Music Therapy Olympics: 4 Opening Ceremony Ideas

3 Feb

This week, my music therapy groups are learning about the Winter Olympics by participating in our very own Music Therapy Olympics Opening Ceremony, complete with torches and classic Olympic theme songs! Below are 4 fun,  goal-oriented ways to introduce the Olympics to your clients this February.

photo(1)1.     Make small Olympic torches with paper towel rolls and tissue paper.

It won’t take long, and they are a great DIY prop for Olympic-themed movement activities! You can even cover the paper towel roll in white paper and have students decorate the handle during an art and music activity.

2.     Work on social skills like sharing, turn taking and following directions with an Olympic torch pass.

Have one client at a time stand up and march around your circle with a torch held high. When their turn is finished, they must pass the torch to a friend. The last person to go gets to lead the “official lighting” of your group torch to signal the start of your music therapy Olympics!

I drew and painted a torch and taped it to a cardboard box, but if you’re short on time, print out a picture of one and tape it to large drum! You can also pass one torch around your circle, hot-potato style. When the music stops, the person left holding the torch gets to stand up “light” your group torch, which can be in the center of your circle, or answer a social question about winter sports/activities.

My group torch with small torches on top! Isn't it cute? :)

My group torch with small torches on top! Isn’t it cute? 🙂

3.     Play a gathering drum along with “Bugler’s Dream”.

Teach students that recognizable rhythm from the start of the song and take turns leading it on the gathering drum.

Simple rhythm from the beginning of Bugler’s Dream

For an extra challenge, put a mallet in each hand and alternate hands each beat. It’s also really fun to play along with the recording and encourage clients to pay close attention to dynamic and tempo changes! This activity can be used to work on a range of skills, such as auditory discrimination, gross motor skills, crossing midline, and turn taking.

 4.      Use traditional music from the country hosting the Olympics.

Because the Olympics are in Sochi this year, introduce your students to traditional Russian music. I like the folk song “Troika” (or Three Horse Team), which is a Russian dance during which three dancers imitate the prancing of horses pulling a sleigh. This provides a great opportunity to play along and create the sounds that a sleigh might make using jingle bells, wood blocks, wind tubes, etc. Try this version, played on the balalaika (a neat Russian string instrument!):

You can also take this a step farther by teaching a simplified version of the troika dance. For groups that need extra support, have students come up to dance two at a time, with you in the center.  Students waiting for their turn can practice being a great audience member or can actively participate by playing the sleigh-sound instruments from above while their peers are dancing. Check out this video to see how a simple troika dance might look:

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing MORE Olympics-themed ideas for use in music therapy sessions, music education classes and at home. Stay tuned for the next Songs for Success Music Therapy Olympic event idea!!

BE THE FIRST to hear about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success by entering your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right and following my twitter: or pinterest:


2 Responses to “Music Therapy Olympics: 4 Opening Ceremony Ideas”

  1. Ryan Judd February 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Great ideas and props! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: