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.


Smile, Laugh, and Sing the Music!

Here’s an upbeat, catchy, easy-to-learn song for spelling, identifying emotions, and learning about coping skills. Inspired by Wee Sing, “Smile, Laugh, and Sing the Music” is piggybacked to “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Children practice their letters, or practice spelling smile, laugh, and music. Smiling and laughter are signs of happiness, but the MT-BC might use this song to discuss a wide range of emotions; behavioral signs of sad or difficult emotions might be taught to inspire coping skills. Labelling and gaining insights into what you’re feeling is an important first lesson, then followed by learning positive ways of handling such situations. Discuss and practice talking with an adult and other coping skills, but also including smiling, laughing, and singing!

Below are the lyrics, which you can sing in any key, and available for free download is a bright PDF if you would like a visual aid to help clients spell each of the words.

Smile, Laugh, And Sing the Music!

1) Oh, it isn’t any trouble just to S-M-I-L-E! No, it isn’t any trouble just to S-M-I-L-E! So smile when you’re in trouble it will vanish like a bubble, If you’ll only take the trouble just to S-M-I-L-E!

Chorus) Smile, laugh, and sing the music! Smile, laugh, and sing the music! Smile, laugh, and sing the music, the music makes you strong!

2) It isn’t any trouble just to L-A-U-G-H…   Repeat Chorus

3) It isn’t any trouble to sing M-U-S-I-C…   Repeat Chorus

Download the colorful visual aide below to help with spelling. Suggested page transitions are indicated by the number in the version of the lyrics beneath the FREE download.

Smile, Laugh, And Sing the Music! (With PDF Page Numbers)

(1) Oh, it isn’t any trouble just to S-M-I-L-E! No, it isn’t any trouble just to S-M-I-L-E! So (2) smile when you’re in trouble it will vanish like a bubble, If you’ll only take the trouble just to (3) S-M-I-L-E!

(Chorus, put PDF down out of sight) Smile, laugh, and sing the music! Smile, laugh, and sing the music! Smile, laugh, and sing the music, the music makes you strong!

(4) Oh, it isn’t any trouble just to L-A-U-G-H! No, it isn’t any trouble just to L-A-U-G-H! So (5) laugh when you’re in trouble it will vanish like a bubble, If you’ll only take the trouble just to (6) L-A-U-G-H!  Repeat Chorus with PDF down

(7) Oh, it isn’t any trouble to sing M-U-S-I-C! No, it isn’t any trouble to sing M-U-S-I-C! So (8) sing when you’re in trouble it will vanish like a bubble, If you’ll only take the trouble to sing (9) M-U-S-I-C!  Repeat Chorus with PDF down


SOP 11: Education and Clinical Training Requirements

“A qualified music therapist must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) or higher from a music therapy degree program approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), and must have successfully completed a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised clinical work through pre-internship training at the AMTA-approved degree program, and internship training through AMTA–approved National Roster or University Affiliated internship programs, or an equivalent. Upon successful completion of the AMTA academic and clinical training requirements or its international equivalent, an individual is eligible to sit for the national board certification exam administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT).”