Shaping a Music Therapy Session for Success | Listen & Learn Music

Creating the perfect session is a true art form. There are moments of high energy, pure peace, genuine connection, and of course, musical goal-oriented fun! The perfect session ebbs and flows, and has a natural progression that keeps all of the students and clients engaged throughout the music therapy session or music class.

 I’d like to think that I have become a session-shaping master, and over the years, I’ve come up with a system that has worked really well for me. I hope it can be helpful for you, too!

The Beginning

After a greeting song, I always like to begin with some kind of movement song. I choose my beginning of the session movement song carefully; I want something to center and ground the children, and even better if the song will help create group cohesion.

With that short list of goals in mind, I typically choose a seated movement song, such as “The Warm-Up Song” or a stretchy band song, like “Movin’ in the Circle”. Both songs are cheerful and organizing, but not too exciting; they help get the kiddos in the right frame of mind for music therapy or music class. 

After a movement song, I usually move on to instrument playing, whether that is passing out bells, castanets, or egg shakers. Passing out instruments, especially when accompanied by a song like “Everybody Choose an Instrument”, usually excites my clients and students, and they become even more engaged.

Castanets in Music Therapy | Listen & Learn Music

If children are having a hard time maintaining attention after the greeting song, I pull out instruments immediately to increase their engagement and make sure they are invested from the beginning. 

The Middle

By the midpoint of my music therapy sessions and music classes, it’s time to increase the demand. I like to introduce a new song, do a song with a more complex task, or add in an academic or sequencing song. 

Lately, I’ve been loving “Pick A Pumpkin; Between the sequencing task of correctly recalling the order of the lyrics and the fine and gross motor skills required for the movements, it’s a great song to use in the middle of a music therapy session or music class, because the children are engaged and cognitively ready to be challenged. 

The End

When it’s time to wind down, there are a few things I like to do. Scarves, the ocean drum, or guided relaxation are always calming ways to end a music therapy session or class. By the end of music, children are usually tired physically and cognitively, and are ready for a break.

Scarves address visual and tactile sensory needs but still remain motivating for children, and are a great and engaging way to end music, whereas the ocean drum can be meditative and almost sedating for children. “See the Scarf” and “Motion in the Ocean” are both ideal ways to end my music therapy sessions and music classes. 

Scarves in Music Therapy | Listen & Learn Music

I hope my system can help you perfect your session plans. I’ve found that even if I don’t have a concrete list of songs I am bringing into my sessions or classes, using this formula can help me make the right choices for client and student success! 

Tell me in the comments below: what are some tips or tricks you have for creating the perfect session plan?

You can listen to all of these songs in their entirety right here. Lyrics, chords, mp3, and instrumental track for these original songs 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.

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