12 Ideas to Reimagine Teaching with Beanbags

Fresh ideas for using bean bags this fall in the music room or choral rehearsal.

As summer vacation draws to a close, it is always fun to get some fresh ideas for the beginning of the school year.  So go ahead and add some ways to use the bean bags from Bear Paw Creek to your repertoire! These activities will also bring giggles and smiles to teaching the potentially humdrum foundations of music making. 

This blog will share activities using beanbags not only the classroom, but also in choral rehearsal. In addition, at the end of the post is a game I developed exclusively for you, the fans of Bear Paw Creek’s Blog!  This game is open-ended, so with some poster board and markers, and of course, beanbags, you can make a delightful game that can address any skill your students need to work on.

I have been thinking about beanbags a lot lately. It is a shame for a prop that raises the spirits of students and teachers alike to be overlooked. Especially considering its durability and versatility. Why don’t we use them more?  And, if we don’t have them, why not? They are certainly one of the most affordable props out there.  In fact, www.bearpawcreek.com has bean bags for just $20 per dozen, and you can even choose the bright or muted color palette or texture that works best for your students’ needs.

If the obstacle is a lack of awareness of how to use this awesome prop, then let’s overcome it, with these 12 ideas that will help you to reimagine teaching with beanbags. These ideas include activities that I have developed, as well as some existing activities that I have adapted to beanbags, not to mention the exclusive game at the end of this blog.

Let’s get you excited for the new school year, and for using that underdog of props, beanbags!

Bean Bag Activities for the Classroom

1.Ostinato Bean Bags: Teach your ostinato, but in a kinesthetic way. Students toss the bean bag from hand-to-hand in rhythm with their singing.

2. Quick Sort: Looking for a fast way to divide students up for an activity?  If you have a variety of bean bag colors then you can hand out bean bags in a color-coded manner to designate groups/activities.  For example, if you wanted to have a sound ensemble activity, you could designate red=sung sounds, yellow=spoken sounds, orange=whisper sounds etc, and a next step would be holding up a red beanbag to start the sung group’s performances.

3. Bean Bag Engagement: Not that kind of engagement! I like to use props like the bean bags to call on students. It is an incredibly easy way to infuse more mundane tasks with fun.  I also like to have the students use this method to call on each other, which makes your existing activity even more entertaining.

4. Bean Bag SMART Notebooks: There are some great SMART notebooks available that allow students to randomly select a question or challenge by popping a bubble. Rather than walking up and popping it, you can safely have student underhand toss a bean bag at the board. My students love this method!  SMART Notebook exchange has “Candy Rhythms Koosh Ball Game” and Teachers Pay Teachers has several as well.

5. Bean Bag Shakers: If you are a new teacher that doesn’t have many props or an itinerant teacher trying to reduce how much equipment you move, consider using bean bags as a percussion instrument. You can shake or tap it, and the volume is low, so it may be just right if you have students with sound sensitivity.

6. Steady Beat Bags: When students are still learning to find the steady beat, a strategy is to have the student gently tap their chest. Putting a bean bag in that hand makes it more fun, and adds more sensation. 

Bean Bag Activities for the Classroom or Choral Rehearsal

7. Treble or Bass Clef Toss: Use masking tape to create a five line staff on the floor and have students toss a bean bag onto the staff. Then they name the note based on which line or space it lands on. Another option would be drawing the staff on poster board or other moveable surfaces to make a portable version if you are an itinerant teacher.

8. Bean Bag Rhythm: A variation on the ostinato bean bag activity above, requiring students that are struggling with a particular rhythm to toss the beanbag to the steady beat.  This could be up and down in one hand or hand-to-hand as they say rhythm syllables, chant the lyrics in rhythm, or sing the troublesome section.

9. Bean Bag Note Values: I was introduced to this activity with tennis balls, and it works great with bean bags too. Assign each note value a bean bag movement that will take an appropriate amount of time. For example: two eighth notes= fast hand-to-hand toss, quarter note= single hand toss, half note= go around body 1st beat in front of body 2nd beat in back, whole note= same as half but stopping in four points- 1 front, 2 side, 3 back, and 4 other side.  Students should verbalize the counts as another pathway to learning. Display the note value students are performing so that they can make the connections between the symbol, the movement and value.  Once the students are proficient, I turn on pop music and have the students perform various note values to the beat, continuing to display the note symbols and point to them throughout.

 

Bean Bag Activities for Choral Rehearsal

10. Part Throw: If singers are forgetting that they don’t sing in a particular section, play a game!  As that section begins, have the forgetful singers toss their beanbag to a chorus member who is supposed to sing that part.  It will be so memorable that they will probably not make that mistake again.

11. Projection Toss:  This thrilling activity was intended for adults using a football, but I have adapted it here for children using beanbags. If your chorus is not projecting their voices to the back of the rehearsal space, try having them send their sound out with the bean bag by tossing it forward (after you get out of the way!). Alternatively, singers could get into pairs and have them sing a phrase tossing to their partner and then their partner sings a phrase tossing it back.

 

Here it is… your exclusive open-ended game:

The Bullseye of Music!

As I was thinking about ways to use bean bags that would be fun and engaging for our students, I also factored in that we teachers don’t necessarily have much time to craft. So if I was going to create something, I wanted it to be a game that could be used for different units.  The result is a game that can be used throught the year, with any age and the only thing you’ll need to change is the Fact Sheet.  

The 12th activity, The Bullseye of Music! :

How it works:

  1. Have two children, or the whole class play.
  2. Child A throws the bean bag at the bullseye.
  3. Child B (the opponent or class representative) announces the color which their bean bag hit.
  4. Child A puts the tip of a pencil into a paper clip in the center of the spinner for that color and flicks it. The paper clip indicates a number.
  5. Child B gives Child A the task or question based on the color and number, and they have a blast performing it!                                                                                                                                                                 

I didn’t design this for keeping score so there isn’t a plan for that, but you could certainly develop one.  The game is so engaging because the target requires skill and the spinner is pure chance.  I put the arts Integration/extra fun activities in the center, on red, to make them harder to get. 

How to Make Bullseye of Music Game Pieces:

Materials: Foam poster board, For tracing- a frying pan & small bowl, Poster markers/paint, Pencil, Paper clip, Paper, Sheet protector/clipboard

Steps:

  1. Target– Sketch the biggest possible circle you can on the poster board
  2.  Trace frying pan and small bowl creating the concentric circles of a target
  3.  Color each ring in a different color (I went the traditional route of red yellow and blue)
  4.  Spinner– On the paper, use the small bowl to trace three circles and coordinate the colors to match the circles on the target
  5.  Divide the circles into five sections (or more) and number them
  6.  Fact Sheet– create blue questions or activities of an easy level and number them 1-5 to match the spinner, and repeat for yellow   being medium level and red being difficult/super fun. Zoom in on the image above for an example Fact Sheet.
  7.  Print out Fact Sheet and slip into a sheet protector and plan to give to Child B or the Opponent described above.
  8.  Once the materials are done, grab your Bear Paw Creek bean bags, pencil and a paper clip and start having a fantastic time learning new concepts or reviewing!

Remember, all you have to do from here is create a new Fact Sheet to totally change the game!

Thanks: My appreciation to my music teacher colleagues in Anne Arundel County, MD for being such wonderful teachers and collaborators.

I hope you enjoy your bean bags in the classroom or rehearsal all the more for having some new ideas.

BPC has a great selection of bean bags right here on bearpawcreek.com.

Leah Murthy is a music educator, performer and military spouse. She is currently a Doctoral candidate in Music Education at Boston University, holds a Master’s in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory, has 15 years experience teaching music and recent contributions to professional journals such as The American Organist and The Chorister. When she is not teaching music in Maryland, or playing with her two little girls, she is in Washington D.C. conducting for The National Children’s Chorus.

Bear Paw Creek Back to School Giveaway 2019

It’s back to school time and time for our 5th annual Back to School Giveaway and SALE!  All month long there will be discounts and a giveaway that is worth over $400!

August 1 -7 20% off –  Code: 20for2019

August 8-15 15% off – Code: 15for2019

August 16-31 10% off – Code: 10for2019

I am excited to partner with a few of our friends to bring a prize back full of music, movement props, instruments,  and books!  Read on to learn more.

Bear Paw Creek's Annual Back to School Sale

Look What Our Friends Have Contributed

Check out this year’s sponsors, with a prize pack valued over $400!

GRAND TOTAL: $473.50

Add a click to tweet CTA – quote. 

New Music and Lesson Plans

I am SO far behind sharing all the wonderful music, lesson plans, and ideas our friends have been sharing to use with Bear Paw Creek movement props.

I’m working on sharing some great resources for over this month and upcoming year.

Here is one from one of our newest Stretchy Band distributors: Let’s Play Music

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Bean Bag Hop Song with Bean Bags

I just love it when someone shares a lesson plan, activity, pictures, videos, or songs using Bear Paw Creek products! 

This time Rachel over at Listen Learn Music has written a new song to use with bean bags. 

Of course – I have to share it with you!  It is always fun to add a new song to your list.

I have also added some bean bags on to the shop!  We not offer neutral and jeweled tone bean bags along with the original primary colors and textured bean bags.

 

Favorite Bean Bags

It’s a wonderful compliment when someone shares that something we make is their favorite!  There are so many choices in this world, it’s a high compliment.  Rachel wrote a beautiful post about our bean bags and a new song she wrote.  Here is part of what she said:

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, MANY of my songs revolve around the use of props. They can be such a wonderful tool for addressing motor skills, coordination, group participation, turn-taking, and much more.

Bean bags are wonderful tools for addressing so many different skills: balance, dexterity, crossing the midline, hand-eye coordination, and the list goes on. This particular song targets several of those objectives, along with impulse control, following directions, and identifying body parts.

I love watching my students and clients attempt all of the directives in this song, from making the bean bag hop from hand to hand during the chorus, to placing it on each body part in the verses.

“Bean Bag Hop”, like most of my other songs, can easily be adapted to meet the needs and strengths of each individual or group. It can be done sitting, standing, hopping, or however else your creativity moves you!

Be sure to check out her new song, it’s a steal at only $3!

Bean Bag Hop Listen and Learn Music

 

Bean Bags, Bean Bags, Bean Bags

For those of you who have been Bear Paw Creek friends for awhile, you know bean bags were one of the first things my Mom taught me to sew when I was a child.

We have four different options to offer now on the shop. 

 

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Music with Mar Giveaway and Movement Activities with Bear Paw Creek Props

I am excited to share our first giveaway of 2019!  Can you believe how fast this year is flying by already? 

I’ve been connect with Mar for several years now and love the music she has produced to use with the stretchy band, scarves, and bean bags.  Here is the description of what she is all about:

Music with Mar. is a company dedicated to bringing quality, brain based music and workshops to children, families, teachers and groups.

Mission Statement– Music with Mar., created by Maryann “Mar.” Harman, is an internationally respected company dedicated to using music and movement to teach children skills they will need for a successful, happy life and train adults on incorporating music into their lives.

Class Philosophy– To provide music activities for an adult / child to participate in together that will aid in the child’s total development while bonding the child and adult and enhancing the adult’s understanding of the importance of their involvement in these classes.

Vision – To provide classes for families and educate qualified individuals to teach the classes/philosophy of Music with Mar. so its power can touch more lives and educate those who work with children to do the same.

To provide workshops for groups wishing to expand their knowledge on the value of music in enhancing our lives and enriching our brains.

Continue reading to learn about music and movement songs and enter the giveaway.

Music with Mar and Bear Paw Creek Giveaway 2019

Stretchy Bands, Scarves, and Bean Bags

Mar has created seven songs to be used with stretchy bands, scarves, and bean bags.  These songs are available for individual download or physical cd from her store.  I have also created a YouTube playlist and Spotify playlist that you can use.

  • Moving with a Scarf
  • Pretty Scarves
  • Stretchy Band Jam
  • Who Can Pull the Stretchy Band
  • I’ve Got a Bean Bag
  • Bean Bag Groove
  • Playing with a Bean Bag

Music with Mar Spotify Play List

The connect-a-stretchy band is fast becoming one of our best selling stretchy bands.  It’s great as you an use it straight, buckle it together into a circle.  It’s also wonderful for those that have varying group sizes as you can use the sections you need for each session.

Bean Bags are a staple of home and classroom. We offer our original primary colored set, new neutral colors, and also a new Discover Dance set.

Our scarves come in set of 13, 12, or 6 and are a wonderful addition to you creative movement time. 

 

Enter to Win the Giveaway

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

4 Easy Ways to Teach Your Child to Calm Down Quickly & Prevent Future Tantrums

4 Simple Ways to Teach Your Child How to Calm Down & Managing Their Emotions

Are you tired of turning on the news and being bombarded with stories about violence? Psychologists hope that if children learn how to manage their emotions at a young age, they will be able to respond more positively to stressful situations as adults. How are we supposed to teach our children how to cope with their feelings?

According to Robert Plutchick, professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, more than 90 different emotions have been identified. 

Wow! Imagine being a little person experiencing all of these feelings. How do we, as parents teach our children how to process these feelings when our children aren’t able to communicate what or why they are feeling that way?

Prevent Tantrums

Let’s first find out how you, as an adult, calm down when you are upset:

Close your eyes and think about something that made you mad or frustrated. How do you feel when you think about it?  Does your heart start racing? Do your hands clench a little? Is your internal temperature rising?

Now, open your eyes! What do you do to calm down? Most people use sensory strategies to regroup – such as sipping coffee, chewing gum, going on a walk/run or smelling essential oils. How did you learn that this technique helps you calm down?

When your child gets upset or overwhelmed, they feel the same way inside. There body is “fuming” with emotion but they don’t know how to respond. Unfortunately, humans aren’t born knowing how to cope with strong emotions. We learn these skills through life experiences, but we don’t want our children to tantrum while they are learning. 

Follow these simple 4 Steps to teach your child how to respond to their feelings.

When children feel their body start to “fume” they react.  Reactions don’t involve thinking about why they feel the way they feel. This is why you see young children throwing objects (that they are frustrated with), hitting the toddler sitting next to them (because they are in their space) or running the other direction when mom says it’s time to leave the park.

What do you do in this situation? The initial response I hear from parent’s are: “I try to talk to them, but they won’t listen to me.” This approach doesn’t work often because your child is feeling overwhelmed and are not ready to talk. Instead, give them time to process their feelings and provide them with ways they can calm down independently. Once calm, they will be ready to have a conversation with you.

How is my child supposed to calm down on their own without me talking to them?

After spending over 15 years working with children, I couldn’t find anything written for children that teaches these skills in a practical, hands-on way. This is why I created the “Soothing Sammy Set.” Soothing Sammy teaches children how to process their feelings, identify their emotions and problem solve in a way that is EASY for children to understand and SIMPLE for parents to implement!

Soothing Sammy House

This Four- Step Set includes:

1. Children’s Book –  The colorful photos and simple story is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged children. When a young boy becomes upset, he visits Sammy (the golden retriever)’s house. Sammy shows him, and his friends, how to use their sensory system to calm down. He gives each child a typical household item (such as a cup of juice (taste), a cold washcloth (touch), a family picture (see) and many other items) that helps them feel better quickly. Once calm, Sammy helps the children problem solve by asking them questions.

2. Soothing Sammy Plush Dog (Golden Retriever) – Using an empty box or container, follow the directions in the back of the book to construct a “Sammy house” for this plush dog (resembling the house in the children’s book). Place Sammy, a machine washable plush dog, into his new home and fill it with household items discussed in the children’s book. When your child feels upset, redirect them to the Sammy house to calm down (just like the children in the book did). 

3) Parent Guide – This 80-page book explains how to prevent children from becoming frustrated in everyday situations (such as transition times, sharing space and toys, listening and following directions, going on a long car ride, etc.) This book contains activities, instructions and parent reflection sections.

4) Emotions & Feelings Activities E-Book – These 10 play-based activities teach children how to identify feelings in themselves and others, supporting emotional competency. Using items typically found around a home, children engage in hands-on learning activities that teach emotion vocabulary and simple ways to respond to others when they are feeling overwhelmed. 

The children’s book, along with Sammy the plush dog, activity e-book and parent guide, creates a complementary set of tools that supports your child’s emotional development. Sammy’s techniques give children the confidence to manage their emotions.

What our families have said:

“Parenting is hard work! Children do not come with instructions, so knowing how to handle their emotional needs is so hard. Thanks to Soothing Sammy I am better equipped to help my children through their melt-downs and tantrums. Since grabbing this set I have seen not only a difference in my children but a difference in how I handle them in the hard moments. I definitely recommend this set to every parent.” – Stephanie

“My daughter and I had fun reading and building Sammy’s house. She loves Sammy! So far it has helped her feel better when upset. She has chosen something to crunch on when mad and then hugging Sammy when sad. We keep it i the living room where she will hopefully continue to use it.” – Jennifer

Soothing Sammy

 Learn More

About the Author:

Jeana Kinne Author Photo

Jeana Kinne, MA is an Early Childhood Developmental Specialist. She has worked as a parent educator, Preschool Director and Early Intervention Specialist with children with special needs. She loves working with families, providing them with solutions to common parenting concerns, resulting in stress-free parenting! Follow her blog to learn more parenting tips and strategies that support parents navigating through some of the most difficult and puzzling aspects of parenting at www.jdeducational.com

Build a House for Santa While Teaching Fine Motor, Language and Handwriting Skills

Build Santa’s Paper House to Send Him a Letter on Christmas Eve!

The holidays are here and so is the magic of the Christmas season! The vision of the North Pole, Santa’s Workshop and Rudolph’s living quarters is different for every child. Maybe some children think it’s a cold place where everyone drinks hot chocolate and eats cookies! Maybe it is a place where Santa has reindeer pasture and is outside training and flying with Rudolph and his friends all day. Maybe it is a castle filled with toy-making rooms in every corner. 

Encouraging a child to expand their imagination, especially around the holidays if fun both for the child and for the adult. What fun story is your child going to come up with today? Here is a very special activity that includes art and imagination, teaches fine motor, language and writing skills while also creating a special place to have written communication with Santa himself. 

Right now, this activity focuses on “Santa Clause,”, but this activity can be used throughout the year, regardless of the holiday. During Easter, the children can write to the Easter Bunny and around their birthday’s they can write to family members. You get the idea! Now, let’s get started with this simple, play-based activity.

MAIN IMAGE

Santa’s Paper House Activity Directions (video below)

Materials Needed:

  • Scraps of Wrapping Paper
  • One (1) Roll of tape
  • One (1) Cardboard Box
  • One (1) Pen
  • One (1) Piece of Paper
  • One (1) Pair of Child-Sized Scissors

Learning Objectives:

  • Fine Motor (Writing)
  • Fine Motor (Using Tape)
  • Fine Motor (Using Scissors)
  • Language Expression
  • Creativity
  • Understanding Shapes and Sizes

Directions: (Watch Video Below for More Details)

Step 1: Place a cardboard box (any size), the tape, child-safe scissors and wrapping paper scraps in front of your child.

Step 2: Tell your child that the box is Santa’s house. They can use all of the items in from of them to decorate his house. 

Step 3:Once your child has completed the decorating, tell them that you are going to write a story together. 

Step 4: Ask your child the following questions about Santa’s house. Write down their answers:

  • Tell me about your house.
  • Where will Santa sleep?
  • Where will he eat?
  • What colors are on his house?
  • Who lives in the house with him?
  • Why did you place different paper in their places on the house?
  • Do any pieces represent windows or doors?
  • Where do the reindeer live?
  • Where do they make the toys?
  • Is there anything else you want to tell me about his house that you made?

Step 5: Once your child is done, ask them to trace the words what you wrote, using a pen. 

Step 6: Have your child place the piece of paper in Santa’s House and put the house near the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve for Santa to see.

Step 7: Ask your child to draw a photo for Santa thanking him for coming and wishing him well on his world trip. Ask your child what they would like to tell Santa, writing down what they say. 

Step 8: Have the child place the photo/letter to Santa in the house on Christmas Eve so Santa will get it when he visits.

Optional: On Christmas morning, the parent can write a letter to the child, from Santa, addressing all of the parts of the house and how Santa likes them all. 

For an extra special good time, sing some holiday Christmas songs while wearing these Jingle Bells!

Interested in More Preschool Activities? Join our Free 12 Days of Christmas Holiday Email Series Here!

About the Author:

Jeana Kinne Author PhotoJeana Kinne, MA is an Early Childhood Developmental Specialist. She has worked as a parent educator, Preschool Director and Early Intervention Specialist with children with special needs. Her blog consists of Homeschool Preschool Activities that support educational and social-emotional development. She loves working with families, providing them with solutions to common parenting concerns, resulting in stress-free parenting! Follow Jeana’s blog to view more activities and to learn parenting tips and strategies that support parents navigating through some of the most difficult and puzzling aspects of parenting at www.jdeducational.com.

Children’s Music Network Fundraiser with Barefoot Books

I am excited to share that I am hosting my first Barefoot Books Online Event!  10% of sales will go directly back to Children’s Music Network.  Make sure to shop with this link to get credit for the event. 

CMN and Barefoot Books Fundraiser

I love the fun blog post Tim wrote up, sharing all about his journey with Barefoot Books and how we get connected.  The title is “Bear With Me”!  Here is a preview, make sure to click through and read all about it!

Bear WIth Me

I hope you’ll take some time to check out Barefoot Books! The books and games they sell make wonderful gifts.

Teach Children the Alphabet with Pumpkins

Teach Children the Alphabet with Pumpkins

Even though Halloween has ended and the jack-o-lanterns have been “retired”, pumpkins are still everywhere! Fall is a time to investigate these fabulous fruits. There are so many different varieties and sizes to teach children about, but with a little bit of imagination and creativity, pumpkins can be used to teach all sorts of academic concepts! 

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite ways to teach children the Alphabet. Right now I am focusing on use “Pumpkin Jack”, but this activity can be used throughout the year, regardless of the holiday. During the Christmas season, Pumpkin Jack and be changed to “Charlie Christmas Tree” or in February – “Henry the Heart”. You get the idea! Now, let’s get started with this simple, play-based activity.

Pumpkin Jack

Pumpkin Jack Activity Directions (video below)

Materials Needed:

* One empty envelope
* 24 4×6 cards (or pieces of papers cut up into 24 four by six sized paper)
* One Marker (any color)
* One piece of tape
* One large pumpkin.

Directions:

(Watch video below for demonstration)

Step 1: Write the uppercase and lowercase letters on 4×6 cards (see video below for example)

Step 2: With your child, draw a pumpkin face on one side of the pumpkin using a marker.

Step 3: Tape one envelope to the back of the pumpkin (the opposite side that the face is on).

Step 4: Ask your child to sit in front of the pumpkin, facing the pumpkin face.

Step 5: Come up with a name for the pumpkin together.

Step 6: The adult should pick one of the alphabet cards and place either the uppercase side or the lowercase side in the envelope (see video below for example).

Step 7: Repeat the following poem with your child:

Pumpkin Poem:

Child: “Pumpkin (name of pumpkin), Pumpkin (name of pumpkin) what letter did you have for a snack?”

Adult: “My name is Pumpkin (name of pumpkin) and I had”

Child: “letter ___ for a snack!”

Step 8: Repeat steps 6 and 7 for all of the alphabet (both uppercase and lowercase).

 

Don’t have a pumpkin? Use this Pumpkin Balloon Ball Jack O’ Lantern Instead!

For More Fall Activities, view our All About Fall Unit on sale now for $2.99.

About the Author:

Jeana Kinne Author PhotoJeana Kinne, MA is an Early Childhood Developmental Specialist. She has worked as a parent educator, Preschool Director and Early Intervention Specialist with children with special needs. Her blog consists of Homeschool Preschool Activities that support educational and social-emotional development. She loves working with families, providing them with solutions to common parenting concerns, resulting in stress-free parenting! Follow Jeana’s blog to view more activities and to learn parenting tips and strategies that support parents navigating through some of the most difficult and puzzling aspects of parenting at www.jdeducational.com

Giving Thanks for Music Therapists

Incorporating Music in Health, Healing, & Comfort

 

Like many of you, I incorporate music into my life. I play an upbeat playlist, while I work or clean. Maybe you like to play guitar and sing a sad or fun ditty depending on your mood. We turn to these things in order to express and process a full range of emotions: to celebrate, to energize, to soothe, to make us forget our troubles for a time.

In this post, I want to honor and give thanks to Music Therapists for bringing music (and often dancing) to the field of therapy. I’m going to dial down and highlight the therapy they bring to people in nursing homes and for end of life care. I hope this post will help you understand the significance of music to the world of therapy and how these professionals bring these two worlds together.

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

What does a Music Therapist do?

When I was in Highschool, one of my friends said that she was interested in pursuing a degree in Music Therapy and I was pretty clueless about it. However, when I started working with Bear Paw Creek, I became aware of the profession again. Over the last few years, as I’ve been following the work of Music Therapists online, I’ve seen the influence they’ve had in areas of therapy, research and education. And they’ve earned my respect.

When people hear the words, “Music Therapist” often they can have one of two reactions. 

One reaction is to wonder whether music is effective for therapy.

For that reason, many studies have been done to explore the healing effects that music therapy can bring to people. Here is a link for an excellent resource discussing the benefits of music for end of life care: A critical realist evaluation of a music therapy intervention in palliative care.

The truth is, that most of us don’t need to read studies to prove to us that music has a huge impact on our wellbeing.

For example, these weeks I have been a struggle with anxiety and sadness. Like many of you, the first thing I reach for is music. Whether I’m singing in my car or listening through headphones on the computer while I work, I’m putting on the music that helps me cry or lifts my spirit. 

Reaching for music is what many of us do. We play our favorite playlist, pick on a guitar sing a sad or fun ditty, these things we instinctively feel are good for us: body and soul.

The second response we may give is, “Do we need therapy professionals who specialize in Music as a form of Therapy?”

Some may wonder why a separate profession is required for the use of music as therapy. If it’s good, and we know it is, why don’t we just incorporate it into care? Do we need a music therapist to make that happen? 

The education of the Music Therapist and integrates the study of music with the study of health, development, and psychology. They not only understand music and its effects but they also study to understand people, therefore, they can match the therapy with the client.

Erin Seibert expresses the true value of Music Therapy. She also gives fascinating insight into the origins of Music Therapy in this TEDx Talks Video. Please take the time to watch this powerful, clear presentation:

The Influence of Music Therapy in Elder Care and Palliative Care

 

 

 

To illustrate the impact that Music Therapists are having in other types of care and therapy, I just want to highlight elder care and end of life care (which is called palliative therapy.)

When my mom passed, I was overseas and unable to get there before she died because it was so quick. She was surrounded by my dad, my sister and people who love her and by music, as they sang to her the hymns that she and they loved. The comfort was not only for her but also for those who loved her. It also comforted me to know that she was comforted even as I was trying to get a passport to come to her side. This is palliative care.

I used to visit one of my aunts who was bedridden in a nursing home. It hit home to me that the videos and music she had were very dependant on what was brought to her. When I was visiting there were a few things she loved: Chocolate, laughing at funny memories, having cream rubbed into her hurting feet and being sung to. My aunt had a beautiful voice when she was young and a bunch of people who loved her provided her with music and videos to watch. If we didn’t bring her music and sing to her, she wouldn’t have had music in her life. This is elder care.

What about people who don’t have family members or friends to visit them?

This Podcast, from Collective Music Therapy, is very poignant and illustrates the role that Music Therapy may play in the case of someone who doesn’t have a relative or other loved one to bring them comfort during end-of-life care.

Music Therapy in Palliative Care: The Beatles reinterpreted to ease the end of a journey.

And what of the elderly and dying who’s loved ones are able to care for them? 

Often the work involved in caring can break down the relationship through stress and weariness that comes with the territory. Music Therapists can create a bridge that reconnects family members as husband and wife, parent and child, or sisters instead of simply caregiver and patient. What they bring into the space is an opportunity to rest, reconnect and laugh together.

“The long and short of it is that, as care recipients’ health declined, caregivers were at increased risk of moving further and further away from their pre-illness identity in the context of their relationship with the care recipient. That means caregivers interacted less and less as a spouse, parent or child with the care recipient: acts of love (i.e., eating dinner with my wife) transformed into mechanicals acts of service (i.e., feeding dinner to my wife) that became less about fulfilling the need to relate meaningfully to a loved one and more about meeting the “next” need.” A Possible way Forward with Hospice Caregivers during Pre-Bereavement by Noah Potvin Ph.D., MT-BC

Music Therapy can reconnect the caregiver and the patient, giving them access to memories and music that is meaningful to both of them.

About 2 years ago I wrote a post called Recreational Activities for Dementia and Alzheimer Patients. In it, I shared a video by Simon McDermott – The Songaminute Man, who reconnected with his dad through music. His latest video is below and he is offering an album of his father’s music to raise money for Alzheimer’s research here: www.songaminuteman.com

I have watched the past few years as Music Therapists have been among the forefront of addressing, you guessed it, music therapy among the elderly in all kinds of settings. Here are some of the articles and podcasts coming from the Music Therapist community on that subject and many of them are very poignant:

Also, from a son’s perspective:

You can see the influence Music Therapy is having in elder and palliative care.

Take that influence and multiply it across many disciplines, from childhood development to early education and also working with troubled teens and adults with depression, PTSD, addictions, the list goes on. I’ve been writing articles for Bear Paw Creek for just a few years now, standing as if from the outside, looking in. And this community of professionals called Music Therapists really impresses me. I look forward to seeing more of what they will do for the world of therapy in the future.

I hope you take a moment to learn about this profession and discover how what they are learning can impact our lives for good. Give thanks with me for the Music Therapists among us. And take the time to read some of the articles and consider how to apply some of what they are learning and teaching to your own life, at home, in school with someone you love who is elderly. 

 

For those who work specifically in Elder Care, thank you!

Here are some resources for you on our blog:

Something to do:

In this post, I’ve talked about the way that Music Therapists reach out and bring comfort and healing to the elderly. You can be a part of this as well. In this season of thanks, here is a list of games with bean bags to use with any age. These games would be perfect to use as a mixer for children, youth and the elderly. Take these games to a nursing home and bring young people with you to play them. 

 

Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She has a high respect for business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds. She enjoys helping them tell the story of their company, products, and services, connecting them online with those who would like to find them by the written word. You can find Jenette’s business website at www.mywordsforhire.com.

DiscoverDance and Bear Paw Creek Movement Prop Set

I am thrilled to share with you our newest movement prop set that feature DiscoverDance’s colors of: fuchsia, orange, yellow, lime green, turquoise, and purple!

Founder of DiscoverDance, Andrea Trench, is a dance educator with over 20 years of teaching experience. Holding a B.F.A. in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Andrea specializes in early childhood dance education as well as modern dance. She is the co-founder of Elite Dance Academy in Homer Glen, Illinois as well as the owner of DiscoverDance Early Childhood Dance Education.

In this post you will you be treated to video’s of the new movement props in action.

Be sure to enter our giveaway for this month – the complete set of DD Movement Props!

Discover Dance and Bear Paw Creek Collaboration

DiscoverDance Early Childhood Program

 
The DiscoverDance Early Childhood Program was founded in 2017 by dance educator, Andrea Trench. The program offers studio owners and teachers conceptual based lesson plans, marketing materials, music playlists, and videos of class activities for ages 5 and under. Since launching, DiscoverDance can be found in dance studios in Costa Rica, Greece, Australia, Canada, and across the United States.
 
Andrea has been sharing great content on her blog and Facebook page. Be sure to add her to your subscribe and follow list for new inspiration.
 
Here is a playlist showcasing eleven videos for the new props. You will hear music from some of my favorites!  (Hi Carole and Mar)
 
 

The Movement Prop Details

Newest product added to the site today!  This is our monthly giveaway too, so be sure to enter!  Prize Value: $114

DiscoverDance Movement Prop Set

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.
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