November Theme – Cover Songs


One of the main tenants of music therapy is that of recreation.  As music therapists, often we’re mistaken as walking jukeboxes…  All jokes (and next year’s Halloween costume) aside, recreating a song or musical experience is integral to our work in music therapy.

Which leads me to “covers!”

Usually when a musical artist recreates a song that was written or performed by another musician, they call it a cover.  Covers, I feel, have been increasingly popular since YouTube came onto the scene in 2005.  It is very easy to go on YouTube and find multiple different interpretations of songs.  They could be an exact recreation of that song (down to the last instrument), or it could be a “reimagining” of the song (whether that is executed acoustically, or with a new style integrated).

This is an example of a cover that reimagines the song with a new style:
SHEL – Enter Sandman  (Metallica)

This is an example of a cover that exactly recreates the original:
mae – A Day In The Life (The Beatles)

This is an example of a cover that recreates the original with new lyric content:
Nataly Dawn & Kina Grannis – No // 90s Mashup (Meghan Trainor & various 90s artists)

As a music therapist, recreation is a vehicle (means) to a therapeutic end.  It can be empowering for anyone to insert their own words to a familiar song, as well as engaging or fun to take a preferred song, and play it on one’s own.

Although recreation is something that we employ as music therapists, there are many others who make a living off of making covers.  Weird Al, for example.  There is so much content out there to learn from, and be aware of.  This month, we will be turning to musicians and seeing how they approach recreation from an artistic standpoint: how to create a cover with limited instruments, ways to reimagine a song to lend it to easier singing, or perhaps different modifications for playing.

If this is a topic that you’d love some extra literature for, there is an excellent piano book out there by Josh Massicot (a professor at Nazareth College within their Music Therapy and Creative Arts Therapy department).  It’s titled, Functional Piano for Music Therapists and Music Educators: An Exploration of Styles and indeed provides some excellent resources for recreating styles of music.

Each week, Catherine and I will add to a running list of cover songs to gain inspiration from for this month, as there is literally an endless list of songs that this concept could be applied to!

Until next time,


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