Using the Ocean Drum in Music Therapy | Listen & Learn Music

Hi everyone! My name is Cacia King, and I’m going to be writing to you every week about all the goal-based songs available to you through Listen & Learn Music. I’ve been a member of Listen & Learn Plus for over 2 years, and now as a part of the Listen & Learn team, I’m so excited that I’ll get to share how I use these awesome resources regularly in my therapy sessions.

Cacia King, MT-BC | Music Therapist | Listen & Learn Music

Here’s all you need to know about me: I’ve been a board-certified music therapist for three years, I am from New Hampshire, and I love to sing, tap dance, and drink iced coffee.

I work with children who have special needs, and love being silly and making music every day with all my kiddos. I hope that I can inspire you to try new songs and adapt them to meet the unique needs of the children with whom you work!

Ok, so now onto the good stuff. What song am I really into this week? Well, summer is here to stay, which means it’s time for beach days and splashing in the pool. And what better way to get into the summer spirit than by playing the ocean drum?

There’s something about the ocean drum that seems to captivate young children; my classes always become totally silent and very focused when I bring it into a session. All of a sudden, I’m hearing them using full sentences to say, “my turn please” and waiting patiently for their coveted turn with the ocean drum. Basically, the ocean drum is a circular miracle worker.

“Motion in the Ocean”

Goals for this song include:

  • making requests
  • taking turns
  • sustained focus
  • object identification
  • relaxation

I like to use “Motion in the Ocean” to help calm my classes down, as it is relaxing but still fun. I encourage them to put their hands on either side and tilt the drum gently back and forth, and sometimes I’ll even put it above their heads so they can see the beads and the beautiful fish inside the drum.

Not only is this song motivating and relaxing, but the children are also learning real-life cause-and-effect: by moving the ocean drum all around, they are having a full body learning experience, and they each get to see how their actions have reactions.

Motion in the Ocean | Music Therapy Song for Ocean Drum | Listen & Learn Music | Rachel Rambach

There are so many ways to adapt “Motion in the Ocean”, and in working with such a variety of kiddos with so many different needs, I’ve tried them all. Mostly, I use this song to encourage requesting turns and using full sentences, as well as maintaining focus.

It could be also used as a passing song, and the lyrics can be changed for shorter or longer turns. Children can experiment with playing faster or slower, even tapping on each side of the drum to hear the different sounds it will create.

Ocean life visual aides could be paired with the lyrics to get the whole group involved, but sometimes I like to substitute the children’s names in, instead of using sea creatures (“We hear John in the ocean now”), which can be a fun surprise.

Any way you slice it, this song is a fun way to engage your students while introducing them to the relaxing sound of the ocean drum. I’d love to hear from you: what is your favorite way to play the ocean drum? Let me know in the comments!

You can listen to “Motion in the Ocean” in its entirety right here. Lyrics, chords, mp3, and instrumental track for this original song are 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.