Quick & Dirty Thanksgiving Music Activities

Thanksgiving is a week away. Are you tired of your usual Thanksgiving related activities?

Here is a quick and dirty list of music related Thanksgiving activities that you can use in sessions right away. We hope you gobble them up!

  • Turkey Hokey Pokey – Yup. A feathered version of the song we all know so well. The link actually takes to you a whole free Thanksgiving songbook but the Turkey Hokey Pokey is our favorite in the list.
  • Turkey Trot – Another dance that will exercise gross motor and listening skills. Pair it with a rhythm track and you’ll be flapping in no time!
  • Autumn-Time is Coming – This simple yet effective piggy backed song will help you incorporate colors in your session while bringing awareness of the outside world. Grab some leaves as props and you’ve got a party, baby!
  • Theme Based Interventions for the Music Therapist: Holiday Edition – Twenty Thanksgiving & music themed movement, relaxation, games, instrument play and songs from music therapist, Jaycie Voorhees. That’s just the Thanksgiving section!
  • The Gratitude Game – Use this color coordinated activity as inspiration for clients of any age. Create a simple chant or fill-in-the blank song where clients can insert things they are grateful for.
  • Thank You For The Music – Do YOU want to thank your clients? Sing Abba’s Thank You For The Music and modify the words to apply to your group.
  • Thank You For Being A Friend – Yes! The theme from Golden Girls! Did you know this is actually an entire song? Find it here. Share the first verse (that’s what we’re all used to anyway from the show) or play the whole thing. Start a discussion on friendship and see where it takes you!
  • Thanksgiving Playlist – Lots of great songs here.

Follow along with #AMTA16

Music Therapists from all around are traveling to Ohio for the annual National Conference hosted by the American Music Therapy Association. We are all very excited for you!

Unfortunately, Rachel and I won’t be able to attend conference this year. While we are bummed, we’re also thankful for social media! We will be following along with conference happenings by looking out for these hashtags & accounts:

#AMTA16 hashtags

If YOU are attending conference and you see something worth sharing, please do so! We would appreciate your help in feeling connected as we look forward to coming to #AMTA17.


Check in from Rachel and Michelle

Summer is over and Fall is here! We thought it would be fun to share what we’ve been up to during our summer break.

What about you? Did you do anything special? Leave a comment and let us know!

News from Rachel

Rachel SeeSummer was one glorious break (one of the perks of working in the schools). I was able to shut-off social media for a bit (something I always find a bit hard at first, but ultimately, rejuvenating), and enjoyed some “me” time. This personal time included traveling to a few places – Florida, Nashville, Iowa, and NYC, and experiencing something new in each location, whether it was visiting an art museum, listening to a crazy-amazing bluegrass/folk band, hopping on one of America’s oldest roller coasters at Coney Island, or taking in a Broadway musical with tunes by the incredibly-talented Sara Bareilles… each location and experience recharged my batteries in a sense, and now I’m fully prepared and ready to start in on a new music therapy school year in the special education classrooms. I’m also looking forward to working more on the MusicTherapyebooks.com website to share with the world what our authors have to offer (which are some pretty amazing e-books, materials, and resources). I hope YOU had a lovely summer, as well, and I can’t wait to hear about it!

News from Michelle

Michelle ErfurtMy summer was filled with wonderful adventures! My son, husband and I continued to explore our new area in West Virginia (we moved here last Fall) by visiting local farms with creameries. We ate a lot of ice cream and saw a lot of cows! We were very busy at the end of summer from moving into our permanent home. The end of October, we will be welcoming our second son! I’m very excited to see his face and become reacquainted with the exhaustion caused by having a new baby. I’m also looking forward to another year of watching the Music Therapy Ebooks website grow!

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 2.14.42 PMGet a free e-book “Online Resources for Busy Music Therapists” and stay connected by signing up for our newsletter!

Sign up here

  • My House Mini Grant photo
  • FullSizeRender
  • FullSizeRender
  • IMG_2807
  • FullSizeRender
  • FullSizeRender
  • FullSizeRender
  • IMG_2803
  • FullSizeRender

Author shout-out!

We’re so proud of our authors and we LOVE hearing what they are doing to impact the world around them through music therapy.


THIS WEEK’S AUTHOR SHOUTOUT is to Lisa Barnett, author of: “My House”

Find out what Lisa’s been up to, in her own words (and it’s chock-full of ideas you can use for YOUR sessions):

In my practice as a music therapist this school year, I have become more aware of the importance of networking with the community. I am looking forward to an event that will take place in our school district, (the Berkley Public Schools) later this month. In the fall I wrote a grant with Sarah Bruce- Damore, one of our early childhood special education teachers in the district, and we were awarded funds from the Berkley Education Foundation to purchase the raw materials for my interactive songbook called, “My House,” which is available on Music Therapy Ebooks. I donated my time making the books for 14 children in Sarah’s morning and afternoon preschool classes and we will have a special celebration with parents focusing on the importance of speech and language development and literacy on May 26th.

My House Mini Grant photo

Parents had to submit 17 photographs which help tell the story about where each child lives and the people and special things that are important in their lives. These photos were assembled on pages containing illustrations and the lyrics to the song

“My House.” Each book comes with its own CD and interactive name and address board. As the child sings about their house they “fill in the blank” with special words that answer four questions.

This is the ________at my house.

This is a _________ at my house.

This is my ________at my house.

These are the ______at my house.

There is a word list of over 150 words to choose from and these words become laminated word tags that each student can attach to the book with velcro. The words are assembled on a Word Menu Board for easy access.

The students learned the melody to the song very quickly and have enjoyed telling their individual stories about where they live. I hope to be able to share photos from this event with you at a later time.

FullSizeRenderAnother facet of my work with the Berkley Public Schools ASD program is providing music therapy services to a young man now 24 years old who is both blind and autistic. He plays piano three times a week as a volunteer at Beaumont Hospital. This has been going on now for two years and during that time I worked with Lance I had the good fortune to become acquainted with Bunny Behrmann, who volunteers at the hospital with her therapy dog Moose. I lost my own dog one year ago and found myself very attracted to learning more about the therapy dogs at the hospital. Moose is a Golden Retriever and I was so taken with him that I started researching Golden Retrievers and initially tried to adopt one through a rescue organization.

FullSizeRender     During that time period I was brainstorming about the theme of my annual music therapy program for
elementary aged students with autism
at one of our elementary schools. I decided to explore songs, and movement activities with the theme of “dogs and cats”. The result were two “Informances” that took place during the school day for these elementary school aged students on the autism spectrum and their parents. The program was called “It Is Raining Cats And Dogs!” I was so pleased to discover that Ella Jenkins had actually written a song with the very same title, “It Is Raining Cats and Dogs!” You can actually look up the song on Youtube and it is a classic. Our students loved singing it for their families.

Students engaged in other activities that included singing, “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?” and playing the song, “This Old Man” on touch bells.IMG_2803

We also created a game called, “Where Oh Where Has My Little Pet Gone” that required students to walk in a circle on paw prints as the song, “Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone” was played. When the music stopped the student would have to read a question that was attached to a large bucket just adjacent to the paw print.FullSizeRender

Various Beanie Baby dogs, cats, frogs, parrots, mice etc where placed under the buckets and each child had the opportunity to read and answer a question such as “Who is hiding under the table?” It was a great activity to promote reading, speech and language and turn taking. IMG_2807Once the child read the question they could turn the bucket upside down and retrieve their pet! For our students who were nonverbal we had a communication device called a Go Talk so that they could engage in labeling the various items under the buckets.

FullSizeRender   I also asked parents to submit photos of our students’ pets from home, and I assembled a PowerPoint presentation called “Our World Of Pets!” This PowerPoint was emailed home and included photos and special stories about both our students’ and staffs’ pets! The highlight of the two Informances was a visit from Moose the therapy dog from Beaumont Hospital. Our students were so excited to perform for Moose and Bunny and the program ended with lots of time to interact with Moose and have photographs taken with him. This speaks volumes about the importance of the relationships we develop in our work as music therapists. Clearly it was a blessing to meet Moose and Bunny at Beaumont Hospital, and this only happened because of the work I do with Lance Vardon supporting his volunteer work as a pianist.


I truly believe that we are all connected, and it is recognizing these connections that can really make a difference in one’s therapeutic work.

The feedback from parents and staff on our “Informances” was very good. In years passed I had done a very large Music Therapy Concert during after school hours in the evening. I realized early on in doing the therapeutic work this year, that the configuration of students I was seeing had more complex needs, and I felt that an evening program of a larger magnitude was going to be very challenging and counter productive. I am so happy with my decision to go the “Informance” route during the school day and was pleased that all 13 families attended.


The other interesting news that goes along with these recent events, is that my husband and I decided to search for a breeder who offered Golden Retrievers. We just brought home our new puppy “Murphy” on April 6th. We are hoping to investigate what is necessary for Murphy to become a therapy dog when he is older. Music therapy and pet therapy were wonderful complements to each other during this work, and I hope others will consider the possibility of a program like this in their future clinical work.


Wow, Lisa – you’ve been busy! Keep up the great work and we are so honored and pleased to have you as an author here at MusicTherapyEbooks.com.

Want to be an author, too?  Click here!


3 Surprising Ways My E-book Advocated For Music Therapy



  • This post is our contribution to the 2016 AMTA/CBMT Social Media Advocacy Project. Last year, we talked about where you can share your Music Therapy qualities. This year, the focus is to explore the 3 roles that often pop up in successful advocacy teams: Connectors, Reflectors, and Directors.

When I (Rachel) wrote my first e-book in 2011, my goal was to share the songs and interventions that were successful with my own clients, with other music therapists. Thankfully, the e-book did just that! But I was surprised to discover that my e-book also advocated for music therapy in other ways by acting as a CONNECTOR.

Here’s how my e-book advocated for music therapy:

  1. It connected with people I didn’t expect – Originally, I thought music therapists would find the information useful. But, after I posted it on Pinterest, I quickly received responses from pediatric clinics, educators, e-book authors and other healthcare professionals around the world.
  2. It enhanced the music therapy experience for A LOT clients – Every music therapist who implemented the information in my e-book shared it with their clients. I know that was part of my main goal, but the surprising part was the AMOUNT of clients who were touched by my information. It’s not uncommon for one music therapist to have a caseload of multiple classrooms of children and if you have even 50 music therapists using the resources provided by one e-book, it goes on to touch thousands of children. Amazing!
  3. It fostered interdisciplinary relationships – A speech-language pathologist who purchased my e-book contacted me, saying how much she learned about what a music therapist is/does.  She went on to propose that the two of us team up and collaborate on another e-book, focusing on speech and language goals…and Listen, Speak, Sing was created!

Now, we’d love to hear YOUR story and how you have, or want to connect through e-book writing as a form of advocating for the music therapy over on our Facebook page

Also, do you work with children and need some resources? Check out our Children’s Section

Meet the Author:

1. Your name:

Stephanie Scheffel

2. Education/Background:

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Music from University of Texas in Austin,TX, and a Master of Arts in Music Therapy from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX.  I didn’t know about music therapy as a profession until 2005 – had been planning on being an elementary school music teacher until that time!  I’ve also taught percussion, piano and guitar lessons, both regular and adapted for special learners, and I recently taught a series of college-style history of music classes for adults with developmental disabilities.

3. Favorite band/artist in 7th grade:

Mariah Carey, with Ace of Base as a close second.

4. Why did you want to write an e-book?

Songs for Growth

songs for growth cover

I feel like in the past five years, I’ve had opportunities to sharpen my songwriting skills through the unique needs of the amazing clients I’ve had in that time span.  I’ve learned that the melody, the harmony, the dynamics, the style – EVERY aspect of original compositions I write – affects my clients/students and how they respond.  Over time, I’ve learned ways I can make fine adjustments to my process that help that person be more successful and independent.  When it was the right time in my life, I decided to “take the leap” and share that experience and product with others through this book!

5. What was your process for developing your e-book?

First, I looked through the original songs I’ve written over the years and picked the ones I thought could be most helpful to others, either because they target common academic objectives or because they speak to helping someone function more independently socially.  I had never written down or recorded many of these songs before, so quite a bit of work went into preparing the sheet music and recordings.
I also thought that it was important to include tips and other ways to modify what I’d written to better suit the tastes and abilities of each person they work with, because as I mentioned in question #4, I think that is SO important to what we do as music therapists.  I’d love for people to use my songs, but what I’d really love is for people to use them as a good base and create something completely amazing and different from them!
Finally, I put the book together and had two amazing reviewers – my sister-in-law Allie and my mentor Dr. Bill Matney – look at the book and make sure everything I wrote made sense and was therapeutically sound.

6. Favorite book (e-book or print) related to Music Therapy

Oh, this is tough! I’ve become a HUGE fan of the “Tuned In To Learning” series of books from Coast Music Therapy, not only because they’re an amazing resource for MTs but also because of how easy they make the materials for teachers, parents, and other staff to use.  In my previous job in the schools, I had multiple copies lent out to teachers, and nearly everyone (regardless of their musical proficiency) told me how easy they were to use in the classroom.
My most recent e-book purchase was “The Therapy Business Blueprint” by Kimberly Sena Moore, which I also love and plan to use often!

7. How would you describe your e-book in three words or less?

Helping people grow. 🙂

8.  Who can benefit from purchasing your e-book and why?

My hope is that “Songs for Growth” is a valuable resource not only for new music therapy professionals, but also for more “seasoned” professionals who want to add a few new songs and/or ideas to their repertoire.  
However, I ALSO think that there are groups of non-music therapists who can benefit from this book – special education teachers, other allied health professionals, parents, and music educators, just to name a few.  My hope is that, between the audio recordings and the sheet music, I’ve created a resource that is accessible to many different groups of people, regardless of their music-reading experience.

9.  What kinds of music therapy e-books would you like to see more of on MusicTherapyEbooks.com?

I tremendously appreciate the variety that is already on the website – it is a treasure trove of resources for people working in a variety of different settings!!  If I had to pick one category, it would be more and more practical ideas for people with autism and other developmental disabilities.  I hope my book helps, but I’d also love to see what others are doing.

10.  Anything else you would like to add?

I hope you love and learn from my book!!  If you purchase it and have any questions or want to provide feedback, feel free to email me at songsforgrowth@gmail.com.  🙂

Meet the author:

1. Your name:

Elizabeth Gardiner Myers, MM, ADC, CDP, MT-BC

Activity Director Certified

Music Therapist – Board Certified

2. Education/Background:

BA University of Maryland, Baltimore County – Psychology

MM Florida State University – Music Therapy

Interned at Coastal Center, Ladson, S.C.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland

Currently living in southwestern Virginia with my husband

Employed at Grayson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Independence, Virginia as Director of Therapeutic Recreational Services, 17 years experience in Long-Term Care.

3 daughters, 2 son in laws and 1 grandson

3. Favorite band/artist in 7th grade:

I would have to say the 60s groups, Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, Paul Revere and the Raiders



4. Why did you want to write an e-book?

“Memory Tunes”memory tunes elizabeth myer music therapy ebooks

I used a song “Jesus loves me” with alternate words in my MT sessions and loved it. Researched the market and could find no other book with familiar tunes and alternate words.

5. What was your process for developing your e-book?

I set a goal of writing at least one song per week, then worked on it for several years.

6. Favorite book (e-book or print) related to Music Therapy

I love to read any book related to music therapy and dementia, ie. Alzheimer’s disease

7. How would you describe your e-book in three words or less?

Familiar tunes re-versed

8.  Who can benefit from purchasing your e-book and why?

Practicing music therapists and activity directors in adult day care, assisted living or nursing home settings

Also activity directors and volunteers without a musical background in these facilities

9.  What kinds of music therapy e-books would you like to see more of on MusicTherapyEbooks.com?

Any books related to Alzheimer’s music activities

10.  Anything else you would like to add?

This e-book, MEMORY TUNES, is very simple to use. No accompaniment is needed. As long as you know the tune, the new words are just sung in place of the standard words. It will give music therapists a new tool to use in sessions. It will also give activity directors a fun creative outlet for singing with their residents/clients.