Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

I want a vacation!


When I was employed as an Activity Director in long-term care, it took a lot of effort and time to arrange my vacations. At first, I found taking a vacation more stressful than not having a break. I  had to be sure all my charting was completed, all the activities were covered, materials were in place…it was a lot of work! In my  many years in the position at a variety of facilities, I did learn a few things that made it easier. And, I became a much healthier, happier person.

  1. Plan your vacation before you plan your calendar. This allows you to be sure you don’t schedule events you must be there in order for them to succeed.
  2. Identify coverage with your supervisor. Knowing who will provide coverage allows you to play to that person’s strengths, schedule events according to available coverage, etc. Sometimes my Administrator would hold a Resident Council meeting while I was away or another conversation based event.
  3. Contact your volunteers for extra assistance. Increasing the volunteer coverage provided for more one on one attention while I was away. Also, some of my volunteers were great at leading specific groups but not others. So, if chasing bowling balls & pins (this was pre Wii days) was something outside their physical contort but doing a group crossword was a strength, we would schedule accordingly.
  4. Set aside time prior to leaving to complete charting, purchase materials, leave plans. Leaving with your charting complete is key. I would create daily plan sheets of what was to happen when, who would lead the event, who generally attended these groups, and materials needed for the event. While it sounds like a lot, much of it was easy once I completed two days. It became more of a copy and paste. Then, if the covering person or volunteer was ill, there was sufficient information for the event to occur. And, I had a complete list of supplies to purchase if necessary as well as to leave. I tried to provide a little extra time in my schedule the last five days leading up to vacation to accomplish this.
  5. Plan for some easy to implement events while you are gone. Generally, my residents loved certain events that didn’t need much explaining like bingo. I also had materials from resources like Creative Forecasting, Activity Connections, and A New Day which were already set up for use. You can also use materials from newsletters like SPARKS (available for FREE here on the right), materials from your corporate office, or other resources. I general made copies and attached them to the sheets for each day or placed them in a three-ring binder organized by day.
  6. Schedule time for key staff to update you on what happened while you were away on your first day back. I found it helpful to sit with the Administrator, Social Service Director, or DON/ADON for 20 minutes the morning I returned to be up to date on everyone’s status. It let me prioritize my charting, resident visits, and alerted me to special needs that had developed in my absence.

Tweet, Tweet

The Twitter fail whale error message.

Image via Wikipedia

This post is in response to my friend, Michelle Erfurt, who asked me about Tweet Chat. And, it is for my hubby and a friend who are thinking about trying their hands at Twitter. My experiences are limited to a short period of use, but here is what I know and what I find helpful.

  1. Create a Twitter Account. The instructions are fairly easy to follow. Your name or a business name is a good start. I’m @JordanEM.
  2. Follow people related to your interests.  You can do a search by name. Twitter also has a “Who to Follow” tab where you can look at interests. Follow a few people, see who they follow. I follow other music therapist, other therapist, those in elder care and childcare…put simply, those with related interests.
  3. Look up and ask questions about hashtags. (They look like #musictherapy.) Twitter suggests which is a good start. And there is nothing wrong with asking friends, either. Using hashtags helps people locate information.
  4. Consider sign-up for a service. Most of them are free or have free versions. There are several out there. I have chosen Tweet Deck. Several of my friends use HootSuite. Most of these services have apps for iPhones, Droids, etc. They make it easier to interact, sort, and process the information. You don’t have to use them.
  5. Sign up for Tweet Chat. Tweet chats are prearranged conversation at a set time. Some have a very structured format while others don’t. Using the Tweet Chat makes following the chat easier. For example, you don’t have to keep entering the hashtag for that group.

Being part of “twitterverse” has allowed me to meet people throughout the world, to find out about interesting news items and research, and to develop a new support network. It has taken reading posts about how to tweet and a “how to” book from the library to figure this out on my own, but I’m sure glad I did.    For example, I’m looking forward to meeting up with other music therapist during tweet-ups at he American Music Therapy Conference  in November (#AMTA11). Putting voices with all the people I regularly exchange information is a true joy! It has “Rockin Robin” running through my brain!

Feel free to follow me on Twitter. I’m, @JordanEM.

May Resources

Chiot's Run 2011 Calendar

Image by Chiot's Run via Flickr

The month of May is filled with holidays and events for many people. Here are some resources on this blog for a handful of them:

May Day:

Cinco de Mayo:

Mother’s Day:

Older American’s Month:

Older Americans Month Songs

Old man

Image via Wikipedia

May is designated as Older Americans Month. This year’s theme is: Older Americans: Connecting Community.  According to the US Administration on Aging, the theme:

“pays homage to the many ways in which older adults bring inspiration and continuity to the fabric of our communities, and highlights how technology is helping older Americans live longer, healthier, and more engaged lives.”

Music can inspire us. Music can engage us. And, music can connect people. Thus, it seems fitting to take  time to share some songs about “old” things that seniors might sing and enjoy. Grab the family and take some time to share these or other music with an older friend. You’ll be glad you did!

Flower Power Songs

A poster with twelve species of flowers or clu...

Image via Wikipedia

Since “April showers bring May flowers” I am working on a newsletter full of flower songs and other flower fun. (Besides, so many music therapist have been blogging on flower songs, I thought it was time to add my thoughts.) Our weather has finally improved enough I can spend a little time trying to plant and weed. Gardening helps me clear my thoughts though at times it gets my allergies activated. And, I love playing my guitar in the shade on a warm day.

Back to the newsletter. So far, the list of songs for adults is overflowing. I am still looking for original children’s flower songs though I have remembered several from my childhood. I have found lots of children’s flower books. Adults will  even find a list of movie involving gardens. A  flower meditation in the works.

I invite you to share your inspirations on flower songs. You are also invited to join the newsletter list so you get all the details. If it takes me a little while to respond, know that I may just be out in the garden for a little R & R!

Goal Met!

Jump for Joy

Image by Scott Ableman via Flickr

I met my goal of post to this blog at least three times a week during the month of March.  As of April 1st, here are the top five viewed blogs posted during the month of March were:

#5 – Where are you going, my child?: inspired by my daughter’s birthday.

#4 – A great song resource: Sharing one of the sites I use to locate songs on a theme.

#3 – Multi-tasking Instruments: I shared the instruments I use in my music therapy sessions.

#2 – Make a Musical Family History: Ideas for adding music when gathering your family history.

and #1 – St. Patrick’s Songs: This list was targeted towards songs to sing with seniors.

Here are some of the blogs topics you can expect in April:

  • April shower songs for seniors and for children,
  • sharing of an original song for children,
  • reflections on group mediation in an assisted living group, and
  • ideas for a “South of the Border” themed sing-along those in Brookdale Senior Living facilities (and others) can use when planning for May.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions as I blog forth.

Related Articles

Musical Laugh for April Fool’s

sweet violet butterfly flower

Image by oceandesetoiles via Flickr

The other day I asked on Facebook about favorite silly songs.  Rachelle Norman shared a post on “Mairzy Doats”.  This is a great song for many reasons: it appeals many ages, it is great for speech practice, and it is easy to sing. I have used this with intergenerational groups, to preschoolers, as well as long-term care/assisted living settings.

My friend Kat Fulton pulled out an oldie I had forgotten – “Sweet Violets”.  This  1951 hit by Dinah Shore is one many older adults and boomers may remember. Because of the lyrics, I would be selective of which groups I shared this song.  (I can see it would lead to some interesting discussions on appropriate language with teens and adults.) That said, I am most certainly re-learning this one.  I’m sharing a YouTube link that has the lyrics and chords printed in the comment sections in case you’d like to learn it, too

So have a great April Fool’s Day and enjoy a few “oldies” tunes!

Children’s Songs for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day (April 22)

Image by Images by John 'K' via Flickr

Earth Day is April 22nd.  There are so many ways to celebrate it with music.  With children it is a great time to sing songs about plants and animals.  Here are just a few from my list:

  • Let’s All Sing Like the Birdies Sing
  • Inch Worm
  • Rattlin Bog
  • One Light, One Sun by Raffi
  • Oats, Peas, Beans & Barley Grow

If you would like to access a few more of my Earth Day song ideas for children along with other resources, be sure you are on the JoAnn’s Gems newsletter list.  The Earth Day issue is set for release early April 3, 2011.

A great song resource


Whether you are a music therapist, an educator, or an activity planner, at times you are looking for fresh ideas on a given theme.  While that is what I try to provide through my newsletter, I have lots of resources to get me started.  I wanted to let you in on my latest find: Green Book of Songs. (Non-affiliated site)

Once you subscribe to Green Book of Songs, you can access their database and receive their list of the week.  It is a great help to me in recalling recording artist of many tunes.  There are also links to lesson plans and other nice planning tools.  So check them out.

By the way, I have settled on the theme topics for my newsletters being released April 3 & 17, 2011.  Any guesses to what I’ve selected?

Mountain Top Songs

Mount Kilimanjaro from the air. July 2007

Image via Wikipedia

As requested in a recent poll, the JoAnn’s Gems newsletter scheduled for release on Sunday, March 6, 2001 is themed around mountain experiences.  In April, I will be sharing a music therapy session titled “Mountain Top Sing-along” with my Sterling House Assisted Living friends which will contain many of the following songs:

  • “Climb Every Mountain”
  • “I Love to Go A Wandering”
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
  • “Rocky Mountain High”
  • “Rocky Top”
  • “On Top of Old Smoky”
  • “Trail of the Western Pine”
  • “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain”
  • “I Love the Mountains”

I know we will have a great time sharing music and memories.   Songs about mountains are full of imagery.  I imagine there will even be a little yodeling.  Even more ideas will be shared in my newsletter chocked full of resources.  If you are not yet receiving them, sign up today!  In the mean time, feel free to share your favorite mountain songs in the comments below.

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