employee.

But if your vision includes building a business, a strong brand, long-term loyal loving clients, and continued growth, then I would encourage you to start NOW – whether you have 1 or 91 clients. Take the first steps. Write the job description. Be the future YOU looking back into the present. (See Tim Ringgold for more nuggets like that one.)

Aside from the legal contracts, NDAs, and writing out your operational documents, here are 5 essentials for hiring the best music therapist for your team:

1. Nothing happens until you write the job description. If your schedule is full, then you’re ready to hire an employee. Heck, even if your schedule is not full and it makes sense in your situation, then you’re ready. It all depends upon your needs and vision for the business. But most importantly, start creating the sample schedule and job description NOW. Even if you’re going to hire for only 1 hour/wk.

2. Run the numbers. Look at your budget in a spreadsheet, talk to your accountant, and decide how to shape the position. What benefits will you offer? Why is it appealing to work with your company? What is aligned with your mission, vision, and values?

3. Hire someone who is willing to help you BUILD the business. It is rare that a business runs steady for years. Businesses either grow or decline. There is no other option. (See my dad for more nuggets like that one.)In a small business, *everyone* on the team is part of marketing. Don’t remove marketing from someone’s job description if you’re a team of less than 10! Also make sure they understand your vision and direction of your company.

4. Read The M-Factor: How The Millennial Generation Is Rocking The Workplace. I’m reading it now, and I’m learning what exactly motivates Millenials! There has been some discussion in the music therapy business owners FB forum about dealing with these “spoiled rotten, entitled Millenial people graduating from college now.” =) I say, let’s find out what motivates them, let’s understand them on a deep psychological level, and let’s RUN with it! This is not an “us versus them” situation. Chin up my baby boomer and gen-x business owner friends! Let’s welcome the Millenials warmly with all of their quirks. Then let’s help them radiate.

5. Hire someone who is NOT entrepreneurial… ? Thanks to my friend Julie Palmieri’s recommendation, I recently signed up for The Download. This topic is covered extensively in the first edition. Quite honestly, I don’t expect anyone to work with my company for 10 years or longer. I’m open to someone staying on for 10 years, but that’s not my expectation. This is the career climate of 2013 and beyond! It’s rare that someone (especially a Millenial) stays on for over 5-10 years with the same company. So, I am absolutely open to hiring an entrepreneurial personality to help sky-rocket the business with their entrepreneurial energy. Most importantly we must continue having conversations around career aspirations over time with our team members.

That’s what I got! As always, nothing is complete without help from the community! What is YOUR hiring process? What’s important to you as a hiring business owner? Let speak openly about this topic – Please share your comments below.

Kat Fulton, MM, MT-BC, NICU MT, is the founder of Sound Health Music and curator of Music Therapy Ed, a site dedicated to online continuing education for music therapists. Kat is a speaker and board-certified music therapist whose passion is achieving therapeutic goals through making music. Simply put, her motto is Be well, feel good, and make MUSIC. With a Masters in Music Therapy from The Florida State University (headquarters for the National Institute for Infant and Child Medical Music Therapy), she holds high standards for scientific research and maintains a practice infused with the latest evidence-based techniques and strategies.

Kat is pleased to be associated with Remo® as an endorsed facilitator. She maintains professional membership in the American Music Therapy Association, Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, and the Drum Circle Facilitators Guild.

Sensational Ideas for Working With Children With Autism (Part 1)

I’m currently on maternity leave, and many of my colleagues have been kind enough to share their expertise via guest posts throughout the summer. The following comes to you from Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC.

Child on therapy ball

I am constantly on the lookout for ways to improve my skills as a music therapist, aren’t you?

I find it fun and motivating to discover more and more effective ideas for engaging children in music therapy and connecting with them through music.

The children I work with at both my full-time job at UCP’s Early Beginnings Academy and in my private practice, Wholesome Harmonies, are primarily diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

One of the main things that enhanced my work with these children is co-treating with occupational therapists who specialize in sensory integration. Through these co-treatments, I began to learn about the unique sensory needs of children with ASD and brainstorm how I can address those needs in a therapeutic music experience.

In a session where I have children who are “sensory-seeking” (those are the ones jumping and crashing into things, seeking sensory input), I always ‘start with sensory.’I’ve found that if I “feed” that sensory need by providing the children with a sensory integration experience such as jumping on the trampoline or bouncing on the therapy ball, they are better able to attend to and engage in the subsequent music therapy activities.

Here is a video showcasing an example of one sensory integration experience I use in my sessions with children with ASD:

In this video, the children are receiving proprioceptive and vestibular input by bouncing on a therapy ball, while the music is organizing the whole experience. The lyrics cue the children to bounce and stop; and the rhythmic beat and tempo tell the children how fast to be bouncing. All these elements work together to create an experience that is appropriate and beneficial to the children.

This activity can be extended by having the children move in different ways on the therapy ball: they could lay on the ball on their stomach and bounce up and down, or they could lay on the ball on their stomach and roll front two back, using their arms and legs to push themselves back and forth (I hear a nice 6/8 accompaniment in my head for this one!)

The ideas are endless…why not meet with an occupational therapist and find out some other ways you can utilize the therapy ball in your music therapy sessions?

This is just Part One of a series I am starting on Music Therapy & Sensory Integration on my blog, Wholesome Harmonies. Want to stay up to date on the next installments? Click here to hop on the list!

Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BCAmy Kalas, MM, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist with eight years of experience working with children and adolescents with special needs. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy (2005) and Master’s degree in Music Therapy (2010) from University of Miami. Amy has been employed at United Cerebral Palsy of Miami as a music therapist, practicum supervisor, and internship director since 2006. She recently accepted the position of Interim Professor of Music Therapy at University of Miami.

Amy is also the owner of Wholesome Harmonies, LLC, where she provides music therapy services in the Miami area. She is the author of two E-Books: Tuneful Teens: Creative Ideas for Engaging Adolescents in Music Therapy and Sensational Songs & Ideas: Sensory-Based Ideas for Music Therapy. You can visit the website and blog for Wholesome Harmonies at

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