Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’

Back in Session

Across the music therapy Twitterverse and blogosphere, everyone is talking about the starting school year.  Yes, the backpacks are filled, the binders are lined with fresh paper and the superhero lunch box has been packed with healthy goodies.  Students and teachers alike are all heading back to school within the next few weeks.  Everyone has positive attitudes and  bright hopes for the 2011 school year.

Even though I have been out of academia for two years now, there’s something about the end of summer that still makes me want to buy school supplies.  Who doesn’t love making the first notations with a perfect ballpoint pen in a new notebook?  It’s no surprise that I still associate this time of year with the impending school year.  After all, we spend a significant amount of our childhood and young adult lives within a classroom.

School is such a formative experience in young lives and this is clearly represented in music.  There are a surprising amount of songs that are about school and they range across the emotional spectrum.  From Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” to the repetitive childhood favorite “The Wheels on the Bus”, you can find songs celebrating or decrying the educational structure.  While I’ve been known to do an amazing (-ly loud) rendition of “I Wish I Could Go Back To College” when driving alone in my car, what strikes me most when I think about the correlation between school and music is what a fantastic teaching and binding tool it can be.

Out of all the classes I’ve sat through and all the lessons I’ve listened to (and taught!) the ones that stick with me most forecefullly are the ones that were set to music. Seriously, how could I ever misuse an interjection after hearing this little ditty?  And I can still name all 50 states in alphabetical order in about a minute, thanks to the Fifty Nifty Song.

With school so prevalent in kids lives, it can easily be a place for uncertainty, worry or even fear. What better way to maneuver these emotional minefields than with music?  It’s a non-threatening way to allow kids to express their emotions without asking them to directly reveal too much in front of their classmates.  There’s something safe about using existing art to express yourself and connect with others.

Of course, all of this is no surprise to music therapists.  Music therapists have been helping schools and teachers connect with students for years.  Have you ever taught in a school?  What are the tips that a new or experienced music therapist should hear before they ever walk into a classroom?

Thanks to stevendepolo and dynamosquito for use of their images!

~Laura, Guest Blogger

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School Day Memories

Unidentified Rural Schoolhouse

Image by Wisconsin Historical Images via Flickr

In my years of employment in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, I found it helpful to include discussions related to events in the community. With back to school fliers filling the paper, and children once again returning to school, this is a timely discussions to which you can tie many themed activities. And in my experience it is one that often elicited a strong response. Whether you work in a facility or visit family members or friends living in a facility, here are some conversation ideas and a few songs to spark up your visits.

Conversation starters:

  • What were our favorite subjects in school?
  • How many rooms/grades levels did you school have? (Many older adults in rural areas attended one or two room schools and maybe had 20 students in first through seventh grade.)
  • What were your favorite games at recess?
  • How far did you travel/walk to get to school?
  • Did you ever give an apple to your teacher?
  • Did you ever get picked to help clean the chalkboard erasers in your class? Was it a privilege or a punishment?

If people have memory issues try some of these props to help get conversations going: ruler, lined paper, Big Chef notebook, small chalk board with chalk, crayons,

Songs to sing together:

If children are visiting, include: The Alphabet Song, School House Rock songs (people with children currently in their 50’s or younger may remember these from Saturday morning TV.)

What would you add to these lists?

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