Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Earth Day Sing-along

"The Blue Marble" is a famous photog...

Image via Wikipedia

Earth Day is April 22nd.  This is a fun theme to add to a sing-along.  While the focus of this list in older adults, a few of the songs would also work well in an intergenerational group.

  • Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing
  • What a Wonderful World
  • Mocking Bird Hill
  • On a Clear Day
  • The Garden Song by David Mallet
  • Let There Be Peace on Earth
  • Edelweiss
  • Blue Skies
  • Inch Worm
  • Rattlin Bog

For suggestions for songs for lyric discussion along with many other ideas, be sure you subscribe to JoAnn’s Gems (by clicking the link in the column at the right).  It will be released early on April 3, 2011.


Joy in Learning

IRIS XV • learning to fly

My parents were/are life long learners.  They set an example of reading, sharing information, taking continuing education, visiting museums, …the list goes on.  That love of learning lives on in me.  The number of books waiting on my shelf as well as on wish lists is fairly long and varied in content.  There are lots of continuing education opportunities I’d like to afford myself during the next several years.  And, next week I will be attending the American Music Therapy Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  There are three continuing education sessions are on my list along with a few pre-picked sessions to attend.  The opportunity to walk through booths filled with instruments, resources, and books along with visiting with other music therapist excites me.  I always come away from conferences amazed by the knowledge I’ve gained and the people I’ve met.

But, it isn’t just conferences where I learn.  This fall I started taking guitar lessons for the first time since methods class in college.  Doing so increased my finger strength and taught me many new chords. The best part is the joy I have when I complete a practice session.  I had forgotten how it feels to learn something new vs. working out music for sessions or community groups.  It is a totally different feel.  The best part is having a teacher who encourages noodling (improvisation) time.

Our daughter is a freshman in high school.  She is already talking about pursuing a master’s degree.    She too loves to read.  And, she is always voicing a desire to learn to play a new instrument.  So, I think the learning bug has been passed on to her.

The fact is learning can be fun. I’ve had a few friends share memories of dinner time conversations centered around a new fact each family member learned during the day.  (Often this required running to the encyclopedia or dictionary immediately before the meal.)  The amazing part is how many of these facts those people still share while wearing a smile.

Here’s an example of my fun find of the day: using Blackbird Pie!

Challenging myself and those with whom I work is often important.  I like sharing facts about places and things as we share songs.  Learning information about events from the participants is another joy I try to include in my sessions.

Ask/complete the following items of yourself and those around you in the next few days seeing what you discover:

  • I get excited when I learn about ________.
  • What fascinating fact have you learned today?
  • What would you like to know more about?

Until next time, happy learning!

Drum Circle Explained

Its drum circle week at Sterling House of Hays.  Here’s a wonderful video to explain the why while giving you insights as to what might be included.

So, keep the beat!  Have some fun expressing and relating “as you create sacred space”.

Recollection through Sound


Old man

Image via Wikipedia


Working with older adults has provided me many insights.  I plan on being a “loving life” kind of woman in my 90’s who still tries lots of new activities along with old favorites.  Surrounding myself with family, friends, and music are high on my list.  I look forward to days of laughter and enjoyment – less work but as much joy as now, still learning, still sharing.  I plan on surrounding myself with people who help me make all these connections and activities.  Wonder how many people will be singing WWII music with me along as well as all the folk songs, children’s songs, church hymns and silly favorites with which I now fill my days?

It always seems like such a gift to be allowed to work with the older adults.  Singing songs seems to bring out the stories.  Those of limited words may suddenly burst into song, drum along, or share a smile or tear.  My work as a music therapist has allowed me to peek into the lives of those with whom I work.  It is also something others have reported.  Here is a great article about just that.  Read it and enjoy!  Aging Well Magazine – Music Therapy in Dementia Treatment — Recollection Through Sound.

Why would I participate in a drum circle?

drum circle

Image by katiew via Flickr

This week I will hold drum circles at two assisted living facilities as well as include drumming activities in an intergenerational group.  When reading the various Music Therapy Blogs and websites, you are apt to encounter information on drum circles.  For some, this idea brings great joy while others questions why they would want to do such a thing.  Here are five reasons for participating in a drum circle.

  1. Drums are “ageless”. I mean this in two ways.  Drums are most likely the most ancient of instruments.  And, the drum doesn’t care about the player’s age.  My participants range in age from 18 mos. to 96 years.  My percussion equipment seems to respond equally to the participants regardless of their age.
  2. Being a musician is not required. Methods for playing are easy to adapt to the ability and skills of the participants.  A good facilitator, educator, or music therapist will guide you in the process.  Rarely is reading music or rhythms required in drum circles.
  3. It is an opportunity to interact and communicate often without words.  Drum Circle participants learn to listen and respond to each other as well as the person leading.  Self  expression opportunities can and exist with in the group.
  4. There are health benefits. Research has demonstrated participants have decreased stress levels.  Additionally, some studies demonstrate an increase in immune response.  Fine and gross motor activity is used for playing.  There is a level cardiovascular benefit to participants.
  5. Drumming is fun especially in a group setting.  Smiles and laughter are common in many of the groups I have led as well as have participated.  There is somethings special that happens as people begin to drum in the moment & in response to others.

See if a drum circle is offered in your community.  Learn more from on-line sources about drum circles from sites such as:

Happy drumming!

It isn’t too late

Kat Fulton, MM, MT-BC, NICUMT, has a wonderful blog.  She has been posting myth busters the last few entries.  Her most recent one is the best!  Read it and consider what Kat says: Mythbuster Countdown #1.

Music for all

I firmly believe music is something most people can enjoy and in which participation is beneficial.  A recent article in Nature News shares much the same view.

What are your thoughts?

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