I’ve been working with children long enough to know that movement is ESSENTIAL to a well-rounded music therapy group or early childhood class session. I’ve used all kinds of movement props, including scarves, streamers, bean bags, stretchy bands, to get my kiddos moving.
A few months ago, I added a new movement prop to my collection. The Connect-a-Band is the newest creation from Bear Paw Creek, who also makes the popular stretchy bands we all know and love. Connect-a-Bands are made of the same material as stretchy bands, and they can be connected together in all kinds of ways for group movement activities.
My favorite is the flower shape, which inspired the song I’m sharing with you today. Grow, Flower, Grow! encourages group movement using the Connect-a-Band; I love that everyone has to work together to make the “flower” do all the things mentioned in the song.
I actually have several songs in the works for use with the Connect-a-Band, but I wanted to start with this one since it coincides perfectly with the start of spring! Thank goodness this insane winter is coming to an end. Here’s to warmer temps and new musical experiences!
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?
When I’m in need of new song topic ideas, my go-to person is my mother-in-law. She teaches in a special education classroom and incorporates music (mostly mine!) into as many lesson plans as possible.
Since I’m in the middle of a huge project — I’ll share the details soon — my brain has been a little fried, so this was a week where I needed Libby’s help. I called her up and asked her what kind of song she could use in her classroom right now, and she wasted no time sharing her suggestions.
One such suggestion was a song about working together on different classroom tasks throughout the day, so I took that idea and ran with it. Oh, and the melody may have been a teensy bit inspired by the song I sang with my church choir over the weekend (I told you my brain was fried!).
I wanted to keep writing additional verses for this song, but reminded myself that all of you wonderful music therapists, educators and parents will adapt the song for your kiddos as needed! I always consider my recording to be just a jumping off point.
Last week, a music therapist sent a Facebook message inquiring if I had a song about saying “thank you”. Although I did write a song about saying please a few months back, I realized that I didn’t yet have a song about the OTHER magic words.
First, I recommended that she check out Laurie Berkner’s song, Mahalo — which I have used frequently over the years. Then I got to work writing and recording, and now I can share with her my brand-new song, Thank You.
Laurie Berkner’s “Mahalo” actually inspired the bridge section of my song…and since my husband and I are heading to Maui in December, I thought it would be appropriate to include the Hawaiian way of saying thank you :)
I struggled this week to come up with a song topic. Some weeks I have so many ideas that it’s difficult to narrow them down; well, this wasn’t one of ’em. After sitting at my desk racking my brain for almost an hour, I decided to take a little Facebook break.
I’m so glad I did, because the inspiration for the song was right in front of my eyes. Someone had posted the lyrics to the immensely popular hit “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, which just so happens to be the overwhelming favorite in my studio at the moment.
With my kiddos getting ready to go back to school in a few weeks, we have been really focused on social skills — eye contact, making friends, having conversations, etc. — and I’m very much in need of some new material on these topics. So with a little help from Carly Rae, Sit With Me Maybe came to be:
My husband LOVES the original version of this song. So after I played it for him yesterday, he immediately sent it out to all of his friends who have kids and insisted on playing it for his entire family. I wish he would react to ALL my songs that way ;)
I had a lot of fun trying to recreate the instrumentation for this song, and while it’s far from perfect, I think Carly Rae would dig it. I hope my students do, too!
Note: this song is intended for educational and therapeutic purposes only. It is not meant to parody the original “Call Me Maybe” — it is simply an adaptation geared towards addressing goals such as communication, peer interaction and social skills.