Music Therapy Activities Wikia

When Music Therapy St. Pete, LLC’s founder, James E. Riley, was conducting his master’s degree and working with a large interdisciplinary team at a regional psychiatric hospital, he led a dedicated team to build a community resource for all board-certified music therapists (MT-BCs) and anyone else interested in music therapy. The website Music Therapy Activities Wikia (MTAW) is a free, online resource designed to be community driven and open-sourced; MTAW encourages everyone to contribute what they can offer (editorial administration ensures the accuracy of content) so as to bring together multiple perspectives, original ideas, experienced tips, and excellent resources. It is an “encyclopedic collection of therapeutic music activities, indexed by Goal/ObjectivePopulation, and Use of Music.” was featured in a post on Psychology Today, written by Cathy Malchiodi PhD, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, REAT. MTAW has been featured in regional and national presentations. It has been on social media and music therapy blogs. It’s definitely been on my Bookmarks bar and frequently referenced for new session ideas, holidays songs, iPad apps, songs for lyric analysis, and sooooo much more. Follow-up posts will further discuss everything the site offers.

So for everything this site can offer, what does it need?! Well, it needs YOU. This site is just beginning. It’s very young. The structure has been provided, but the content will continue to grow. People are searching through its pages, but we need you to take just a few moments to learn how easy it is to edit – or contribute new – material! It feels good. You’re already planning your own sessions, so share the love! Do your good deed for the day! Website managers can even collaborate with internship directors or university faculty to provide reports, allowing MTAW editing a class grade or intern project!

For any questions, ideas, or concerns becoming an active part of our music therapy activity/information sharing community, please reach out to THANK YOU!


Music Therapy Advocacy Month 2017!

This image is free to use for your #mtadvocacy efforts. Thank you for supporting Music Therapy!

January is Music Therapy Advocacy Month! Music therapists are always passionately explaining what music therapy actually is, and how it’s different from nursing, physical therapy, music education, music performance, etc. We compare the rigorous education and training we must complete before testing for national board certification. We’re always educating families and healthcare organizations about the research-based techniques which allow our innovative modality to effectively accomplish non-musical outcomes for our honored veterans of war, individuals with disabilities, and persons in correctional facilities. We provide evidence for the cost-effectiveness of our services in hospices, community centers, and healthcare organizations. We are eager to demonstrate how an hour of Music Therapy can benefit long after the session’s over for children in schools, older adults with dementia, and many others. We are telling stories to elucidate tears, and warm the heart.

Music Therapy bloggers publish some great material rockin’ around the clock, every month of the year, but January is especially exciting because we work together around a common cause. This year, we are guided by the “contentiousness that seems to surround legislative and policy issues.” Advocates are encouraged to bring “a spirit of mindfulness to advocacy efforts. Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This requires an awareness of our attitudes, feelings, thoughts, and actions; an understanding of how they impact our experiences and behaviors; and a willingness to take responsibility for our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.” For more information,


Guest Post: “Workaholics: Staying Healthy on a Schedule”

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book. Julie’s article “Workaholics: Staying Healthy on a Schedule” is featured below, and will help the busy professional – as well as the stressed caregiver or family member – to lead a healthy lifestyle.


More and more people are describing themselves as workaholics as companies demand harder working employees. The modern entrepreneur is also experiencing a decrease in personal time as they work tirelessly to turn a profit. As admirable as hard workers are, overworking is a major cause of diminished mental and physical health.

Time for relaxation and fun is just as important as work but goes unrecognized for its importance. If you’re on a busy schedule and don’t feel like you have time for a personal life, here are a few things you can be doing to better your health.

Find a Day to Meal Plan

Eating a well-rounded diet without nutritional gaps is key in maintaining mental health as well as physical health. Of course, preparing fresh, healthy food each day is not usually feasible for someone on a hectic schedule.

Instead of trying to make time for meal prep each day, take one of your freer days to plan and shop for freezer meals. A freezer meal requires that you simply toss all the ingredients into a container and freeze it. Before work each day, take a few seconds to empty the contents into a slow cooker. When you get home, a healthy, fresh meal will be waiting.

Fit Exercise in Where You Can

Getting exercise is another very difficult task when your work life overtakes your personal life. However, exercise is critical for feeling mentally and physically well when working a high-stress schedule.

Though you may not be able to work a gym visit into your week, you can do smaller exercises such as yoga or desk exercises. Yoga can be done for just a few minutes a day after work using an instructional video. Desk exercises can be performed in your chair at work if you’re really in a crunch.

Make Time for Fun

Many people who work too much feel that fun and relaxation is a waste of time. Even when they do make time for fun, they may feel guilty for not being productive. However, fun and relaxation are critical for a well-rounded and mentally healthy person.

Human beings are not meant to work to the extent we do. We need time for reinforcing social bonds and unwinding. So when you have free time, make plans with friends. Even if it’s only a few times a month, you will be amazed by how refreshed you feel.

Learn to Meditate

Studies on meditation show just how powerful the mind can be. Monks have been studied meditating atop a freezing mountain, maintaining stable body temperatures. For someone who hasn’t spent their entire life learning the practice, it may not have quite as strong and effect but it will make your stress vanish.

Meditation is essentially learning to control your mind and silence it, erasing stress, worry, and negative thought. This skill is a huge advantage over your hectic schedule and can benefit you in ways you may not realize. Try meditating a few times a day. Practice makes perfect after all.

Learning to balance your work and personal lives is not an easy skill, particularly for executives higher on organizational charts who have myriad responsibilities. Instead, take baby steps toward a healthier lifestyle by exercising, eating better, having fun, and even learning meditation. There are many small ways you can improve your life. See what fits into your current schedule and go from there.

Image via Pixabay by Keifit


Shout-Out! “All Children Love Music!” MT w/SLP

“’Hello, hello! I see you there in the green shirt, the green shirt, won’t you please tell us your name?’ A child looks down to check before opening her eyes wide and pointing to her own shirt. The Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC) responds, ‘That’s you! Welcome! Everyone say hi to Sarah!’ Several shy children whisper their greetings and make brief eye contact. A father helps his toddler wave. An older child turns to shake Sarah’s hand and pronounces, ‘Hello!!! I’m Gaawry!!!’ The MT-BC smiles, then challenges everyone to repeat the shirt’s color “green” before giving each child their own turn.

“Next, the group sings, ‘Music sweet music, all children love music! We work real hard and have great fun, we know it’s therapeutic!’ Every Tuesday morning and afternoon on the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s outpatient Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) floor, children with speech and communication delays achieve non-musical benefits through music therapy groups. These fun and innovative clinical services are funded by donations to Music Sweet Music, Inc. ‘Great singing! Let’s practice that big word, ‘therapeutic.’ Stick your tongue out a little and try it again. Yes! Timmy, that was great a ‘th’ sound when you sang the word ‘therapeutic’!’

“Before singing our ABCs or drumming today’s activities, before sharing instruments or labeling our emotions, we’ve already shown off our social skills, articulated several target sounds, demonstrated new confidence, and engaged successfully in a clinical environment. We have connected on an individual basis through music; the children are motivated to engage in SLP interventions without realizing how hard they’re working.

“Whereas the children love the music, their families value the therapy. Music therapy is the clinical application of music, evidence-based interventions, and a unique therapeutic relationship in order to accomplish non-musical objectives.”

James E. Riley, MM, MT-BC provides Music Therapy across Pinellas country through Music Therapy St. Pete, LLC (MTSP) and Music Sweet Music, Inc. (MSM). MSM provides MT to families of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital out-patient pediatric Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program, and featured this blog post illustrating what a “normal” session might look like; continue reading here!


Shout-Out! Book Review in Psychology of Music

Book review: International Perspectives in Music Therapy and Training: Adapting to a Changing World. By Karen D. Goodman

Book Review by James E. Riley

International Perspectives in Music Therapy and Training: Adapting to a Changing World, a new collection of essays edited by Professor Karen D. Goodman, provides an illuminating exploration into many great programs, experiences, and concepts from beyond the Western world, traveling to where music therapy is lighting up on the map.

“Goodman’s 264-page tome marries her own insights with those of her contemporaries from around the world.  The book’s title aptly summarizes Goodman’s thesis: Music therapists from around the world articulate several perspectives on either the changing field of music therapy or the preparation of music therapy students.” Continue reading online at


Simple Blues Songwriting

Writing songs is easy! One especially simple technique builds on the 12-bar blues pattern: I-I-I-I – IV-IV-I-I – V-IV-I-I.

The blues can accompany anything, such as an interactive hello song: “Hello Erin, how are you today?” can be sung over I-I-I-I; “Alright now hello Erin, is anything new today?” over IV-IV-I-I; and “Well it’s really good to see you, I’m glad you’re here today!” atop the concluding V-IV-I-I. You can sing, or help your clients

You can also sing, or help your clients create, their own song. Start with one phrase, repeat it, and sing an answer. That’s it! This AAB pattern matches the blues progression. For example, here’s a little blues tune: “Sometimes I feel a little lonely. Sometimes, I feel a little lonely. But when I do, I call my friends and family.” This approach to songwriting is a lot of fun because it allows so much room for creativity. It’s fun to see clients discover how easy and rewarding the process can be. The simple AAB structure can be used to present an issue and address it. It can mirror dialogue between a child and their parent. How else will you use the blues? Let us know what else you innovate!


History of Music Therapy

“The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century profession formally began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum.” Music therapy is now an established allied healthcare profession. Board-certified clinicians serve many community and healthcare populations through individualized, research-based treatments. To help you discover more, the American Music Therapy Association offers a short history, as well as a more detailed chronology of events from 1940 – 2010.


Who Decides Who Decides

It is difficult to decide which values to teach, but it is not nearly as difficult as knowing who decides who decides which values. Probably almost all of our ‘acculturating process’ actually represents the imposition of values; these values come from many potentially contradictory sources of reinforcement from various spheres of behavioral influence, be they home, school, other social institutions, peers, or elsewhere, but the student also possesses abilities to learn discrimination and therefore behave differently under different conditions. Many would say that ethically teachers are responsible for much of the student’s behavior and instilling within each child the selected best from the cultural heritage in order that, following school, the young adult will function productively. Most teachers decide that they truly want their students to be able to make decisions for themselves. If a teacher states precisely what power resides with the teacher and what decisions rest with the student, perhaps the student will continuously strive to earn more privileges rather than to feel sorry for him/herself by not being permitted to do something (Madsen & Madsen, 1998, p. 26).

Madsen, C. K. & Madsen, C. H. (1998). Teaching/Discipline: A Positive Approach For Educational Development. (4th ed.) Raleigh, NC: Contemporary Publishing Company of Raleigh, Inc.