Successful Approaches for Older Adults with Varying Abilities


MusicWorx Toolbox: Successful Approaches for Older Adults with Varying Abilities, Third Edition is ideal for working in an older adult setting. But the ideas are adaptable to fit almost any population, helping clients achieve cognitive, sensorimotor, speech and language, social, and emotional goals. These intervention ideas are thorough enough that music therapists may replicate them exactly to create successful therapeutic sessions. But they also may incorporate any therapist’s unique artistic interpretation. The author describes how to adapt sessions to groups of clients with varying abilities, typical of older-adult communities.

All MusicWorx Toolbox Self-Study Courses are approved by the CBMT for 15 Continuing Music Therapy Education ( CMTE ) credits. MusicWorx Inc., #P-097, maintains responsibility for program quality and adherence to CBMT policies and criteria.

Links to downloadable content are included in your emailed receipt or found in your account!  Read More On CMTE Course Credits >

Please note that PDF copies are formatted for 8.5 x 11 and can be printed; however, they are not formatted for e-readers such as Kindle and Nook. The prices below for spiral-bound copies do not reflect shipping & handling.

SKU CMTE-003 Category

How to Use This Toolbox

  • with older-adult groups in a variety of settings
  • as a template for other music-centered wellness groups that target older adults
  • for easy adaptation in group and individual sessions to meet the needs of unique clients

What’s Inside This Toolbox

  • 158 single-sided pages
  • 90 digital files for colorful handouts, including songs, articles, book lists
  • 15 detailed sessions
  • digital form download (included with CMTEs)
  • foreword by guest author
  • working with older adults with varying abilities information
  • list of reference and music books for expanded knowledge and repertoire


  • Introduction
  • Session 1: Apples
  • Session 2: Humor
  • Session 3: Modes of Travel
  • Session 4: Colors
  • Session 5: Moon Songs
  • Session 6: Women’s Names in Song
  • Session 7: Let’s Hear It for the Boys
  • Session 8: Home Sweet Home
  • Session 9: Smiles
  • Session 10: Country Music
  • Session 11: Honoring Disney
  • Session 12: Feel the Spirit
  • Session 13: Friendship
  • Session 14: Folk Songs
  • Session 15: Weathering It
  • 50 Recommended Songs
  • Reference Books
  • Music Books

Learning Objectives

References to items on the Board Certification Domains are based on the Practice Analysis Study of 2019. Those registered for the MusicWorx Toolbox: Successful Approaches for Older Adults with Varying Abilities will develop or improve their abilities to help others express themselves through active music-making, writing songs, and by analyzing lyrics. Participants will learn these skills for group settings and individual work.

Successful Approaches for Older Adults with Varying Abilities addresses these specific competencies in the current Board Certification Domains:

Learning Objective 1
2020 Domains:
II. B | II. D. | III. A. 2

Create a themed session plan with content and interventions appropriate for older adult populations.
II. Referral, Assessment, Interpretation of Assessment and Treatment Planning
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation

Learning Objective 2
2020 Domains:
II. B | III. A. 1 | III. A. 2 (ee, ggg) | III. A. 5 (j, k)

Explain considerations for selecting recorded music for use in older–adult movement interventions.
II. Referral, Assessment, Interpretation of Assessment and Treatment Planning
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation

Learning Objective 3
2020 Domains:
III. D. 4-5 | III. D. 9-13

Create a repertoire of 25 songs to use with older adults.
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation

Learning Objective 4
2020 Domains:
III. A. 5 (a-hh)

Compose and / or arrange a vocal or instrumental piece of music for an older adult population.
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation

Melissa Wargo-Geesen, MT–BC

Melissa earned her Bachelor of Music Degree at »Kent State University in 1988 and her Music Therapy Equivalency Degree from »Baldwin Wallace College in 1993. Since completing her internship at »Philhaven short-term psychiatric hospital in central Pennsylvania, Melissa has focused on and served the geriatric population as a music therapist and activities director at numerous long-term care facilities in the Akron, Canton, and Greater Cleveland areas. Throughout the 1990s, Melissa was a frequent presenter at local and national music therapy conferences. And in 1997, WEWS TV ABC News Channel 5 documented Melissa’s work in the Alzheimer’s disease field. For the last five years, Melissa has mainly been providing services for hospice patients at Vinney Montefiore Hospice in Beachwood, Ohio.

  • The plethora of session plans! So many wonderful ideas to try out. I especially appreciate the processing questions.

    Elizabeth Lenz, MT-BC - January 2022
  • The information that I found most helpful was the descriptions of different music interventions. There are many I have not tried before and are excited to implement into my practice. I also like how I can take this new information and and adjust it to meet the needs of my clients.

    Jessica Roney - February 2020
  • Thank you for this wonderful course. I will be re-certified at the end of the year, I will be coming back to Musicworx and have been suggesting it to all Music Therapists I know.

    Breanna K. Noe MT-BC - November 2019
  • Great course! Presented lots of practical, specific information that is useful for developing successful session plans and activities. Tons of practical and specific ideas that can be incorporated into session plans and activities. The author demonstrated a thorough grasp of both the challenges and joys that can be present when working with this population.

    Michael Timmons, MT-BC - October 2019
  • Everything about this course was great. It had a lot of great information.

    Adam Krajnikconde, MT-BC - June 2019
  • The separation between high and low and lowest functioning clients was most useful. After a four-year hiatus from music therapy and working with geriatrics, this course was the perfect reminder of strengths and needs of clients. I also loved having entire sessions outlined for me, along with helpful adaptations.

    Erica Buchhammer, MT-BC - December 2018
  • Once again these Toolbox Trainings did not disappoint! I've been meaning to complete a new songbook for my patients and this allowed me to accomplish that goal!

    I find the information/group sessions to be a fantastic refresher and give me plenty of new ideas to bring to my groups. The ability to complete these assignments according to my own schedule and time frame is so beneficial my "free" time to complete CMTEs is limited and being on my own makes it easy!

    Thanks again! I look forward to the next one.

    Lindsey M.S. Griffith, MA, MT-BC - April 2018
  • What was most helpful with this course is having a book with 15 themed session plans. This is a great resource. I can continue to use it in my practice for years. I thought this CMTE course was well put together and the objectives were easy to understand and met.

    Erica Rath, MT-BC - January 2018
  • Thank you for an excellent self study course! It spurred some badly needed creativity in session planning as well as validated many things that I already do.

    Valerie V. Jones, MT-BC - May 2017
  • I found the amount of ‘varying’ was useful for this population. The course was laid out very well.

    Ryan - August 2015
  • The first eight pages of the book contain "special considerations" when working with older adults. This was really wonderful information. I liked the diversity of the music therapy session interventions. I love being able to do these self-study courses at my own pace. All of the courses through MusicWorx have been exception. This has been my favorinte one. Thank you for these toolboxes.

    Anonymous - December 2012