1. Prepare Movement Songs. Group sessions– particularly with preschoolers and kindergartners– flow more smoothly when started with a movement song. I have even had requests for “dance” songs by my older students. Starting with a movement song meets the buzzing excitement of the students before gradually bringing the level down so that they may better focus on cognitive goals. As music therapists, we call this technique the iso-principle. A few of my favorite movement songs include:
  1. Move It, Move It! by Stephanie Leavell
  2. If You’re Happy & You Know It (traditional)
  3. Drip Drop Rain by Dance ‘n Beats

Helpful Tip: Make sure to get them jumping to ensure that they are releasing lots of energy!

  1. Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). Although formerly introduced to established SOP’s, I have learned to proactively create SOP’s for personal reference. I have listed out the necessary steps to complete various tasks in easily-accessible documents. This way, instead of asking administrators or co-workers to repeatedly answer questions, I can first reference my SOP’s. Although not an exhaustive list, I have created SOP’s for the following tasks:
  1. Completing district paperwork
  2. Presenting music therapy at a special event
  3. Completing back-to-school tasks

Helpful Tip: Check your district’s resources for established SOP’s before making your own.

  1. Make the most of every minute. A school music therapist can quickly have a lot on their schedule from session planning for various goals, to session implementation, to documentation, to meetings, to representing music therapy at special events. The following list contains a few yet very beneficial ideas that I have found in working efficiently: 
  1. Using 10-minute breaks between sessions to submit notes
  2. Keeping to-do/question lists
  3. Asking as many questions in-person as possible versus asking later via e-mail
  4. Keeping my daily schedule easily-accessible
  5. Planning ahead

Helpful Tip: Use an iPad to jot down and submit notes instead of stuffing and tracking paper along in your probably already-full music therapy bag. 

  1. Mentorship is incredibly helpful. I am so grateful for the many people in my life who commit their time and energy to answering my questions, and sharing their advice. Although it can be very humbling at times to ask for help, it is also very encouraging to have people to turn to at any moment for advice. Here are a few of the many benefits of mentorship:
  1. Advice
  2. Tips
  3. Experience
  4. Understanding
  5. Inspiration
  6. Guidance

Helpful Tip: If you are young to your profession and have not already done so, I highly encourage you to ask someone you admire and trust to mentor you. 

  1. Be Flexible. Thinking back to ringing in the new year of 2020, I definitely did not envision spending hours upon hours at home, practicing, recording, and editing in preparation for recorded and Telehealth sessions. But, in this time, I have learned how to adapt interventions even more-so, and I have increased my skills in technology. A few key technical resources I have used routinely include:
  1. Apple AirPods
  2. GarageBand
  3. iMovie
  4. Zoom

Helpful Tip: Ensure that the Telehealth platform you choose guarantees HIPAA-compliance and provides a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in order to protect client information.  

From movement songs to SOP’s and time management, to schedule flexibility and mentorship, these are just a few of the many tools that I have added to my toolkit as a music therapist.