Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers


The week of August 1-7 is Simplify Your Life Week. As always, that has me asking questions.

  • How can simplification apply to my work?
  • How does simplification apply when working with older adults or children?
  • Does it apply to life with a young child?

In my work, simplification can take many forms. Accompaniments can be reduced even to the point of a simple rhythm on a drum. I can prepare less structure/plan allowing myself to flow with the clients during the session.

Working with older adults I have become aware of the need to decrease background noise. With many clients – old & young – less visual noise is also helpful. It can be easier to attend to a person or a task when there is less in your visual field.

At home, simplification can mean putting away some of the toys for a month. By rotating what is out and available, it keeps things fresh. It can also mean playing with simple blocks or containers

How do you bring simplification to you life? Your work?  Please share it now in the comments.

Comments on: "Simplification in a Session" (10)

  1. In my life, simplification can take several forms: from eating foods that are “simple” in terms of ingredients (a.k.a more REAL food, less processed food), to simplifying my closet by giving away clothes I haven’t used in the last year.

    As far as simplification at work goes, though, figuring out how to simplify things doesn’t come quite as naturally. That being said, I have found a couple of simple approaches that work best for me.

    With older adults and kids, I find that simplifying my SPEECH is best when it comes to giving directions. LESS IS MORE. Also, using layman’s terms with clients, caregivers, and parents is extremely important for relational and rapport-building purposes (this being said, if you know that they are well aware of technical terms, by all means, use them, as you never want them to think you’re talking down to them!).

  2. Great post, JoAnn. I feel like I’m always trying to simplify my routine. When I was an intern I always thought it was better to “over prepare”. I would have about a million backup plans for each session idea, I would carry way too many instruments, and just overall attempted to do way to much! It’s amazing how

    • It is so easy to use more instruments than necessary. The back-up planning I think comes with experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. For some reason it left off the last half of my comment! haha….sorry to leave you hanging with half a sentence!

    Anyways! I was really inspired by your post! It really got me thinking not only about how powerful simplicity can be – not just in my practice as an MT, but at home. I would love to run with this idea as a Wellness Wednesday topic. (Giving you full credit for the inspiration, of course!!) 🙂



  4. One of my favorite stress releivers when I am home is looking at my surroundings and seeing how I can bring more light into a room or moving my room so things are neater or simpler to take care of. This usually takes the form of creating more open space by re-organizing or eliminating. Also, seasonally my kids get out their own clothes and put the ones that don’t fit in a bag in the basement. They then go to the salavation army. In my sessions when I get stuck, I go back to the piano and follow my client musically. Sometimes it clicks just then and sometimes I just need to start writing my notes considering what happened and it .clicks. Antoinette Morrison

  5. The way I consider simplification is based on the following factors:

    1. How much support does my client need?
    Sometimes, all it takes is a simple ostinato for my client to engage in the music therapy experience. Sometimes, the client needs a full and robust musical experience to express joy and excitement. It really depends on the client in the situation.

    2. How much “space” does my client need?
    I am referring to musical “space” here. I believe that a music therapy experience is a joint adventure with the therapist and client as participants. One of the most beautiful things music therapy can offer is to give the client the opportunity to express him or herself creatively through music.
    Giving musical “space” in the experience can elicit more creative responses from the client, making the music therapy experience a joint venture between therapist and client. This increases the client’s confidence, sense of responsibility, and can give them an intrinsic sense of joy and fulfillment.

    Silence, or being bare-bones can be an intimidating thing, since our 21st culture celebrates fullness and having more “things.” However, there is beauty in simplicity, and it takes a lot for a person in our current culture to enjoy the little things in life.

    Ming Yuan Low, MT-BC

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