Rhythm sticks are a go-to instrument in our music therapy sessions and classes. They’re not colorful and interesting-looking like some of our other instruments, but they are super versatile and can address so many important skills.
Another benefit of rhythm sticks is that they’re inexpensive, so we always have enough on hand to that everyone can play at the same time, no matter how big our group. We buy these in bulk.
Since we use our rhythm sticks so often, I’m constantly writing new songs specifically for them. It’s been awhile since I shared a song round-up, so here are 8 of my favorite stick tunes for working with children.
Last summer as I was planning an ocean-themed music class, I thought, “what better song to adapt than a Disney classic that’s perfectly on topic?!” So I did exactly that.
The tune is (mostly) the same, but the lyrics got a little makeover so that now, “Under the Sea” can be used to facilitate castanet playing.
My new version is a bit less wordy than the original, so it works well in an early childhood or music therapy setting. You can also easily switch out “castanets” for “rhythm sticks” and keep the rest of the lyrics the same. I love a great multi-purpose song!
I don’t always adapt existing songs, but sometimes when I do, they’re based on iconic tunes from the 1950s and 1960s, rewritten specifically as movement songs.
Funny story: I have a long list of songs I’ve written but haven’t shared here on the blog and in my store yet. Yesterday I decided to do a little catching up, and chose two songs at random to share. It wasn’t until after I added them to the store that I realized both were based on songs by male artists from the 50s and 60s.
I took this coincidence as an opportunity to remind you that inspiration for new songs and adaptations can come from any style, genre or generation. A few years back, I was really into adapting current pop songs, and still like to do so from time to time. But I have found that borrowing ideas and melodies from other decades can be a lot of fun, especially since many parents and grandparents attend music therapy sessions and music classes.
It’s up to you as a songwriter to decide just how closely you want your version to resemble the song that inspired it. You can put a modern spin on an old classic, or keep it true to the original. Here are my adapted versions of the songs by the prolific artists pictured above.
It’s officially spring, but winter still hasn’t completely left the building. On gray, windy, and chilly days, this is one of my favorite songs for reminding myself, and whoever I’m singing with, that sunny skies and warm temps are in fact on the way.
The motions for this tune are simple, and it’s easy to adapt the words to best suit your needs. You can download “Wave Goodbye to Winter” — including lyrics/chords, mp3 and instrumental track — here.
What songs are you singing for spring? I’m trying my best to get into spring mode, even despite the dreariness outside. I’ll take inspiration from wherever I can get it!
One of the songs we’ve been singing in the current session of Listen & Learn for Little Ones, our early childhood and preschool music classes, is Thunder & Raindrops. I wrote it a few years ago specifically for rhythm sticks, and it still remains one of my favorites!
Rhythm sticks are always a popular instrument choice among my little ones, because they make a lot of noise and are extremely versatile. This particular song addresses the objectives of playing loudly and softly, and requires everyone to listen carefully in order to play as instructed.
This time of year, we sing and play quite a few songs about rain to mirror the early spring weather, and many of them are designed for use with shakers. So it’s nice to shake things up (see what I did there?) by giving our rhythm sticks a turn.
Between the endless grey skies, frigid air and rampant germs being passed around, this winter has me in a bit of a funk. I know I’m not alone — you’re probably just as ready for spring as I am. Music is my favorite kind of medicine, so I put together 4 songs I’ve written or adapted that make me really happy.
Welcome! I’m Rachel Rambach, a board-certified music therapist and the creator of Listen & Learn Music — educational songs and musical materials for children. I love sharing my work with you, along with my behind-the-scenes creative process, adventures in business ownership, and life as a mom of two little ones.