Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Top 10 Blogs on Music with Older Adults

Go 10

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Last week I shared a post on the top 10 music therapy blogs. Whether you are a music therapist or someone working with elders, these are some great resources. Todays list is from my search of Google for “music with older adults.”

10. Key Changes Music Therapy Services

9. 55 (A new find I am now following)

8. Connecticut Music Therapy Services

7. Bow Cliff Blog Site (This is an interesting find in many ways for me.)

6. Soundscape Music Therapy

5 .Rhythm for Good 

4. Victoria Williamson Music Psychologist (This was a new find for me)

3. Music Therapy Research Blog

2. Linda Coyle’s Blog (interesting that this is her old site)

1. Music Therapy Musings

I find it interesting that five of these are music therapy sites. It tells me that music therapist address this area. It also tells me there are other with influence in this arena. Finding new sites to follow provides me previously untapped sources for ideas.

My next top ten post will be on intergenerational music.

Camping Theme Resources

If you received my newsletter, be sure and check out Canoeing in Preschool. And check out this camping resource by 2 Teaching Mommies.

Those who receive my SPARKS newsletter received the following ideas and more!

Camp Songs:


  • Do Your Ears Hang Low
  • Boa Constrictor
  • The Littlest Worm
  • Little Bunny Foo Foo

Older Adults

  • Picking Flowers in the Rain
  • Tenting Tonight
  • Trail of the Lonesome Pine
  • Dip, Dip & Swing


  • Oh, We’re from Camp (insert the facility name, family name, etc.)
  • Camp Granada
  • Marching to Victoria
  • If You’re Happy & You Know It


Children’s Story Books

  • Camp Granada: Sing-Along Camp Songs by FranÃ
  • How to Catch a Fish by John Frank and Peter Sylvada
  • I Took a Walk by Henry Cole
  • On the Way to the Beach by Henry Cole
  • Wish You Were Here by Martina Selway
  • Camping in Green (Know Your Colors) by Christianne C. Jones and Todd Ouren

If you would like to receive the rest of the information, sign  up for my SPARKS newsletter. You will be able to access the rest of these camping ideas from June 2011 from the archives.

Do-Dah Day

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June 4th is Do-Dah Day – A Salute to Silliness. No, I’m not making it up. It really is Do-Dah Day. So here are a few songs that might be fun to sing & share at an intergenerational Do-Day Day Celebration.

  • Camp Town Races (For the pleasure of singing do-dah!)
  • I’m Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
  • Mairzy Doats
  • Down By the Bay
  • Father Abraham Had Seven Sons
  • Skinamarinky Dinky Dink
  • I’m a Nut
  • Ragtime Cowboy Joe
  • I’m Going Crazy
  • I’m a Little Piece of Tin
  • There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
  • There was a Crooked Man
  • On Top of Spaghetti
  • Flying Purple People Eater

Children’s Songs for Father’s Day


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Father’s Day is coming. Here are some songs children can sing about men. In fact it might  be fun to sing them with fathers, uncles, and grandfathers…

  • This Old Man
  • When I First Came to this Land
  • Hush Little Baby
  • Billy Boy
  • Farmer in the Dell
  • Waltzing Matilda
  • Yankee Doodle
  • Father Abraham Had Seven Sons
  • Noble Duke of York
  • Michael Finnegan
  • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Old Mac Donald

Men in Song

The MICE Singers

Image via Wikipedia

June is International Men’s Month and Father’s Day in the US is June 19th. Residents at the local Sterling House have asked me to share songs about men during June. A few I will be sharing are:

What would you add to the list? If you work with a different Age group, I recommend checking out Green Book of Song. It is well worth the money for the resource assistance they offer.

Easy Summertime Music Fun With Your Child


With our local school year completed, many in my community are thinking of summer.  Some of my best memories as a child are of summer evenings playing games and having fun with my parents and siblings in our yard.

I love injecting some creative music making into a child’s experiences! So prepare for smiles on your face and a child’s as you try out a few of these ideas.

  • Singing: Share favorite songs from your childhood. While you may not be a singing sensation, your voice is a free gift you can share. And you can also sing-along with recordings.  A wonderful source for older tunes can be “Disney’s Sing-along Songs” – many of which may be available at your local library.
  • Attend a free community music event: Many communities have free concerts in the summer months. Look for community concert bands, groups in concert at an event, or on parade. The great part about free is you can leave without feeling like you haven’t gotten your moneys worth if your child becomes restless. And, it can be a place to begin to teach concert etiquette.
  • Freeze dancing: Put a CD in a player. Take turns moving when the music plays & freezing your position when the music stops. Children enjoy getting to be in control with simple games like this.
  • Make kazoos & march: Check out my post “Celebrate National Kazoo Day” & the link for directions to make you own kazoo. Hum a tune & march around the house, the yard, the neighborhood.
  • Water-glass/container chimes:For young children, place a little water into an old pot or pan. Get the water swirling a bit and use a metal spoon to strike the underside of the pot.  For those age five and older and only with adult supervision you can try this second version. Gather some empty glass containers or water glasses, a couple large metal spoons, and a pitcher of water. (You can even put a couple drops of food coloring in the water to make it easier to see.) My recommendation is to do this activity in the yard. Pour water into the glasses. Gently tap the glass on the outside to hear the pitch/sound. Change the amount of water to make a different pitch. See if you can play tunes with your water container creation. When your done, use the water to water a plant in the yard.
  • Homemade Wind Chimes: Gather a hanger, yarn or crochet thread, and various objects like old silverware, dried sticks, plastic tubes. Tie one end on the hanger and the other to the object with the yarn or thread. Hand several objects so they will touch when moved by the wind, your breath or your hand. See what sounds you can create.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with these activities. If you have photos of the fun, all the better.

Second Story Window

On Musical Gems I recently posted What are your six songs?. One of the songs I listed was “Second Story Window”. It is a silly song I learned years ago as a Girl Scout. If you are wondering how this song goes, here it is:

Top 10 Songs Long-Term Care Staff Should Know


Image by firepile via Flickr

During the recent Midwest Regional Music Therapy Conference in Overland Park, Kansas I heard a wonderful case study using music to assist with bathing which I shared in my post “Reflections on Music Therapy Conference”.  That has spurred me to think about how I have used music over the years in long-term care both as an activity staff member and as a music therapist . I have injected music into lots of events from horse racing to exercise to facility scabies scrub downs. As a music therapist, I know a ton of songs. That has worked to my advantage.

Having the staff involved in the music improved the response by the residents. Staff musically interacting with residents can make for a home like atmosphere, a sense of genuine compassion, and an energized facility. It can make everyday duties like ADLs or waiting for a meal less taxing.  Singing favorite songs for or with a resident dealing with a dementing diagnosis  can sometimes increase responsiveness. Given the limited number of long-term care facilities which employ a music therapist or contract music therapy services, I thought it would be nice to share songs the staff could join residents in singing. Know that song preferences change with resident, locale and facility.  With that in mind here is my Top Ten Songs to Know in Long-Term Care.

  1. Amazing Grace – An old church hymn many people know & sing
  2. Clementine – Folk song with chorus & verses. Songs with choruses allow for easier participation even if residents don’t remember the verses.
  3. Five Foot Two – This flapper song seems to get toes tapping and lots of facial expression whenever I use it. It is a great one for starting a talk about fashion.
  4. God Bless America – A patriotic number many older adults know well.
  5. Happy Birthday – Self explanatory, I hope!
  6. Let Me Call You Sweetheart – Old love song which can bring out waltzing type moves. You can also ask residents about other nicknames to substitute in the lyrics for sweetheart.
  7. Pack Up Your Troubles – While this WWI song seems too old, I find most people know it.
  8. She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain – Another folk song that can easily be changed up.
  9. Take Me Out to the Ball Game – Men & women alike know this song.
  10. You Are My Sunshine

Here are some other big favorites from my visits that you could also consider adding to your repertoire:

  1. America
  2. America the Beautiful
  3. April Showers
  4. Auld Lang Syne
  5. Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out the Barrel)
  6. Home on the Range
  7. How Much is that Doggie in the Window
  8. I Want a Girl (Just Like the Girl)
  9. I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles
  10. I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover
  11. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
  12. In the Garden
  13. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  14. My Wild Irish Rose
  15. Oh What a Beautiful Morning
  16. Oh, When the Saints
  17. Oh Susanna
  18. School Days
  19. Shine On Harvest Moon
  20. Show Me the Way to Go Home
  21. Side by Side
  22. Singing in the Rain – A good one for showers and baths.
  23. Tennessee Waltz
  24. When You Wore a Tulip
  25. Your Cheating Heart

I encourage you to  ask your residents about their favorite songs. You may be surprised by the answers. If you are interested in learning more about music therapy services in long-term care, I encourage you to look at these informative posts by Rachelle Norman, MA, MT-BC:

Related articles

Flight Songs

Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134 (201104290002HQ)

Image by nasa hq photo via Flickr

With the Space Shuttle Endeavor scheduled for lift off this morning, fond memories of living in the Orlando, Florida area watching shuttle launches are on my mind. Evening launches were my favorite. In honor of this lift off and in keeping with the transportation week theme,  here are a few flight related songs you could use.

For All Ages

For Adults

For Children

  • I’d Like to Visit the Moon

I leave you with the music of Holst’s “Planets” and beautiful pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope:


I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles

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Bubbles seem to have a lifetime of uses. They are an affordable, relatively clean activity. I have used them with young children and with older adults. This past weekend, I read a post titled “Bubbles are more than meets the eye”.  Many of the developmental uses for bubbles are outlined in the article. It includes a bubble solution recipe. So, my article is more focused toward older adults and intergenerational groups.

Saying bubbles brings the songs “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and “Tiny Bubbles” to my mind. These are two songs many older adults know by heart. In particular, I find the lyrics of “I”m Forever Blowing Bubbles” a great discussion starter:

  • What dreams have you seen in your life?
  • Did they fade & die as the song suggests? Tell me more about that.
  • What fortunes did you find hiding in your life?
  • Why do you think the lyricist spoke of fortunes in a song about bubbles?
  • Did you blow bubbles as a child? With your child?
  • Rather than sending a bride & groom off with rice, people now blow bubbles. What significance may this have?

We could also discuss where we remembered seeing bubbles during Lawrence Welk shows. Often this is where the song “Tiny Bubbles” comes into the discussion. I loved using the room air handlers or a blow dryer and creating our own Welk type event.

As a nursing home activity staff member, I also found bubbles could be part of intergenerational programs with school aged children. Depending on the class age and the teacher, it could take on a science to a social approach.We would together explore making bubbles of different sizes, discuss expectations of various wand shapes, see who could blow the most bubbles or the largest bubble, and share bubble experiences. The group also would discuss the type of air stream needed to create bubbles. Often there were discussions on the rainbows found on the bubble surface.

Enjoy some bubbles with someone today and see if a song or a smile surfaces.

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