One of the most amazing qualities about music is its versatility. It can pump us up, bring back memories, teach us new skills, and calm us down. There is so much power in our melodies and chords, so let’s use our powers for good, and make sure that our clients and students leave music therapy sessions and music classes in a regulated state.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about What It’s Like to be a Therapist at a Camp for Kids with Special Needs, and I briefly mentioned that I use music to help the campers (and staff!) stay calm and practice regulation strategies. This week, I want to expand on that and let you in on all my secrets for helping children remain slow and in control in situations where that is most appropriate!
Some of the goals addressed in these songs:
- Improve social skills
- Identify emotions and body language
- Identify coping skills
“Slow and in Control” is perfect just the way it is, as a social song story. The lyrics detail several situations where our bodies must be in control to maintain safety and care.
Visual aides or sign language can be added to increase the participants’ understanding of the lyrics. Additional lyrics can also be added to target specific situations that clients and students need to work on.
I know for my kiddos, walking to the playground and washing hands are both very common times during which they need to slow down so that their bodies are in control.
I like to slow down the song “Slow and in Control”, and use it as a framework for a guided relaxation. To my surprise, this works so well with everyone from preschool to high school!
In between choruses, I improvise lyrics to target various body parts, and instruct participants to squeeze and release their shoulders, fists, and toes, while also stretching and taking deep breaths. The first few times I do the guided relaxation, I demonstrate the movements with my kiddos, but they typically catch on really quickly.
I always play my guitar with a gentle strumming or picking pattern. I like to use the chord structure to add tension and release so that the music mimics the actions I want the students and clients to execute. I always use the music as my most powerful tool when leading a guided relaxation, and it really works!
My jaw was on the floor in awe when I did this for the first time with a group of 3 and 4 year olds. They were all laying on their classroom rug, taking deep breaths, with the lights out; It was AMAZING!
Children can do so many things, we just have to give them the tools and opportunities to do it. I challenge you to try a guided relaxation with your youngest clients, and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
You can listen to this song in its entirety right here. Lyrics, chords, mp3, and instrumental track for this original song is available for download. As is the case for all Listen & Learn Music creations, we invite you to adapt this song as needed to best serve your students and/or clients.