Travel Themed Session Plan Inspiration

One of my favorite things to share is session plan ideas, because I know how valuable it is to have new ideas and get inspired by what others are doing! I have been using these interventions with a few of my groups and they have been really successful! Here are some ideas for your own session plans: 

 

Question of the Day: Where Do You Want to Travel? 

  1. MT uses a melodic cue to prompt the question to each client individually 
  2. “Where Do you want to travel?”
  3. MTI will sing “Conversations”, and ask each where they would like to travel
  4. Adaptation: MT can use a visual with photos of different options for answers for nonverbal clients

 

Songwriting: In the Jungle

  1. MT introduces and sings song “In the Jungle” with group 
  2. MT explains that we will be rewriting the song with different places and different animals to make our own song 
  3. MT gives each client the opportunity to pick a location and an animal to fill in blanks of song 
  4. Group sings new verse together 
  5. Example: 

 

In the ________________________

The mighty _________________

The ____________ Sleeps tonight 

 

  1. Places:  
    1. Jungle
    2. City
    3. Forrest 
    4. Dessert 
    5. Rain-forest 
    6. Arctic 
    7. Ocean
  2. Animals: 
    1. Peacock 
    2. Elephant 
    3. Puppy 
    4. Bear 
    5. Lion 
    6. Dolphin 
    7. Polar Bear

 

Sing-A-Long with Instruments: Song choice: Travel Themed

  1. MT prompts one client to pick a song from the song choice visual (photos representing each song)
  2. Group sings song and plays instruments together 
  3. Song options: 
    1. She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
    2. A Whole New World 
    3. Home on the Range 
    4. Fly Me to the Moon 
    5. This Land is Your Land
    6. I’ve been Workin’ on the Railroad

 

Relaxation:  What a Wonderful World 

  1. MT prompts group to take deep breaths all together 
  2. MT sings What a Wonderful World, prompting client to continue deep breathes 

 

Attention: Travel Visuals Listening

  1. MT passes out pictures of different travel items to each client (passport, globe, suitcase, car, airplane, etc.)
  2. MT prompts group to listen for their object for their chance to hold it up for the group
  3. MT sings song  “We’re Going on a Trip” (any melody or words works for this intervention. One option that works well is using the melody of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”)

Travel Attention Song:

We are going on a trip 

Together today 

We have lots of things we need to bring along  X2

 

We need a SUITCASE 

To pack all of our clothes 

Who has the suitcase 

Lift it in the air! 

We need a PASSPORT 

So we know where to go 

Who has the passport 

Lift it in the air! 

We’ve got a SUITCASE and a PASSPORT 

(song continues with each new item added on and then reviewed)

3. MT sings this song until all items have been done

 

I hope this helps you think of some new ideas for your session plans! 

 

See you next time!

Audrey Cosgrove, MTI

Valentine’s Day Inspiration!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so it’s  a great time to share some fun Valentine’s Day Interventions and exercises.  I am so excited to get the chance to do some themed sessions for Valentine’s Day, it is such a fun holiday!

 

Songwriting: I Love the Mountains

Materials: Songwriting sheet (for lyrics), heart tree and hearts (made via google images-see image below), expo marker, visuals for non-verbal clients

Goal areas: emotional expression, decision-making/choices, social connection with peers

  1. Music therapist introduces and sings song “I Love the Mountains” with group and prompts group members to sing on “Boom-de-ada” portion or play along on instruments
  2. Music therapist shows group “Heart tree” to place hearts with what clients love
  3. Music therapist asks group what things they love, using visual of options to prompt answers, especially for non-verbal clients
  4. Music therapist writes down client response on a heart, and prompts them to place it on the tree
  5. Once all hearts have been filled and all clients have answered, music therapist puts these into song “I Love the Mountains” 
  6. Music therapist sings song and acknowledges what each client said (if done in a one-on-one session

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Social Skills Hearts:

Materials: social skills hearts (made via google images and text-boxes), tambourine or other container to pass, bluetooth speaker 

Goal: social skills, social interaction, making choices/decisions

  1. MT puts hearts with social skills questions written on them inside of a tambourine 
  2. MT plays the song “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars on bluetooth speaker 
  3. MT prompts clients to pass tambourine around the circle.
  4. When the music stops, whoever has the tambourine draws a heart out of it and answers the question inside 
  5. This continues until all clients have answered a question/drawn a heart
  6. Adaptations: : for non-verbal clients, create a visual with photo options for answers to each question, so that everyone can participate! You can also use a microphone to motivate verbal responses from individual clients, or have verbal clients ask the question to their friend to promote socialization. For individual sessions, clients can drum along or play an instrument with the song until it pauses, and then choose a question.

 

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Heartbeat Instruments: Attention

Materials: instruments, colored hearts taped on instruments

Goals: Attention, color-matching, cognition

  1. MT passes out instruments to each client, with different colored hearts attached to each. 
  2. MT prompts group to listen for their heart color for their chance to play/have a solo
  3. MT sings song to the tune of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”

If you have a RED heart play your instrument

If you have a RED heart play your instrument

If you have a RED heart x2

If you have a RED heart play your instrument

  1. MT sings this song until all colors have been done
  2. Adaptations: Provide opportunity for clients to make a choice for what color is chosen next (visual for non-verbal clients)

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I have also used the song “Side By Side” to work on lower body movement (PSE), because this song is great for prompting side steps! For upper body, a great song to use is “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” because it is in ¾ time signature, making it great for smooth fluid movements! Below are some other song ideas to use for Valentine’s day.

Song ideas for Valentine’s Day:

  • Can’t Help Falling in Love With You: Elvis Presley 
  • You’ve Got a Friend in Me: Toy Story
  • With a Little Help From My Friends: The Beatles
  • Can You Feel the Love Tonight: The Lion King
  • All You need is love: The Beatles 
  • All I Have to Do is Dream: Everly Brothers
  • My Funny Valentine: Babes in Arms
  • Bicycle Built for Two (Daisy Bell)
  • Love Me Tender: Elvis Presley
  • Side by Side: Patsy Cline
  • You are My Sunshine (Valentine)

I hope those ideas give you some inspiration! 

-Audrey Cosgrove, MTI

 

Thanksgiving Themed Session Plan Inspiration!

One of my new favorite ways to plan music therapy sessions is by centering it around a theme. This is especially fun when it relates to a holiday! I have had a ton of fun looking up and adapting music therapy Thanksgiving ideas, and I wanted to share a couple of them with all of you!

One visual that I found for Thanksgiving is this turkey with feathers visual! I love this one because it can be adapted to fit a huge range of interventions! Here is a photo of the visual. I found it on “Speech Therapy Fun”, which is a website where you can sign up to receive free freebies! Here is the link to the website: https://www.speechtherapyfun.com/

 I adapted this to fit the many needs of my music therapy clients. Here are some ideas for how you could use this visual, or how you could create your own to fit your needs!

  • Session Order: Use the visual to order your session plans, while giving clients choice and control over what happens next. To do this, have each feather color corresponds to a specific music therapy intervention that you want to do during the session. By the end of the session, optimally, each client in a group setting would get the opportunity to pick a feather, which is then added to the turkey. For example, the red feather could correspond to a drumming intervention, brown to a sing-a-long, etc. 
  • Working on Colors: There are SO many ideas and examples for how you could work on colors using the turkey and feathers. For example, you could have the client work on naming the colors by singing a song prompting the client to find a specific color and add it to the turkey: 

“Can you find the Red feather, red feather, red feather

Can you find the red feather and put it on the turkey!”

I made up my own tune for this-anything you come up with will work! This is a simple activity, that also requires the client to work on their attention while waiting to hear the next color! This could be adapted to fit a wide range of clients’ needs and goals. 

  • Color Bells: One way to work on cognitive skills such as focus and fjdlsfattention, as well as making choices, learning colors, or an array of other skills could be to use the feathers to write a song with desk bells. The client or therapist would arrange the feathers (Velcro feathers on) to the turkey, and then the client would play through the song as the colors are arranged from left to right. The client could then rearrange the feathers to be any combination, making this a great intervention with endless possibilities! 

Link to desk bells 

  • Working on Social Skills & Asking Questions: For this activity, you could have a corresponding Thanksgiving (or whatever you wanted!) themed question. The client could choose one feather, and then would get the chance to ask or be asked the question. This gives the client a great opportunity to work on asking questions, using follow up questions, and practicing how to engage with those around them, especially during Thanksgiving time! 

Example Thanksgiving Questions: 

What are your favorite Thanksgiving Foods? 

Does your family eat pie on Thanksgiving? What kind?

What are you thankful for this year? 

Lastly, There are some great songs to use for Thanksgiving time. They may be about Thanksgiving itself, the fall season, or songs that center around themes of thankfulness! Here is a list of a couple songs I plan to use in my sessions:

    • What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong (Idea: Songwriting activity about things to be thankful for)
    • Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter
    • Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider by Bing Crosby
    • Autumn Leaves 
    • Albuquerque Turkey (to the tune of “Darling Clementine”)
    • Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep Irving Berlin Winter Wonderland
    • Over the River and Through the Woods

I hope this post gives you some inspiration for your own Thanksgiving session plans!

-Audrey

 

Avoiding Ruts when Session Planning

          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

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) …Demystified: MACT

Musical Attention Control Training: MACT

What is MACT?

Musical Attention Control Training, or MACT, is the use of music experiences and/or musical elements to practice a specific type of attention.

To really understand MACT, we’re going to take a closer look at the “A” in that acronym, for attention.

 Attention is the selective awareness of or selective responsiveness to the sensory environment around you. The ability to choose where you focus your attention is the first step in the learning process, and we all differ in our abilities to control our attention. The good news: we can develop attention control skills like building blocks through structured practice! We can conceptualize the types of attention as a pyramid, starting with focused attention as the base:

 

 

What does MACT look like in a music therapy session?

Music therapists tailor MACT exercises to suit their clients’ interests and clinical needs. As a result, MACT can look very different from session to session or client to client. MACT exercises may entail the use of many different music-based therapeutic music experiences.

For example, music therapists may facilitate sustained instrument-playing incorporating preferred and (the ever tricky) non-preferred instruments. Alternatively, a sustained attention exercise may call for the client and therapist to play instruments while the client adjusts their playing style (e.g. fast vs. slow, loud vs. soft, high vs. low, etc.) in response to musical cues (ideally without verbal prompts) from the therapist. A music therapist may target selective attention by introducing extraneous sound “distractors” to a music experience and challenge the client not to respond to (e.g. turn head to look at) the distractors.

Alternating attention exercises may require a client to shift their attention between two tasks, like tracking visual notation (e.g. sheet music) and playing an instrument simultaneously. At the end of the day, MACT could refer to a wide range of active or receptive music experiences, as long as they are designed to practice one or more types of attention, and utilize music as a delivery medium.

How music makes it work:

Active and receptive music experiences share powerful patterns of brain activation in the bilateral frontal lobes, brainstem, and attention systems in the cerebral cortex. This overlap ensures that the attention skills practiced with music will translate to other contexts, like school or vocational skills. Furthermore, music experiences like instrument-playing, singing, or improvising are often intrinsically motivating, allowing music therapists to get our “foot in the door” to engage with clients and bolster attention skills. Finally, music, as an organized auditory stimulus, brings timing, grouping, and temporal organization so that attention can be sustained and strengthened over time.

 

Thanks for reading!

~Esther