5+ Cinco de Mayo Session Ideas

25 Apr

It’s almost the 5th of May, and you know what that means: time for a music therapy FIESTA! Check out some of my favorite Cinco de Mayo-inspired ideas to try with your clients or students next week. I also like to use this opportunity to discuss Mexican culture with my clients. Try showing a video of a mariachi band, coloring a picture of the flag or talking about your favorite foods. Olé!

  •  Instrument Jam Session to “Oye como va” (Santana). Nothing says cool like Santana! Jam along with the recording or play it live with instruments like maracas, guiros, shakers, rhythm sticks, cabasas and castanets.

  •  “La Cucaracha” Drumming: Print out a cute little cockroach cartoon (because let’s face it—a real picture of this particular creepy crawly friend is just TOO yucky) and tape it on a drum. Tell your clients that there is a bug on the loose and it’s their job to squash it! Sing or hum “La cucaracha” and have clients wait to “squash” the bug by hitting the drum after each line. This is a great way to work on impulse control, following directions and attention.

La cucaracha, la cucaracha, ya no puede caminar. (SPLAT)

La cucaracha, la cucaracha, una pata de atras. (SPLAT)


  • Do the limbo. For your teens and cool kids, check out this pop-tastic Limbo song, courtesy of Daddy Yankee. “Limbo Rock” (Chubby Checker) and “The Limbo Song” (Frankie Anderson) are my go-to limbo classics.


  • Cinco de Mayo-themed dance party!

Conga (Miami Sound Machine)

Macarena (Los del Rio)

La Bamba (Ritchie Valens)

  •  “De Colores” (Joan Baez) with scarves. I like to play a simplified version of this song on the guitar to work on a variety of goal areas. Some possible lyric modifications to try:
  • Color Identification: “De colores, our scarves are so many colors, so many colors. De colores, if your scarf is YELLOW, wave your scarf way up high ”
  • Motor Skills: “Wave your scarves, wave your colorful scarves way up high, yes, wave them up high”; “Wave them to the side,” “wave them way down low”
  • Body Part Identification: “Wave your scarves, wave your colorful scarves on your FEET, wave them on your FEET,” (knees, shoulders, head)

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4 Responses to “5+ Cinco de Mayo Session Ideas”

  1. Liz April 25, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Fun ideas! Thanks for sharing! When I use pictures on an instrument (like you did in La Cucaracha), I usually use the tambourine. When I try to use the drum it seems to deaden the sound. Maybe I am attaching it wrong? It would be fun to do La cucaracha as you suggested, but have the therapist holding the instrument and have a different student squash the bug after each line….

    • Songs For Success April 25, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

      Hi, Liz!! I love the tambourine idea for a group! Many of my friends like to come up and play the drum in front of the whole group, but using the tambourine is a great way to get everyone involved at the same time. Another thing to try is to print out a bunch of bugs, tape them to a gathering drum, and have everyone squash a different bug at the same time! 🙂


  1. Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me! - Sweet Harmony Music Therapy - July 12, 2014

    […] originally got this idea from music therapist, Kerry Cornelius’, blog post about Cinco de Mayo.  After taping cute pictures of cartoon cockroaches to paddle drums, the […]

  2. Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me! | RhythmWorks Music Therapy - March 5, 2015

    […] originally got this idea from music therapist, Kerry Cornelius’, blog post about Cinco de Mayo.  After taping cute pictures of cartoon cockroaches to paddle drums, the […]

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