Top 10 Music Therapy Variations on an activity

TOP 10 MUSIC THERAPY VARIATIONS

By Margie La Bella at Musictherapytunes with music, activities, blogs and more

1.  Large group with everyone all together

2.  Small groups within the larger group

3.  Solos, turns

4.  Partners, share it

5.  Record the audio (Make sure you have permission if using any type of camera/video device.)

6.  Act out the words. Dance it. Use props, hats, masks, dress-ups…..

7.  Make your own version, or verses/lyrics, hand motions, movement sequences, discussions….

8.  Do leader and follower exercises.  Have an assigned helper with responsibilities.

9.  Make you own accompaniment for it with rhythm instruments, orff instruments…..

10. Perform it for another class or group of people

Top 10 Music Therapy Props

By Margie La Bella at Musictherapytunes with music, activities, blogs and more

1. Puppets (homemade, store bought, party store and craft store bought, masks, hats…).

2. Scarves

3.  Instruments (homemade, store bought, party store and craft store bought. Peer 1 has some nice musical placemats made from wood.)

4.  Beanbags

5.  Pictures, PECS cards, sequenced lyrics pictures, large cube with song/instrument/movement    choices fastened to it….

6.  Toys to represent song characters.

7.  Hula Hoops and other shapes. Painter’s tape works well for making shapes and comes off easily.

8.  Flags and streamers

9.  Microphones (pretend, party store mics, real mics…)

10. Any new electronic devices, aps, games, wii….

How to use a CD or MP3 player as a teaching tool: Music for Non-Musicians and Musicians alike!

Top 10 activities for mixing kids and instruments.  Featuring the CD player.

1.Use the CD play button and pause button to make the music “go” and “freeze.” Have the children play their instruments, stop, then resume.

2.Use the CD volume button to lead the class in playing “loud” and “soft.” Mix this skill with the “go” and “freeze” mentioned above. This fosters improved auditory awareness and attention

3. Have the kids do a series of turn taking songs.  Use the play and pause buttons of your CD player to signal when turns begin and end.  Have the kids play under certain language characteristics and say things like “play if you’re a boy/if you’re a girl,” and “play if  you are 3 years old.” Repeat with the 4s and 5s.  How about playing if you’re wearing certain clothing items, or by the colors of your clothes?  See how this teaches peer awareness, colors, clothing vocab….. the list goes on      and on.  What is it you want to teach?  Play games like this one.

4.  Another turn taking game is to have the kids play depending on how their  instrument is made. Turn the CD on and tell the kids to play if their instrument is    made from plastic, wood, metal, or is homemade… This helps further understandings of categories and attributes.

5. Take turns and share the music depending on how you play the instrument.Have the shakers play first. Then the tapping instruments play. Then the rubbing instruments and on and on.

6. Play under certain conditions: for example, if you like to play basketball, or if you          like to eat ice cream, or spinach.  If you have a June birthday, or meet some other condition.

7. Here’s another new type of idea. Have the kids march to music (and play their instruments) around a group of pictures of shapes, colors, numbers, site-words or any other picture representing something you want to teach.  The kids march to the music and when the music stops, they identify the picture of the object in front of them. Use chairs or a table or rugs to place the pictures on if the kids need more structure than just the floor.

8. Play musical hot-potato.  Pass a maraca (or two or three) around the circle. When the music stops, that child has to answer a question.  Use to teach concepts. Examples: what do we wear on a rainy day. What animal do you like.  What animal lives at the zoo? What toy do you play with? (You can write them out ahead of time.) Variation:  Or simply have the kids who end up with the “hot potato” come to the center of the group to play other instruments along to the music. Repeat with the next hot potato child coming to play with the music.

9. Play instruments and pass them when the music stops. Too hard? When the music stops take the instrument of the last child, then tell the next-to-last child to give her old one away. Repeat down the line.  Give the instrument in your hand to the last child.

10. Play along to part of a favorite song. Then have the kids put the instruments under their chairs and put their hands in their lap.  Give them a one-step direction (“clap your hands”, or “tap your knees”)  and have them do that for a little while.  Then repeat over and over with different directions/requests.  Have them come up with their own ideas of how to move.

See you don’t have to go near a guitar or even sing!  Go have fun and give it a try.Be careful with picking a song that’s too fast for your group; they will probably get over excited.  Also be a little wary of song lyrics and content. Listen to the words and only use it if you don’t mind them telling the parents that they learned the words in school. Even some kids music and music from kid’s shows and movies can be inappropriate for some groups.

 

How to Make simple Home-made Instruments for kids

About Home-made Instruments

Instruments can be very simple to make. Don’t be afraid to try. Here are some starter ideas:

1. Put unpopped popcorn kernels, dried beans, dried peas, jelly beans, pebbles, little shells, nuts and bolts, any sort of beads, macaroni…..Basically, PUT ANYTHING into SOMETHING, then cover up any holes or sharp edges,and shake!!  Something@ could be: old soda cans, other cans,  two pie plates, two paper plates, toy Easter egg-shells….just make sure to prevent choking on small bits!

2. BANG on  ANYTHING which may include: boxes, pans, clean little garbage cans,oatmeal containers, plastic cups, pretty much anything that could contain something else.

3. DRUM STICKS can be fashioned out of:  plastic straws, plastic spoons, wooden spoons, dowel, spatulas. Just remember to keep it safe for children.

4.  Many kinds of BELLS can be found at CRAFT STORES. Tie on a string or fasten with elastic.

5. Party stores often sell inexpensive instruments and sound makers. We use “knock-knocks” at my school ie: wooden eggs from a craft store to banged together.  Pier One sells a nice wooden placemat (with many hollow bamboo-like sticks tied together) that we tap and rub with pencils like an old-fashioned “washboard.”  Walk around such stores tapping on things or banging things together. Same thing with Home Depot. (Just think, you’ll give people something good to talk about at the dinner table. )

6. Kazoos can be made out of paper towel holders, rubber bands, and wax paper (best with a  few pin pricks in it.) I’ve heard that juice boxes can be played too. That may be a joke however. ….

7. Hang different sized flower pots for a a xylophone@ effect. Make tuna cans Achild safe@ and      string these together.  PVP pipes can sound fantastic when struck with certain  mallets.

8. Make cheap rhythm sticks out of sanded down wooden dowels. Foam or wooden Childrens blocks also work. We use pencils as sticks in my school. Cheap and if you lose them, it’s no big deal.  Speaking thereof: plastic spoon tops make great pics. Try it for yourself: cheap, easy to locate when dropped and ergonomically shaped to the thumb.

9. Any bumpy or rough surface can be child-proofed and rubbed with a wooden spoon to create a guiro or musical-fish effect. Think of the old washboard. Look around!

10. In general, you can do well by visiting the toy box, home improvement stores, craft  stores, party stores, and dollar stores.

Go tap and shake some objects in a new way.  You may look a tad askew but tell people you’re just thinking out of the box. Which reminds me of my newest use of dollar store pails: they make wonderful vocal and tactile feedback devices. I use them with kids who need to discover and explore their voice as a precursor to speech. When they make any sound into the pail, they will hear it at a very magnified level and get a lot of result for a “little”  effort.  Not only will they hear their vocalizations, they will feel them through their fingertips. Apparently, a turned-upside down pail makes a great music therapy device.

This will be very important with the economy the way it is.  (Just joshing, but try the pail!)

HOW TO SING TO YOUR KIDS: 20 WAYS TO USE “IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT.” part 3 of 3

 SONG WRITING LEVEL C : 20 uses for the song “Happy and you know it.”

This is part of my shpele (spheal?) on song writing and that everyone can employ it. For those eeding a little push, here’s a list of uses fo the tune “If you’re happy and you know it.” These samples are for little guys, but you get the idea: insert any need into a song and there’s your adapted song. Feel free to use other songs as age and need be. This can make or break your effort- –
Not to worry, if for some reason your song didn’t work the way you planned, just pick a new melody.Here’s some categories and adaptations I picked out of the blue. See what you can come up with.Cognitive skills adaptations:
1.If you’re wearing a red shirt touch your head. If you’re wearing a red shirt touch your head. If your shirt is read then touch your head (Ack- this just happens to rhyme and it does not need to!!). If you’re wearing a red shirt touch your head. (teaches colors and body parts.)

2. If you’re standing on #7 jump up and down…. (teaches number recognition.)
3. All the pigs on the farm say oink, oink… (teaches animal categories, specific animal within, and associated noise.)

Language skills adaptations
4. Who wants bubbles say “I do!…..” (fosters expressive language.)
5. Put your hands over your head. …..(teaches body parts and spacial relationships/prepositions.)
6. Close your lips and sing me buh,buh,buh. …. (for lip closure, oral-motor skills and articulation.)

Adaptive/self-help skills adaptations
7. Pull your socks up on your feet…..(a fine motor needed skill, also builds persistence.)
8. Put it in your mouth and tell me yumm….(accepting different texture foods into mouth, and nutrition.)
9. Reach up high to get the drum, bum, bum.. (balance, range of motion, motor planning, problem solving.)

Motor/muscle adaptations
10. Bend your knees and jump up to the sky……(motor skills, tolerance of feet off the ground..)
11. Hold the little cymbals let ’em ring, ring, ring….(fine motor skills)
12. If you like a squeeze tell me “squeeeeze”….. (proprioceptive input- tells the body where it is.)

Social-emotional skills adaptations
13. If you’re angry and you know it stamp your feet…… (emotional expression)
14. Let’s breath it in and let it go. Wheeewww……(coping skills)

 

15. Diane and Jack can share the bells…(social skills including cooperation, awareness/tolerance of others.)

HOW TO SING TO YOUR KIDS TO ENHANCE LEARNING/ SONG ADAPTING 2 of 3

SONG WRITING LEVEL “B”
-by Margie La Bella 
of http://www.MusicTherapyTunes.com

 Here’s a bit more about writing or adapting songs to help teach kids what they need to know. Most of the songs on the radio have a formula. Many songs are about 3 minutes long, have only three chords, and most are comprised alternating verses and choruses. 
 
All the verses of a songs are quite similar to each other but are different from the chorus. The chorus is usually the same each time it is heard. The bridge section usually comes near the end of the songs and is notably different but returns to the chorus and everybody says “ahhhh, back to our familiar reference section.” A song on the radio often follows a pattern similar to verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus.
 
Back to kids songs: There are two main types-one has three repetitious lines (either lyrically and/or melodically) and a final contrasting phrase that stays the same from verse to verse. The other has two repetitious lines, a consistent third phrase and a return to the first (or repetitious line.) The contrasting line in both these cases can consist of a general phrase that describes the purposeof the song, or a commonality within all the verses. I can make this more clear with examples:
 
Examples of a same-same-same-different song (SSSD)  include: Mary had a little lamb, This little light of mine, Kumbaya, the Wheels on the Bus, London Bridges…
 
Examples of a same-same-different-same song (SSDS) include: The farmer in the dell, Old Mac Donald, Oh my darling Clementine and Oh Susanna.
 
Why does this matter to you? It’s simply a frame work in which to insert your lesson material. You may never have contemplated the musical structure of Kumbaya, but that melody can help your kids do anything from wash behind their ears to learn math. 
 
There is a reason that song has lasted the test of time. I suspect these song formulas sit well with the human psyche in our need to push into what is new, but come home to what’s familiar. (The different phrases and new, contrasting bridges as well as the consistent, familiar choruses that we all are happy to return to join in on…..)
 
For older kids who learn through song, you can use melodies from verses and choruses of more current songs. Try to notice which tunes have you tapping your foot and have a repetitious quality to them either through the words (“She loves you yeah yeah yeah. She loves you yeah yeah yeah. She loves you yeah yeah yeah. She loves you) and/or the melody. Try to notice the patterns of repetition and newness.
 
As far as any half way new tune, I get lots of mileage with the song “I’m Yours,” by Jason Mraz.  Now go sing!  – Margie La Bella

SINGING TO YOUR KIDS/STUDENTS Part 1 of 4: getting started

SONG WRITING LEVEL “A “
by Margie La Bella at http://www.MusicTherapyTunes.com

Actually, I’m going to talk about reworking an existing song for kids to help get done whatever it is that needs doing/learning/teaching. My first premise is that anyone can do this. People can get nervous about doing this. You don’t need to get nervous. You CAN do this. Also must say that there are very few people who really “can’t” sing or who are really“tone-deaf.”
And then there’s the kids who even as toddlers tell their parents “NO SING.!!!”
Ok, I’ve known two ex-voice majors whose babies said “Don’t SING.” Sing anyway. If you’re still resistant, then I bet you had a bad chorus teacher or choir director who told you to just whisper the words…. They should have just helped you learn to focus your ears rather than turn you off to the joy of singing. Naughty teachers.

This is what you do: You take an easy, familiar, traditional little kid song and you stick words into it. That’s it.

You do not need to be clever. You do not need to rhyme. Just stick in the words. Take the song “Wheels on the bus” for example. To help kids clean up, you can sing “Play time is over and it’s time to clean,time to clean, time to clean. Play time is over it’s time to clean. Clean up the toys.” If you’re teaching body parts to toddlers, sing “Put the beanbag on your head, on your head, on your head. Put the bean bag on yourhead. Put it on your head.” It really is that simple and mundane. As Nike says “Just do it.” To help peers learn names and to help foster
awareness of syllables sing “Let’s sing hi to Monica (while clapping the syllables Mo-ni-ca) Monica Monica. Let’s sing hi to Monica. Hmmm who’s next?” You can use this for social skills, daily routines, new experiences,pre-academics /academics, language concepts, math, pre-reading,colors, vocabulary and more.

Why is this so natural and why does it work to well? A partial answer is that singing phrases involves both hemispheres of the brain. Music is whole brain- more parts of the brain are stimulated when a direction or concept is sung rather than spoken. It makes the job more interesting and less of a put-upon demand. And think of how musical speech is. There is a proper tempo or rate of speech, a proper dynamic (volume) level, expected inflections (pitches), give and take, proper phrase length, expected phrase maintenance,  sound vs silence, to name a few. All of this grabs our attention and makes us want to listen.  This opens us up to foster new understandings of the world around us, of concepts, of ourselves, and of other people.
– by Margie La Bella of musictherapytunes.com

HOW TO SING TO YOUR CHILDREN PART 1:3 also for teachers and therapists

SONG WRITING LEVEL “A “
 Actually, I’m going to talk about reworking an existing song for kids to help get done whatever it is that needs doing/learning/teaching. My first premise is that anyone can do this. People can get nervous about doing this. You don’t need to get nervous. You CAN do this. Also must say that there are very few people who really “can’t” sing or who are really“tone-deaf.”
And then there’s the kids who even as toddlers tell their parents “NO SING.!!!”
Ok, I’ve known two ex-voice majors whose babies said “Don’t SING.” Sing anyway. If you’re still resistant, then I bet you had a bad chorus teacher or choir director who told you to just whisper the words…. They should have just helped you learn to focus your ears rather than turn you off to the joy of singing. Naughty teachers.

This is what you do: You take an easy, familiar, traditional little kid song and you stick words into it. That’s it.

You do not need to be clever. You do not need to rhyme. Just stick in the words. Take the song “Wheels on the bus” for example. To help kids clean up, you can sing “Play time is over and it’s time to clean,time to clean, time to clean. Play time is over it’s time to clean. Clean up the toys.” If you’re teaching body parts to toddlers, sing “Put the beanbag on your head, on your head, on your head. Put the bean bag on yourhead. Put it on your head.” It really is that simple and mundane. As Nike says “Just do it.” To help peers learn names and to help foster
awareness of syllables sing “Let’s sing hi to Monica (while clapping the syllables Mo-ni-ca) Monica Monica. Let’s sing hi to Monica. Hmmm who’s next?” You can use this for social skills, daily routines, new experiences,pre-academics /academics, language concepts, math, pre-reading,colors, vocabulary and more.

Why is this so natural and why does it work to well? A partial answer is that singing phrases involves both hemispheres of the brain. Music is whole brain- more parts of the brain are stimulated when a direction or concept is sung rather than spoken. It makes the job more interesting and less of a put-upon demand. And think of how musical speech is. There is a proper tempo or rate of speech, a proper dynamic (volume) level, expected inflections (pitches), give and take, proper phrase length, expected phrase maintenance,  sound vs silence, to name a few. All of this grabs our attention and makes us want to listen.  This opens us up to foster new understandings of the world around us, of concepts, of ourselves, and of other people.
– by Margie La Bella of musictherapytunes.com

10 WAYS TO STIMULATE VOCAL PLAY IN NON OR LOW VERBAL STUDENTS

by Margie La Bella 
at http://www.MusicTherapyTunes.com

I’ve spent the last twenty-five years working as a music therapist with young kids who contend with language and communication disabilities. I want to share about increasing vocal and verbal behaviors in young kids. I do have to premise this by saying that these are very generalized, non-specific ideas to consider. I’m not a speech therapist, but these activities can be thought of as a good starting point.
 
1. Surround the child with anything and everything that makes noise. Everything makes a sound these days. You may want to order instruments, make them, or buy them at a party store. Pots and pans are good here also, but you may want to invest in cotton balls. Wooden spoons make good sticks. The lesson here is that things make sounds, and so can you.
 
2. Blow into anything that creates a sound. Check out the party store again for ideas. West music is a great source of sound makers. The lesson here is that your mouth, lungs, and breath work together to make sounds. See how this is a prerequisite to language sounds?
 
 3. Imitate any sneezing, coughing, laughing, hiccuping, burping. These really do get the attention of kids. Even imitate anger and crying sounds- but do so in a respectful manner that tells the child you hear, support and respect their vocal message. Sound effects are great first “words.”
 
4. Vocalize into anything that you can hold up to your mouth like a paper towel roll.  Play with vocal pitch, volume, emotionality, length. Take turns. This is teaching that the child can make his own sounds and those sounds get results. Vocalize into a box- it sure gets loud in there. Party stores sell toy microphones that reverb/echo what you sound into them.
 
5. Make sound effects of everything you see, hear, play with, ride in. Playing with toy cars – make the sound. Playing farm? All the animals make sounds. Most things do. Lesson here is that sounds can be imitated. More importantly, the sounds people make can be imitated. A huge language precursor.
 
6. Talk about everything you can. Life is a big lesson after all. Folding laundry? It’s a great time to build vocabulary on clothing items. Going to the grocery store? Food is everywhere. Driving anywhere? What do you see. Point here is to expose the child to spoken language.
 
7. You can insert any sound into a song that already exists. If you want to elicit the sound “bah,” then you can sing the whole melody to Mary Had a Little Lamb on the word “bah.” Ok, lambs say “bah” but that was just a coincidence.
 
8. Of course sing the old standard nursery rhymes and time-tested kids songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider, “ and “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” These have been around for so long because they have a real effect on language. Pairing a motion with a song strengthens the connections even more.
 
9. Leave the last word off a phrase (musical sentence) and wait for the child to fill it in. An example would be “E I E I_______.” Praise all attempts and if need be, model the correct response.
This needs to stay fun and not become a lesson- – at least in the child’s mind! You may know otherwise!
 
10. Sing. Sing. Sing. Singing activates more areas of the brain than speaking alone. It heightens, focuses, and motivates attention. And it’s its own reward. It’s good for them. Turn everything into a song. Giving a bath? “If your happy and you know it wash your toes!” Going to Grandmas? Sing “this is the way we sit in the car.” 
 
 How to get started singing to your child? See the blogs below.  Hope this helps.  Can’t sing? Go ahead anyway. I won’t tell.      -Musictherapytunes. 

TOP 20 TYPES OF ACTIVITIES I USE AT MY SCHOOL

General types of activities and variations I do with my kids, who contend with language, communication, learning difficulties…  ages: 2-12.

  1. Mirroring/imitating activities.
  2. Circle dances.
  3. Instruments  -general rhythm instruments, homemade instruments.
  4. Songs with motions/movements/signs.
  5. Role playing/pretending/pretending.
  6. Lyric discussion.
  7. Lyric/Song writing…  adapting songs, fill-in-the-blank songs, mad lib songs
  8. Story writing to music.  Accompaniment to a story.
  9. Singing activities.
  10. Specific concepts taught through music.
  11. Auditory identification of sounds.
  12. Auditory attention span, discrimination and memory.
  13. Relaxation or coping strategy experiences.
  14. Guided imagery (very light unless done with a pro.)
  15.  Finger plays.
  16. Adaptive instrument lessons.
  17.  Call-response activities.
  18. Drawing to music.
  19. Improvising of every kind; instruments, dance, vocals.
  20. Dancing to live or recorded music.
  21. Play instruments in turn and cooperatively (ie: divide up a drum set and share the beat.) by Margie La Bella of MusicTherapyTunes.com