Friday Favorites: {In the Winter…}

Raspberry_Hot_Chocolate-5Image Via

Maybe you have heard of this whole Polar Vortex phenomenon? Well, in MN we are enjoying what some are calling, Polar Vortex 2.0. Basically, this means a lot of days that never make it above 0 degrees! All of us Minnesnowtans are keeping warm with hot food and hot drink so here’s a fun song writing activity about hot yummy things to eat in the cold, cold winter.

Just like our song about what we like to eat, “In the Summer”, this song writing intervention uses the melody of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. I looked through cooking magazines, cut out photos of warm food and drink (hot chocolate, pasta, soup, etc.), and laminated them for visuals. I find that good quality visuals always go a long way in getting clients engaged and it’s worth a little bit of time spent in preparation. Clients young and old will get to make choices, recognize names, practice joint attention, interact with peers, and work on sequencing during this song.

Start singing/playing the chorus of the song…

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

We like to stay very warm

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

We like to eat lots of warm food

Now the clients get to make a choice during the verse and put their food next to their name on the board

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

__(name)__ likes to eat lots of __(food__

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

__(name)__ likes to eat lots of  __(food)__

Then everyone can join back in for the “a-wim-o-weh” part.

This intervention would also be a great opportunity to bring in more senses such as touch, smell, and taste of the different foods and discussing hot/cold as well. We hope you’re staying warm and can use this song with your clients!


Guest Post by Dena Register: {Declaring Our Independence}


Below is a guest post written by Dena Register of the Regulatory Affairs Advisor, Certification Board for Music Therapists on finding our voice as music therapists during #mtadvocacy month. Enjoy! 

The end of the year always brings with it a great deal of reflection. It feels good to look at the accomplishments of the year at its close, set new intentions and imagine new heights for the year ahead. My own professional reflections for this year brought the realization that over the last eighteen years I have enjoyed a rather diverse career in music therapy with roles as a clinician, educator, consultant and professional advocate. One of the most interesting components of wearing so many different “hats” is trying to imagine how those you are working with perceive music therapy.

There is a constant effort to try and imagine how I can best help others understand what music therapy is and the many benefits for our clients. I feel the need to have an analogy for every situation, description, and population. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in this challenge. I know many music therapists that adapt in this chameleon-like fashion when it comes to how we describe our life’s work. We build rapport with our various audiences by searching for some common ground or understanding to use as a point of departure in hopes that they will have that magical “A-ha!” about the many benefits of music therapy. While these experiences help us develop remarkable skills in story sharing and empathy, we are constantly altering the description of our professional identity in order to help others understand us. This task is a complex one for professionals and is one of the challenges that both students and new professionals find difficult to navigate early on in their careers.

I get to teach a class in philosophy and theory of music therapy. Over the last several offerings of this course the students and I have spent hours exploring what music therapy has in common with other therapeutic and creative arts professions. Each semester produces fascinating discussions, diagrams and reflections on the shared aspects of our professions and, more importantly, how music therapy is notably distinct from any other profession or practice. Successful participation in our profession is reliant upon years of skilled musicianship, and a balance of both scientific and artistic knowledge and understanding. It is highly unlikely that an individual who does not have any prior musical training can make their way through varied and rigorous coursework of a music therapy degree and successfully complete the academic, clinical and musical requirements needed.

In the sixty-plus year development of our profession we have learned to be both flexible and savvy in our descriptions of music therapy. These well-honed skills have built a foundation for our profession to grow and expand in ways we didn’t think possible.  And, in most recent years, our advocacy efforts have brought us to a place of greater acknowledgement and public awareness than we have ever experienced before. What comes next? It is the era of INDEPENDENCE.

With an increased focus on research about the numerous impacts of music as a therapeutic medium, greater access to quality services by licensed professionals and continuously growing clinical offerings music therapy is positioned for continued, exponential growth. Now is the time for continued clarification to others regarding who we are as a profession as well as our unique qualifications.  In 2014, it is imperative that we declare I am a music therapist and understand how to articulate our unique qualifications and distinctions from our other therapeutic partners.  How will YOU celebrate your ‘independence’ this year?

About the Author: Dr. Dena Register is the Regulatory Affairs Advisor for the Certification Board for Music Therapists and an Associate Professor of Music Therapy at the University of Kansas. She can be reached at

Timeless Tunesday: {This old Man}

This is truly a timeless tune, with the original lyrics! Goal areas can include palmar grasping, rhyming, sequencing, object identification, gross motor movement, and imitation. I am going to share about this activity with the goal areas of rhyming, gross motor movement, and palmar grasping for a client with cerebral palsy. To set my client up for success,  I made a magnetic “dauber” (literally a paint dauber that I hot glued a strong magnet to) with a foam handle, and under each visual was a magnetic strip. Easy to move and easy to hold! Here is what mine ended up looking like…


…and here is a link to the printables and numbers!

I sing the tune  a cappella so I can assist with demonstrating the actions and moving the visuals if needed. Here is a link to the song if you are unfamiliar with the melody!

1) This old man he played one (hold up thumb and wiggle it)

2) He played knick knack on my thumb (find the picture of the thumb,grab it with the magnet dauber, and put it next to the #1)

3) With a knick knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone (pretend to knock on a door)

4) This old man came rolling home (move arms in a rolling motion)

For each verse, the number in line 1) will increase by one, so hold up that number of fingers. During line 2), find the new picture that matches the number in line 1). Lines 3) and 4) stay the same during every verse, so the actions are also the same.

We Are…Empowerers: {Titanium: I’m Bulletproof}


The new year has begun and so far 2014 has been a great year…all 6 days of it! I chose to kick off my year of therapy by co-facilitating an adult connect group through the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota last week. I was inspired to share some of the analysis of the lyrics from participants that was received. Below is the experience of epilepsy, as interpreted through the song Titanium by David Guetta.

You shout it out,
But I can’t hear a word you say
I’m talking loud not saying much

Living with epilepsy can be very isolating. The experience of having a seizure and the consequences that follow require the help of the people around us, which often comes at the expense of our own independence. There are strict guidelines for what you can and can’t do, and oftentimes, our opinion is at the bottom of the charts of diagnosis, paperwork, medicine levels, and MRI appointments.

I’m criticized but all your bullets ricochet
You shoot me down, but I get up

For many of us, the source of our seizures will never be found. Epilepsy is never predictable, and that means taking a myriad of medications to control the seizures. Side-effects can cause mood swings, depression, mental health problems, and weight gain. We are often judged based on these side-effects, despite the fact that taking those medications is not a choice that we have.

I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away  

You shoot me down, but I get up                                                                                                    I am titanium                                                                                                                                                               

Losing things like our drivers license,  jobs, and independence can be tough to handle, but it also forces you to find our what you love, and how to find ways to do those things that you love. The idea of Titanium is appropriate because it is famous for it’s incredible strength. You are as strong as you think you are.

Cut me down
But it’s you who’ll have further to fall
Ghost town and haunted love

Our lifestyle choices are highly criticized, but we are the ones that decide how to spend our time, where we go, and what we do. Half of the battle is getting your family to let go and let us fend for ourselves. Waking up after having a seizure can be very confusing and often memories are just gone. Your brain feels like an old abandoned town. Sometimes it feels like you just ran a marathon the day before, and other times the only indicators are that you wet the bed, you have no idea what the date or time is, and the memories of the last week are blurry.

Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones
I’m talking loud not saying much

Our titanium is the thing we have that makes us happy. The thing that makes it worth it. Titanium is traveling, or collecting old records, or painting, or playing soccer, or watching Netflix. Seizures aren’t planned, but finding healthy ways to cope is the first step, and they come from within us.

With that. I want to answer the statement “We Are…” about what music therapists are for social media advocacy month as


Check out all of the posts for Social Media Music Therapy Advocacy Month.