Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Round Two!

Tomorrow officially starts my second year as a full time music therapist in a public school setting.

My caseload will be pretty much the same, and a majority of the classrooms will be in the same places, same teachers, etc..

For any of you who are new to reading my blog, I am a board certified music therapist who serves approximately 34 classrooms throughout the school year.

I travel to about 18 classrooms each week to do 30 minute music therapy sessions, and each classroom sees me every other week. I serve students(in our county they are labeled Low Incidence), from preK all the way up to high school (this includes a wide variety of developmental disabilities, Autism, etc.).

It's quite a schedule to juggle, but overall it has a lot of great moments.

At the end of this past school year, I made a list of things that helped me and things that I need to remember. So, I'm sharing my list today in hopes that it helps someone else out there in the wide world of the internet. :)

Ten things you need to remember:

1. Be yourself (You are the only person who can be you. The more you are you-the more you will learn about yourself and changes you may want to make.)

2. Check any baggage at the door. (The students deserve it.)

3. Make a point of asking how the teacher is doing. (Sometimes you will be the only one who cares to ask on a given day)

4. Count students in the classroom (this will mentally help you plan activities on the spot, divide instruments, and help you know if someone leaves the session unexpectedly)

5. Have some sort of structure to your sessions that the students can follow. (You don't have to do the same songs all the time, but be predictable on a few).

6. Compliment hard work when you see it. (This goes for the students, teachers, staff, etc. Everyone needs to know that you can tell they are making a difference.)

7. Find quiet time to think and reflect. (This is really important. Think and plan your next session. Reflect on what worked, why it worked, how interventions can work better, who you can ask for input, who else knows the student and can provide insight, what can you do different,etc. )

8. Think of at least 2-3 interventions to use with your favorite songs to use in sessions. (You can't always predict what's going to happen on any given day and this will help you be flexible.)

9. Give yourself time. (To reflect, to read, to grow, to improve, to observe, to vent, to practice, to listen, to laugh, to appreciate, to evaluate, etc.)

10. Always remember that you can never predict how your music will reach a person on any given day. Music is the universal language, and we all need it in our lives.

Friday, August 12, 2011


What is PS22?

PS22 is the name of an AMAZING chorus directed by Gregg Breinberg, and composed of 60-70 fifth-graders from a public school in Staten Island, New York (Public School 22). This choir has been singing and performing since the year 2000 and has already performed with an amazingly long list of major music artists!

PS22 is the largest elementary school in Staten Island which draws students from a wide cross section of ethnic groups and socio-economic levels.

The chorus has become a bonafide internet sensation over the last few years, and after you see some of their videos and hear them, you'll understand why!

I guarantee you will be blown away by the chorus itself, but while you're watching, be sure to observe how many students are actively engaged in the music and singing, how many students are singing whole-heartedly, and how much this chorus means to them!

They are truly an awesome chorus in my opinion and music is definitely a universal language for them. I'm posting two of their many songs they have sung. They are so good I couldn't just post one!

You can find more of their songs and videos on youtube. Just search PS22 chorus.
You can also find out current info and the latest news about PS22 on their blog here.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A shape called a Circle

The school year is fastly approaching and I've been going through my bank of songs the past few days.

I have been going over many of my "standards" I use in classrooms each week, and also sorting through songs that I want to make more interesting, motivating, catchy,etc..

So, here's a song I wrote and recorded yesterday about circles. I think it's more catchy and motivating than the song I usually use to teach about the shape of a circle. I can't wait to use it with the students in the schools I serve!

In terms of using this song in sessions, I plan on singing it while we show and play circles (Remo shape drums are awesome for this in particular!), and also with some of the younger, severe profound young students, we'll try using a 10" or larger hand drum and hand over hand, help them rub their palms on the drum in a circular motion while we sing about the circles. The sensory stimulation should be good for them too. :) I'm also planning on trying to move some of the groups that are mostly in wheelchairs in a circle formation. I think it will be a lot of fun!

So, here's the song below. I'll post the song sheet for it soon-maybe even tomorrow!

Having a Conversation Song Sheet

Welcome back!

Yesterday, I posted a new song called Having a Conversation.
If you missed the post, you can read and hear it here.

Today's post is the song sheet for that song. The lyrics and chords are included on the song sheet.

Song sheets are totally free here at More with Music, so please let me know if you would like a song sheet for any of the other songs I've posted.

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Having a Conversation

For some children and adolescents with developmental delays (and other various special needs), having a conversation with someone can be a very complex task.

In order to have a conversation with someone, you have to understand numerous social skills. You have to understand turn taking, attending to and paying attention to what someone else is saying. You also need to be able to comprehend what the person is saying, talking about,etc..

I have had this song in my head for about a month now, and I finally decided to put it into action and hear how it would sound! I think the end product is good, and this song could definitely be personalized for individual children and their particular goals (speech goals, social skill phrases,etc.).

In music therapy sessions, I would definitely slow down the tempo when practicing the conversation parts of this song with students.

So, without further delay, here it is and I will post the song sheet for this song tomorrow.

I hope your week is off to a great start! Be sure to come back soon! :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer is Hot, Hot, Hot Song Sheet

Welcome back!

We had some much needed rain here in North Carolina today, but it is still hot!

I know we haven't been having the hottest temperatures compared to other states in the US, but it still feels hot and humid when we step outside here in NC.

Today's post is directly related to the heat outside. I'm sharing the song sheet for a song I posted back in June called, "Summer is Hot, Hot, Hot!" I'll post the song also, in case you need a refresher. :)

I hope all of you are finding ways to stay cool as the summer season continues to run its course. Be sure to stop back soon!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Taking on Bullying

Bullying among school-aged youth is a significant problem, and it continues to increase.

It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. (National Education Association)

One in seven students is either a bully or victim.
56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school.
71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.

In order to reduce bullying in schools, students need to be taught how to deal with situations where bullies confront them.

One such band, Debbie and Friends, is taking on bullying with younger children in a very creative way- with music!

In their new song and dance number called, "Walk Away", they introduce the basic ideas of bullying and that you should "just walk away, no matter what they say."

Below is their storyboard preview to go along with the song. The finished cartoon will be out in September 2011.

You can also check out a previous post here on More with Music called Hands are not for Hitting here.

Do you know other songs that deal with bullying and how to deal with being bullied? Please share if you do!

As always, thanks for stopping by and stop back soon for More with Music!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


We all make mistakes, every single one of us.

Awhile back, another great music therapy blogger posted a song she remembered her mother singing to her as a child about mistakes. You can find Michelle Erfurt's mistake song over at The Music Therapy Tween here.

Well, I really liked that song, and then today I stumbled across a children's book that addresses the same topic, making mistakes, and also has a song! How cool!

The book is called Beautiful Oops and it is written by Barney Saltzberg.

It's really okay to make mistakes, and sometimes it takes awhile for all students to learn just that.

Here's a peak at Barney Saltzberg's book and song!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Bare Necessities

What are your bare necessities in your work as a Music Therapist?

I was recently talking to another music therapy friend of mind, and the topic of our conversation was how different our bare necessities are on a daily basis. The populations and age groups of the clients really do influence which instruments and extras we pack to take along.

So, I thought it would be interesting to share this discussion and hopefully get some feedback and sharing going on.

I think any feedback could be beneficial to music therapy students, in terms of helping them to plan ahead and know what kinds of rhythm instruments they should start purchasing while they're still in school. Starting early sure makes growing a rhythm instrument collection easier, and in some ways cheaper!

So, to start us off, my bare necessities are:

My guitar!
A set of egg shakers (12 shakers at least, variety of colors helpful)
A set of adapted wrist egg shakers (at least one set of 2)
A set of lummi sticks/rhythm sticks (again, 6 pairs at least)
1-2 hand drums (10 or 12" preferably)
Bells (therabells preferrably, set of 6)
Cabasa (at least 2 of them)
Clatterpillar (at least 2 of them. Believe me-they are popular with most clients!)

There are tons of extra things you can pack as well (extra visuals, books, pictures, communication cards, voice output devices,etc.), but those are my bare necessities.

What are your bare necessities?