Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘Assisted Living’

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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Story Songs for Older Adults

Telling Stories

Image via Wikipedia

When my clients make me think, it gets me excited. This past week, a conversation started at an assisted living facility on stories told by songs. There are so many songs that tell stories, so the question became which to recommend. Once I was home from the session, I through the topic out to Twitterverse and received responses from Kat Fulton, Rachelle Norman, Carolyn D., and Carol Costantino. Thank you ladies!

This list of songs is from these ladies along with a few of my own. Songs will likely appeal older adults – 65+ in age. Where possible, I’ve linked to a recording on YouTube for easy of use by caregivers and seniors who wish to listen.

All of these have the makings of discussion starters. If you use any of these story songs to facilitate a group, please share the response you have to them. Love this idea but work with young children? No problem, I’ll soon have a list for this group & inter-generational groups very soon.

School Day Memories

Unidentified Rural Schoolhouse

Image by Wisconsin Historical Images via Flickr

In my years of employment in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, I found it helpful to include discussions related to events in the community. With back to school fliers filling the paper, and children once again returning to school, this is a timely discussions to which you can tie many themed activities. And in my experience it is one that often elicited a strong response. Whether you work in a facility or visit family members or friends living in a facility, here are some conversation ideas and a few songs to spark up your visits.

Conversation starters:

  • What were our favorite subjects in school?
  • How many rooms/grades levels did you school have? (Many older adults in rural areas attended one or two room schools and maybe had 20 students in first through seventh grade.)
  • What were your favorite games at recess?
  • How far did you travel/walk to get to school?
  • Did you ever give an apple to your teacher?
  • Did you ever get picked to help clean the chalkboard erasers in your class? Was it a privilege or a punishment?

If people have memory issues try some of these props to help get conversations going: ruler, lined paper, Big Chef notebook, small chalk board with chalk, crayons,

Songs to sing together:

If children are visiting, include: The Alphabet Song, School House Rock songs (people with children currently in their 50’s or younger may remember these from Saturday morning TV.)

What would you add to these lists?

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.

A 4th of July Sing-along

140th US Flag Day poster. 1777-1917. The birth...

Image via Wikipedia

In addition to playing in the Hays City Band on the grounds of Fort Hays on the 4th, I will be leading a sing-along at Sterling House of Hays. We will be singing several familiar songs about places around the United States. Here’s some of my list for our singing celebration.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July. If you are celebrating with song, please share your thoughts of what to add in the comments below.

Here are other sing-along ideas:

Welcome Summer!

In the good old summertime. [canoe] (LOC)

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

Summer officially begins on June 21, 2011. Why not celebrate the day with songs? Here are a few songs older adults may recognize.

  • In the Good Old Summertime
  • Summertime
  • “Tis the last Rose of Summer
  • June is Busting Out All Over (Be sure and check out the song spotlight  and song writing info at Soundscape Music Therapy)
  • Summer Wind
  • We’ll Sing in the Sunshine
  • Beach Baby
  • By the Sea
  • Barefootin’

You can bring in more senses with old pictures of swim suits, picture of a fan blowing on a block of ice (old-time air conditioning), a beach ball, a pale with shovel, maybe a little sand to run through the fingers (or toes), coconut butter, baby oil (an old-time sun tanning lotion) just to name a few.

As for this traveling music therapist, I’m cranking up the AC and the tunes while I share a few memories of summers passed around the Hays, Kansas area.

Who are my clients? (Part 1)

This weekend I shared on Twitter a post that inspired this writing and one future post.

Given the dual nature of my work – older adults and preschoolers – I feel there are slightly different definitions for whom and where I wish to work depending on the age group. This post focuses on older adults. As most of my contacts are in facilities, you will notice a nod in that direction.

I do not want to work with you if you:

  • want me to volunteer my services
  • see music therapy as just entertainment
  • don’t want your staff to take part in the process of my sessions
  • expect just quiet singing
  • aren’t open to exploring a world of music and experiences
  • view a 10 AM session as beginning strictly at 10AM
  • think someone is too confused/ to sick to benefit from music therapy
  • can’t be bothered with encouraging people to attend
  • don’t want to move the furniture to facilitate groups

I want to work with you if you:

  • enjoy my energy
  • allow me to share my observations with staff
  • encourage residents and staff to work together in creating a home like environment
  • are willing to witness laughter and tears
  • see learning and growing as a part of living no matter your age
  • value each person for what they can add
  • know the power of music (or are at least open to exploring it)
  • willing to try new things, sing new songs
  • see the abilities of the residents
  • enjoying offering services that engage your residents
  • encourage intergenerational activities

Now you know who I want to work with in the Hays, Kansas area. For more information on my services for older adults, see this page.  If this interests you or your facility, please contact me: musicsparks@rocketmail.com .

If you live outside the area or just want to learn ways to provide some special resources in the lives of older adults, I  invite you to sign up for my FREE newsletter – SPARKS! 

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