Tag Archives: dancing

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Song

14 Mar

St. Patrick’s Day can be a great way to expose your music therapy kiddos to music from around the world, and let’s face it: Irish music is totally awesome. It gets your feet tapping, lends itself nicely to improvisation and is steeped in some rich culture that can be fun to experience and share in your music therapy sessions this month.

  • Have an Irish Jig. Grab some instruments and jam along to traditional Irish music, or get up and move around the room. I love the Celtic Dance CD, and often use The Landlord’s Walk for a free-for-all jam and Dowd’s Favourite for circle dancing.

  • Learn and practice singing/saying traditional Gaelic phrases. It can be fun to improvise and incorporate these words into your music making, or drum the word rhythms as you practice. You could even look up the Gaelic pronunciations of your names and use them during hello/goodbye songs. Here’s a video with some basic greetings to get you started!

  • Put your music theory hat on and use your modes. Check out the four main modes used in Irish music. You could listen to some of the songs mentioned, then use them as a jumping off point for improvisation on the piano, xylo or drums. Dorian is one of my favorites.

  • Explore the Song of the Sea soundtrack. I’m obsessed with this adorable movie, and find that the soundtrack has some beautiful tracks that work great for relaxation experiences. I like to get out my giant blue canopy scarf and move it like ocean waves as we listen to songs like the main theme. If you listen in English, you can talk about the text, but it can also be fun to take some guesses if you listen to the version from the movie in Gaelic.

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Activity Inspiration: Boogie Monster (+ MORE Monster Ideas)

26 Oct

9781935414100_p0_v2_s600At the end of October, I love doing monster-themed songs and activities. This can be great for kids who don’t celebrate Halloween, or friends who may be scared of other Halloween themes (ghosts, witches, etc).

One of my new finds this fall has been Josie Bissett’s Boogie Monster book. It’s like it was written for music therapists—the text is interactive, asks questions and each page has a different dance move that goes with specific body parts. Can it possibly get better, you ask? Yes, I say…because you can buy it as a complete set with the book, a CD of dance tunes and FURRY MONSTER LEGGINGS that kids can wear while you read/dance to the story. Let me repeat: you can buy FURRY MONSTER LEGGINGS that match the monster in the story. I know, I know–it’s amazing.

Example A: I mean, LOOK at those leggings. Come on. It's brilliant.

Example A: I mean, LOOK at those leggings.

After we read, we like to have a dance party to Recess Monkey’s “Boogie Monster”, which was written to go along with the book.

For added fun, we might even watch the boogie monster breaking it down all over NYC.

Feeling like your boogie fever isn’t satisfied yet? Keep your dance party going!

Blame It on the Boogie (Jackson 5)

Boogie Wonderland (Earth, Wind and Fire)

WAIT. You still need one more monster activity to round out your session?

Try the FREE Monster Music App and have fun creating your own monster dance tune. This one is guaranteed to crack you up, and has fab opportunities for vocalizing/speech goals.

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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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