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Wellness Kensington Park

Musical Notes with Melissa: Personal Preferences

Melissa Pate

A question I’m commonly asked is, “How do you know what songs to sing with your clients? Do you just sing anything?” One of the foundations of music therapy is incorporating client-preferred music, whether that is a genre they like, a meaningful song or a preferred artist. When working in long-term care, it’s important (and sometimes needed) to branch out a little. Now when I say branch out, I don’t mean jump from Sinatra to Springsteen, but rather, find variety in how we use the music so that our sessions aren’t redundant for the client or the Music Therapist.

One tool we find helpful is theme-based planning. If you’ve joined us for our virtual program Music for the Mind, Body, & Soul, you know that every session we have a theme. In the Fall, we chose themes like “Embracing Change” or “Puttin’ on the Hits.” In January, our theme was “Finding our Foundations.” If you were to sit in on a session at Kensington Park, you might find our Music Therapists doing the same thing! We choose a theme to focus on each week or maybe each month, selecting songs that go along with that theme and creating goal-based interventions around it. What’s even better is we can still use client-preferred music, no matter what the theme is! This allows for more variety for the resident and a chance for us as Music Therapists to be creative in our planning.

For any questions regarding music therapy services, please reach out to me at

If you’re interested in registering for our virtual program, Music for the Mind, Body & Soul, reach out to Conor Duncan at