Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘Education’

Flower Shop Song

Een Bloemetje

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, I saw a little girl gathering dandelions. She told me they were for her mom. Memories of myself gathering for my mom and of my daughter gathering dandelions for me! Flowers can be the center of lots of activities with children.

Many years ago, I stumbled upon the “Flower Shop” song and have used it in with a lot of success with four and five-year olds. It works on a variety of concepts: learning to exchanging/trade, turn taking, identifying colors, and counting – just to name a few. I used artificial flowers , but paper flowers or photos would also work. The song can be easily modified for different goals and abilities. Enjoy!

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.

Celebrate “Inspire Your Heart with Art Day”

An artist's palette

Image via Wikipedia

January 31st is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day.  It celebrates art and the effect it can have on your heart. No matter your age, art (in all its forms) can be valued and appreciated for all sorts of reasons. Even if your finances are tight, there are ways to access the arts and to find inspiration.

Look at a piece of art  or listen to a piece of music and ask yourself:

  • What is it telling me?
  • How does it make me feel?
  • What emotions is it evoking (if any) within me?
  • If I were to title this work of art, it would be called ___________.
  • Is there another work of art, piece of music, literary work, etc.  that expresses a similar idea?

Enjoy “Inspire Your Heart with Art Day”.  I look forward to learning what inspired you!

One Year

New year - which direction?

Image by randihausken via Flickr

This photo is titled “New Year – Which Direction?”.  It seems appropriate theme as a year has passed since I started this blog.  And, I am full of wonder as to what posts I will make in the next year.

What an amazing year of learning for me!  I have learned so much about connecting with people through the internet, learned some about making my entries of interest, started a newsletter, created a second blog…the list keeps going.

Thank you for being there along this journey. Please let me know what to start, stop and have more of here on this blog.  I remain open to your ideas for future posts.  Sharing my thoughts about music, inspirational finds, and miscellaneous ideas brings me joy and I hope a “spark” of new thoughts to you.

Joy in Learning

IRIS XV • learning to fly

My parents were/are life long learners.  They set an example of reading, sharing information, taking continuing education, visiting museums, …the list goes on.  That love of learning lives on in me.  The number of books waiting on my shelf as well as on wish lists is fairly long and varied in content.  There are lots of continuing education opportunities I’d like to afford myself during the next several years.  And, next week I will be attending the American Music Therapy Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.  There are three continuing education sessions are on my list along with a few pre-picked sessions to attend.  The opportunity to walk through booths filled with instruments, resources, and books along with visiting with other music therapist excites me.  I always come away from conferences amazed by the knowledge I’ve gained and the people I’ve met.

But, it isn’t just conferences where I learn.  This fall I started taking guitar lessons for the first time since methods class in college.  Doing so increased my finger strength and taught me many new chords. The best part is the joy I have when I complete a practice session.  I had forgotten how it feels to learn something new vs. working out music for sessions or community groups.  It is a totally different feel.  The best part is having a teacher who encourages noodling (improvisation) time.

Our daughter is a freshman in high school.  She is already talking about pursuing a master’s degree.    She too loves to read.  And, she is always voicing a desire to learn to play a new instrument.  So, I think the learning bug has been passed on to her.

The fact is learning can be fun. I’ve had a few friends share memories of dinner time conversations centered around a new fact each family member learned during the day.  (Often this required running to the encyclopedia or dictionary immediately before the meal.)  The amazing part is how many of these facts those people still share while wearing a smile.

Here’s an example of my fun find of the day: using Blackbird Pie!

Challenging myself and those with whom I work is often important.  I like sharing facts about places and things as we share songs.  Learning information about events from the participants is another joy I try to include in my sessions.

Ask/complete the following items of yourself and those around you in the next few days seeing what you discover:

  • I get excited when I learn about ________.
  • What fascinating fact have you learned today?
  • What would you like to know more about?

Until next time, happy learning!

Free fun in Hays

Hays Kansas town buffalo herd

Image by Kevglobal via Flickr

No buffaloing!

There is free fun, learning, and food available for those 50 and over in Hays, Kansas. Music Sparks provides opportunities for older adults to make connections with others through music.  Together with Trinity Lutheran’s Senior Circle, Music Sparks will present  “Music Connections” at 10:30AM Thursday, October 7th . A free lunch will  follow. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 785-625-2044 before noon Friday, October 1st or by enrolling through the Hays Recreation Commission.

This session will cover:

  1. Receptive (listening & responding)
  2. Re-creative (performing pre-composed music)
  3. Composing (creating a musical product such as songs, lyricsmusic videos as well as improvisations)
  4. Learning (gaining knowledge about or related to music)

There will be many experiential portions to this presentation!  If you’re lucky,maybe you can play the buffalo drum, too.  Won’t you join us?

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:

What influences music?

Have you ever thought about what influences music?  Have you ever considered the possible role of architecture on music?  Here’s a TED Talk on just this matter.  Watch it & share your thoughts!

Brain training reverses age-related cognitive decline

Here’s an article related to yesterday’s “Growing” blog.

Keep the learning, using & growing!

Brain training reverses age-related cognitive decline.

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