Social Skills and Dyadic Drumming

This infographic was created by one of our talented music therapists, Megan Miller, MT-BC to summarize the results of a research study about the impact of dyadic drumming on social skills conducted by Yoo and Kim (2018). Significant increases were seen in cooperation and self control.

Drumming and Social Skills (6)

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Session Planning: Using Themes!

Hi there everyone, and welcome to another blog post! 

This week, we’re going to talk themes! Before internship, I never really thought about centering my session around a theme. However, it’s a great option to help plan your session for several reasons which we will break down more later, including…

  1. It can help clients with reality orientation
  2. Centers the session around a specific topic
  3. Helps the therapist narrow down songs and interventions to use 
  4. Educate clients about topics that may be unfamiliar to them

 

  1. It can help clients with reality orientation

Choosing themes to center your session around based off of the current season or holiday is a great way to orient your clients to the here and now (for example, what time of year it is, important events, time of day, etc.). For example, in July, we did summer themed sessions in our older adult groups and at group homes for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. September 23rd was the official first day of fall, so we started doing fall themed session plans that week. During August, we also did a “back to school” theme. There are endless options for themes to incorporate, and the fall/winter is a great time to use themes with all of the holidays, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, winter, etc. 

  1. Centers the session around a specific topic

When starting out as an intern or student, often times, it can be difficult to smoothly transition between different interventions and songs that you use. However, if your session centers around a specific topic, it can be much easier to tie together everything that you are doing in a session. For example, for our “back to school” theme, we first started with a PSE intervention and used the song “School Days”. Afterwards, while you’re getting the next intervention ready, you can tie together the previous intervention by saying something like, “Not only are elementary aged kids also going back to school, but college kids are moving into their dorms and starting back at school too! Something fun that a lot of college students participate in include going to football games and watching the marching band! Let’s get our muscles moving by playing in our own drum circle and making our very own band!” Then, you can smoothly transition into TIMP by doing a drum circle. 

  1. Helps the therapist narrow down songs and interventions to use

So. Many. Songs. To. Choose. From. This is a great problem to have, but can often be quite overwhelming when choosing what songs to use in your sessions! However, if you choose a theme, it immensely narrows down songs you can use that will fit your theme. Google is your best friend when it comes to this. For example, are you doing a fall themed session plan? No problem! Type in “fall-themed songs” into Google, and it will automatically pop up the most popular songs in that category. This also fits into what we talked about above, where it can center your session around a specific topic if you choose songs that fit into a similar category. Some songs that we have used in a summer-themed session plan include: 

  • Summer of ‘69
  • Under the Boardwalk
  • Surfin’ Safari 
  • Hot, Hot, Hot
  • Jump in the Line 
  • Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
  • My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  • In the Good Old Summertime
  • Under the Sea 
  • Let’s Go Fly A Kite
  • Summertime
  • Blue Skies
  • Any Beach Boys song!
  1. Educate clients about topics that may be unfamiliar to them

Choosing different themes is also a great way to educate clients on topics that they may not have a lot of opportunities to learn about. For example, we are currently doing a camping theme for our adult groups with ID/DD, which also ties into fall. A lot of clients most likely have not had the opportunity to go camping, so this is another educational opportunity for them to learn something new. For this session plan, I have different visuals that correlate to different interventions, and I allow clients to pick a visual out of a drum, or I hold up two options for them to choose from. This also gives them the power of choice. For example, there is a visual of a picnic table, and then that correlates with our “question of the day”, which asks clients what their favorite camping snack food is. I also facilitate upper body PSE by using scarves as kites, and a movement intervention with a parachute as the “tent”. Afterwards, our visuals each have velcro, and they stick onto a larger visual that makes an entire camping scene. I have included a photo of my visual below:

To make this visual, I printed out and laminated a generic forest background. Then, I googled stock images, cut out and laminated the visuals, and then finally put velcro squares on different parts of the background picture and my visuals. If you want to save yourself some time from making your own visuals, there are already lots of ready-made visuals that you can find on Pinterest or teacher websites! 

Some more examples of different themes you can use for teaching topics include world music, surfing, show tunes, movies, love songs and sports! 

I want to hear from you! What are some themes that you use?

Thank you for reading and see you in the next post!

-Juliana Hsu

NMT Techniques: MUSTIM!

Hello everyone, welcome to another blog post!

Today, I will be writing about a recent symposium topic: speech & language NMT techniques! For those who may not be familiar with NMT, here is a quick rundown. NMT stands for “Neurologic Music Therapy”, and consists of 20 clinical techniques for sensorimotor, speech, language, and cognitive training. The treatment techniques used in NMT are based on the scientific knowledge in music perception and production, and the effects on nonmusical brain and behavior functions. Some common populations where NMT can be implemented include stroke and TBI patients, older adults with Alzheimer’s disease, and people with Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy and Huntington’s disease. For more information on NMT, click this link!

There are 7 NMT techniques that directly target speech and language. For today, I will be focusing on MUSTIM, but this blog post contains information on the other 6 techniques. 

For the sake of the length of this blog post, I will be focusing on MUSTIM (musical speech stimulation), which is the speech and language technique that I am most familiar with. We frequently implement MUSTIM in our older adult sessions. MUSTIM directly correlates with music that is extremely familiar for the clients, which gives them a burning desire to fill in the blanks! This is can be an important skill for older adults to stimulate speech and long term memory. 

For example, if I just sang “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you …..”, and then I just stopped singing, your brain’s natural response is to immediately respond with “Are”. This is a great technique to use with older adults to stimulate long-term memory and speech!

One song that I have been using this week is “Don’t Fence Me In” by Bing Crosby. I usually introduce the song by saying, “For this next song, we have a very special part for you all to sing. I will start singing the song and see if you can catch on. “Oh give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above …..” This is usually when the clients automatically fill in “Don’t Fence Me In”. After the clients fill it in on their own, you can provide positive praise, and reinforce the instructions again by saying something like, “Every time we get to the part ‘don’t fence me in’, I want you to sing out nice and loud!”. After the clients fill in just that phrase, usually their long term memory kicks in and assists them in remembering the other lyrics. 

Some other songs that I have used in the past that works great for MUSTIM include “Home on the Range”, “You Are My Sunshine”, and “God Bless America”. Usually traditional and folk songs work great as a  MUSTIM intervention because the lyrics are over learned. 

I want to hear from you! What are some songs that you frequently use when implementing MUSTIM? 

Happy session planning and see you in the next post!

– Juliana 

 

Camp Jam!

Greetings everyone! 

Last week we had one of the most fun and busiest weeks- Camp Jam!! (Inserted this blog post are interactive links, where you can find out some more information about Camp Jam and our team if you’re interested!) 

Camp Jam is a music therapy camp run by The Music Therapy Center of California, and is designed to provide group music therapy experiences for children with special needs. We had children of all different ages, ranging from 3-14 years old. This camp was especially unique because all of our campers were paired with a camp counselor, so that everyone had 1:1 attention. All of our counselors were passionate about music and working with children, and were able to get to know their campers really well by the end of the week. Seeing friendships blossom and the bright smiles on all the kids’ faces by the end of the day made all of the hard work well worth it! 

Each morning started with an opening “welcome” circle, where the campers participated in songs to learn about camp rules, self control, body check, and how to be a good friend. It was always a wonderful way to pump everyone up in the morning! Afterwards, we divided the kids up into an older and younger aged music therapy group. I had the opportunity to work with both groups, which were a lot of fun! Below, I have included some photos of one of our music therapists, Ms. Angie, working with the younger group of children. Some different domains addressed in her music therapy interventions were body awareness, taking turns and sharing, and following one-step directions. 

After the different music therapy groups in the morning, we had craft and snack time, followed by a movement activity. A lot of great impromptu experiences happened during craft and snack time, which was a time allowed for the campers to express their creative freedom and have a bit of down time. One of the most memorable moments was when one of our counselors sang “5 Green & Speckled Frogs” in Spanish, and a lot of our campers were fully engaged and awe-stricken by this experience! Below is a photo of one of our craft time experiences, where our campers created photo frames for our group Camp Jam picture. 

The last day of camp, we provided different water activities for the campers, instead of our usual playground experience. This is where we saw a lot of our shy campers really shine! It was incredible to see them react positively to playing with water balloons with their peers, and the smiles on their faces. It was a great way to provide a different sensory experience for the campers who have a variety of sensory needs.

I would recommend Camp Jam to any parent who is considering this as an option for their child, as it is a wonderful time for your child to have unique social experiences through music. A variety of different domains are targeted during Camp Jam, including social, motor and attention skills. I loved being a part of this experience and getting to know all of the kids, and I know all of our staff members and camp counselors did as well! 

-Juliana Hsu

 

Full-time student to full-time intern: transitioning lifestyles!

Hello everyone!

It has already been almost 4 whole weeks since I started life as a music therapy intern! I thought I would write my first blog post about my still fresh experiences of what it is like to transition from being a full-time student to a full-time intern, and give some helpful tips of how to prepare for your brand new life and schedule!

First thing’s first- giving yourself enough time to move! If your internship is in a different location than where you currently are, especially if it is in an unfamiliar place, give yourself enough time to secure a place to live and to physically move your stuff and get settled. I was living in Lawrence, KS, so I had quite a long journey to go to get to San Diego. I flew out to California about a month before my internship started, and gave myself a week to find somewhere to live. Before I left, I compiled information with different apartment options, and a plan for visiting each one. Even if there seems like there aren’t many options online, once you are driving around the area, you will notice that there are complexes around every corner! It is especially helpful going at night to see if it is a place that you feel safe in.

I moved in about a week before my internship started, which I felt for me personally, was an ideal amount of time to get settled. Power through and try to get everything unpacked in the first few days- it’ll really help your new home actually feel like home! Take the rest of the time to really relax and explore the city before you are in full-blown internship mode! 

(^ Don’t let this be you)

Some important things to consider before your internship starts includes practicing driving to the office during the typical time you would have to get there, especially if that time is during rush hour. Do you usually have to go into work at 8 am and it takes you about 20 minutes to get there? Practice getting up early one day and head out around 7:30 and see if that gives you enough time! Remember, being early is on time, and being on time is late. I have found that the app “Waze” is really helpful. There is an option in the app where you can put what time you have to be at a certain destination, and it will tell you exactly what time you should leave based off of typical traffic patterns. 

Scope out the area around your office too- look for restaurants, grocery stores, walking trails- anything you think will be beneficial for you during your time during internship. I have an hour every day for lunch, and one thing I have been doing is going on at least a 30 minute walk every day during my break at a nearby park. It really helps me recharge, get some fresh air, and energize myself for the rest of the day! 

As for internship starting- what everyone says is definitely true. I thought after four years of going to school for 12 hours every day, I would be prepared for anything that was coming my way…

The kind of energy you need for music therapy sessions all day every day is very different. This is where self care is key (I know, I’m sure you’ve heard that millions of times, but it’s true!) Make sure you take the time to schedule in things you need to relax and unwind. Also, meal prep!!! It will save you lots of time and money. Not having to worry about what I am going to eat throughout the week is a huge time and headache saver. Also, always carry lots and lots of water on you, and keep snacks in your car if you are commuting to different facilities! 

Lastly… sleep! When you’re in school, you may only have to worry about facilitating sessions once or twice a week, but soon, you’ll have many back to back sessions every day! A healthy and working voice is very important, and sleep is the key to this. (And water… hydrate or diedrate!) 

I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure for the next 6 months- happy reading and see you in the next post! And if you are also an intern or about to start your internship soon- congratulations! You can do it!!

-Juliana Hsu 

Avoiding ruts when session plannin

          It is very easy to get stuck in a musical rut when planning therapeutic sessions. We all know to use client preferred music, but it can become too easy to use the same go to list of 5-10 songs we keep for each population and decade. On top of that, it may feel like all your creativity may be running dry. But how do you solve this problem? I’m glad you asked! Theme your sessions. Pick a topic that is relevant to the time of year, location, weather, or holiday and build your repertoire around songs that can connect to that. 

          Picking a theme for your session will bring continuity to it. With that continuity comes a level of predictability, which can be especially helpful if you are working with a population that thrives when given a routine and a plan. 

          Planning themed sessions can be an effective way to work on and reinforce reality orientation, especially if that theme is related to a time of year or holiday. Additionally, reinforcing reality orientation can be an engaging way to bring a socialization element to your session as well by providing an opportunity to reminisce and/or make music about activities or traditions associated with your theme.While reality orientation may not be a goal for every population or group, many populations, such as memory care patients, or clients with intellectual disabilities, will greatly benefit from this added component. 

          Your client’s goals should already be set, now you are working on interventions that move you towards reaching them. From the therapist’s perspective, themes can make session planning easier as it provides a starting point and structure for the session and the interventions within. An important component of planning thematic sessions is to assess what music will best fit the client demographic and assist in reaching the goals of the session. With a theme in mind, your musical quest is narrowed and only a google search away.

          Last but not least, thematic sessions are fun. Therapy is about the client, of course. But if you are not enjoying your work, the client is most likely not having fun either. Who knows, you may discover new music that your client’s love, or be reminded of some you had forgotten. I hope that this post will help you expand your therapeutic repertoire so that you can find yourself climbing out of that rut. 
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Speaking of themes, check out these helpful tool for creative programming: “The Joy of music in Maturity”, “Musically Engaged Seniors: 40 Session Plans and Resources for a Vibrant Music Therapy Program

-Noriah Uribe