Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Archive for the ‘Preschool’ Category

Happy Second Birthday!

Music Sparks is two years old. 

It has been a great year – both in Hays and in social media.  

Here in Hays, I have had great fun regularly providing group music therapy services at some area assisted living facilities including a very successful intergenerational group at one facility. Being invited to take part in the Family Fun Fest at the Mall was an absolute blast! The fall Saturday morning class was great fun for me and the boys who attended. I am also thankful for the opportunity to volunteer some time during the year in the Good Samaritan Alzheimer’s unit – New Horizons.

Social media wise, things are booming. Our Facebook page has reached over 100 “likes”. As of June 2011, SPARKS is now a bi-weekly newsletter providing resources for preschoolers, older adults and intergenerational programs around different themes. And, as of today, Music Sparks has a new website: music2spark. Do check out the new site!

I am so thankful I found Laura Crum who is assisting me in the process, and providing guidance. I also have a lot of people who have served as mentors in social media:

Things only look for exciting for Music Sparks this coming year. As I announced in May, there are lots of changes coming. The intergenerational program will now be known as Music Sparks: Sharing Songs. Beginning in September there will be an additional evening session. For children 18 months through age 3 I will offer Music Sparks: Discover one morning a week. And, the Saturday morning class for 5-6 year olds will reappear as Music Sparks: Exploration. (Click here to check the Preschool Class page for details.)

Older adults not in Assisted Living aren’t forgotten. I am working on some group music opportunities just for you! The best place for you to find out about upcoming sessions is the Older Adult tab.  

Thank you to all who read this blog. I’ll see you from now on at the new, improved site  – Music 2 Spark!

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3 Back to School Morning Boosts

Saying my daughter is not excited about going back to school is an understatement. (No, that isn’t a picture of her.) She is a true teen, a true musician. Mornings are not her thing! Whether you have a teenager, a child in elementary school, a pre-schooler or are an adult preparing to return to a class schedule, there are three things you can do to boost the energy level in the morning.

Restart the bedtime and wake time schedule. Depending on how “off schedule” your summer has been, it takes time to reset the body clock. We had a very laid back schedule at our house, so we have started a couple of weeks out with gradually having earlier bed and wake times.

Try adding a positive affirmation to your day as you turn off the alarm clock. It can be short like “new day, new opportunities” or something long. I find affirmations help me have a positive focus to my day.

Add a little music. (You knew this was coming, right?) With the advent of mp3 players and iPods this can be easy. My daughter often plays music as she puts on her make-up. I may play music as I prepare breakfast.  It doesn’t have to be peppy, just music we like. When she was little, I had relaxing, lullaby CD’s I played and sang with at her bedtime. My favorite CD’s were:

I would also sing little songs to wake her in the morning.

What are your favorite ways to awaken on a school morning?

Singable Stories: Take Me Home, Country Roads

John Denver's Greatest Hits

Image by thejcgerm via Flickr

Tomorrow I will be traveling back home after a wonderful family vacation. Though I will be flying, John Denver is running through my head. If you open the cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads”, adapted and illustrated by Christopher Canyon you are greeted with this quote:

Music makes pictures and often tells stories, all of it magic and all of it true. And all of the pictures and all of the stories, and all of the magic, the music is you. ~John Denver

While this is a children’s book, I believe it would work well in an intergenerational group. Watch the clip to find out why.

What are your impressions of this book? Share them in the comments.

Simplification in a Session

Simple

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.

Secrets of Creating Inspired Themes

Secret

Image by val.pearl via Flickr

In this post I am sharing some of my secrets for creating and using inspired themes.  It is my hope they are helpful in kick starting a session, a week, a month, or a year for you. They are easy to apply ideas for the home, school, and long-term care settings. So here we go!

Where do you find inspiration for a theme?

You can find it everywhere. Really, I do: books I read, calendars, resource books, dreams, ideas from clients, local events. The secret is to capture them on paper, in a file, in a voice memo. Just capture them otherwise they tend to disappear from your thoughts.

What sources can be used to kick-start ideas?

  • If the idea is triggered by a local annual event, often there are resources from this event to get you started.
  • Many on-line holiday and special event calendars have links to starter sources.
  • When it is free-floating ideas from my thoughts, clients, or dreams I often use Google as a starter point. Look into the suggested search terms that may pop up in your search

How to I build on an idea that doesn’t come with ready-made ties?

Ask questions about the theme to pull it into other events. For example, how I use a camping theme to create a cohesive week of events at an assisted living facility? The topic itself becomes something for reminiscing. Think of the images that relate to the topic. The equipment on might use can become the decorations and the physical objects that might help with the reminiscing. When you think of camping, it might help you think of smells  (pine tree, smoke, Mosquito repellent), tastes (hot dogs, smores, trail mix), movements (cutting wood, hiking, boating, horseback riding), sounds (insects at night, bird calls, wolves, songs around the campfire, and touch (rough cord, bark from trees, iron skillet, fabrics from tents). All these things can help you spread the theme into events: topics for Jeopardy, words to unscramble, movements for exercise, foods for cooking, songs to sing, just to name a few.

Hope this has helped. Recipients of the July 23, 2011 SPARKS newsletter received this and more! Join today by clicking here. Then you will be able to access this themed information in the archives.

7 Link Challenge – Music Sparks Version

backlit house number

Image by cmurtaugh via Flickr

My friend, Michelle Erfurt put out a challenge on Music Therapy Tween for a 7 link challenge. This seemed like a simple challenge. The questions only apply to the dates of August 2010 – July 2011. So here we go!

  1. Your first post of August 2010: Music for All This was a short post sharing a link. Boy have my posts changed in the last year.
  2. A post you enjoyed writing the most: Right Down to Your Toes I love being barefoot. I love getting a pedicure. Finding this poem and turning it into a song was a joy.
  3. A post which had a great discussion: It surprises me that a couple tied: Time to Spring Forward and Singable Books: Patriotic.
  4. A post on someone else’s blog that you wish you’d written:  Intergenerational Music at Cornerstone I wish I had a big hit post like this one on intergenerational music that was on my blog.  This may be a goal for this coming year. I wrote something that impacted the lives of those for whom I provide services.
  5. Your most helpful post: Brining Australia to Kansas This post brought comments from Australia that informed my sessions. The residents were very impressed to have music suggested from around the globe.
  6. A post with a title that you are proud of:  Yes, You Can! The title created interest and was a great summary of this video. We can each make a difference in the lives of those dealing with dementia.
  7. A post that you wish more people had read: Singing Bowl Meditation Doing meditation with a group of older adults with a variety of backgrounds and diagnosis can be a challenge. But, this seemed to work.

Now, it is your turn! If you are a blogger, share your list of seven.

Singable Stories: Some Sunday Specials

From time to time I teach Sunday School at my church. These singable stories would be appropriate for Sunday Schools, religion classes, or just sharing with a child. Check them out!

I hope you enjoy these books. Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

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