Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘drums’

April Shower Songs for Seniors

Day 118: April Showers, Etc.

Image by quinn.anya via Flickr

April Showers bring May flowers…So here are some songs I may be sharing at assisted living music therapy sessions during the month.

  • April Showers
  • Come Rain or Come Shine
  • I’m Always Chasing Rainbows
  • Kentucky Rain – Elvis Presley
  • Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee
  • Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella
  • Look to the Rainbow
  • Over the Rainbow
  • Rainy Days & Mondays
  • Save it for a Rainy Day
  • Tiptoe Through the Tulip
  • When You Wore a Tulip
  • Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head
  • Singing in the Rain

What oldies would you add to the list?

Along with the songs, my rain stick, egg head shakers, ocean drum, and thunder drum are making the rounds.  Weather is an important topic of conversation for many people – especially those with farming roots.  There are so many experiences to share related to weather – happy, sad, funny.

Want to know more of my thoughts on sharing rain songs with older adults? Then sign up for my newsletter which will be released April 16th!

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.

Pancake Day

Several stacks of silver dollar pancakes

Image via Wikipedia

Pancake Day can be a lot of fun to observe.  There is great variety in types to make and toppings to place on them.  (My favorite is lemon poppy-seed topped with blueberries in a simple syrup!)

A search of the web shows lots of great books and activities for preschoolers.  As most of the songs are partner songs or simple rhymes, I decided it was high time I create my own.  While it is was created with children in mind, it could easily be used with other ages or in intergenerational groups.

Have a great Pancake Day!

Of boats & dragons

Chinese dragon in a dragon-dance

Image via Wikipedia

January brings Chinese New Year! It has been a favorite festival for me to share with SNF & ALF residents over the years.  Often there were dragon dancers willing to come “practice” in our community.  And of course, there is the food!

In January 2011, the Brookdale communities will be celebrating “The Great Wall of China“.  As I provide services to two area Sterling Houses, I am planning a January session entitled “Of Boats & Dragons”.  Here is a look into some of my plans.  Maybe they will provide ideas for use with other older adults.

  • Sing songs including:  “Slow Boat to China” & “Puff The Magic Dragon”
  • Drum to: “Yangtze Boatman’s Chantey”
  • Do a Dragon dance

There are other songs I am keeping under wraps for now, but I hope these items help you plan a special event for a group.  Why not share your plans for Chinese New Year in the comment section to create a wonderful collaboration!

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.

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.

VIDEO: Mashup for Drumming with Older Adults: Ayub Opera

Here’s a wonder group drumming idea from Kat – a great music therapist.  VIDEO: Mashup for Drumming with Older Adults: Ayub Opera.  Drumming is great fun.  So, grab your friends and give it a try.

Instruments I like to use…

My music therapy sessions are generally filled with much singing and lots of percussion.  My percussion “regulars” are paddle drums, frame drums, shape drums, a buffalo drum, egg head shakers, jingle bells, and rhythm sticks.  I also love using my boom whackers and some tambourines.   Amazingly, people of all ages know what to do with these instruments and are rarely shy when playing them.

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