Since leaving the school setting and going into private practice full-time, I’ve been fortunate when it comes to staying healthy. Last January, I set out to record and post a new song every Monday, and my good health (along with some crazy determination) has allowed me to do this successfully — until today.
As you know, I’m in Hawaii this week with my husband. So the Friday before we left, I sat down and wrote the song that I planned to post today. Unfortunately, that very day I was hit by a pretty nasty cold bug that left me without a voice suitable for recording. It could have been worse (like full-fledged laryngitis) but trust me, no one would have wanted to listen to that song had I gone through with the recording.
I’ve stuck with my “new song every week” goal for 11 months, and though this cold may have set me back a little, I’m bound and determined to give you (and my clients) 52 songs before January 1! So next week you’ll be seeing two new songs to make up for this tuneless Monday.
As for the status on my voice? The air here in Maui sure has done a body good, and I am feeling MUCH better than I did upon arrival. Have an amazing week and do your best to stay healthy!
Lots of kiddos with autism, including many of my past and present clients, have a hard time expressing how they are feeling both physically and emotionally. Some are non-verbal, while others don’t have the language to adequately explain their feelings. As we know, this can leave them feeling frustrated and even more upset, especially if they need help or are feeling bad.
One of my clients was struggling with this issue, so her mom came up with the idea to compose short, simple songs based on familiar melodies for her range of feelings. The hope was that when my client was feeling a particular way, she could express herself through song rather than words.
The approach to making these songs effective communicative tools involved first introducing them to my client, singing them again and again so she became familiar with them (she picks up songs very quickly). Then, when her behavior obviously reflected a particular feeling or emotion, her family members and teachers would begin singing the corresponding song and prompt my client to sing along.
She has already made some great progress expressing herself through these songs, and hopefully they are useful to others out there. Have you used a similar technique for helping non- or less verbal kiddos express how they are feeling?
I work a LOT on names with my students. Saying, spelling, and identifying their names are common goals in music therapy, and I have songs for all three. However, I didn’t yet have a song for the latest name-related goal that was recently brought to my attention: identifying and knowing the difference between first and last names.
Up until now, the focus has always been on the first name…but one student in particular has mastered this and is moving on to bigger and better things. So I came up with a no-frills song about the different parts of our names.
Although knowing her middle name is not included in the current goal, I threw it in so that when I use this song with her or another student down the road, the option to include it is there.
I’ll be using “First and Last” mostly in individual music therapy sessions, but it could easily be utilized in a group setting, as well. For more name-related songs, click here and here.
Writing this song was meant to be, as I found out upon returning from Europe last week. First, my sister-in-law asked me if I had a song about the five senses (for my nephew’s classroom) on the way home from the airport, and then I came home to an email from a reader requesting this very topic. Fate, I tell you!
I had fun writing this song, and envision it being used interactively. During the middle section, the verse just SCREAMS for the song to be paused so that students can identify what they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. You’ll understand what I mean once you take a listen:
With school in full swing for most kiddos, I’m expecting lots of requests for songs that are educational in nature. That makes my job much easier, since it takes a little more effort to come up with new and in-demand topics during the summer months.
The end of the summer means getting back into the routine not only of waking up for school in the morning, but also of going to sleep on time. I remember being a kid and dreading the earlier bedtime that came along with the start of a new school year, and I know children everywhere are feeling the same right about now.
This is the first “goodnight” song I’ve written, and while I wanted it to be appropriate for bedtime, I didn’t want to go all out lullaby. It has a bit of a groove to it, but the overall vibe is chill. I know it makes me want to do exactly what the little girl in the picture is doing!
I’m not in school anymore (nor do I work in one any longer), but I still find myself going to bed earlier once the end of August hits. I suppose it’s just one way of showing camaraderie with my students :)