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This Test is Too Hard!… Or is it?

Life is a Test

By Miriam Hendeles (lyrcis); Jana Stanfield (music); Vocals and recording Arthur Kaufman

Remember when we were in school as kids and a teacher gave a really challenging test? I’m thinking about a particular math teacher in high school who always created questions with a little bit of trickiness in them. You may have another teacher in mind.

But we all have memories of tough teachers, don’t we? How did we handle it?

Careful studying. Practicing. Understanding.


Singing is Fun!

Singing is Fun!

Singing? Yup. I sang a lot of my material while studying. I created mnemonics to tricky problems and formulas and I would recite them in my mind and make up lyrics to familiar songs.


I believe other people do the same thing. I’m not unique in that way. Studies have shown how music can enhance memory.

Life is a lot like that. Sometimes things are easy and we coast along, figuring stuff out with our lovely children and spouses.


Also  financial situations, relationships and so forth. Other times things get a  little bit tricky and we just want to scream out how unfair it all is.


Singing is one way I have coped through the ups and downs of life.

I’ve been around the block a few times in my life, with stuff that I’ve gone through. Most of that I don’t write about in my blog, because I try to keep this blog upbeat and fun. Hey, it’s about the joys (and oys) of being a grandmother, and how challenging can that be?


Climbing mountains! That’s fun for us!

But, there have been tests over the years. Way before I became a mother-in-law, grandmother. I’m a middle aged person (sounds really old, but I don’t feel that way!), and  my husband and I have gone through raising a family of sons, marrying off three of them, thank G-d, and the various ups and downs of life.

Last year, our second son came down with a new (to us) virus, which affected his spinal chord and he was diagnosed with an illness called transverse myelitis. Needless to say, he, his lovely wife,  my husband and I and the rest of our family, went through a lot to be there for him. Thank G-d, 9 months later, he’s much better. But he’s not out of the woods yet. He still needs prayers, (Avraham ben Miriam is his Hebrew name for praying).

I broke my ankle almost 7 months ago, and I’m much better, thank G-d, but not out of the woods yet. Soon I will be.

Through all this, and other stuff, we thank G-d for our blessings, we enjoy our lives, and we continue to sing.

Sometimes the words and the structure of the song combined with the melody inspires us to focus on important concepts inherent in the lyrics. If the same words were spoken or heard, we may not get them. But by singing and playing them, we get the message stronger. The music accesses our heart as well as our mind.

Recently, I composed a song called “Life’s a Test” (play above in post) – (lyrics by yours truly) to address this theme of doing our best in life, studying as hard as we can, and trusting that G-d will do the rest.

So the next time, you have a difficult exam, whether it is a school – or life — challenge, try singing! It may be just what you need!

Check out the song above, “Life’s a Test” and let me know how it helps you!

For more information about music therapy, please visit the music therapy website,

  • Lyrics by Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC; Lyrics adapted for instructional and sharing (non-profit) purposes to Jana Stanfield‘s music –

“How Beautiful”  by Jana Stanfield and Jerry Krimbrough; (used with permission for instructional purposes only).


-Vocals and Recording by Arthur Kaufmann of Magic Key Productions – Cedar City, Utah (

Non-photo images above: Credit

“The reason my co-writers and I write these songs is so that people will hear them, use them, and enjoy them. There are very few radio stations out there that play this kind of music, so please be our DJ’s.” — Jana Stanfield (on her website, 2012).


Songs for the Journey of Life

The Great Puzzle

By Lyrics by Miriam Hendeles; Music by Jana Stanfield; Vocals by Arthur Kaufman

Last night I was at an engagement party with my faithful scooter under knee (I’d say “underfoot” but foot is not working yet!), and a few people stopped me and asked, “What? You’re still with that broken ankle? So long?”

Yes, people, it’s been over 6 months. Back in February I broke my ankle and have been through a long journey to get this foot working again. The good news is that my road to recovery is almost over! In a few weeks, I hope to have the cast off and look forward to beginning physical therapy, returning to my real job and getting my life back!

As a music therapist, I use music to help others achieve therapeutic goals. The past months, I became my own music therapist. I composed songs. I wrote lyrics. That’s one way that I coped. Hey, as much as I tried to see the silver lining,  it’s not easy being cooped up in a house reading, writing, and doing hobbies.

Sometimes you just have to sing! And so that’s what I did.

We love music!


For those of you who don’t know much about the music therapy profession, there’s lots to read about music therapy and its benefits. I’ve been a music therapist for almost 20 years and I love what I do.

I’ve been inspired for many years by the singer and song-writer Jana Stanfield, who is a fabulous motivational speaker and concert artist. She’s not a music therapist, but she is a huge proponent of the profession, and even encourages music therapists to use her music in their sessions and singing engagements. She wants her music to be out there to help people.

I attended a workshop in lyric writing given by her many years ago and I have been purchasing, listening to and enjoying her various CD’s and music over the past 12 years. I believe her music helps people put common sense ideas for spiritual growth into music. And that’s a great thing for all of us, especially during these difficult and challenging times in the world and in our personal lives.

Here’s one song that she wrote which I absolutely love. As we go through life, we may feel lost at times and can’t find our way. But if we view ourselves as “exploring” rather than being “lost,” than we can see it as a positive action toward finding something special at the end of the road. Here’s the link to Jana’s clip to part of her  song: (click) – “I’m not lost; I’m exploring.”

If you want to buy any of her CD’s, pop on over here and grab some of those. They’re great.

So here I am, listening to Jana Stanfield’s  music, becoming inspired and itching to compose my own process, my own lyrics over her music. She encourages that, as I’ve said earlier. She gives permission to do that, because she wants people to learn and spread the value of her music.

Attached to this post is  the audio of the song, “The Great Puzzle.”  It’s about my journey with the broken foot and the subsequent recovery. My friend, Arthur Kaufmann of Magic Key Productions sings and records the music.

For more information about music therapy, please visit the music therapy website,

– Lyrics by Miriam Hendeles, MT-BC; Lyrics adapted for instructional and sharing (non-profit) purposes to Jana Stanfield‘s  music –    “I’m Not Lost; I am Exploring”     ( and   Jerry Kimbrough; (Used with permission for instructional purposes only).

-Vocals and Recording by Arthur Kaufmann of Magic Key Productions – Cedar City, Utah  (

“The reason my co-writers and I write these songs is so that people will hear them, use them, and enjoy them. There are very few radio stations out there that play this kind of music, so please be our DJ’s.” — Jana Stanfield (on her website, 2012).

– Photos credit: M. Hendeles




Q and A about Music Therapy

I was asked to share about my profession of Music Therapydrumcircle.

And so, without further ado, here are the questions followed by my responses:

Hope you enjoy!

1. To start, could you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your backstory?
I am originally from New York, and moved to Los Angeles about 34 years ago. I always loved music, rhyming, composing lyrics, singing and playing piano. More recently, I studied harp and play that instrument as well for my current clients and patients. I hold a B.A. in music, and a M.A. in Special Education. I’ve worked as a music therapist with children who have developmental disabilities, as well as patients in hospice care.
2. In layman’s terms, what is a music therapist?
A music therapist is a trained professional who uses music for non-music purposes for clients and patients. Music is the tool that helps the therapist reach the patient. The music combined with the personality of the therapist and the therapeutic relationship are what propel the patient forward in growth. A music therapist assesses a patient, plans treatment, and documents results of goals and objectives.
3. What type of disorders do music therapists treat?
Autism, Down syndrome and various developmental disabilities. Elderly patients who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Stroke victims. Speech disorders. Psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder. Addiction, and personality disorders. These are just a few – there are others.
4. What led you to want to become a music therapist?
When I was in my mid-20’s, I experienced a life changing experience- the sudden death of my infant daughter–who had a congenital heart defect, and music helped me recover, heal from the pain, and gain a sense of self and structure. I recalled my first piano teacher had been a music therapist who worked with autistic and developmentally disabled children, helping them through music establish relationships.

My admiration for this teacher combined with my personal healing through music compelled me to go back to school for my second bachelor’s degree in music (my first was in Computers), and a credential in Music Therapy. At the time, I had been giving piano lessons to neighboring children, teaching music appreciation. Several years later, I earned my Master’s degree in Special Education for moderate to severe disabilities.
5. What musical instruments do you play? Which ones do you use in your therapy sessions and why?
Piano, keyboard, voice, harp.
I use all in my sessions. Depending on what instrument the patient would respond to, I use that one. My goal is to engage the patient and I choose an instrument that would facilitate that engagement and participation. Sometimes I only use voice..I also use rhythm instruments with certain clients – such as percussion instruments, maracas, cabasas, egg shakers, castanets.
6. What does a typical music therapy session look like in terms of length (time) and activities?
Music is highly structured. A session has a beginning, middle and end. For group sessions, I begin with a hello song or activity. Then I progress with a particular goal and theme for the session. I will build activities around that theme. Every session turns out differently depending upon the clients. I usually conclude with some kind of good-bye activity where we wrap up what we’ve learned. For individual sessions, it’s more client-centered. I may do an improvisational technique where the client and I will mirror each other with a xylophone or other instrument that is easily accessible to a non-musical client. That establishes the relationship with echoing and mirroring. There are so many techniques that can be used. But in a nutshell – every session has to have the structure of beginning middle and end.
7. For our readers who may be interested in music therapy services for either themselves or a loved one: How does one find/choose a music therapist? What tips can you offer to aid in the search?
One may go the website of the American Music Therapy Association, the AMTA – which is the site where one can find all accredited and board certified music therapists in the U.S. – particularly in the state and city where you may live.
The site is

SingFit – an App for the Apple!

Imagine a whole collection of music right at your fingertips.

Singing is Fun!

Singing is Fun!

No, I’m not talking about karaoke where you have to know the words; nor am I talking about sheet music where one would have to read the words along with the music.

This is about singing songs and a digital coach actually prompting you aurally – not visually –with the words!

Now, just imagine that music can be played spontaneously with and for seniors in nursing home facilities or assisted living settings. Seniors in these settings would be completely engaged and  immersed in  singing  their favorite songs from their childhood and coming-of-age years.  Research has shown that individuals and especially seniors respond most favorably to sing-alongs of music that is retrieved from the time that they were in their adolescent and young adult years.

How wonderful for that music to be available for those who want to engage seniors in worthwhile interactive activities, bringing them socialization and good cheer.

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The Ten Commandments of Blogology

Over the past few months, several blogging pals,  writer friends, and I  have progressed in Blogology.

We  studied the myriad commandments of blogging. We read high brow blogs, shared wisdom from writer gurus, swapped links, met at cafes and discussed our latest writings in preparation for submissions.

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You Get What You Get…

Yes, you get what you get…and you don’t get upset! That’s the chant I’ve used with my music therapy groups of children when I passed out instruments. When some of the kids were a bit disgruntled with the particular maraca or bells they were handed, I used that chant as a reminder.  In fact, my own grandsons use this chant on each other.

“Hey, I got it first! You get what you get! Remember?” — he says to his cousin who has just laid claim to a truck or car that he felt was HIS.

“Everything we need to know in life has been learned in kindergarten” is a saying that keeps popping up in my mind’s eye when I realize how valuable these childlike lessons are.

It is all about my choices and perceptions of my lot in life.

I realize these days how God gives each one of us exactly what we need in life. I could pine and wish for that trip to Israel or Europe, but hey – it’s not happening yet. I could choose to be envious of those who take monthly getaways with their spouses. But I don’t. Instead I’m content with the lifestyle that I have.

I could decide to detest that person who somehow racks up all that mileage and manages to take a cruise to Alaska during the summer. But I don’t. I’m happy for them, and even happier for me for being healthy thank G-d, and able to stay comfortably in one place without traveling.

I could also be extremely jealous of said acquaintance whose husband has a job that enables them to get vacation more often than my own husband’s 3 weeks per year – which are mostly taken up by Jewish Holidays. But instead I tell myself that someday – when G-d means for this to happen – we will afford such a trip.

Similarly, I could be resentful of those who seem to have such an easy time staying slim, (okay, okay I’m a bit angry at those people). I could be mad at those who seem to be so calm, cool and collected and rarely (never?) raise their voices. I could find fault with these people because that would be an easy way for me to put them down (in order to raise myself). Instead, I choose to be happy with my lot.

You get the idea. It’s all in our perceptions. It’s all about how we see things. The cup half empty? Or the cup half full?

It is our choice to either be content with our lot, or not. We might as well appreciate our lot in life for what they are: gifts given to us by God, to be used. Not to be compared with others.

We get what we get. Great chant to sing – from kindergarten up to any age!

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