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Hope you have a wonderful Thursday and see you tomorrow for another Friday Favorite!


Monday Music & Movement: {When I’m Happy I Tap My Drum}

English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love “If You’re Happy and You Know It” just as much as anyone else, but sometimes you need some variety in songs about emotions! Today’s Monday Music & Movement is “When I’m Happy I Tap My Drum”. The song piggybacks the melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle” and  is repetitive and predictable.

During the song children will get to show emotions with their body by playing the drum, making facial expressions, using language to name the emotion (if they are verbal). We usually use a gather drum or individual frame drums if there are more than 4 children. Children will watch the adult model and look around to peer models as well so this song is usually full of good natured laughter at the exaggerated faces the group makes.

One thing to keep in mind, depending on a child’s background and experiences, is that he or she may not want to participate in acting out the different emotions. I have had kids that say “I’m never scared” or “I don’t want to be sad”. Therefore, laying down groundwork by explaining that we are just pretending to feel this way, can be helpful. You can also explain that we want to be able to help our friends and siblings when they feel a certain way and that we will all show the feelings together.
“When I’m Happy I Tap My Drum” (sung to melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle”)
When I’m happy I tap my drum, tap my drum and smile like this (show an exaggerated smile while pointing to your mouth)
Repeat 3x
When I’m mad I pound the drum (use fists), pound the drum and sound like this, Grrr (hands in hips and scrunch up face in anger)
Repeat 3x
When I’m sad I rub the drum (slo-o-o-wly), rub the drum and cry like this (pretend cry and show sad face)
Repeat 3x
When I’m scared I tiptoe (use pointer fingers only) on the drum, tiptoe on the drum and hide like this (use hands to hide face)
Repeat 3x
You can add whatever other emotions are salient for the group or in the individual’s goals. We hope you can use this song with individuals, siblings, and groups to safely explore emotions!

Friday Favorites: {The Animal Boogie!}

AnimalBoogie_HCwCD1 (1)

Dear music therapists, music educators, music therapy students, & caregivers of children,

Have you met my friend, “The Animal Boogie”? If you haven’t had the opportunity to use this singable book and movement song during your sessions and everyday life yet, take a moment to listen to it here. There are many variations of this song (e.g. Jungle Boogie, etc.) but this is the one that we like best at Toneworks MT.

I first found “The Animal Boogie” on iTunes while searching for movement songs. It’s sold in the audio books section so when you buy the audio book, the song comes with it. The CD with a sung version also comes with a hardback copy.

Here are a few ways I like to use “The Animal Boogie”

1) Singable book – Have kids pat along to the beat with you. I find that it’s best to keep hands busy so they can’t get distracted. In addition, kids that are kinesthetic learners or those that need more sensory input to keep focused benefit from the movement during this singable book. Each page, have the children mimic the movement in the song.

Shake your body like a bear, swing your arms like a monkey, stomp your feet like an elephant, flap your arms like a bird, leap like a leopard, put hands together and slither like a snake, sway together everybody!

I like to have children roll their hands during “boogie woogie oogie” but you could throw in some hand jive, a disco move, whatever you think will be a challenging move for the kids.

2) Movement without props – Similar ideas to the book, but while standing up. Encourage big movements and model ASL signs for the animals. You can work on gross motor goals by having children move bilaterally, balance, jump as high as they can, and swing their “trunk” as an elephant across their midline.

3) Movement with props – Try using a parachute or stretchy band during the song. Children will have to cooperate to move the prop together in the same type of fashion for this intervention to be successful. During the little instrumental interlude between each verse, it’s fun to have the children move the parachute high up, then down to the ground before going back to standing position.

Most of the time, I believe in using live music, but the recording of “The Animal Boogie” has great musical cues and driving beats so I end up using the recording a lot. If you’re lucky enough to have a co-therapist, intern, or practicum student, a live version of the song would be viable with one person playing and the other modeling actions.

We hope you’ll find the song as useful and fun as we do. Happy Animal Boogie-ing!

Friday Favorites: {Free Singable Little Books}


Image Via

As I was teaching a violin lesson yesterday, I said to my student, “learning to read music is just like learning to read words…”. This statement reminded me of the little books that are today’s Friday Favorite. I love to use singable little books with children, siblings, and families. Little books can be part of your sessions even for children as young as 1.5-2 yrs of age. I would not suggest using little books for a group of 10 toddlers, but in sibling or family sessions, little books work just fine.

What the child will get out of using a little book in a music therapy session will be different by age group, of course. It is important to make your goal appropriate for your client’s development. Here are some of the goals that you can address with Little Books:

Big vs. Little Letters – learning the rule that at the beginning of every page, there is a big letter. Later, you can work on Big letters at the beginning of sentences and as proper nouns.

Expressive Letter Identification – Ask children “What letter is this?” as a sung prompt

Receptive Letter Identification – Sing “Where is the letter __?”

Follow the Reader – Show children where you are singing by moving your pointer finger along and encourage them to do the same in their little book. Between this and turning pages, you are teaching pre-reading skills of moving front to back, left to right, and top to bottom in the books.

Cooperation – Siblings or small groups can work on turn taking and working together by allowing friends to identify letters in turns or share what they like about each page

Recall & Sequencing – After you read the book, talk or draw what you saw in the book and the order that these pictures or events occurred. This can be in the form of picture cue cards you plan ahead of time and a velcro board or student drawings on paper or a white board.

I didn’t come up with these ideas on my own, but had the privilege of helping lead piano groups last year during my internship where little books were part of the curriculum (Supervisor: Sarah Woolever, MA, NMT, MT-BC; The Family Partnership).

Here is a link to the Nellie Edge site that offers free printable singable books.

A brief snapshot of research from the American Music Therapy Association that supports the link between literacy and music therapy. There are many more studies out there in the speech/language and education fields that aren’t in the scope of this blog post as well. If you’re a student and your university has access to online journals, just search for “Literacy + Music” and you’ll see for yourself!

Happy singing and reading!

Bonus: {Hey Guess What? It’s Valentine’s Day!}

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Hey all, since it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow we wanted to share one more Valentine’s day song with you. This one is a singing intervention and works well for preschoolers and early grade school. The one time I tried this with toddlers, they were more interested in chewing on the hearts. They did, however, identify the colors of the hearts receptively so it can work for toddlers as well. Just make sure you have sturdy laminating sheets.

During the verse of the song I like to have children pat their knees so their engaging voice and body (and less likely to be touching friends, etc.). Goals for this song include receptive and expressive identification of colors, body part identification, and bilateral movement. Children will clap hands, dip shoulders, wave hello, and pat knees. That’s just what we use, but you can also have children stomp feet, give a squeeze to self, beep nose as a few other options. Whatever body parts or actions that meet the goals you have set for your clients!

The melody is a modified version of the theme song to Beverly Hillbillies. Here is a link to the sheet music with melody and chords.

For the hearts, I just made a cut out with scrapbook paper because it is sturdy and used cold laminate sheets from Target. If you want, you could use dry erase on the hearts and have different actions for different groups, or use marker before you laminate. Hope you can use this cute song with your little ones!

Monday Music & Movement: {Move Your Scarves Everybody}

scarves toddler

Image Credit

It can be tricky incorporate gross motor movement interventions during music therapy with toddlers. In our experience, toddlers tend to run away or explore shelves as soon as you ask them to stand up! However, if you have the right environment and pacing, toddlers can meet gross motor goals while dancing and moving to music. The song we bring you today uses changes in pacing and movements to keep the attention of the youngest clients.

“Move Your Scarves Everybody” is a piggyback song. The original is by Lisa Yves and the Young Beboppers and titled “Clap Your Hands”. You can listen to a sample and purchase the song on iTunes here. It’s a great song to use as a movement intervention without any props and if you don’t have enough hands present to do a live song.

Before we get to the song, let’s talk about transitions into and out of this therapeutic music intervention. Transitions can be a prime time to work on goals and should be just as thought out as the actual song. Music therapy students and interns may quickly find that transitions can make or break a session. The following are a few examples of goals that you can work in while transitioning into the intervention.

You can have children close their eyes and hold out their hands for a surprise colors to work on non-rigidity. You can also have children identify colors while you take them out of the bag and choose a color as you walk by so the task doesn’t take too long. Older children may take turns coming up to you and choosing a color to work on waiting and turn taking skills. Toddlers can reach up and balance briefly in tip toes thinkers you hold a scarf over their head.

Here are the lyrics to our version of “Move Your Scarves Everybody” and a link to the lead sheet and chords.

Verse 1)

Move your scarves everybody, move your scarves (show a arc of movement above head with both arms like a rainbow)

Let the music and rhythm bring you joy when you’re with them

Move your scarves everybody, move your scarves

Verse 2)

Round and round everybody, round and round (circles with scarves)

Verse 3)

Up and down everybody, up and down (jump while moving scarves up and down)

Verse 4)

Sweep the floor everybody, sweep the floor (crouch on feet while sweeping floor across midline)

Verse 5)

Tiptoe round everybody, tiptoe round (tiptoe with scarves over heads, shhh!)


Make them small everybody, make them small (scrunch up scarves so they are ready to be put away)

Please feel free to change the movements based on individual or group goals. These movements are meant to engage toddlers and preschoolers in gross motor movement that requires bilateral coordination and crossing the midline. We hope your toddlers have a blast moving and singing along to “Move Your Scarves Everybody”!

Friday Favorites: {Circus Tightrope Walk}


Image via Wikipedia

One of the first things I did when I got to my internship was read, play, and sing through every music book that my internship site, The Family Partnership, had in the bookshelves. One gem that my senior intern (hey Shana!) shared with me was the book “101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children“. The book is geared towards music educators working with young children, but music therapists can make plenty of transfers for music therapy sessions. I would recommend this book to any new music therapy student, intern, or professional!


Image via Amazon

The therapeutic music intervention that I want to share today comes out of the “101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children”. The goals that may be addressed in this intervention are turn taking/waiting, cooperation, positive peer statements, and making a choice.

Materials needed: Tape for the “tightrope”, one jingle bell wristband, and song of your choice.

Depending on your setting, the song of choice may be a calming one or a rousing song. I always like to use “The Entertainer” because it can be looped endlessly and doesn’t get the children too amped up while they wait for their turn.

Start the intervention by showing the children how to walk across the “tightrope”. The goal for them is to keep the bell on their head and walk across the rope without the bell falling off. If the bell does fall off, make sure to encourage the child to pick it up and finish. I like to start a round of applause and encouraging words after each turn to get the children interacting positively with one another.

When one child is done, he or she can choose a peer to go next. After the first round, children can get creative by choosing how they want to walk across the “tightrope”. Will they go backwards, sideways, eyes closed, or hop on one foot?

This intervention is not all that complicated, but is novel enough to work on peer interaction and impulse control. We hope you have fun walking the “tightrope” with your little ones!

Monday Music & Movement: {Valentine’s Day BINGO}


Image via Hearts in Nature

The older adults I work with never get tired of a few music therapy interventions (balloon volleyball to music anyone?). One is playing name that tune or music bingo. These music interventions never fail to get my groups of older adults clients interacting, singing, clapping, and reminiscing.

Today’s intervention addresses the same goals as the Holiday music bingo post found here. Because the goals are not simply to sing along or identify a melody, it is important to allow time for the group to share memories and encourage active listening and empathy among group members. You can discuss the different kinds of love in the songs. Romantic love, young love, love for your country, etc. This intervention will allow both the music and therapy skills that we have as music therapists to shine!

Here is a link to the Valentine’s BINGO sheet as a pdf and as a word doc if you want to change out some of the songs.

We hope you are able to use the session idea with your clients and adapt as necessary for group preferences. We will be sharing more ideas for Valentine’s Day sessions in the coming weeks so please subscribe to the right or follow our blog for the most up to date posts.

ETA: wikifonia is no longer so we hope you can find the lead sheets on your own through the wonderful internet 🙂