Mary Ellen Heelan

Music Therapist and Entertainer, Trained and Accomplished Instrumentalist

Music Therapy

Board-certified Music Therapist specializing in geriatrics, dementia and hospice

Special Events

Mary Ellen has performed your favorite musical tunes throughout the Chicago area



What makes us different? We’re versatile, flexible and spontaneous. Mary Ellen, of Heelan Music, has a gift for connecting with listeners. There are no “canned programs”. Whether it is a historical presentation, music therapy session, wedding, memorial service or themed event, your program is customized just for you.

Music Therapy

Mary Ellen Heelan is a Board certified and Neurologic Music Therapist providing individual or group treatment for adults including geriatric clients in all settings, and persons dealing with dementia, neurologic and psychiatric conditions.

Mary Ellen is also hospice trained. She is available on a contract basis to work or consult with you on your specific needs.

Music therapy is especially effective for persons with dementia and Mary Ellen has specialized training and extensive experience.

Special Events

Heelan Music will enhance any special event with appropriate background music: Events such as Wedding Ceremonies, Anniversary or Retirement Dinner, and Memorials.

Enrich Holiday Events, Celebrations or Seasonal Festivals. Ideal for Fundraisers, High Teas, Marketing Events, and Conferences.

Music Programs available for Libraries, Park Districts, Women’s Clubs, Senior Centers, Retirement Communities and Nursing Homes. Can include direction of resident choirs.

Historical Presentations

"We Sang! We Danced! A Musical History of McHenry County"

McHenry County has a rich but little-known musical history. It's a fascinating and mysterious history of local dance halls, many opera houses and other venues that existed throughout the County. Trap doors, hidden tunnels and gangster connections are a part of this history along with barn dances and lavish society balls.

Hear and sing to the music of many local music makers. If you are a long-time resident of the County, there will be opportunities to add your own recollections to the County’s musical puzzle. You will come away with new knowledge of musical history.

Private Lessons

Private Music lessons are available. Contact us for information.

Students can learn to play simple tunes quickly on the hammered dulcimer, and it sounds so beautiful that even a single line melody is lovely. As you become more familiar with the instrument, you can start adding some harmonies, fills and embellishments. You can also learn how to play as part of a group ensemble.

The piano accordion is not just for polkas. It's an incredibly versatile instrument for playing a variety of styles. The accordion may look complex at first glance but is in many ways easier to play than the piano.

Working in Hospice

Mary Ellen was recently interviewed for her music therapy work she does for hospice paitents.

Mary Ellen plays music for hospice paitents


“We often hear that the whole family is the patient in hospice care. Music stays with us as long as our hearts keep beating. The rhythm is there and music gives families a chance to keep connecting with their loved one. “What was his/her favorite song?,” I’ll ask. If it’s a couple, I’ll ask if there was a special song that the two of them shared. Helping families through anticipatory grief through music and guiding them as they think about music for a memorial service later is a blessing and a privilege. I have a special soft spot in my heart for patients with dementia who are also under hospice care. Research shows that music can access long-forgotten memories and open a window, however briefly, to let them have those final special moments together. Music helps patients work through the wide range of feelings they experience at end of life and bring them a sense of peace....

To read full interview, visit Transitions Hospice



“If she’s heard it, she can play it”. For Mary Ellen Heelan, also a board-certified Music Therapist, serendipity comes naturally. Since she plays by ear as well as by note, she is always ready for an impromptu solo or duet that might include one of your guests, or for on-the-spot accompaniment for a relative who has written a tribute song in honor of a happy couple.


The hammered dulcimer, a stringed instrument played with “hammers” has an ethereal, harp-like sound perfect for receptions, quiet moments during wedding ceremonies or receptions, memorial services, or for background music on any occasion.
Mary Ellen and her Hammered Dulcimer


Mary Ellen has played the accordion nearly all her life - dance, ethnic music and standards from every era. The accordion is wonderful for outdoor events and Oktoberfest celebrations. Mary Ellen has performed at venues throughout the Chicagoland area.
Mary Ellen and her accordian


Mary Ellen performs all the music you love to hear – the Great American Song Book comes to life as well as many other genres and musical styles. Mary Ellen is often asked to play both the piano and the accordion on the same occasion - though not at the same time!
Mary Ellen with her Piano



See Heelan Music in action, visit Musical Serendipity for Any Event

Music Therapy Session Clip

Benefits of Music Therapy

This is a wonderful client and she's benefited so much from music therapy.

Peggy O'Neill Video

"That's Peggy O'Neil" Song Clip

Mary Ellen plays "That's Peggy O'Neil"

Dulc Video 2 Final

Hammered Dulcimer

A Hammered Dulcimer has strings that are struck with a mallet

“Music acts like a magic key,
to which the most tightly closed heart opens.”

― Maria Augusta von Trapp


musucal notes


For more information about Music Therapy, Musical Presentations, Private Music Lessons, or Music for Special Events,
Contact me at I look forward to hearing from you!

Mary Ellen Heelan, MT-BC NMT | Cary Illinois | PH 630-272-3961 |