Hi everyone! My name is Molly Robitaille and I am so excited to join the wonderful team here at Music Therapy Connections as a new music therapist. For this post, I wanted to share a little about myself. 

  • I am fresh out of college and my music therapy internship. I attended Molloy College on Long Island, New York and completed my music therapy internship during senior year in a local school district.
  • I just moved to Springfield from Connecticut! Although I went to college in New York, I grew up in Northwest Connecticut. This was a big change for me, but I am very excited  to be doing what I love and surrounded by such awesome people. 
  • I am primarily an oboist, though I also play the piano, guitar, saxophone, and ukulele in addition to singing.
  • I am thrilled to be here! This job is a dream come true for me, and I am so excited to help my students and clients reach their full potential through the power of music.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know a little bit about me! I look forward to contributing to the MTC blog more in the future, as well as getting to know all of the families that MTC serves.

All the best, and happy Wednesday!

Molly Robitaille

{Application of the Week} “If I Had a Hammer”

If I Had a Hammer | Music Therapy Application

This application is a great way for adults with special needs or older adults to work on sequencing, and/or cognitive and memory skills. The song’s natural flow and built in verse structure is an effective way to prompt clients to remember the order of objects sung about, and the fun melody keeps everyone anticipating what they are about to sing about next!

Possible Goals Addressed:

  • Sequencing
  • Maintaining memory skills

Music Used:

Seeger, P. & Hays, L. (1950). If I had a hammer. [recorded by The Weavers] On Banks of Marble [LP]. Hootenanny Records.

Materials needed:

The music therapist will sing the song “If I Had a Hammer” by Peter, Paul and Mary. The music therapist will sing the song once more and will prompt the clients to fill in the blanks for ‘hammer’, ‘bell’ and ‘song’. “If I had a___”.  The therapist can also introduce hand motions to provide additional cognitive/motor integration during the application.


If I had a hammer,
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening,
All over this land.

I’d hammer out danger,
I’d hammer out a warning,
I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a bell,
I’d ring it in the morning,
I’d ring it in the evening,
All over this land.

I’d ring out danger,
I’d ring out a warning
I’d ring out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a song,
I’d sing it in the morning,
I’d sing it in the evening,
All over this land.

I’d sing out danger,
I’d sing out a warning
I’d sing out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Well I got a hammer,
And I got a bell,
And I got a song to sing, all over this land.

It’s the hammer of Justice,
It’s the bell of Freedom,
It’s the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

It’s the hammer of Justice,
It’s the bell of Freedom,
It’s the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Music Therapy in the News: What We Know About Music Therapy and Dementia Today

Is Music Therapy Right for My Loved One

This week, the Chicago Tribune published an article highlighting the benefits of music therapy for individuals with dementia.

In the article, McCoppin (2018), not only provided an overview of music’s effectiveness with individuals affected by Alzheimer’s Disease, but also introduced a current study led by neurologist, Dr. Borna Bonakdarpour, which studied the impact of music therapy with nursing home residents affected by various forms of dementia, including its effect on improvements in cognition, conversation and relationships.

With the rise of dementia diagnosed in older adults, this article comes at a critical time where more and more people are seeking out progressive treatment options for their loved ones who have been declining in responsiveness to outside stimulation, orientation to their environment, and connection with close ones.

As a music therapist who regularly works with older adults with dementia, I see the toll that dementia takes on residents. However, I view it as a privilege to facilitate a supportive environment where familiar songs bring a sense of normalcy and social connection to the residents’ day.

With the knowledge base expanding in regards to the benefits of music for older adults, it is also important to know that special consideration and sensitivity must be applied when using music therapeutically. Not all music and music activities are suitable for older adults with dementia, as it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • cultural background of clients
  • creating a supportive environment to handle sensitive topics of discussion or unexpected emotional reactions that may arise
  • the physical, psycho-social, and sensory status of each individual.  

Want to learn more? Check out the article for yourself, or take a look at our current collection of resources on music therapy and older adults.

Music Therapy and Dementia

Music Therapy & Dementia: Improving Quality of Life and Inspiring Memory Recall

Music Therapy with Older Adults: What Can Music Therapy Do for My Loved One?

As always, we would love to hear about your own experiences with how music has helped you or your loved one. Comment below to share your story!

Register for music lessons or music therapy


McCoppin, R. (2018, June 11). Music can call back loved ones lost in Alzheimer’s darkness: ‘so much we can do to improve quality of life’. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/ct-met-music-therapy-alzheimers-northwestern-20180324-story.html.


My Reflections on 5 Months Post-Internship

A person working on a laptop at a desk with a musical keyboard

This past weekend, many of my music therapy colleagues celebrated the milestone of completing all academic coursework, and many are on the way towards starting internship soon.

As I reflect back on the different life transitions in my music therapy career, I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since I finished these milestones! A lot has changed since entering the “real world,” yet, I still see how some things I learned in internship continue to be relevant in my day to day as a working professional.

For me, internship was a season of self care, capacity stretching, and professional growth. These things have all stuck with me, and continue to be relevant in my work at Music Therapy Connections.

Self Care – With new assignments and experiences each week, internship is very fast paced. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed at all the new responsibilities, but through regularly journaling about my day, my reactions, and the struggles that I encountered, I began to see how important it was to be in tune with my inner thoughts and actively seek opportunities to cope with stressful situations in a healthy way.

For me, self care looks like setting time aside in my schedule or in my commute to mentally and emotionally transition from home life to work life. I also like to do things that remind me that my identity and purpose isn’t defined solely through music therapy, such as spend time to deepen my relationship with my family and friends, as well as exercise.

Capacity Stretching – As a student, you are usually doing music therapy once a week, and preparing and doing documentation for that one session for a couple of days. In internship, you are typically leading multiple sessions a day for five days a week, and decreasing prep and documentation time significantly.

While growth in capacity doesn’t happen overnight, it is something that is essential in the transition from internship to working life. Not only is it about growing capacity, but it’s also about becoming more comfortable with increasing efficiency with planning time. This is definitely something that I am still growing in, especially since I know things will only get busier!

Professional Growth – I love how internship not only prepares you to do music therapy, but to also interact and work with other professionals and other individuals who support your clients. Establishing effective work and professional habits and communicating with others is definitely a skill that I use every day to talk with parents, support workers, future contracts, and to the public.

That being said, there are some things from internship that I’ve since learned were specific to my internship season.

Constant accountability – Every week in my internship, I had time devoted to meeting with my supervisors to discuss any issues and to help me stay on track. Now that I am working, it is important that I take ownership of my work and take steps to develop areas in need even when I don’t have a supervisor to keep me accountable.

Access to Information – As an intern, I took advantage of my student status and utilized my school library’s database of research articles on a weekly basis. Now that I’ve officially graduated,  I miss no longer having that access through my student account. I guess part of working in the real world is about letting go of student perks, eventually…

That’s all my post-internship thoughts for now.

Shout out to all the new interns, current interns, and post-interns who are all walking this music therapy journey with me! If you have any internship stories, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

You’re Invited!

Open House at Music Therapy Connections

Psst…Do you have a loved one, child, or friend who enjoys music? Are you a teacher, administrator or other professional interested in additional community resources?

Come join us on Sunday, May 6th for an open house at Music Therapy Connections! We love sharing with you on the blog every week, but we’d love to connect in person even more.

That sounds awesome, but I have a packed schedule and I’m not sure if I can make it.

We completely understand that your weekend might be busy. No worries! Stop by anytime between 10am – 4pm. At 1 pm, we hope you can participate in an all-ages drumming experience for the chance to win our big giveaway!

What should I expect when I come?

There will be opportunities to enjoy refreshments, make your own instrument, explore our facility, and talk face to face with our music therapists to learn how we can best serve your needs — whether you are a parent, community member, teacher, or administrator. We can’t wait to meet you!

What can Music Therapy Connections do for me?

We are a team of music therapists and music educators who have a heart to serve all ages in our community. We love working together with schools, day cares, senior care facilities, and local families to design music programs that fit the needs of whoever may benefit from music therapy, music lessons, or adaptive music lessons.  

Know someone in your life who might be interested? Bring your family, a friend, or colleague. Spread the word! All are welcome, and we’d love for you to join us!

Music Therapy & Co-Treatment: What Does it Look Like?

Music Therapy & Co-Treatment

Helping professions come in many different forms. And while music therapy is an effective therapy modality for individuals of all ages and needs on its own, it can also be a part of a bigger team of allied health professionals.

In this post, I want to showcase other health professions that serve to accomplish many of the same goals as music therapy, as well as show how the expertise of each distinct profession can be used to collaborate with music therapists to maximally serve the needs of each client.

SPEECH THERAPY is implemented by a speech language pathologist (SLP), who works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, n.d.)

What might it look like for a speech therapist and music therapist to co-treat together?

For a child who has a speech impairment, a speech therapist may help identify certain physical and neurological components with which the child is having difficulty. The speech therapist and music therapist may design interventions to address the specific impairment, which might look like composing a song that incorporates certain syllables within the song lyrics, certain rhythms that address various motor coordination, and certain note durations to improve breath support.

PHYSICAL THERAPY includes treatment by a physical therapist that creates individual treatment plans to match each person’s goals, helping people improve their fitness and function, avoid surgery, reduce the use of opioids and other drugs, and partner in their own care (American Physical Therapy Association, 2018, n.d.).

What might it look like for a physical therapist and music therapist to co-treat together?

For individuals who have suffered a stroke, it may be hard for the patient to walk at a regular pace for long durations of time. A physical therapist may assist the patient in the physical components of exercising while at the same time, the music therapist may match the exercise with a regular rhythmic beat. By matching the body’s movement with an auditory cue, duration of exercise increases, perception of fatigue decreases, and movement becomes more organized.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes (American Occupational Therapy Association, n.d.).

What might it look like for an occupational therapist and music therapist to co-treat together?

A child with Autism Spectrum Disorder may have difficulty with the daily routine of dressing and undressing. An occupational therapist may work with the child to incorporate certain adaptations, such as adding velcro or elastic to clothing to make changing easier. A music therapist may then compose a song with lyrics that include step-by-step directions for how to open and close the velcro on the child’s jacket.

There are so many ways that individuals of all ages and needs can receive support to have the best quality of life. Isn’t it amazing that all of these therapeutic modalities have their own expertise, yet can come together to form a powerhouse interdisciplinary team?

To find out more about how music therapy can be a part of your loved one’s care, click here.  


American Occupational Therapy Association (n.d). About occupational therapy. Retrieved from https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy.aspx.

American Physical Therapy Association. (n.d). About physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs). Retrieved from https://www.moveforwardpt.com/AboutPTsPTAs/Default.aspx.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d). Learn about the CSD professions. Retrieved from https://Amwww.asha.org/Students/Learn-About-the-CSD-Professions/.