Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘entertainment’

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!

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:

Song for my husband

People are very important to me and my husband is extra important.  He is my best friend, a mentor, my partner, my sounding board.  Tomorrow we will celebrate 26 years of married life.  I love you, Jeff, “more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.”  For Jeff and those with loves in there lives, enjoy this video:


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.

Memories of the 4th

Holidays are days filled with emotions, imagery, and entertainment for many.  The 4th of July is no exception.  Our community band closes its season on the 4th of July with the evening concert at the Fort. Fireworks are part of the day’s highlights as are family BBQ‘s.  Yet, it is memories from childhood that are most dear.

Having graduated high school in the 1970’s from a small Kansas community, I have very special memories of the 4th of July.  A community parade usually started the day.  My family would return to the house to set off our fireworks.  The smell of gun powder filled the neighborhood.  In the late afternoon, everyone gathered in the park.  Students and community members had spent several weeks rehearsing as a community band to play a variety of marches and old octavos as entertainment for the BBQ.  My music reading skills developed from this experience.  As well as a lot of memories ties to particular musical selections like “Clarinet Polka” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever“.  Then there were games from sack races, to hay bale stacking (usually won by someone visiting from New York who had never seen a hay bale), and horse shoes.  The evening ended with fireworks. Sparklers at home closed out our busy day.

So, take some time to share your memories from the past and learn of your parent’s or grandparent’s or an older friend’s memories of this national holiday.  What images do they create? What music comes to mind?  Are there special tastes and smells to the day?  Then, take the time to create new memories with a younger generation.  Have a joyful 4th!

For my Father…

My father is a very special man.  He and my mother raised me and my siblings in a house filed with faith, love and music.  Many foster children also shared our lives.  Hearing my dad chant the liturgy, preach a sermon, share a tender moment with a parishioners, was the stuff of my life.  Though the loss of my mother a few years ago was traumatic, he continues to live a life filled with faith, love and music.  So it is, I share this musical tribute in his honor:  

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  I love you!

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.

The Remaking of TV Tunes

As a child of the 60’s, I grew up sing theme songs to many of my favorite shows such as “Gillian’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch”.  These tunes often come to mind at interest times.  (Gotta love ear worms!)  Now, some of these tunes are being used as a basis for some music for enjoyment and interest.  Check out this link to NPR!      Small-screen


Education opportunity in Hays

My next few entries will highlight research I will be sighting during the following presentation:

 “Working with Music”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010   6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Location: AHEC Northwest, 205 E. 7th, Ste. 130, Hays, KS

Speaker: JoAnn Jordan, Music Therapist-Board Certified

Cost:  $20 if postmarked by 5/19/10. After 5/19/10, $30.

Cancellation deadline – 5/20/10.

Target Audience:  RN, LPN, CNA, Social Worker, School Counselor, Allied Health Professional

Credit:  2 hours

To register or to learn more go to:


Technology has many applications in our lives.  For those with limited mobility, technology has unlocked many doors.  These applications are being applied to music making.  While I have not been blessed to use them with clients. I appreciate the worlds now open for many in our world.

A June 2008 article demonstrates an effort at unlocking music for those with limited mobility. .   A TED video demonstrates a piece performed and written through boundary breaking technology.

Let me hear your thoughts and experiencing using technology in the creation of music.

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