Dance Monkey

Hello! It’s been a minute since I last shared on the blog, but I’m excited to share with you something I’ve been working on during these long days at home. Now that I have more time, I’ve been able to try new things, in addition to Zoom calls and bread making, of course. ;)

One afternoon as I was preparing for an online session, I heard a song that sparked my creative gears. It had a catchy beat and lyrics that had potential to be adapted to a goal-based song that I could use with my clients. Pretty quickly after I heard it, I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity to get creative pass me by. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but in the next coming days, “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I, evolved from a song on the radio to a full out-goal based adaptation, complete with a music video.

With the help of my husband, (shout out to all the music therapist spouses!) I put together all the vocal tracks and movie clips..all of which I was learning how to do the fly. In week 8 of social distancing, I’m excited to share with you all this video and adapted song.

Feel free to use it as a resource to promote your clients’ motor and directionality goals in your online sessions. You can download the adapted lyrics and chords for free right here. Enjoy! 

Looking For The Good

A sweet drawing that a well-wisher drew on the chalkboard wall in our lobby at Music Therapy Connections.

Recently, my coworker Laura shared a great new Jason Mraz song, “Look For The Good”, with our team. It’s a beautiful song about looking for the good amidst troubling times in your life. I immediately realized that it might be beneficial for some of the people I work with, especially in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

I was able to collaborate with my supervisor Katey on a music therapy activity to go along with it. As all of our sessions now take place via Zoom or pre-recorded video, this activity was designed to be done by the participant on his/her own, instead of during a live, in person session. However, it can be modified to fit the needs of the people you work with.

I’d love to share that activity with you today!


“Into the Unknown” – Drumming Intervention

I’m sure all of you have seen or heard about the movie that is all the rage nowadays: Frozen 2. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. If you haven’t heard the music, listen to it. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and I couldn’t help but get some inspiration from the amazing music for future music therapy interventions.


Holiday Music!

I am sure all of you have your holiday list of music ready to go during this time of year. I started getting requests for Christmas music before Thanksgiving, which I suppose is quite common. I personally try to wait to listen to holiday music until after my Thanksgiving meal, but I will definitely break that rule if someone requests it. :)

The holiday season is definitely my favorite time of the year. There is so much joy to be experienced and to share with others. Lots of people have been waiting all year to hear their favorite holiday tune again. There is nothing else quite like singing a beloved holiday song with your group members and seeing the excitement in their eyes. 

It has been fun to see all of the suggestions I have gotten so far. Here are just some of the requests I have gotten from clients ranging in age from school age children to older adults:

  • Adeste Fideles
  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Hallelujah (Pentatonix version)
  • Here Comes Santa Claus
  • It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
  • Jingle Bells
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • O Holy Night
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Silent Night
  • Silver Bells
  • Up on the Housetop
  • Winter Wonderland

While my personal list of favorite holiday songs is much longer than this, it has been interesting to hear what my clients and students are most often wishing to sing. 

What holiday tunes do you get requests for most often? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Emma Kovachevich

Preparing for the Board Certification Exam

Hello again everyone! Did you think you saw the last of me? Well, surprise! I’m back! As my internship has come to a close, I’m adjusting to my new professional life and preparing to take the Board Certification Exam for Music Therapists. 

As I gather materials and refresh on all I have learned throughout my music therapy education, I am realizing that I learned A LOT in four and a half short years. It has honestly been pretty daunting thinking about everything I need to study or refresh on (I’m looking at you music theory). 

Yes, there is a lot of material to cover, but it’s important to remember that you learned all of it at one point. Plus, much of it has been applied in numerous real-life situations throughout college practicums and internship. Now it’s just a matter of getting it back fresh in your head. Here is how I’ve been preparing for the exam:

The New Music Therapist’s Handbook by Suzanne B. Hanser

I remember reading this book my freshman year of college. It is full of so much information, and breaks it down into chapters that are similar to the CBMT Domains. I re-read the whole book, but if there is a certain section you are specifically concerned about, I would recommend reading its corresponding chapter in the book. This book is a great refresher on the individual components of music therapy fieldwork.


I have made lots of flashcards for this exam. Most of them include definitions that may appear in the questions on the exam. As I create and study these flashcards, I need to keep reminding myself to set aside what I already know well, and focus on the ones that need a little more work. It will make the process of studying seem a lot easier.

While studying the flashcards, I also think about how the information may be asked on the exam. I ask myself questions like: What aspects of the term on each flashcard set it apart from others? What makes this specifically unique? How should I respond if this happened during a session? 

Take Advantage of the Practice Exams

CBMT offers two practice exams to help you prepare. I took one after reading the Hanser book but before making flashcards and studying further. I did this to see where I was and how I was doing so far. This helped me pinpoint what I really needed to study and focus on. I plan to take the second practice exam closer to my actual test date. 

This is what I am currently doing to prepare myself for the Board Certification Exam for Music Therapists. Everyone will have different study techniques, but this is what is working for me right now. If you would like to read some more tips, check out Molly Robitaille’s blog post about her strategies for conquering the exam!

As I continue to prepare, I would love to hear what has worked for you while studying for this exam. Please let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Emma Kovachevich

{Application of the Week} Train’s A-Coming

{Application of the Week} Train's A-Coming | Instrument Play in Music Therapy

This application uses a simple call and response tune to facilitate an instrument activity that challenges clients to listen and follow along as the song gradually moves faster and faster!

I love how the music and lyrics naturally motivates clients to listen and move together, providing ample opportunity for clients to work on gross motor movement and other auditory skills.

Possible Goals Addressed:

  • gross motor and fine motor movement
  • discrimination of fast and slow
  • tolerating transitions

Music Used:

Jenkins, E. (1996). A Trains-A-Coming. [recorded by Ella Jenkins] On Jambo and Other Call and Response Songs and Chants [CD]. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Materials needed:

The music therapist will pass out shakers to each client. After prompting the clients to listen and move with her, the music therapist will begin to sing the song at a slow pace. (optional call and response can be added for added engagement).

As the song progresses, the music therapist will gradually increase the tempo, so as to imitate a train accelerating, prompting the clients to shake faster. Adaptions can include prompting clients to lead the change in tempo through visual aids of red lights, yellow lights, and green lights.


Trains-a-coming (trains-a-coming)

Train is a comin’ (train is a comin’)

Tell me how do you know (Tell me how do you know)

Trains-a-coming (trains-a-coming)

Train is a comin’ (train is a comin’)

I can see that engine puffing so