Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘Color’

Multitasking Instruments

As a music therapist providing services at multiple sites, I require instruments that are easy to pack, clean, and don’t weigh tons.  Living in an area of wind and other weather events, I try to approach my sessions with a one trip in and out load. My rolling suitcase & shoulder drum bags are my helpers. In addition, I need items that can appropriately work for the ages with which I work: preschoolers and older adults.  My guitar is my traveling accompaniment instrument and most of the facilities I service have a piano I can use.  Here is a list of some of my most used instruments for clients.  I’ve provided links to West Music (not an affiliate) for those who are not familiar with these instruments.

Boomwhackers:  Seniors in the assisted living facilities seem to do best with the bass and treble clef through second line G as they are larger and easier to strike on other objects.  They love the novelty of the instruments and often giggle when I pull them out.  With preschoolers I use them for color songs and for following instructions. Right now I am using them with the book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”. (No, not all the colors in the book are covered by boomwhackers.  I may share my instrument substitutions in a future post.)

Resonator Bells: These break my rule on light weight.  I inherited them from my parents.  As they require rebound and striking at a particular point, it involves a coordination to obtain a nice sound.  With adults, I have used them as they are individually small and allow us to work on these skills.  With children I have used to discuss size along with concepts of high and low sounds.  As the letters on my set are difficult to read (unlike the sample picture), I have often taped larger print ones to the base when using them for letter recognition.

Egg Shakers: These easy to clean instruments come in several sizes and some with handles.  I store them in a net washing bag for easy transport.  The uses are so numerous, I won’t even attempt to list them here.

Wrist Jingle Bells: Oddly enough, a fair number of my older adults select this instrument when it is offered as a choice.  I suspect it is because they are familiar, light weight and wearable.  With preschoolers, we use them for lots of horse and color songs.  These are my most difficult to clean instruments.

Nesting Frame Drums and Paddle Drums: The space-saving feature of these drums is great! They work well with and without mallets.  With preschoolers I have the ability to compare sizes (as I did with the paddle drums in the post on the Jazzy 3 Bears).  Older adults are able to select the size that best fits their lap or strength.  I also use the Paddle Drums with older adults. These can be clamped to an armchair if required.

Sound Shape Drums: For preschoolers, I use these for colors, shapes and windows. For older adults, they are often my backup drums though a few residents like how light weight they are.  Here is an example of a song I use with preschoolers using my Sound Shape drums:

Are there other easily transported instruments in your bag of tricks?  I’d love to hear about them.

Colorful World for Children

Twister18-12-03 (1)

Image via Wikipedia

I am currently preparing for a class through WKSA at FHSU on “Colors, Shapes & Sizes” and will soon be doing a color theme Music Sparks class on Colors. Colors are so much fun! Depending on ages of the children and their awareness, you can do so many things.

Twister – I use the chant from “Sound Shape Playbook” by Lynn Kleiner & Christine Stevens.  We often put a hand on the color or an object.

Colored instruments: drums, shakers, bells – I ask for instruments of a certain color to play or have the students identify the color they were given.

Scarves & Paper Streamers – Movement activities are a lot of fun. One song the students enjoy is Lynn Kleiner’s “Rainbow ‘Round Me”.  Sometimes I give them 2 or more streamers of different colors to select from so they can all participate in each verse while other times it is one color per person.  The “Hokey Pokey” can also be modified to be a color dance.

Songs:  The songs “Jenny Jenkins”, “Lavenders Blue”, and “Yellow Submarine” comes to mind as one I introduce.  There are lots of fun partner songs for colors available on the web.  A few sources are:

I hope this provide you a start on having colorful, musical fun with kids!

Colorful World for Adults

Brattleboro, VT Rainbow

Image by Professor Bop via Flickr

About this time of year, I start to dream of warmer weather, sunshine, and planting my garden.  As I am preparing a session of Music Sparks on colors, I thought I’d share a few of my songs about colors which I pull out at various times.  Yes, I did share a post and newsletter on colors a few months ago.  As there are so many wonderful songs with colors, I wanted to share some songs I use when visiting assisted livings and nursing homes.

Singalong songs to share:

It’s just a starter list to get you started.  You could center sessions on just one color or  add art experiences to the mix.  Speaking of art, I’d like to share a great YouTube video that shows the effectiveness of the arts for those dealing with dementing illness.  See how these people respond.

Did you know Frank Sinatra conducted 12 classical compositions on colors?  Titled “Tone Poems of Color” this album of was released in 1956.  There is also poetry by Norman Sickel to go with the compositions.  While many may not know about this album, the classical music lovers may enjoy it.

Tomorrow’s post will be again on colors but this time for preschoolers!

Colors in Life

Colouring pencils

Image via Wikipedia

Next week, I will share songs centered on the theme our “Colorful World”.  In doing so, I am struck by three thoughts.  The first an appreciation of colors. Next, the number of songs that comment on colors.  And lastly, how wonderful is the gift of sight.

In appreciating colors, take a moment to look at the space around you.  Focus on the colors and the many shades. My, what variety!  How amazing to have a vocabulary to express the essence of each.  How does one develop that understand & vocabulary?  Start listing songs to go with each color.  Some are easy (there seem to be a ton of blue songs) while others are more difficult (magenta?).  Then there are songs that just describe the world and it’s wonders.  Consider this:

Yet I also realize that sight is a gift.  How amazing our eyes are at providing a range of information.  It is something many take for granted.  Yet, everyday I encounter people with low or no vision.  Some have experienced “normal” sight while others don’t have that history.  They may see with other senses.  What considerations go into raising a child with low vision? How does one accommodate an aging family members loss of sight?  Do I make appropriate accommodations during my music sessions for all the varying issues with sight?   I encourage you to follow along on a journey of a family member as they look at accessibility for the blind and visually impaired at

In the mean time, take a moment to say a word of gratitude for your sight and the colors around you.

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