Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter Wonderland Music Therapy Warm Fuzzies Nerd Alert

Hey who's that cool cat pictured above? This retro almost latin looking man. Who is he? Oh that's Johnny Mathis. Not latin, not that I know of. i could be wrong. I mean, who knows much about this guy anyway? Not me. In fact he's the sort of singer I might categorize in that do-good pure boy genre that makes up the Lawrence Welk sound. A sound my older clients ADORE. So forgive my ignorance but I don't know a darn thing about Johnny....except....I just decided today that well, he might do the song "Winter Wonderland" the best. like maybe the real deal best. and here's why. Please press play below while you read the rest of the post.

Today while in a session, I happened to be having a great time. It was one of those nights where everything was going great and I got all Christmasy and perhaps more enthusiastic. We were telling stories and counting the incredible numbers of snowmen figurines in the living room of the house where I was treating (23!!!). Then I played Johnny Mathis singing "Winter Wonderland". We were throwing a beach ball around when the music got all quiet and dare i say....magical...eeeeeek! it did! (INSERT NERD ALERT) check it out at about 1:05 in the vidi. All my clients stopped, listened, smiled and when the quiet part was over, we all laughed and kept going. The great mood lasted the rest of the session and as I left, one of the staff at the house peeked around the bend, admitted that she was listening to us and told me that I was a blessing..and that, my friends is some good warm fuzzy stuff.  I got in my car and played Johnny again and thought of that woman telling me I was a blessing and I felt AWESOME! Like super awesome. and after having a terrible day yesterday it felt awesome to feel awesome. and Christmasing with my clients helped me as well as them. I am so thankful for that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


In the past few days I've been handing out Christmas Cards to my clients.  Nothing else inside, no gifts or anything like that....(always keeping it ethical/professional *wink*).  Just a small token, a meager gesture to spread some cheer and that sort of thing.  WELL...let me tell you how much joy this has brought my clients. INSANE joy. Like they open their cards and almost cry.  My ladies in the nursing home would not put them down for the entire hour I was there and when I did try to make them put the cards down for a minute, they yelled at me. Note to self and anyone reading, Give the cards at the END of the session.  Anyway after one or two people getting excited about cards, I figured that was it. NO...Every single client has opened the card and treated it like I just wrote them a 100 dollar check.  I'm so thrilled. I don't think I have ever gotten such satisfaction in giving cards in my whole life and it's so worth it to deliver them in person rather than in the mail like I've done in the past.  And just to reiterate the feeling I'm getting here, let me just say that giving these cards feels like Christmas morning for one short minute per session. It's Awesome. So, if you haven't already, go give your clients a Christmas Card. The awesome-ness goes both ways. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Hey! Sooooooo, do you have a set of these? If not, you should. They are great and all my clients love them. I'm serious. They really do.  The one thing I think is pretty sweet about them is that they can be used with the chords of almost any song in a major key.  SO, you can use them to sound the chords of a song while you are singing acapella....OR have the clients sound them as you play the guitar and have a KICK-A performance. Hooray for you!

The general goal areas for this activity could be: 
1. ENDLESS! jk.
2. hand eye coordination ( and even more so if you are using a color chart)
3. Motor functioning
4. Peer interaction
5. Sensory 
6. Cognitive

The What and How (What do I do and how do I do it?)
I have been using the song "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" for this activity and it works like a CHARM! seriously. If you have a group of four people this works perfectly as there are four lines per verse and for the most part, each person gets two bells.  However, I have also used it with just one person and it worked ok too. Depends on the level of client ability. 
Adaptations could including just playing the C bell. or sounding the C and G together as they sound pretty and basically work for most of the song.  
And the Chords are as Follows.

C(red)               F(green)
We wish you a merry Christmas 
D (orange)           G (blue)
We wish you a merry Christmas 
E (yellow)           F(green)
We wish you a merry Christmas 
G (blue)       C(red)
And a Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


HEY!!!!! This is only FIVE DOLLARS!? Wh-WHAAAT? Am i too excited about this? 
All Classic artists that sing it like you wanna hear it. Go to amazon and get it!


Go HERE and find out how!!!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I'll probably post about Street Musicians alot on this blog. i happen to LOVE them. I even did my master's thesis on them. So it's no wonder that little videos like this one catch my eye because of how interactive music can be....even with dogs. check it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

12 Days of Christmas- MUSIC THERAPY IDEA 2

Well Hello. Here is my tree to set the mood. SO, while I was treating one of my clients this afternoon, we decided to sing the "12 Days of Christmas" and I started laughing to myself because it reminded me of a time when I went to a Christmas Party (of a fellow music therapist).  The guitar was brought out and the whole party of friends got together in a circle and we made up our own version of the "12 Days of Christmas".  It was hilarious and of course it was wildly inappropriate but totally fun.  I was thinking that it would be great to try with clients either in group sessions or individually and of course in an appropriate manner.
The goals for this activity could be: 
  • Counting
  •  memory recall
  •  creative expression, etc...
The What and How:

  • Rewrite the lyrics to the song using 12 items of the client's choice.  
  • Clients may draw or write items as a visual aid
  • Clients may practice memory skills by naming items.
  • As you sing each verse, count up to the number you are singing about using a drum.

This song could even be used during non holiday times...or during ALL holiday times by changing the words... For example, On the first day of Valentine's day, my true love gave to me....blah blah blah.
Have fun with this one. Don't worry if nothing rhymes. It's no big deal. 

Here is my version just for fun and also as a wish list (hint hint)On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
  1. One gorgeous polka dot dress.
  2. Two sparkling silver high heels
  3. Three bottles of bitters
  4. Four camera lenses
  6. Six new guitars
  7. Seven sets of dishes
  8. Eight waffle irons
  9. Nine brand new cookbooks (seriously)
  10. Ten expensive perfumes
  11. Eleven yards of fabric
  12. Twelve new kitchen backsplashes

PS- WANT TO DOWNLOAD A COOL CHRISTMAS ALBUM?  Go to Amazon for the latest She & Him album. The very lovely Zooey and of course very hip M. Ward have done it again. oh and it's only 5 bucks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CLAUDE- Music Therapy Idea 1

Claude Debussy is one of my favorite composers. Ever. And "Estampes" in 3 movements is maybe my favorite composition. EVER.  especially the first movement.  Here are a few examples of the greatness of the piece and the differences that varying performers bring to the work. I happen to love the first pianist's playing style. He plays it so darn smoothly. It's just like I like it. HOWEVER...
This female performer is a delight to watch.  Her whole body gets into the piece. Her hands are like swans taking flight, perfectly fluid and gentle, even while playing strong.

SO What's this got to do with Music Therapy?????

Answer:  Well...this happens to be a wonderfully expressive piece, so i have TWO ideas.
1. I have used it for free movement activities using scarves.  We mimic the giant waves of sound and the contrasting delicate notes as well with corresponding movements.  It has always been a GO-TO in my ipod for movement.
2. Use this piece for a music and art fusion activity.  Use it as the inspiration for a painting or drawing.  Listen first.  Talk about it. listen again while expressing your interpretation of what you hear through your medium of choice.
Actually i think I might try doing it myself. Maybe even tonight. I'll post later if I do. Until then, leave me YOUR ideas for this piece if you have any to share. I'd love that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog Purpose

Hello. I'm Cheila. I'm a music therapist (MA, MT-BC). I want to make a space for music therapy ideas, activities, thoughts, rants, songs, etc... If you ask me, there aren't enough sites that share ideas for music therapists.  I'd like to change that a tad.  So, I'll be posting some of my ideas and hopefully so will some of my MT friends. I'm very laid back. This isn't going to be hyper-clinical. Hopefully it will be fun.
 Cheers. Let's Share some music therapy ideas.