We Are…Empowerers: {Titanium: I’m Bulletproof}

Advocacy-Badge-Final-300x287

The new year has begun and so far 2014 has been a great year…all 6 days of it! I chose to kick off my year of therapy by co-facilitating an adult connect group through the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota last week. I was inspired to share some of the analysis of the lyrics from participants that was received. Below is the experience of epilepsy, as interpreted through the song Titanium by David Guetta.

You shout it out,
But I can’t hear a word you say
I’m talking loud not saying much

Living with epilepsy can be very isolating. The experience of having a seizure and the consequences that follow require the help of the people around us, which often comes at the expense of our own independence. There are strict guidelines for what you can and can’t do, and oftentimes, our opinion is at the bottom of the charts of diagnosis, paperwork, medicine levels, and MRI appointments.

I’m criticized but all your bullets ricochet
You shoot me down, but I get up

For many of us, the source of our seizures will never be found. Epilepsy is never predictable, and that means taking a myriad of medications to control the seizures. Side-effects can cause mood swings, depression, mental health problems, and weight gain. We are often judged based on these side-effects, despite the fact that taking those medications is not a choice that we have.

I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away  

You shoot me down, but I get up                                                                                                    I am titanium                                                                                                                                                               

Losing things like our drivers license,  jobs, and independence can be tough to handle, but it also forces you to find our what you love, and how to find ways to do those things that you love. The idea of Titanium is appropriate because it is famous for it’s incredible strength. You are as strong as you think you are.

Cut me down
But it’s you who’ll have further to fall
Ghost town and haunted love

Our lifestyle choices are highly criticized, but we are the ones that decide how to spend our time, where we go, and what we do. Half of the battle is getting your family to let go and let us fend for ourselves. Waking up after having a seizure can be very confusing and often memories are just gone. Your brain feels like an old abandoned town. Sometimes it feels like you just ran a marathon the day before, and other times the only indicators are that you wet the bed, you have no idea what the date or time is, and the memories of the last week are blurry.

Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones
I’m talking loud not saying much

Our titanium is the thing we have that makes us happy. The thing that makes it worth it. Titanium is traveling, or collecting old records, or painting, or playing soccer, or watching Netflix. Seizures aren’t planned, but finding healthy ways to cope is the first step, and they come from within us.

With that. I want to answer the statement “We Are…” about what music therapists are for social media advocacy month as

We Are EMPOWERERS!!

Check out all of the posts for Social Media Music Therapy Advocacy Month.

Monday Music and Movement: {Five Little Ducks}

5littleducks

Image credit

One of the ways I like to mix up my individual therapy sessions is to try new spins on client’s favorite songs and activities. During our recent trip to the AMTA national conference, Andrea and I had the chance to experiment with a lot of new instruments, and one of my personal favorites that just arrived are the quack sticks. They look very similar to colored egg maracas, but they make the sound of a duck instead. I have been wanting to experiment with making a gross motor activity using the song 5 Little Ducks for a client of mine that is working on imitation, attention-to-task, and following 2-step directions. In order to make this intervention successful for his diagnosis, the activity had to have a plenty of sensory input, opportunities for body movement, and lots of structure.

For my intervention, I began by attaching velcro weighted “web” feet to my client’s ankles to provide proprioceptive input and help him become aware of his body in space. Together, we lined up  3-5 color dot mats on the floor that make a path to our “hill”, which is a medium slide that requires him to climb 5 steps before sliding down. Next, we put two quack sticks at the bottom of the slide, and make one more path of 3-5  dot mats. At the end of the path, there are 5 beanie ducks (or visuals of ducks) and each time through, a duck is removed.

After a big “Ready, Set, GO!” I begin playing on the guitar and singing:

Five little ducks went out one day (begin on the first dot and walk to the next one until reaching the slide)

Over the hills and far away (climb up the steps and slide down)

Momma duck said, quack quack quack quack (grab quack sticks and shake)

But only four little ducks came back. (walk from dot to dot until you reach the ducks and remove one)

Continue until you have counted down to zero.

*Note: I have done several specific things just for this client, such as using the webbed feet with ankle weights, a slide as the “hill”, and colored dots on steps of different heights. Some days, when the weighted feet don’t provide enough input, I also give him a backpack of weighted beanie ducks to carry as well. After he makes it through the course each time, he takes one duck out of the backpack and leaves it on the ocean drum “pond”. You can adjust and adapt as you need or see fit.

Happy Quacking!

Monday Music and Movement: {I had some Apple Seeds}

AppleTreeLg

Image credit

Much to my happiness, December’s collaborative academic theme in my ECSE/MHC classrooms is…drumroll please….FOOD! Some of my favorite music interventions include classics like the singable book “Today is Monday“, a body rhythm chant “I like to Eat”, or today’s special, “I had some Apple Seeds”.

The first thing you will need is visuals of various foods, depending on your objective. Using the melody of “Do Your Ears Hang Low“, sing each verse, substituting your foods for “apple”.

Oh I had some apple seeds (cup your hands like you’re holding seeds)

And I planted them in the ground (pat the floor to “plant” the seeds)

And the sun came up (raise your arms in the air to make a circle, like the sun)

And the rain came down (have your arms float back down while wiggling your fingers)

So I slept all through the night (pretend to lay down your head, I like to add snoring sounds)

And I woke up to see (make a surprised face and point to the ground)

That some little apple seeds (put hands together in front of your body)

had become an apple tree  raise them up to make a tree)

To adapt this activity, I let the students give suggestions for what kind of tree to grow. Depending on the class, I give the option of choosing between two visuals of foods, or let them come up with their own ideas. You can have them identify a variety of foods, choose foods that belong in specific categories like fruits or vegetables, or have them come up with silly ideas. Some of my favorites have included growing a bulldozer, donut, or cello tree! Working in a culturally and linguistically diverse school, I am able to incorporate foods from other countries as well, which encourages students to learn about their peer’s backgrounds.

Monday Music & Movement: {5 Little Turkeys}

IMG_20131113_194823

We can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving week! Here’s a little song that we have been using by changing the words ever so slightly. You can find the original melody on a video HERE. This intervention is a great way to work on counting with 1:1 correspondence, joint attention, and imitation of gross motor movement.

5 (five fingers up) little turkeys went out one day

Over the hills (trace a hill)  and far away (use hand to shield eyes as if looking out)

Mother turkey said, “gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble”

But only 4 of the turkeys came back

(Repeat with all the little turkeys)

Sing directions: “Let’s gobble to find all the little turkeys”

Then count the turkeys back again from 1-5. I used this free clipart as the body and cut out feathers freehand before laminating it all.

Hope you enjoy the long weekend coming up!

Monday Music and Movement: {I Went Walking}

3103

Image Credit

In partnership with several local organizations, Andrea and I are providing Learning through Music and Musical Playground group sessions in twenty-four Early Childhood Special Education and Mental Health Collaborative Classrooms in the Minneapolis public school district. Within this partnership, we collaborate with classroom teachers, occupational, physical, and speech therapists, to create goals and objectives appropriate to student’s IEP and group goals. We use the classroom’s monthly themes and weekly objectives to improve the student’s ability to transfer skills learned in music group to classroom group time.

In my ECSE and MHC classrooms, this month’s theme was community workers. This week’s objective was to understand who firefighters are and what they do. To follow this theme, I used adapted lyrics from the book “I Went Walking”, and used the melody from “Buffalo Gals”. It’s not common, so here is a copy of the melody. It was a favorite of mine growing up when I went through a Little House on the Prairie phase. While keeping beat with the lyrics, alternate tapping each leg to simulate walking during the chorus, and model the fireman’s movement during the verse. Using only the first eight measures of the song, begin by singing the chorus, and then alternate verse and chorus.

Chorus: “I went walking down the street, down the street, down the street,

I went walking down the street, what did I see?”

Verse 1: “I see a fireman driving a truck, oh driving a truck, oh driving a truck,

I  see a fireman driving a truck, that’s what I see.”

Chorus

Verse 2: “I see a fireman turning the corner”

Verse 3: “I see a fireman finding the fire”

Verse 4: “I see a fireman climbing the ladder”

Verse 5: “I see a fireman saving a baby”

Verse 6: “I see a fireman squirting the water”

Verse 7: “I see a fireman drive to the station”

For the younger groups in ECSE that I see (3-4 yr olds), I choose 3 or 4 verses to sing, and use action visuals with velcro on the back to line up on a board for each verse. For the older students (4-5 yr olds), especially in the mental health classrooms, I give them more of a challenge. Before each verse, I model the movement that the fireman does and have them guess the action (driving, climbing, spraying, etc) for all seven verses. When I began the Learning through Music sessions this fall, I used this song, but the four verses had a different community worker in it. We used fireman, police officers, and mailmen, and dentists, which were the four weekly objective workers they learned about. In addition, In addition to adapting it for community workers, I have also adapted it for animals (I went walking through the barn or the zoo), and food (I went walking through the store).

Monday Music and Movement: {I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More}

Paint1

Image Credit

There is nothing I enjoy more than a book that includes messy painting while working on identifying body parts and colors! “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More” is a great way to keep the kiddos engaged because of the silly antics of the characters. The melody for the book is adapted from the chorus of the old country/blues song It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More. Here is a  link for a simple kid’s version of the song.

Instead of singing:

“It ain’t gonna rain no more no more, it ain’t gonna rain no more. How the heck can I wash my neck if it ain’t gonna rain no more.”

sing:

“I ain’t gonna paint no more no more, I ain’t gonna paint no more. That’s what I say cause there ain’t no way, that I ain’t gonna paint no more.”

While singing this part, have the kids pat their knees as you sing. On the pages that identify body parts, sing “So I take some red, and I paint my head”, pause and have the kids “paint” that body part. For more of a challenge, have them identify the color before you sing it. At the end of the book, have each child give their favorite color that was listed. If possible, try to encourage them to remember what body part went along with the color.

Happy painting!

Monday Music & Movement: {Had an Apple}

4949994878_9676123833

Image via Sweet Cup ‘N Cakes

After a week of heat indexes in the 100+ range, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and threw windows open yesterday when the temperatures in MN dropped into the 70’s! Along with the cooler weather, I took down summer decorations to fall and got to baking chocolate zucchini cake and simmering chicken wild rice soup. Autumn is my favorite season and it’s definitely on my mind right now! Today’s Monday Music & Movement kicks off our fall songs posts. We hope you enjoy it.

This song is a piggyback of “Old Dog Blue” and is used to work on goals of matching color. For a foundational skill of matching, you will want to start by making 2 apples of each color for an exact match. Here is one example of clipart that you can color in. After the child or group meets that objective, you can work on matching a picture of an apple and a worm that are the same color, which is a more difficult task. You can also work on goals of turn taking, joint attention, and expressive language during this intervention.

Start by passing out an apple to each child. Hold up or place on the first color apple on the board and sing:

Had an apple and it was __color__ (3x)

Who has the same as me?

Wait for the child to answer {I do, or Me!} or for peers to help the child identify their matching apple or worm. Have the child bring it up to the board or to you and sing:

__Name__ had a __color__ apple/worm (3x)

Two same  _color_, __color__ {point to the two objects}

This music therapy intervention is short and sweet, the repetitive and predictable nature of the verses are perfect for young children and groups of children with special needs that need structure in learning. The possibilities of tailoring this simple melody to objects that will capture the attention of young children are endless. Matching characters from “My Little Pony” or “Lego Star Wars” anyone?

Happy first week of school to most children that we have the privilege of working with every week!

Monday Music and Movement: {Theme Songs for Life}

 

music4

Image credit

Being a music therapist, I often get songs stuck in my head that my clients frequently request. Although I do enjoy endless renditions of “I Know a Chicken” and “I Love Rock and Roll”, by the end of the day, I’m annoyed with myself and in need of my own music therapy. There is an old wives tale that if you listen to a song that’s stuck in your head, it will be “unstuck”. Unfortunately, that technique has never worked on me. In an effort to curb my problem, I decided I needed a power song to distract and motivate me.

Thanks to some soul searching back to my earlier days, I remembered an episode of Ally McBeal that talked about having a “theme song of life”. This theme song could be an old classic or a new favorite that you can sing to make yourself feel better. For me, it’s a song that can wake me up in the morning despite my love of the snooze button, sing in my head while waiting in line at the grocery store, or belt out loud in the car. No matter what the situation, this song will clear my mind and fit any mood or situation that I’m in.

Choosing a theme song for life is harder than you would think. I’m not talking about the standard “Eye of the Tiger” that most sports teams use to pump up players before a game, but something that speaks to you personally. For me, that song is “Hang Loose” by Alabama Shakes. I immediately smile when I hear the first guitar riff on a recording, or I of course sing the riff myself if I don’t have the music available. Here is a link to the song.

What is your power song? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

Monday Music and Movement: {Alphabet Soup}

alphabet-soup

Image credit

We have been on a food kick lately with the blog posts, so I’ve decided to add one of my favorite interventions to the list! Today’s Monday Music and Movement activity focuses on improving academic skills like pre-reading and letter identification. To begin, collect the appropriate letters for your group. For mine, I printed out this alphabet, laminated the sheet, and cut out each letter. If you want to get really fancy, you can add a small magnetic strip to the back of each letter and make a laminated cut out of a spoon After attaching a magnet to the underside of the spoon, you can “catch” each letter that is requested.

The lyrics are sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”:

I have a bowl of alphabet soup,

A letter for me and a letter for you.

Sip sip sip on the alphabet soup,

What letter should we eat? 

There are many ways to adapt this game depending on the number of children and level of development. For more of a challenge, request the first or last letter of a word, or show visuals of animals or objects and have them choose what letter it starts with. If you have a large group of children, give each of them a lowercase letter, and on their turn, have them choose the capital letter that matches theirs. To make the game easier, print out a second set of letters. During the individuals turn, hand them a letter, and tell them to find the match.

While kids are playing, they are also making secondary gains like improving receptive language, turn taking, self-regulation, and sensorimotor skills. It just so happens that all of these goals are prerequisite skills for full inclusion kindergarten classrooms!

Monday Music & Movement: {It’s a Beautiful Day}

images

Image Credit

Welcome to another Monday Music & Movement! Today’s song is one that Lyndie, our other music therapist, taught me from a practicum and a second version that I learned from a different practicum supervisor. Shows you how versatile and well-loved this song is with music therapists in MN!

There are two sets of lyrics that I use with this song to work on goals of name recognition, turn taking, joint attention, and choice making. You will want to choose the lyrics that will best address the goal areas you are working on with a particular group. You can just sing the song as a group to each member and have the friend choose who goes next for option #1, or use a little glockenspiel or handbell to pass around for option #2. Here is the lead sheet on Scribd.

#1)

It’s a beautiful day, a day with __name___. A beautiful, beautiful day.

It’s a beautiful day, a day with __name___. A beautiful, beautiful day.

#2)

It’s a beautiful day so ring your bell, ring your bell, ring your bell.

It’s a beautiful day so ring your bell, ring your bell with me.

Using only one instrument grabs the attention of peers who are not playing the bell, to work on joint attention. Friends wait to take a turn and interact with peers by making a choice of who will go next. Finally, since children love to be the center of attention, why not use a song that will allow the attention to happen in a context that is positive and praises sharing and choice making? It’s great to see little ones succeed with such a simple intervention that sets them up for improvement in multiple functional goal areas.