Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘creativity’

Easy Summertime Music Fun With Your Child


With our local school year completed, many in my community are thinking of summer.  Some of my best memories as a child are of summer evenings playing games and having fun with my parents and siblings in our yard.

I love injecting some creative music making into a child’s experiences! So prepare for smiles on your face and a child’s as you try out a few of these ideas.

  • Singing: Share favorite songs from your childhood. While you may not be a singing sensation, your voice is a free gift you can share. And you can also sing-along with recordings.  A wonderful source for older tunes can be “Disney’s Sing-along Songs” – many of which may be available at your local library.
  • Attend a free community music event: Many communities have free concerts in the summer months. Look for community concert bands, groups in concert at an event, or on parade. The great part about free is you can leave without feeling like you haven’t gotten your moneys worth if your child becomes restless. And, it can be a place to begin to teach concert etiquette.
  • Freeze dancing: Put a CD in a player. Take turns moving when the music plays & freezing your position when the music stops. Children enjoy getting to be in control with simple games like this.
  • Make kazoos & march: Check out my post “Celebrate National Kazoo Day” & the link for directions to make you own kazoo. Hum a tune & march around the house, the yard, the neighborhood.
  • Water-glass/container chimes:For young children, place a little water into an old pot or pan. Get the water swirling a bit and use a metal spoon to strike the underside of the pot.  For those age five and older and only with adult supervision you can try this second version. Gather some empty glass containers or water glasses, a couple large metal spoons, and a pitcher of water. (You can even put a couple drops of food coloring in the water to make it easier to see.) My recommendation is to do this activity in the yard. Pour water into the glasses. Gently tap the glass on the outside to hear the pitch/sound. Change the amount of water to make a different pitch. See if you can play tunes with your water container creation. When your done, use the water to water a plant in the yard.
  • Homemade Wind Chimes: Gather a hanger, yarn or crochet thread, and various objects like old silverware, dried sticks, plastic tubes. Tie one end on the hanger and the other to the object with the yarn or thread. Hand several objects so they will touch when moved by the wind, your breath or your hand. See what sounds you can create.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with these activities. If you have photos of the fun, all the better.


I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles

Image via Wikipedia

Bubbles seem to have a lifetime of uses. They are an affordable, relatively clean activity. I have used them with young children and with older adults. This past weekend, I read a post titled “Bubbles are more than meets the eye”.  Many of the developmental uses for bubbles are outlined in the article. It includes a bubble solution recipe. So, my article is more focused toward older adults and intergenerational groups.

Saying bubbles brings the songs “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” and “Tiny Bubbles” to my mind. These are two songs many older adults know by heart. In particular, I find the lyrics of “I”m Forever Blowing Bubbles” a great discussion starter:

  • What dreams have you seen in your life?
  • Did they fade & die as the song suggests? Tell me more about that.
  • What fortunes did you find hiding in your life?
  • Why do you think the lyricist spoke of fortunes in a song about bubbles?
  • Did you blow bubbles as a child? With your child?
  • Rather than sending a bride & groom off with rice, people now blow bubbles. What significance may this have?

We could also discuss where we remembered seeing bubbles during Lawrence Welk shows. Often this is where the song “Tiny Bubbles” comes into the discussion. I loved using the room air handlers or a blow dryer and creating our own Welk type event.

As a nursing home activity staff member, I also found bubbles could be part of intergenerational programs with school aged children. Depending on the class age and the teacher, it could take on a science to a social approach.We would together explore making bubbles of different sizes, discuss expectations of various wand shapes, see who could blow the most bubbles or the largest bubble, and share bubble experiences. The group also would discuss the type of air stream needed to create bubbles. Often there were discussions on the rainbows found on the bubble surface.

Enjoy some bubbles with someone today and see if a song or a smile surfaces.

Resources for Children

Funny Chinese Child Playing Boy

Image by via Flickr

I am always looking for great resources for music and information.  Whether you are a parent, preschool teacher, or a music therapist, we all need fresh ideas from time to time.  There are those resources that provide information, those that inspire my imagination, and those which provide wonderful music ideas.  Today I want to share two wonderful music therapy sites which I find helpful in my work with preschool children.

Listen and Learn Music: Rachel has great songs available for download at very low prices.  Children respond well to her songs.  They are easy to learn while providing teaching opportunities. Often she provides visual aids.  From time to time she also has free downloads.  Check her out!

Developing Melodies:  This is a site I just started following.  Meryl has some pretty inspiring ideas which she shares in photos and descriptions.  While some are music based, others are not.  Creative resource is my best description of this site.  Be sure and visit her blog.

What are your favorite resources for children’s music?  I’d love to hear.

Related articles:

Pancake Day

Colorful World for Children

Toddler Music Resource Review

And the child grew

children at play By Michael T

Image by nist6ss via Flickr

“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” ~ Luke 2:40

This Bible verse has been running through my head and along with a portion of lyrics “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash.  For me, there is a joy in watching children busy with play, with learning, with exploring, at rest. Watching my daughter, now a teen, is still a source of joy.  Maybe I don’t stand & watch her breath while she sleeps like I did when I first brought her home, yet I watch.  I watch her perform, do her homework, and interact with peers.  I watch her cook experimenting with recipes.

What does all this have to do with the “Slow, children at play picture” and with my music therapy business?  A lot.

First, we tend to be a society that works on a schedule that is often packed with activities.  When we slow down and provide them (and ourselves for that matter) time to play, observe, and explore many doors can open.  And, we need to let them be our teachers, too.  Looking at the lyrics of “Teach Your Children” includes the importance of teaching happening both directions – adult teaches child; child teaches adult. For that to happen we have to slow down and allow time.

Second, research is supporting the importance of play in learning.  There is much all of us can learn through play.  Teachers have created wonderful educational tools that are games.  So, play!  Last night, I watched them make a homemade bottle rocket launcher sending bottles high into the sky on “Ask This  Old House“.  The adults were having as much fun as the kids.  Science, plumbing, measuring, turn taking – lots of neat skills were shared.

Next, I grew up with creative play.  I made up songs, put on plays with my siblings for our parents, created art work, we wrote our own rules for games like kickball so it would be fun for the whole family.  Much of that came directly from my parents.  They encouraged us to try our hands in the arts.  They encouraged family games.  I was blessed with a musical family and I am a musical being.  If I had been a dancer or a tennis player, I know they would have supported that.

This is why I chose to offer early childhood music groups. It can be a supportive place for parents to offer these opportunities to their child.  And, I find the family do walk away with a few new songs in their repertoire.  I want children to have permission to try their hand at singing, playing, and moving with music.  I promote social skills like turn taking, greeting others, and sharing.  This is why offering intergenerational groups is so important to me  – so the two groups can learn from each other.

If music groups aren’t an option, consider adding songs as part of family events,  My daughter accuses me of having a song for every topic.  That’s only partially correct, but I have always added songs to activities.  Whether its “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” while planting bulbs, “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” during a odiferous trip, I find it adds a little levity.  When she was little, it often served as a cue for what we were doing or a time-keeper for quickly completing a task (like picking up toys).  Whether you sing or play a recording, this is a simple way to add a little playfulness and music to your life.

Children learn through play, observation and exploring.  We need to provide them permission, space, and safe opportunity to be children.  Children don’t need to have every moment of every day scheduled.  We need to slow down and let the children play.  And, through their play, we hope they grow and become strong teaching us along the way.

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!

The Love of Toddlers (& Older Adults)


Image via Wikipedia

Some people are surprised by my love of working with older adults and young children.  I find both groups to often have a concentrated playfulness with musical activities.  Both groups require me to plan yet to be flexible and work in the moment.  Both groups enjoy routine but also enjoy novelty in moderation.

Working with the two ages at the same time brings amazing interactions.  Hugs, smiles and laughter are common in these groups.  The older adults reminisce about their children as I set-up and clean up our groups.  Their range of motion observably increases as they play instruments along with the children.  The preschoolers seem to thrive on the positive attention they are receiving from the adults in the group.  Efforts to clearly verbalize names, ideas, and objects seems increased when compared to my preschool music groups. That is why I enjoy offering Intergenerational Classes at Cedarview.  For those in the Hays area with preschoolers, check out this Monday morning class.

Parents of preschoolers all know play is important both for the child to learn and for the parent to have some sanity.  Recently I found an easy to read article on the importance of games: “Toddlers Invent the Silliest Games”.    Author Janet Lansbury shares what can be learned from self-directed play.  As a music therapist, I would encourage making child safe instruments available for self-directed and parent directed play times.  Instruments can be played traditionally as well as allowing for exploration of alternative methods.  Think of all the different sounds you can produce on a hand drum!  As a parent, I often would overhear my daughter singing songs or melodies she had learned at preschool and from me.  My childhood memories include changing song lyrics to meet my moods.

So, be playful as you make music.  Explore the child (and the older adult) within yourself.

* Here are some previous blogs that relate to this children and music:

Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars

Thanks you @SandwichINK for sharing this wonderful book on your blog! “Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars”is a great book for adults of all ages who work with young children.  As one who loves to lead intergenerational activities, I can see this would be a great resource – one I plan to add to my library.  Know of other great resources for intergenerational activities?  Please share them


This week, the High Plains Band & Orchestra Camp is occurring in Hays, KS.  My daughter is there as a camper becoming more proficient as a musician.  My husband is there working with students but still learning as he observes other instructors & directors, plays, and interacts with others.  For me, it means experiencing wonderful evening concerts.  For example, last evening I heard everything from Bach to PDQ Bach to jazz.  It was wonderfully entertaining and relaxing.  So, as a family we are all having musical growth this week.

Whether one is young or old, learning and experiencing are important for us cognitively.  So, why not learn something musical?  What are ways you grow as a musician?

Here are just a few ways to grow as a musician:

  1. learn an instrument
  2. listen to others perform – live or recoded
  3. read a book about an aspect of music
  4. participate in a performing ensemble
  5. attend a drum circle
  6. ask someone about there musical interests

So grow , experience, and enjoy your life.


Music and dance just seem to go together.  No matter our age or ability, we want to move in certain ways to certain songs.  As a music therapist I often make use of this in planning my sessions.  So when I came across a poem this week entitled “Dance” I felt moved to share it with you.

Written by a teenager terminally ill with cancer.
“Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask “How are you?”
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,”Hi!”
You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift….
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.”

What wise words.  No matter our age it is important to slow down & hear the music within us & around us.  This brought to mind the Lee Ann Womack song “I Hope You Dance“.

It is my hope you find time to listen and to dance this week to the music of your life and of your world.

Instruments to make

My family will tell you I’m big into recycling.  What better way to recycle than to make your own instruments!  I found a fabulous with wonderful ideas appropriate for children & adults alike.  Check it out.

Be sure & comment on your creation!

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