Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘imagery’

Mountain Top Songs

Mount Kilimanjaro from the air. July 2007

Image via Wikipedia

As requested in a recent poll, the JoAnn’s Gems newsletter scheduled for release on Sunday, March 6, 2001 is themed around mountain experiences.  In April, I will be sharing a music therapy session titled “Mountain Top Sing-along” with my Sterling House Assisted Living friends which will contain many of the following songs:

  • “Climb Every Mountain”
  • “I Love to Go A Wandering”
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
  • “Rocky Mountain High”
  • “Rocky Top”
  • “On Top of Old Smoky”
  • “Trail of the Western Pine”
  • “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain”
  • “I Love the Mountains”

I know we will have a great time sharing music and memories.   Songs about mountains are full of imagery.  I imagine there will even be a little yodeling.  Even more ideas will be shared in my newsletter chocked full of resources.  If you are not yet receiving them, sign up today!  In the mean time, feel free to share your favorite mountain songs in the comments below.

Song stories

Song of the World Becoming - A Lost Book

Image by brewbooks via Flickr

This week, at the request of a resident,  I learned an old hymn in public domain “Let the Lower Lights Keep Burning”.  The imagery of the hymn is very foreign to the plains of Kansas yet is well depicted in the lyrics.  The person making the request described the old hymnal from her youth in great detail.

Often I ask the seniors in my assisted living groups for song suggestions to use in upcoming sessions.  The challenge of finding and of learning these songs has led me to many treasures over the years.  It also provides insights as to what is important to the individual residents.  It provides me insights of how to help connect our music experiences with the upcoming themes – often provided by a corporation.

But there is often a bigger treasure to these requests –  listening to the stories that go with the songs:

  • “I learned this song when _______.”
  • “I like this song because _________.”
  • “This song reminds me of__________.”
  • “I want to sing ____ because_________.”

These are some of the stories shared in my groups.  Sometimes group members have similar stories, at other times very different stories.  There seems to be a joy in the sharing the commonalities along with the differences.  Smiles, tears, memories come forth.  We even look into the history of some of the songs to answer some “why’s” that arise from the singing.  The era, setting, personal history of the composer, reason for writing will often show in the lyrics.

I encourage you to take the time to ask someone their song stories – no matter their age.  Who knows where it will lead?


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.

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!

On the beach…

BeachThe sound of the waves gently breaking on the beach is a favorite of mine.  Being barefoot in the sand on a sunny day is a joy.  Lots of songs come to mind when I think of the beach including:


  • “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”, Otis Redding
  • “Walking on Sunshine”, Katrina & the Waves
  • “Under the Boardwalk”, The Drifters
  • “Limbo Rock”, Chubby Checkers
  • “Beach Baby”, First Class

What are your favorite beach songs?  Share them in the comment section below.  Together, we’ll create a great list!

“Working with Music” Highlights

Sharing my presentation “Working with Music” was a learning filled couple hours.  I shared information about:

  • the field of music therapy
  • places we encounter music
  • ways to identify sedative and stimulative music
  • thoughts for matching music to task
  • a music and imagery experience, and
  • a variety of research.

Thank you to all the participants!  I learn so much through sharing my thoughts, experiences, and ideas.  If you attended, feel free to share your comments on your experiences.  If you’d like to learn about future presentations, follow this blog!

School’s Out for Summer

As a teenager, this was a battle cry we played over & over in the “cave” at our school.  We SO looked forward to being out of class.  To this day, this song comes to mind as I pick up my daughter the last day of school.

The next thought for me is “How am I going to spend my summer?”  I look forward to more frequent visits with extended family.  It is days of not waking my husband or daughter early but rather spending a little quiet time watering in the garden and listening to the birds.  Summer is City Band rehearsals and performances.  Summer is playing my guitar on the back porch.  It’s the taste of ice cream and limeades.  It’s time to feel sand between my toes, a time for swimming.

So, how are you going to spend your summer?  Share your thoughts below.

What’s on your relaxation playlist?

Back in January, I wrote a blog on relaxation, which listed a few selections for music listening.  This blog further expands on that topic.  When considering music for relaxation, realize that which creates relaxation is a personal matter.  However, there are some guiding principles.

The tempo of the music is often 50-80 beats per minute.  It can also be music with no specific rhythm.  The melody is generally smooth with dynamics being fairly stable and ranges being limited.   It is music that creates for you a decreased feeling of anxiety or agitation.  It is music you find elicits a calming effect on your emotions.

There are also different purposes for relaxation, which may affect your music selections.  At times, I want the music to help me fall asleep.  There are times I want the music to assist me in slowing down.  Repeated use of the same music also helps me more quickly reach my desired state.

So here is a portion of my relaxation playlist:

  • “Another Shore”, Alex de Grassi
  • “Inner Strength, Inner Peace”, Wayne Jones
  • “Reflection”, Liquid Mind
  • “Prayer and Word”, David Darling
  • “Lux Aeterna: O Nata Lux”, Elora Festiva;Singers & Noel Edison
  • “After the Rain”, Michael Jones
  • “Gentle Touch”, Ralf Illenberger

May you find relaxation, joy and peace in your life.

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


Moment of Reflection

As a Christian, I am entering a reflective few days before entering the joy of Easter.   Given the mood of these days, I lean toward reflective music for my listening.  I wish to  share one such selection with you.  No matter what your religious preference, Ihope you enjoy this virtual performance of Eric Whitacre’s “Lux Aurumque”.

The lyrics translate as ” Light, warm and heavy, pure as gold, and the angels sing softly to the newborn baby.”  While it is a Christmas song, for me the reflective nature and the “newlife” of spring, brings it an appropriateness  to the current  season. 

 Lux Aurumque appears on the Grammy-Nominated recording Eric Whitacre: Cloudburst and other Choral Works (Polyphony, Stephen Layton, cond. Hyperion Records ©2006) and on Eric Whitacre: The Complete Acapella Works (BYU Singers, Ronald Staheli,cond. Arsis Records ©2002)

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