Monday, November 21, 2011

Schoolhouse Stories: Making Sense Out of Music Therapy for Teachers and Parents

I gave a presentation this past week at the 2011 national conference for the American Music Therapy Association.  The focus of my conference session was to help other music therapists teach parents and teachers about why music works.  My initial interest in this topic grew from my work as a music therapist in the public school system.  There seemed to be many instances when I was asked to consult with teachers and parents on how they could use music more effectively with their child or students.  

As I had more opportunities to talk to teachers and parents, I started to notice that I was using stories and examples of successful music therapy interventions and experiences in my consultations.  This was actually the driving force behind the start of my blog!  I decided that I should write up the stories and post them on the web so that people could go back and look at them as a resource.   

After I realized that stories were so powerful as a teaching tool, I looked up some of the research and theories behind the use of stories in education.  The following prezi presentation is the outline that guided my conference presentation at the 2011 AMTA conference.  I post it here especially for the people that attended the session, but I think it may also be helpful to those who did not attend, even if it is in outline form.  

After I went through the outline, I had the attendees form up into groups.  Each group read through an example story and then discussed the effects of music intervention mentioned in the story.  The groups were instructed to try and find the fundamental musical structures and elements that drove the successful educational outcomes in each story.  I have included links to the stories after the Prezi presentation.  Although these links contain the stories as well as my analysis, the conference attendees only saw the main story so that they could practice evaluating the uses of music in each case.  I encourage you to find even more elements and uses of music than I pointed out in these stories!


Jackson, P. W. (1995).  On the place of narrative in teaching.  In H. McEwan & K. Egan (Eds.), Narrative in teaching, learning and research (p. 5).  New York: Teachers College Press.

Jalongo, M. R. (2011, November 15). Stories that teach life lessons.  Retrieved from

McEwan, H., & Egan, K. (1995).  Narrative in teaching, learning, and research.  New York: Teachers College Press.

Roche, L., & Sadowsky, J. (2003). The power of stories: A discussion of why stories are powerful.              International Journal of Information Technology and Management, 2(4), 377 - 388.


1. William Learns to Walk Like a Man
2. Bobby and the Ladybug
3. Scooby Doo Meets His Match
4. Wendy and the Power of Melody

I hope you will let me know what you think about this idea of using stories to help teach people about the power of using music.  Please send me your comments and even your own stories and how you have used them!  Thanks again for reading and stay tuned in for more great stuff from the 2011 conference!

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