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.

What Does a Music Therapist Do Anyway?

Learning about music therapy.

 

 

When I was in high school, I remember one person saying she was interested in going into Music Therapy. I also remember thinking, that’s a thing? It seemed like something pretty neat, but I had no context for it.  

 For many years that has been the case with the majority of people, but thankfully that is changing. 

Music and emotions.

I’m going to talk to you about music from a layperson’s perspective here.

Let’s not make it complicated, we all know that music impacts us, don’t we? That’s why we put on certain kinds of music when we need motivation to work hard physically (whether it’s on the basketball court or mopping the floor). Melancholy music suits us when we have a broken heart. Joyful music is used in all kinds of celebration. Orchestral music, while it doesn’t have a literal story line often tells of a mood that we can collectively agree on. Composer John Williams is well known for writing the theme music which carried us along in our favorite films.

We know this, we know that somehow music gets into us and the effect runs deep.

Music therapists study the scientific components of what happens emotionally and neurologically to a person when music is played, then uses that knowledge to integrate music in therapy. More study is being done on the effects on the brain and development of children when music combined with music are a routine part of their lives. The possibility that music aids in healing is being explored as music is brought into hospitals for children, babies and older patients. Children and young persons with autism are benefitting from therapy involving music, often one on one with a therapist. And there is some exploration of bringing music therapy into schools.

So much has been gained in the area of research, but I hope to see it continue so that more people can benefit from music therapy.

It seems to me that music therapists, while relatively new in profession, bring to the table one of the oldest friends of mental and emotional health, making it accessible to those who need it most. You see, those who are very young, very old, physically or mentally sick often don’t have access to music the way we do. 

If a teen with a broken heart can find a little comfort in the rhythm and words of this song by going to Youtube and dancing to something like this. Dancing in itself can be soothing. But the key thing is having that access.

When I was going through a really devastating and depressing year I listened to these songs over and over. Medicine for my soul indeed!

[Tweet “We know that somehow music gets into us and the effect runs deep.”]

One of the problems is that not everyone has access to music.

The residents in elder care depend on family, friends and recreation directors to bring music into their lives. Without them, the lives of many elderly in eldercare facilities wouldn’t have the music they love. And it’s important to have the music they love, not only for their emotional wellbeing, but also for mental stimulation that good memories bring.

Research in music therapy helps professionals who work with aging persons know what a difference music in their lives makes. I think it would be wonderful if each nursing home had a music therapist either on staff or hired to work with the recreational activity director.

How about in our schools? How about in conjunction with children who have anxiety? Or how about just to break the ice so all of the kids feel more connected to each other. I hope the trend for more and more research and more music therapists in each town and city continues. And it is, read this article to see it from one music therapists perspective as she sees her profession become more understood and recognized: And What Exactly is That Anyway?

 

Would you like to learn more about music therapy?

Here are some links for you to explore if you would like to know more about what music therapy is, what is does and the research that is ongoing with music therapy:

About music therapy:

http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/

Music therapy in hospitals:

http://www.musicasmedicine.com/about/mtinhospitals.cfm

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/healing-with-music-therapy#1

Music therapy in schools:

http://mtp.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/04/14/mtp.miv012.extract

http://www.musictherapy.org/assets/1/7/MT_Music_Ed_2006.pdf

http://www.coastmusictherapy.com/our-services/in-school-programs/

Music therapy in eldercare:

http://www.ascseniorcare.com/music-therapy-seniors/

https://www.longtermsol.com/benefits-of-music-therapy-for-seniorsblog/

http://www.caringheartsofrochester.com/the-benefits-of-music-therapy-for-the-elderly/

Now it’s your turn, help spread the word about music therapy and its benefits!

http://sessioncafe.com/lets-flourish/

You can read this very personal post from Janet, founder of Bear Paw Creek, about the therapy her daughter received while fighting cancer:

Fighting cancer and music therapy

Comment below and tell us what songs lift you or soothe you. Do you have a favorite song or style? I bet you can still a song you learned when you were little… ahh the power of music.

Afte that, would you please share this post and others like it, so that we can start to get the word out and help people understand what music therapy is and what it’s potential is for future therapy? Thank you! 

 

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 their story, connecting them to customers online.

You can find Jenette’s business website at www.mywordsforhire.com.

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Stretchy Band Activities Round Up

Stretchy Band Activities Round Up

 

 

Every few months I like to do a search to see if anyone has written any new blog posts on using the stretchy band.

I am always excited to find one and also humbled. It’s a humbling thing to see something that you’ve created and sewn up, used by someone else.  It is usually used as a teaching tool and brings happiness and fun in the process.

This will be a round up of the posts I have found this year. Thank you to all that take the time to share so others can learn and be inspired!

The Many Names of the Stretchy Band

  • Rainbow Scrunchie
  • Mr. Stretchy
  • Rainbow Ring
  • Stretchy Band
  • Rainbow Elastic

Do you call it something different?  I’d love to hear! Leave a comment below.

On to the great round up!

[Tweet “Check out this round up of stretchy band blog posts from around the world!”]

Bumpin’ Down the Hill in My Little Red Sled by Toneworks Music Therapy

Sticky Bubblegum from Fairy Twins Book Time

From Magical Movement Company

  • Singing “The Old Grey Cat” song
  • Stepping to the Beat & Clapping Rhythms
  • “Bouncing” rhythm patterns with our “Giant Rainbow Elastic!”

Look what we can do with a giant rainbow elastic

Stretching Learning with Stretchy Bands by Sing Play Creatively

Using a Giant Scrunchie by Rhythm Express

Seven Jumps by Mrs. Miracle Music Room

Hope you enjoy this round up! If you have a blog or share things please comment or email Janet at [email protected]

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Like to be featured on our blog?

BPC is Looking for Guest Bloggers

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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.

3 Christmas Song Lists for Memory Care

A List of Vintage Christmas Music Resources for Memory Care Activities

 

 

Elder care professionals: Are you looking for some music resources for your planned recreational activities? Whether for use in a senior activity day center, at home or in a nursing home, we have a few song lists and suggestions you can have at your fingertips. Use them to lift spirits and get toes tapping this season. 

These Christmas selections were made from music that was popular in the 1920’s through the 1950’s, perfect for you to use in your memory care activities this week and the next.

Becoming acquainted with memory care.

I’ve known Janet, co-founder of Bear Paw Creek for a very long time now and my relationship with her has caused me to be more aware of the role of music and movement in therapy for people of all ages.

One therapy I’ve been researching and would love to hear more about is the role of memory care in people with dementia. Memory Care facilities take into account both the physical safety of the resident and the continuing mental and emotional wellbeing of the person. It costs more to have a family member stay in a Memory Care facility, but the increase in cost comes with an increase in benefits to your loved one. 

Games, music, and other activities, take into account the memories, loves, and abilities, of elderly people being cared for. This is also done in most nursing homes, in portions of many hospitals, in senior activity centers, and can be intentionally planned with in-home care as well.

As I type this, I think of my grandmother who has passed away and the tender care she got from a nursing facility and two of my aunts. I also think of a dear friend whose mother is dealing with Alzheimer’s, and how much her family loves her and how well they care for her. The third person I think of is a dear friend who watched her husband go through Alzheimer’s the last few years of his life. The weight of all of that love and loss makes it impossible for me to contemplate it without tears in my eyes.

This, then, is why memory care professionals pique my interest. Memory care, calls to my mind respect for the memories still able to be accessed and enjoyed… The songs, the images, and events which are still vivid when other memories are hidden under the blanket a fog.

In memory care, you enter into the world of the person who has dementia and you meet them there, on their terms, rather than expecting them to meet you in a place they can no longer relate to. Memory care also involves creating opportunities to take part in activities which have a low frustration level for the people you are working with.

Someone who can’t recognize faces and names may well remember how to play the piano, paint with a paint brush, or cut up fruit for a salad. These activities both stimulate the neuropathways and increase levels of pleasure while reducing feelings of isolation and anger.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of popular Christmas songs and artists from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s to be used by those planning an enjoyable time of recreation for residents of nursing homes or senior activity centers. I’ll give you a list of Youtube links as well as some links to great album choices of CDs or downloads. If you have a record player… well, you just might want to start hunting on Craigslist and garage sales for some great oldies to play (I saw record players for sale in a store last month… They’re coming back?). 

Host a Christmas dance for an elder care activity, complete with records and a vintage record player.

You can find record players on Amazon, They’re called “turn tables”, and you can even get a Victrola Nostalgic Classic, which residents of your elder care facility may enjoy seeing and having around. For the guests who can’t get up and dance, provide Movement Scarves, Streamers or Jingle Bells for their wrists, so they can dance with their arms and hands, or simply let them soak in the scene and enjoy the music.

Here are a list of records you can purchase in time for a Christmas party (if you get right on it.)

If buying a record player and records isn’t in the budget this year, here are some other ways to bring Christmas music to your memory care activities.

 

[Tweet “In memory care, you enter into the world of the person who has dementia; you meet them on their terms,”]

1. Vintage Christmas music on Youtube to use with memory care activities.

You can set your laptop up and play these tunes to get toes tapping (either connected to a T.V or not). Have it as the main event or in the background while you all work on a Christmas craft and sip hot chocolate.

2. Online Christmas song playlists sites to use with your memory care activities.

Rather than using a record player, cd player, computer or tape recorder (what’s that?), you can use your phone plugged into a speaker to provide Christmas ambiance for your activities.

Here are some links to playlists of vintage Christmas songs which will spark memories for people who grew up before the 1960’s. To tell the truth, many of the best songs were written before the 50’s, so these songs will probably spark memories for anyone who’s grown up with the tradition of celebrating Christmas in the U.S.A.

3. Hymns playlist stirs up precious childhood memories and hope.

The power of hymns in the lives of many elderly is very significant. Some have heard the Christmas hymns since they were babies on their mother’s knee. Most wonderful is being able to have a few musicians play the piano, guitar or some other instrument and lead the singing of carols. However, if those resources aren’t available through paid staff or volunteers (many churches would be willing to send out a group to lead the carols one night during the Christmas Season), I have compiled a playlist and resources for Christmas hymns here.

Of all the memory-centered activities you can create for the elderly around Christmas, providing a time to remember Christ’s birth with Christmas hymns may be the most significant.

Christmas Hymns for celebrating the birth of Christ.







Many thanks and appreciation are owed to the professionals who care for the elderly.

This is true whether they are providing for the physical needs or creating meaningful recreation and activities for the elderly in nursing homes work. I hope to see more writing and speaking about the role of memory care in the lives of elderly people struggling with dementia. I hope to see movement therapy and music play an integral part in that care as well. 

I want to leave you with these links to excellent websites with resources for memory care activities you can use in the coming year. May the year be filled with blessings for you as you bless other people through your work with the elderly, whether it be your own precious family member or someone else’s beloved family member.

Please share tips and ideas you put into practice in your recreation and/or memory care for elderly residents. 

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.

Balloon Ball Activity Ideas

Balloon Ball Activity Ideas

Written by: Julie Palmieri, MM, MT-BC is the owner of Serenade Designs, which specializes in helping music therapists create, enhance, and ROCK their online presence. She is a board-certified music therapist, wife, and Momma to 2 beautiful little girls. She loves Christmas, chocolate, and Detroit Red Wings hockey. Visit her website and follow her on social media: Serenade-Designs.com

 

All about the Balloon Ball:

From simple movements to creating your own Balloon Ball Olympics!

The balloon ball is extremely versatile when using it within your sessions and classes. What’s even better is that the balloon ball is super soft, lightweight, and protects the balloon from being popped.

It comes in many themes and variations: rainbow, pumpkin, flower, snow, Valentine, St. Patrick’s Day, or watermelon. You place a balloon through the slit on the bottom, blow it up, tie it off, tuck in the tail…and the FUN begins!

Using a balloon ball can help with the following goal areas:
  • Enhancing eye-hand coordination
  • Following directions
  • Improving peer-to-peer and social interaction
  • Increasing gross motor movement and coordination
  • Improving motor control and planning
  • Crossing midline
  • Increasing range of motion
  • Enhancing visual stimulation
Balloon Ball Activity Ideas | Bear Paw Creek

Twelve simple movements to do with the balloon ball:

These can be done individually or in small groups…

  • Tap
  • Gently drum and create rhythms
  • Toss and catch
  • Kick
  • Roll (here’s a perfect balloon ball rolling song from Rachel Rambach of Listen & Learn Music)
  • Throw and catch with a partner
  • Hide around the room
  • Balance (on your hand, on your head)
  • Keep It Up (off the ground)
  • Toss, turn 360 degrees, and catch
  • Bounce off a body part (head, knee, elbow, hand)
  • Freeze dance

 

[Tweet “Looking for ways to use your balloon ball? Lots of activity ideas here! via @BearPawCreek “]

Balloon Ball Olympics | Bear Paw Creek

You can create your own Olympic-style competition with the balloon ball. These “sports” can help with eye-hand coordination and motor control, as well as provide opportunities to cross midline. You need a balloon ball and a few extra props, and you’re set to play some sports!

Some additional props needed:

  • Pool noodles (you can cut them in half, if needed)
  • Boogie boards
  • Laundry baskets
  • Plastic fly swatter
  • Hula hoop

Balloon Ball Olympics can consist of the following sports: 

Balloon Hockey: Team members push the balloon ball with a pool noodle into a laundry basket goal

Balloon Baseball: Team members hit the balloon ball with a pool noodle or a boogie board for a bat (bonus points for a solid swinging motion that crosses midline!)

Balloon Tennis: Team members serve up an ace with the balloon ball and a fly swatter as a racket

Balloon Basketball: Team members shoot three-points with the balloon ball into the middle of a hula hoop

Additional Balloon Ball Ideas:

  1. Have a Penguin Waddle Race (to be used with individuals or small groups) 
  2. Hang the balloon ball from the ceiling and bump, swat, swing, bounce, and tap off of certain body parts
  3. Throw your balloon ball in the middle of your parachute! Such colorful and visually stimulating fun!

Purchase your balloon ball here!

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