What is an Adaptive Lesson?


Put simply an adaptive lesson is a lesson where an adaptation is necessary for the student to thrive in their lesson environment. Typically, we think of adaptive lessons as being directed to students with disabilities and diagnoses. Yes, we have students of all ages and abilities, and when we say all we mean all!

That being said, there are many students who may benefit from adaptive lessons who do not have a diagnosis, or may not have a lifelong diagnosis. The easiest way to think about this would be if a student wanted to learn piano, but was recovering from a severe hand injury, we would adapt the material provided so that the student is progressing regardless of the inability to use their hand.

You may be wondering… but, can’t any music teacher do this? What makes your lessons different? Well, it is true that there are many fantastic teachers out there. Our approach is a bit different in that we place our adaptive lessons with our music therapists! Our board certified music therapists have studied how music affects our brain, bodies, and how to apply it to induce a positive change. We have training in diagnoses and have an understanding of counseling skills. We can apply our non-musical training to any lesson to better help that child to succeed regardless of any other limiting factors.

We all carry around labels, positive or negative that affect how others see us, and how we see ourselves. But at lessons our students are students. With or without a diagnosis we are there to help them achieve their goals. Period.

Register here!

3 Day Hand Drumming Camp

Next week we have a very special mini-camp happening!!

I am so excited to have the opportunity to share my love of music and playing hand drums during the 3 DAYS of drumming camp!


This isn’t your typical drum-set style drumming!  No drumsticks or experience needed!  The group is open to people of all abilities and levels of musical experience.  Whether you are looking to just have fun, learn something new, or add to your current skills, we would love to have you join the group!  Over the 3 days, group members will:

  • explore different kinds of drums
  • play rhythm instruments from around the world
  • learn basic hand drumming techniques
  • become familiar with simple rhythmic patterns
  • play instruments in a group
  • learn a few ways to lead a drum circle
  • improvise on a variety of percusion instruments
  • and build confidence


Not only is hand drumming and participating in a drum circle a fun experience, it’s also a great way to make new friends, build relationships, work on focused attention and listening, learn new skills, relax, and more. The hour-long group will be from 6:30 – 7:30 pm June 28th, 29th, and 30th.  I hope to see lots of new and familiar faces!


Three Signs Your Child is Ready for Lessons

3 Signs Your Child is Ready for Lessons

At Music Therapy Connections, we work with students of all ages and abilities. Based upon those things we can place a new student into the best situation for their growth, whether that be a class, lesson, or adaptive lesson. I think I can speak for our team when I say that it brings us great joy to know that we can provide services for the entire family — from newborns to grandparents!

Many parents want to know, how do you know when a child is ready for lessons? Here are three things we look for to find your young learner the best fit.

1. When it comes to both piano and guitar lessons, it is very important that a student can count to four, visually identify letters A through G, and preferably be able to identify their left hand from right. All of these are important foundational skills to build on in lessons.

2. For any kind of lesson it is important to ask, “Can my student be engaged with one activity for thirty minutes?” This can be a challenge for many four to six year olds beginning lessons.

3. Finally, we don’t usually begin guitar lessons until the age of at least seven. Why? Well, unlike with piano, a new learner needs to have large enough hands to be able to form chords with proper technique so that they don’t injure themselves. Guitar can also test a new student’s patience as it can even be painful when first beginning. For our future guitarists under the age of seven, we recommend starting with piano and growing a nice framework of knowledge to build on later.

In general, if a child is still growing in one of these areas or has additional needs, we would consider their lessons adaptive. This is because we are adapting our approach, creating different materials, and utilizing multiple mediums to provide them with the best lesson experience possible, regardless of their prior knowledge and experience.

Is your child ready for lessons? Click here to learn more and register for the summer session. 

Summer at Music Therapy Connections

As the school year winds down, we have been busy planning a variety of exciting classes, camps and programs for the summer. Here’s a quick rundown of everything we’re offering; simply click the images for details and registration info.

Learn hand drumming techniques, rhythmic patterns, how to lead drum circles, and much more in this dynamic summer camp with MTC co-owner and drumming enthusiast Katey Kamerad.

Learn the songwriting process, hone your style as a songwriter, record your creations, and much more in this dynamic summer camp with MTC co-owner and accomplished songwriter Rachel Rambach.

Music is for everyone, no matter what your ability. Instrument play, socialization, movement, and creativity are at the heart of this dynamic summer camp with board-certified music therapist Janel Metzger.

Join us for a variety of musical activities featuring popular music from the 1950s-70s that will encourage moving, singing, playing and socializing. We utilize preferred familiar music to provide a full range of activities & research-based interventions.

Our flagship class is designed for children ages 0-3, and led by our board-certified music therapists. Each 45-minute class combines movement, singable stories, and group instrument play.

Join us for this FREE family event, featuring 25 of our “greatest hits” over the past year. We’re offering two day and time options to accommodate all families. All participants receive a free download of the songs included in the singalong.

It’s going to be a busy but wonderful summer in our studio! We’re looking forward to welcoming lots of new families and students, as well as sharing our experiences right here on the blog and in our brand-new live video series on the Facebook page!


A Beginner Piano Buyer’s Guide

Beginner Piano Buyer's Guide

This year I have had the pleasure of working with some of our youngest pianists and helping them grow in their skills. With this has come many questions about which piano is right for a given student and how to know where to begin the purchase process as a parent. Those questions have inspired this beginner piano buyer’s guide!

Number of Keys- These can vary but the most common is a 61-key and an 88-key. These are measured by how many keys are on the piano. A 61-key keyboard is smaller and will be lower in cost and vice-versa for an 88-key. Eventually a student will need an 88-key piano or adapt music, but this doesn’t need to happen until book 2 or 3.

Brand Name- The most common brand names offering affordable keyboards are Yamaha and Casio. These are both wonderful and reliable brands. With these you can’t go wrong.

Accessories- There are so many accessories that can be used with your keyboard here are a few that you should consider:

  • Piano Bench or Seat- these are usually adjustable along with the height of the keyboard.
  • Keyboard Stand- Most keyboards come with a stand. I would recommend checking to make sure because this is a must!
  • Music Stand- Keyboards should come with a music stand, attached to the top of the keyboard to hold music at a comfortable level. Once again, this is a must have.
  • Weighted Keys and Key Size- Key size is very important. You should check to see that they haven’t slimmed the keys on your keyboard to provide for ease of transition from practice to lessons and performance. Also, there are a large variety of keyboards out there that have weighted keys. Weighted keys require more resistance when playing to more closely relate to the feel an acoustic piano.

Altogether your choice will largely depend upon whether you would like to get a starter piano or something more long term. I still use my 88-Key keyboard that I started my piano journey with 12 years ago. My recommendation would be, if it is within your price range, to invest in an 88-key keyboard. You don’t need an upright piano, or a keyboard with all of the bells and whistles to give your child what they need to excel in their music lessons.

Best of luck in your piano buying journey!

3-Week Mini Session: Listen & Learn for Little Ones

Fitting in a 5-week session at the end of the school year can be tough!!  There’s graduations, concerts, recitals, parties, vacations, holidays, track meets, and the list goes on and on!  So, why push a class that might be poorly attended?

Instead, we’ve created an alternative that gives new families a shortened session they can use as a trial, provides our regular attendees a little break, takes into account conflicting dates that might be on everyone’s calendar, and all at a discounted rate.  We know this is a busy time of year for everyone so we try to work with families to find a reasonable solution.

Take a brief look at our video and visit our website to learn more about our mini session and register today!  Classes start next week.

More Than the Music

Children in Music Class

Last week, one of our parents sent us a photo of her daughter and another child in our Little Ones class, along with this message:

“If it wasn’t for music class they wouldn’t be this close! Met in music…discovered they have same birthday…then the same daycare…now we do play dates and events. Love them! And they both love music! You guys are awesome!”

Our mission is to help children learn and grow through music, and that is certainly the focus when designing and facilitating our classes. There are so many other magical things happening as a result: parents making special connections with their children, grandparents having precious one-on-one time with their grandchildren, siblings sharing instruments, and new friendships being formed.

Child in Music Class

Music brings people together in a way that nothing else does. So while we are teaching and strengthening important developmental skills through our songs and activities, the beautiful byproduct is stronger relationships between children, their grownups, and their peers.

Child and Parent in Music Class

I spend countless hours with my children, but there’s something special about attending music class with them. We interact in a different way than we do at home, and I love seeing both my toddler son and infant daughter interact with the other children and adults in class. It really is the highlight of our week, and I hear from other families that the same is true for them.

Rachel & Parker in Music Class

Let’s Get Social!

Social Skills Music Therapy Group

We are now three weeks into our new social skills class called Let’s Get Social, and it has already been a wonderful adventure. Although “adventure” might be an accurate term for most classes, this one has called for a much different perspective.

Up to this point, our primary focus has been on our Listen and Learn for Little Ones Classes, which are created to support and encourage development for children birth to age five within a rich musical environment. In those classes our approach is broad and reaches many domains. That being said, the structure of a social skills class, focusing on one domain, calls for a different approach.

Every social skills class and session will be different. Every session is planned based upon what is best for each group as a whole and the individuals within in. At the beginning of this session, I decide to search for the big question.

The big question is essentially the goal for that group to achieve by the end of the session. This could be anything from “How can I support them this week to achieve team work and collaboration?” to “How can I facilitate a session where they make eye contact and communicate verbally to one another?”.  This is  an achievable adaptation to traditional assessment, planning, and documentation, because our sessions are only five weeks I made our focus specific and inclusive of everyone.

In this structure I have seen a great response from clients and families. It is amazing how quickly an idea can be applied and put it into practice. Those are the moments that stick with me: when I see individuals apply themselves and they see the success happen right then and there. I am so grateful to share in those moments with them.

New Classes for the New Year

Starting next week, we have 5 NEW CLASSES!!!!

We have a class for everyone now. Whether you are an adult looking to learn a new instrument, a caregiver wanting their child to explore instruments or work on social skills, or a mom or dad looking for a class for your newborn or toddler, we have something for you!

It was only two years ago that Rachel and I sat down and first talked about starting an LLC, leading weekly classes, and opening a studio space together.  It was simply an idea two years ago and now things have taken off!!  We are so excited by the incredible growth we have experienced and the immense support we have received from the community!

We want to continue to support the needs and requests of community members so we are continually trying to improve and expand our services.  As the year progresses, we will work even harder to provide the services you want!!

Be sure to check out our new offerings and register today. 



Want to see new classes in the future?  Let us know! info@musictherapyconnections.org

Our Mid-Winter Session is Coming Up!

Music Therapy Connections Classes

We are so excited about the next round of classes, which begins in less than two weeks. Not only are we offering our usual classes, but we have added several new ones: an introduction to guitar and social skills classes for two different age groups.

This session, there truly is a class for EVERYONE, no matter what age. I can’t tell you how many times a parent has said to me, “I really wish I had stuck with those piano lessons when I was a kid,” or “I’ve always wanted to learn the guitar”. That was our motivation for opening classes up to adults, and we are really looking forward to seeing them in action.

Our Mid Winter session begins the week of February 15, and classes are either 5 or 8 weeks in length. Registration is open now and space is limited, so we hope you’ll join us in you are located in central Illinois! Click here for details and to secure your spot.