“What If” you take a minute to crack open a good book with Miss Sarah? You might just find a new tool to use with some of your clients!

As a school-based music therapist, I love adding books into my individual and group sessions. Many children’s books are naturally written in ways that lend themselves to rhythmic and/or melodic reading. I find that adding in rhythm and melody to these books really hooks kids in, engaging them in the story on a deep level.

Lately, I’ve seen many book recommendations from music therapists sharing their favorite children’s books and how they find success in using them in sessions. So, I thought I’d share one of my favorite books with you now.

**Spoiler Alert – I don’t have a melody or fancy rhythm to accompany the reading of this book, but stick with me because I think it can be used in music therapy sessions with great outcomes.

The Whatifs by Emily Kilgore is a clever and thoughtful story about a little girl named Cora. Cora is described as a “nervous girl; always jumpy and always on edge.” In the story, Cora is preparing for a piano recital and the “whatifs” LOVE her. The “whatifs” are illustrated beautifully as tiny, colorful creatures that surround Cora’s head and speak lots of negative “What ifs” into her ears. As Cora prepares for her piano recital the “whatifs” really cause her to fret, until she gets some great advice from a friend, and the “whatifs” change their tune!

Personally, I have used this book with my own children, and it has helped create a beautiful dialogue about switching our thoughts from those negative “what ifs” to positive “what ifs.”

Book cover image reads "The Whatifs" at the top in a dark cloud over a girl ho is blushing with a worried facial expression. colorful 'worry bugs' are all around the girl on the cover.

In my work as a music therapist, I’ve seen many clients who have “whatifs” running through their minds on a daily basis. Heck, I have my own “whatifs” that like to whisper in my ears on the daily. I mean, who doesn’t!?

I imagine using this book with those clients to help create positive “what ifs” in their minds and to foster an environment where challenges and mistakes are met with acceptance and grace.

I imagine helping clients bring their “whatifs” to life by creating their own “whatif” creatures out of instruments, fidgets, clay or good ‘ole paper and pencil.

I imagine writing a song about the “whatifs” (the good and not so good “whatifs”).

I imagine this book inspiring those deeper musical experiences to foster redirecting those negative “what ifs” into positive self talk and outcomes.

“What if” this book, paired with intentional music interventions, can help our clients reach new heights!?

Sarah C stands outside for a headshot in her logo tshirt

This blog post is written by Sarah Chappell, MT-BC. Sarah serves as the Clinical Director and the Internship Director for the Groovy Garfoose. She also uses her clinical skills to support groups and individuals in various school-based settings. In her free time Sarah enjoys being with family and finding time to be out in nature.