Singable Books

Hello Readers!
This month we are focusing on repertoire used for Early Childhood settings, according to our Interviewee Kerry Devlin, MT-BC. 

Some of the powerful resources for interventions that we discussed are Singable Books. These are books that illustrate songs, or books that can be sung to familiar tunes. And in place of our Song of the Week (SOTW), I have compiled a list (in no particular order) of popular singable books and attached a link to another site which elaborates on that particular book. This post is CHALK FULL of AWESOME RESOURCES! I made it simple and to the point so you can scroll through and explore at your leisure. I hope you all find this helpful and informative, as well as inspiring in your own clinical practice. And, as always, we are interested in your input! Let us know what we should add to this list, or what your favorite ways are to address literacy goals. 

  1. Dinosaur Pet – sing to tune of Calendar Girl    
  2. Brown Bear – sing to tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star     
  3. What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong    
  4. We All Go Traveling By – comes with CD    
  5. Down by the Station
    Check out this post by Rachel Rambach about this song as well:
  6. Animal Boogie – comes with CD     
  7. Seals on the Bus    
  8. Where Has My Little Dog Gone.  
  9. Every Little Thing – Bob Marley   
  10. Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin – Tad Hills.    
  11. Pete the Cat.    
  12. Tap the Magic Tree.     

___ Here is a blog post which elaborates on a few of the songs I have listed above

___Here are a few more lists of books provided by other sites  

If you are interested in Singable Books, please check out these AMAZING blogs:
 – Music Therapy Kids: 
 – Sing Books with Emily: 



SOTW – The Swamp Song


Good Evening Friends!

Catherine and Kerry, thank you so much for such an informative interview!  It was wonderful to read through your approach to music therapy within the Early Childhood population.  I really like how instead of providing a song list, you identified 4 broad types of songs that work well with the Early Childhood population.

The song that I chose to cover for this week is one of my own composition.  I call it “The Swamp Song!”  It’s a novel song to use with a group, and does have movements that go along with it!  Click on the “Procedure” link above to be taken to a Google Doc with the lyrics.

This song provides randomized turns, these can help with goals related to self-regulation and turn taking.  Additionally, as there is a steadily increasing tempo throughout each turn, which can aid with goals associated with gross motor function.

Let me know if you end up using The Swamp Song!  And, of course, please let us know if you have any songs that you LOVE to use with this population!


Early Childhood Music Therapy – Interview with Kerry Devlin, MT-BC

Hello readers, welcome to the month of October! This is an exciting time for me because I am spending the whole month in Ohio visiting various family and friends. I am seeing the beauty of a foresty fall for the first time in 3 years, and it is nourishing to my soul! I have been looking forward to this time to take a step back from my daily life and experience some new adventures with my little boys.

So, coming to you from Ohio, I have words of wisdom from an inspiring professional on the topic of Early Childhood Music Therapy. I chose this professional for our interview this month because I was so drawn into her passion for Music Therapy when taking her FREE CMTE course on Music Therapy Ed (the West Music Professional Success Course). I reached out to her 2 years when I had the idea for this blog, and she encouraged me so emphatically, I had the confidence to start what is now the Music Therapy Repertoire Challenge. I have been following her blog and Instagram for 2 years and I am always in awe of her creatively and meticulously designed session materials. So without further ado:

kerry-devlin-mt-bc-picKerry Devlin, MT-BC obtained her BA in Vocal Performance at Telson University in 2012. She completed the Music Therapy Masters equivalency program at Shenandoah University, interned in a school setting, then achieved MT-BC certification in Feb 2014. Kerry is the Director of Programming for Annapolis Music Therapy Services (a private practice owned by C.J. Shiloh), and is currently pursuing her MM in Music Therapy at Shenandoah.

Kerry met C.J. through her internship, and once completed, they decided to start a private practice together. In only 2 years, it has grown to include multiple music therapy employees, contractors, and Interns. They cover a diverse range of populations and facilities in Central Maryland, including public schools, community programs, memory care facilities, an Early Intervention Center, and their own private clinic.Serving such a diverse range of clients, I inquired if Kerry had a favorite population to work with.“The answer to that question keeps growing and changing for me. I love working in community based settings that are a collaborative environment; where I have the opportunity to go into their culture, working with people to figure out what their role is in their community.”

Early Childhood Music Therapy
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Early Childhood is defined as “the period from birth to eight years old. A time of remarkable brain growth, these years lay the foundation for subsequent learning and development” Music Therapists serve this population in daycare centers, Schools, Community settings, as well as Healthcare facilities, in the context of 1:1 as well as group sessions. Young children with developmental, mental, or physical challenges are often taken out of their social contexts to receive therapeutic services, however the overarching goal is to transition to inclusion settings long term. Kerry shared with me that “separated groups are not necessary, but it’s just the nature of the environments where we provide services. Our clinic’s summer programming often includes siblings, which is a great opportunity for them to learn to support each other and bond in an environment where the focus is not on their deficit but on creating something together.”

Common Goal Areas include social, emotional, and pre-academic skills. Everything you need in order to be successful in a school environment. This includes: turn taking, impulse control, interacting appropriately with peers and teachers, and follow directions. These fundamental skills are naturally embedded in the context of a music experience. Therefore, it is essential to use what we know about music as tools for our clients’ success. “My most used strategy is to use music to my advantage as a regulator. Young kids may have difficulty regulating their bodies, making it difficult to take in new academic information. Maintaining a steady beat helps them to focus and gets their bodies ready for more challenging tasks.”

I asked Kerry if she has developed a consistent pattern of interventions to use when working with this population. “The order of interventions depend on each person’s need. I like to be really flexible, which stresses my interns out. I do a lot of planning, but I try to be open and be in the moment and use my tools as a clinician to decide where to go next. A certain pacing and arc in a session can be helpful: bookend with Hello/Goodbye songs, slowly work up to high level tasks, have the most challenging intervention in the middle, then come down from that. And in all of that embedding things like playing steady beat, syncing up to music that is pace matched to where the group is, or that’s targeting where the group might need to be. If everyone is going crazy, use that iso principle to bring the energy level down.”

This is Kerry’s personality as a therapist. The setting for her internship was very structured, but she highly values being totally present in the session for her clients. “We as therapists have very big tool kits available to us. We know a lot of music and there is a lot of value in being able to make a clinical decision in the moment based on all of that knowledge and then see where the session goes.”

It is important to find your personality as a therapist and work within that to create appropriate interventions for your clients.

“A well crafted intervention considers the person you are working with, what supports they might need, and utilizes components of music that help you reach their goals. For example, young children need predictable music, involving  simple language to promote participation. But those same elements will need to change if you are working with an 18 year old. It comes down to who you are working with and what is most meaningful to that person. Then use your skills as therapist and what we know about music and how to structure music to achieve a specific goal or purpose, use all that information to create interventions; whether that is before, or while the session is unfolding.”

Literacy interventions
Combining literature and music is useful when addressing pre academic skills and basic literacy skills such as turning pages, keeping fingers on the page, and developing listening comprehension.

Kerry’s current favorite fall book is called Tap the Magic Tree  , which can be sung to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb. It is an interactive book, also containing a sensory component and addresses many seasonal concepts. Literacy interventions are also a great opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration with Speech Pathologists “It’s hard to deny the value of music when some of the qualities that make it accessible to kids make great opportunities for speech and communication. It’s important to have an open door policy with the interdisciplinary team. Invite them to work with you on a regular basis, and seek opportunities to talk about how you are addressing clinical goals.”

Instead of giving me a list of songs for this population, Kerry broke it down into categories of music:

  • Children songs with movement elements: great for family centered sessions because parents often know the music too. They promote awareness and pre academic skills, imitating body movement and sounds.
  • Developmental Music Programs, such as Sprouting Melodies created by Beth Schwartz and Meredith Pizzi (  This is an Early Childhood music program along the same lines as Kindermusic, but it is created by music therapists for music therapists. The music is robust, containing different keys and modes, and childhood development is thoughtfully considered.
  • Original compositions for specific clinical purposes
  • Improvisation: Floor time, following client’s lead


  • VOICE: often enough for little kids, allows you to have hands free. Use a lot of affect in your face and voice, using dynamic ranges and different timbre quality. This helps with emotion recognition and anticipation.
  • Percussion instruments that are safe to go in someone’s mouth if that happens. Shakers, small drums, and a gathering drum.
  • Guitar
  • Tactile instruments: cabasa, ocean drums, anything with a sensory component which helps to explore different sounds while making music

Music Therapy and Early Childhood – book by Elizabeth Schwartz
According to Kerry, this is a must read for someone working with this population. It talks about how music development parallels child development, creating a foundational understanding of working with a young child in a session. “It is advantageous to have a solid understanding of where they are and how their music making reflects that or vise versa.”

Rachel Rambach’s Listen and Learn is also a great resource for this population. Rachel is constantly writing new material for use in Early Childhood settings and she shares many useful materials on her blog.

Songs for Success – This is Kerry’s own blog which she uses to share resources and materials. Be sure to follow her on her Instagram as well!


I hope my readers have been as inspired by Kerry as I am. She has a contagious passion for her work and I am excited to follow her successes in our profession!

This month, Becky and I will be taking a look at the categories of repertoire listed in this post. Since our repertoire list a little less specific than usual, we would LOVE to hear what YOUR favorite songs are for use with Early Childhood clients, OR favorite songs from YOUR childhood. Please feel free to share in the comments of our posts, on our Facebook page, or by sending us an email.

Have a musical and colorful October!

Changing Winds

Dear readers,

We would like to take a few minutes here to communicate with you about the status of this blog for the past few months. August was unusually quiet on our end, although we had big plans for that month. The reason for this (and good news) is there have been some exciting challenges and new directions developing in my life as well as Becky’s.


As some of you know, I had the immense joy of meeting my 2nd baby boy in June. He is all sweetness, and I can’t imagine my life without him! However, my delivery experience included some complications, making it harder to get back on my feet than I anticipated. On top of that, figuring out the logistics of life with 2 children has been a very busy adventure.Because of this, I have had to take a step back from everything and figure out my boys and how they need to be taught and loved by me.
Now that I am healed and feeling more like myself, I am discovering ways to open up my life to my hobbies and passions once again. Self Care is a habitual necessity now that I have a fuller house!


Becky –

This week, I’m moving back to Philadelphia to pursue a master’s degree in Music Therapy!  It may seem a bit abrupt–and I’m sure to many of my friends and colleagues here in Cincinnati, it was abrupt.  But a reality in this profession is so many opportunities require a master’s level education.  I’ve known I wanted to pursue a master’s since 2012, but I wanted to work in the field first.  As you can imagine, the month of August was full to bursting with closing my chapter of work here in Cincinnati and creasing the binding for what’s coming next!  :)

Hopefully, as we embrace our recent life changes, the next few months will show more frequency of posting. We have so many ideas as we move forward with the MTRC, we cannot WAIT to share them all with you, our dear readers!  We are so grateful to have you on this ride with us!  Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read.



Catherine & Becky

SOTW: Turn, Turn, Turn – Instrument Play

Good Evening, friends!


This week’s SOTW is a classic song written by Pete Seeger, famously performed by a group called The Byrds.  Turn, Turn, Turn, in its original form, is a song that is based off of a verse in Ecclesiastes.

I have linked a Google Doc above that has a re-write of this song that I have used in session.  It’s a fun instrument play song that has the element of surprise!  During the refrain (turn, turn, turn) the group sits in a circle and passes their instruments around.  During the verse, each person in the group has an opportunity to play the instrument that they have.  This allows variety and a randomness to the music experience that can keep all engaged, and provide opportunities for exploration of different instruments (not just preferred).

What other instrument play songs do you use with in session?  Comment below with your favorites!

In case you wanted to look into more songs from our top ten list for July, other instrument play songs are “Mama Don’t Allow,” “Canoe Round,” and “I’m In the Mood.



An Austrian Went Yodeling – SOTW

Our song of the week this week is An Austrian Went Yodeling!

Video | Lyrics/Motions | Powerpoint

This is a song that I learned a long time ago at camp, and have since modified to meet my clinical needs.  I have added links above with my lyrics/motions as well as a powerpoint visual that can be used with the song.  The video I’ve added is generic–a camp instructor is teaching a group how to do the song.  Although it is generic, this will be beneficial for you all to learn the song from.

I use this song to meet goals related to attention to task, eye contact, sequencing, and relaying information.  Depending on who I am working with, I will preface this song with a quick history on yodeling, basically explaining it’s a way of talking to people who are far away.  This song has space for different “interruptions” to come bother the Austrian.  Each time the verse is sung, a something new comes along.  The tricky part is remembering the order that the “interruptions” come in, as they are sequenced together.

Logically, the first interruption is an avalanche.  You can come up with as many different custom verses as you’d like!  I added 7 of my own if you click the “lyric/motion” link above.

Now, how I modified this song is I pass the motion from myself to the person next to me (right or left) who then passes it around the group back to me.  This differs from the original song, as you will notice if you watch the video.  Originally, the instructor and the group are singing and doing the motions at the same time.  I also dropped the, “pat, clap, snap” motion from the chorus and the “arm wave” conducting from the verse.  Instead, I keep time throughout the whole song by patting my legs steadily, keeping the rhythm and music constant even during lulls for processing time in the song.

By passing the sound and motion, the song not only relays physical information, but also verbal and auditory information.  I always stress the importance of looking at the person you’re passing to (“Otherwise, how will they know you’re passing to them!?”).  The funny sounds and motions tend to be reinforcing for those whom I do this song with.  It’s amazing how some kids really get into being Spiderman, or even come up with new catch phrases for different verses!

This week, I challenge you to come up with one new verse (interruption, body motion, and sound) to this song and share it on Facebook or Twitter!🙂

Looking forward to seeing you’re creativity in action!


July Monthly Theme – Camp Songs!

A Warm Hello from sunny Canandaigua, NY!

I hope you all had a lovely 4th of July!  I’ve had a change in scenery the last few days.  Most of my family lives up in the northeast of the country, so I’ve been visiting with them.  Self-care, and taking time for vacation is so important.  I’ve been enjoying the warm weather, cold water, and good company!

Unfortunately, I had a bit of over-exposure yesterday on the holiday.  Too much sun–the difference between hot sun and cold water had me feverish and ill before the fireworks even started.  But I’ve been taking it slow today, and resting up [as you can see below in the picture]!

Canandaigua Blues
Working in the window seat with a root beer float!🙂  What a view!

This month, our theme will be Camp Songs!  Something that is timely, and appropo for this time of year.  I enjoy adapting well known camp songs to have more clinical significance.  It makes life a little easier, employing a song that kids already know or songs that are simplistic and repetitive enough to learn quickly.

So, while the main focus will be talking about the top ten songs, I’ll be listing some ways to adapt them to better meet different goals!  :)

Our Top 10 Repertoire List for July is:

  1. An Austrian (Went Yodelling)
  2. Mama Don’t Allow
  3. Canoe Round
  4. Turn, Turn, Turn
  5. Rainbow Song
  6. Rooster Song
  7. Pete The Cat
  8. I’m in the Mood
  9. Baby Shark
  10. Check Boogie

Something that I’m going to suggest here immediately are two songbooks that I hold in high regard.  First is Rise Up Singing, second is Rise Again [Website here].  These two songbooks have a multitude of songs that are applicable to this month’s theme.  For example, Rise Up Singing has a whole, “Round” section that is easy to draw from for inspiration.  A few of the songs listed above came from one of these songbooks.

Looking forward to posting for you all on 7/11 and 7/25!  Keep your eyes peeled, and your inboxes open!