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

 

You ARE Capable!: Starting your Music Therapy Internship

Hey, everyone! My name is Audrey and I am just finishing up week two of my internship at The Music Therapy Center of California! I wanted to give you all a couple tips on how to survive your first couple weeks of internship, and some encouragement for the journey are about to embark on! 

First, you will experience a whole new level of exhaustion. Now, I know what you’re thinking- How could anything be as exhausting as studying music therapy: taking upwards to 21 credits, ensembles, rehearsals, practicum sites, tests, homework, attempting a personal life, and time for yourself?! While those things are exhausting, starting your internship is a whole new ballgame! Unlike in school, you have to be “on” all day. When interacting with supervisors, clients, parents, other therapists, and anyone else you come across, you always have to put forth your best self and always be professional! After my first day of internship, I came home and fell asleep within 30 minutes-I even forgot to eat (oops. Don’t do that. Self-care, folks!). Taking every opportunity you can to rest in a way that works for you will give you energy for the next day.

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Because of how exhausted you will become, rest is more important than ever during internship. You have to learn what works best for YOU. I am an extrovert, so I found that I personally don’t need a lot of time in my evenings or weekends by myself or doing things such as watching TV, reading, or laying in bed. I have found that I am best filled up and energized by spending time with people I enjoy and being active! This has been a challenge moving to a place where I know nobody, and living alone, but I have found ways to stay connected with people who are important to me! Find what you need-whether that be spending your time alone, exercising, hanging out with friends, napping (always a yes), journaling, or whatever works for you! Give yourself time to figure out what fills you up, so you can pour out on others!

Second, TAKE NOTES. Your first couple of weeks is a whirlwind, and you can’t possibly remember everything that you have to do or everything you have seen. I observed so many therapists my first two weeks, I had to make notes at the end of the day about things I admired in the other therapists’ work, things to remember, and ideas that came to mind throughout the day. I created a notebook with sections about my internship to help me retain all of the info, which will be a great tool to have when I am done!

Third, attitude is everything. I’ve only barely started and this has already become a huge lesson for me. Yes, things will be hard. Yes, you will be working a lot and likely unpaid. Yes, things won’t always go as planned. Despite all of this, you still have control over your own attitude and the way you react. I have already made mistakes throughout internship, but that is how you learn! Internship is likely one of the last times you will ever get this close of supervision and feedback, so soak up as much as possible! Choosing to take this time as a huge learning experience, instead of just a box to check off will make a huge difference. You will get out of it what you put in. Plus, you chose this internship. Remember when you applied and couldn’t wait to hear back? Keep it all in perspective! 

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Lastly, internship is a huge time of self-discovery and learning about yourself. Soon before coming to my internship, I learned about the Enneagram. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, the Enneagram is essentially a personality test that puts you into one of nine personality types. When I found out I was a six, the loyalist, I was surprised by how accurate it was. Through my Enneagram number, I have realized that I am someone who doubts myself a lot. I know I am talented and a hard worker, but I often jump to worse case scenarios and worry that I am not good enough.I have to remind myself that I was chosen for this internship, and I am 100% capable as long as I am willing to learn. One of my favorite artists, Sleeping At Last, wrote a song for each enneagram type, and the song he wrote about my Enneagram type (Atlas: Six) has resonated so deeply with me, particularly for this time in my life at internship. I am far from family, friends, living in a completely new place, being pushed to new levels in my career, and trying to find my way. One of my favorite lyrics in his song says “Maybe I’m stronger than I realize.”

Maybe YOU are stronger than you realize. Internship will be hard and there will be things that you don’t know if you can handle, but it is all a part of the process, as long as you are willing to let it change and grow you. You got this!!

For anyone who wants to learn about their Enneagram type! I highly suggest it: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

See you in the next post!

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

Adapted Music Lessons vs Music Therapy Sessions

Here at the Music Therapy Center of California (MTCCA) we do not only offer music therapy sessions but also adaptive lessons. But, you may be wondering, how are adaptive lessons different than a music therapy session, and what makes lessons adapted?

While both an adaptive lesson and a music therapy session will need to consider the student’s ability level, the focus  of each are entirely different. While the goal of a lesson is to learn an instrument, the goals of music therapy sessions will vary (e.g. speech goals, attention goals, etc.). Adaptive lessons are also different from traditional music lessons. The way in which musical concepts are tailored to fit the student’s strengths, needs and ability levels, Where the outcome of an adapted lesson is focused on learning and playing an instrument, outcomes of music therapy sessions are non-musical and focused on the process, not the product.

When a student has special learning needs and abilities, it’s important to find someone who knows how to present concepts in a way that will ensure successful experiences. Teaching adapted lessons is not unique to just music therapists. However part of the training that a music therapist receives ensures that they are well equipped to consider the diagnosis, learning needs and best practices to help students be most effective.  A music therapist will also likely have more experience incorporating multiple senses and techniques to present music concepts in a more creative way to further the ultimate goal of learning the instruments.

At MTCCA, our approach includes a multimodal and nontraditional approach to teaching. For example, lessons may include a variety of different instruments and a faster pacing of songs. If the student has challenges with fine motor skills such as finger strength and dexterity, skills necessary to play the piano, desk bells, can be a fun way to approach this skill with each finger in isolation (bells are played by pressing the button on top of the bell). Or having a student play finger cymbals or castanets, along with a preferred song, can build finger strength and develop a pincer grip (a skill necessary for writing). Once these “warm ups” are practiced, the skills learned can be transferred over to the piano.

-Noriah Uribe

I lost it! It’s gone!: Voice-less music therapy

I lost my voice entirely for three full days, however, like in the theater, the show must go on and the job must still be done. Despite not being able to vocalize anything above a soft whisper, I still had clients who needed services. Although not an ideal situation, sometimes things are out of your control. However, thanks to the support of a few wonderful supervisors and co-workers I was able to adapt and create voice-less sessions. I wouldn’t recommend losing your voice as a music therapist, but do as I say and not as I do. So, in case you have the unfortunate fortune of this 

happening to you too, I thought I would share a few tips I learned.

  1.    Recorded music is your friend

As music therapists we know that live is almost always better, because we can manipulate it for our needs on the spot. However, recorded music is better than no music. It will provide a steady beat and will likely give you different timbers than you can provide on your own. So play a game of name that tune or pass out instruments and rock out to an exciting song, with a bit of hidden exercise built in. Instruct clients to follow the music as you stop and start or get loud and soft. A little pre-recorded music can go a long way.

  1.    Drum roll, please!

Drum circles are great for all populations. They encourage prosocial, motor, and cognitive functions. So, take time to drum to a few pre-recorded songs. Maybe it’s a song that relates to the season or a holiday coming. Try rhythmic imitation or build group cohesions as everyone follows a leader who changes speed or stops and starts.

  1.    Yay for TIMP and PSE

If you are familiar with Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) techniques, I would recommend using TIMP and PSE. No verbal explanation or continual prompting is needed to implement this technique. As long as a beet is present and clients can visually track your movement, the intervention can be carried out.

  1.    Embrace your inner mime

Because you will not have no way to communicate verbally, body language will be everything. Big body movements and exaggerated facial expressions will aid in your success. Having signs or something to write instructions on isn’t a bad idea too.

-Noriah Uribe