My Fab Five
This post is all about my 5 favorite ways to use a stretchy band in my sessions, groups, and classes. The stretchy band is an extremely versatile tool and I have seen music therapists use it in a variety of ways. Janet herself has an amazing guide of 21 activities to do with the stretchy band. My measly 5 may be small in comparison, but they are always a hit at my holistic therapy center!
5 Steps to Use Your Stretchy Band
- To Make a Circle
This may seem very common sense, but this is one of my favorite ways to use a stretchy band in session. Using the stretchy band makes the circle visual and tangible. I can then instruct clients to sit behind a specific color to fill-in the circle. You can either have the clients sit behind the stretchy band, or have them wrap it around, and behind their backs, for support while seated.
If I am working with a client one-on-one, I like to use the stretchy band for sensory integration interventions. The push and pull of the stretchy band can help provide both vestibular and proprioceptive input to clients who may be sensory seeking. One way I do this is first by wrapping the stretchy band around myself and the client, twice. While sitting facing each other with the stretchy band around us, I begin to sing “row, row, row your boat.” While singing the song, we both rock back and forth, myself pushing forward while the client pulls back, then the client pushing forward while I pull backwards. This provides deep pressure input on the back and arms while pulling, as well as vestibular input from the rocking motion.
3. As a Group
The stretchy band is probably most fun in a group setting, but that is one woman’s opinion. There are so many ways to use the stretchy band as a group, but one of my favorites is while playing London Bridge. I instruct one group member to help me hold the stretchy band and the other group members to create a line behind the band. Myself and my helper wrap the stretchy band so it creates a small circle. We then hold up the small circle and I instruct the other group members to walk under the band and around, single-file. I begin singing “London Bridge” as the group walks under the stretchy band. When I get to the line “my fair lady,” I replace lady with the group member who is under the band at that time. Myself and my helper lower the stretchy band and trap whoever is under the band. While singing “take the key and lock her up” we gently rock the person in the stretchy band back and forth, or front and back. When I sing “my fair lady” again, we release the trapped group member!
4. To Practice Counting
Learning to count can be challenging for children of all ages and abilities. The stretchy band may not seem like your go-to counting tool, but it is one of mine! First, I have my clients stand in a circle, wrap the stretchy band around their backs, and hold on with both arms. I remain on the outside of the circle so I can lead the intervention. I begin strumming a strong, rhythmic beat and have the group bounce the stretchy band to the beat. I walk around the circle and count each group member in the circle with the beat. This is so I know what number to use in the song, but also so the other group members can have a visual representation of the number being sung and practice their counting skills. I then begin singing one of the many counting songs I use in sessions. For this example, I will refer to “Alice the Camel” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmchQjTqn0U). You could also use “Five Little Monkeys” or any original counting song you have. “Alice the Camel” uses the lyrics “Alice the camel has 5 humps, Alice the camel has 5 humps, Alice the camel has 5 humps so go Alice go!” If I have ten group members, I will sing 10 humps instead of 5. When I get to the line “go Alice go” I have the group lean back on the stretchy band and I choose one group member to let go of the stretchy band and drop to the floor. I then have the group count the remaining number of people in the circle with me to the beat. I continue this process until Alice has no more humps (when there are no more people standing). The song ends with “Alice the camel has no humps, Alice the camel has no humps, Alice the camel has no humps, because Alice is a horse!” I find this line hilarious, I may even like it more than the kids do! I love using this song and the stretchy band to work on counting because it teaches an academic skill though movement, it is constantly engaging, and provides sensory input to clients who need it.
5. For Yoga
I am not just a music therapist. I am also a yoga instructor, and I LOVE using the stretchy band for my children’s yoga classes. I use the stretchy band in group warm ups all the time. Sitting on our mats in a circle with our legs straight in front of us, we all grab on to the stretchy band and slowly lower ourselves to the ground for a count of 8. We then have to pull ourselves up while slowly counting to 8. The stretchy band provides a small amount of resistance, which helps to engage the core. The band also gives the kids a feeling of safety because they are able to hold onto something as they move their bodies in new ways. This comes in very handy when we are doing poses like tree, warrior 3, and eagle, which are all balance poses. While standing in the circle, we hold the stretchy band taught and flow into tree pose, warrior 3, or eagle. The band helps provide some support to aid in balancing and it also gives us a sense of community, because we all have to work together to hold each other up. With my older kids, I use the stretchy band to teach that lesson. If one person lets go, we could all fall. We have to work together to overcome new challenges. It also helps show that sometimes we need support to try new things and succeed. Who knew the stretchy band could be such a strong metaphor for life?
These are just some of the ways I use my stretchy band every week. If you do not have this tool in your arsenal, you definitely need to get one! The stretchy band can be used with many age levels and abilities, which comes in very handy in my practice. I specialize in the treatment of children with autism, and the stretchy band can be used to meet so many of my clients’ needs. It can be used for sensory integration, academic and social skill development. It aids in gross and fine motor development, which are all crucial goal areas I work on every day. I am so glad I could share these interventions with you, and I hope they come in handy with your kids and clients!