Margie La Bella, a music therapist and educator, began her career with the clarinet at age 9. Soon after she discovered that she could play by ear and that she liked to sing- and sing harmony! She began composing and performing in her early teens. Music has always been a “bright light” in her life: a source of joy, expression, connection and healing. She chose music therapy as a profession because she has seen the power of music and wants to share that with others’ hearts and minds.
Margie completed her music therapy internship in 1987 and promptly established the music therapy program with the children at the Leeway School where she continues to work. She has since obtained a master’s degree in special education.
Her CD series Move!Sing! Play Along and Learn! is a collection of original participation-based songs and dances designed to spark the imagination, playfulness, and language learning (expressive, receptive, and auditory/listening) of children. It is available to parents, grandparents, teachers, special education centers, therapists, music/dance/gym instructors and all those who are young at heart.
My life story: Why I am a music therapist
I was born a while ago, in a town called Shirley. It was Me, my mom and dad, and a whole street full of people related to each other. I mean that literally. I could never figure out why there was nobody to play with every Sunday afternoon, and why the street always smelled like spaghetti.
Being that I was the only kid on the block on these Sundays, I discovered some nice solitary things to do for amusement: puppets, drawing and writing stories. I liked to climb trees. And I used to contemplate deep things like how the stoplights knew the cars on the other side of the highway had stopped.
My music class was this: Once a month my school played a video of a hand puppet going up and down a xylophone like a ladder. That’s all until 4th grade.
We had a chance to sign up for instrument lessons and I took home a clarinet. I watched the forth grade band and told my mom and dad that soon I was gonna be on that stage.
Once I figured out how to tap my foot, I could count music beats and I was off. Well, my timing is still off. But, I have a great ear for figuring out melodies, harmonies and arrangements. I discovered it a few weeks after I met my clarinet. Didn’t do a thing to earn it. It was just always there and I am grateful. By the way, I found that, for the first time, I actually wanted to attend fourth grade -if it was a “music day.”
So music became my bright light: an inspiration, a motivation, a connection, a joy, an expression, a life-raft. I began to sing and play guitar and wrote quite a few songs. I had a great high-school music teacher who challenged me to write a composition for our jazz band. I ended up writing a seventeen part jazz chart called “It’s about Time” and it was played for the school twice! I was the featured trumpet soloist, (because I never got any solos in band.)
The reason I became a music therapist was because of what music did for me and my life. I wanted to give that opportunity and that tool to other people. Initially, I decided to be “the singing nurse” at age 17, but as soon as I heard about the field of music therapy, I was hooked.
In case you’re wondering, here is the current definition of music therapy according to the American Music Therapy Association:
“Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” (American Music Therapy Association definition, 2005)
Not meaning to oversimplify things, I explain it this way:
Music therapy is the purposeful, scientific application of specific musical activities and experiences with the objective of accomplishing that which is….“non-musical”.
These non-musical objectives can include the furthering of expressive and receptive language development, improvement of physical (large and small muscular) coordination, self-help skills and daily living activities, emotional healing and trauma reduction, concept development and pain management. Of course the list can go on and on as music therapists work with people of all ages and all of the conditions life can bring.
The shortest definition is as thus: music therapy is reaching and teaching through music.
Please, log on to musictherapy.org and see all that it has to offer. It is an excellent, reader friendly, informative site.
This is a good time to officially note that though these songs were written by a music therapist for music therapy aims, that they themselves in no way constitute a plug-in music therapist!! ( As a clinician, I use the series when I’m feeling under the weather, have bad allergies, or laryngitis…) Each CD can foster fun times, language and conceptual learning, problem solving, creative thought and bonding with friends!
I hope you can use these CDs and enjoy them with your own special people!