We’re so proud of our authors and we LOVE hearing what they are doing to impact the world around them through music therapy.
Find out what Lisa’s been up to, in her own words (and it’s chock-full of ideas you can use for YOUR sessions):
In my practice as a music therapist this school year, I have become more aware of the importance of networking with the community. I am looking forward to an event that will take place in our school district, (the Berkley Public Schools) later this month. In the fall I wrote a grant with Sarah Bruce- Damore, one of our early childhood special education teachers in the district, and we were awarded funds from the Berkley Education Foundation to purchase the raw materials for my interactive songbook called, “My House,” which is available on Music Therapy Ebooks. I donated my time making the books for 14 children in Sarah’s morning and afternoon preschool classes and we will have a special celebration with parents focusing on the importance of speech and language development and literacy on May 26th.
Parents had to submit 17 photographs which help tell the story about where each child lives and the people and special things that are important in their lives. These photos were assembled on pages containing illustrations and the lyrics to the song
“My House.” Each book comes with its own CD and interactive name and address board. As the child sings about their house they “fill in the blank” with special words that answer four questions.
This is the ________at my house.
This is a _________ at my house.
This is my ________at my house.
These are the ______at my house.
There is a word list of over 150 words to choose from and these words become laminated word tags that each student can attach to the book with velcro. The words are assembled on a Word Menu Board for easy access.
The students learned the melody to the song very quickly and have enjoyed telling their individual stories about where they live. I hope to be able to share photos from this event with you at a later time.
Another facet of my work with the Berkley Public Schools ASD program is providing music therapy services to a young man now 24 years old who is both blind and autistic. He plays piano three times a week as a volunteer at Beaumont Hospital. This has been going on now for two years and during that time I worked with Lance I had the good fortune to become acquainted with Bunny Behrmann, who volunteers at the hospital with her therapy dog Moose. I lost my own dog one year ago and found myself very attracted to learning more about the therapy dogs at the hospital. Moose is a Golden Retriever and I was so taken with him that I started researching Golden Retrievers and initially tried to adopt one through a rescue organization.
During that time period I was brainstorming about the theme of my annual music therapy program for
elementary aged students with autism at one of our elementary schools. I decided to explore songs, and movement activities with the theme of “dogs and cats”. The result were two “Informances” that took place during the school day for these elementary school aged students on the autism spectrum and their parents. The program was called “It Is Raining Cats And Dogs!” I was so pleased to discover that Ella Jenkins had actually written a song with the very same title, “It Is Raining Cats and Dogs!” You can actually look up the song on Youtube and it is a classic. Our students loved singing it for their families.
Students engaged in other activities that included singing, “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?” and playing the song, “This Old Man” on touch bells.
We also created a game called, “Where Oh Where Has My Little Pet Gone” that required students to walk in a circle on paw prints as the song, “Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone” was played. When the music stopped the student would have to read a question that was attached to a large bucket just adjacent to the paw print.
Various Beanie Baby dogs, cats, frogs, parrots, mice etc where placed under the buckets and each child had the opportunity to read and answer a question such as “Who is hiding under the table?” It was a great activity to promote reading, speech and language and turn taking. Once the child read the question they could turn the bucket upside down and retrieve their pet! For our students who were nonverbal we had a communication device called a Go Talk so that they could engage in labeling the various items under the buckets.
I also asked parents to submit photos of our students’ pets from home, and I assembled a PowerPoint presentation called “Our World Of Pets!” This PowerPoint was emailed home and included photos and special stories about both our students’ and staffs’ pets! The highlight of the two Informances was a visit from Moose the therapy dog from Beaumont Hospital. Our students were so excited to perform for Moose and Bunny and the program ended with lots of time to interact with Moose and have photographs taken with him. This speaks volumes about the importance of the relationships we develop in our work as music therapists. Clearly it was a blessing to meet Moose and Bunny at Beaumont Hospital, and this only happened because of the work I do with Lance Vardon supporting his volunteer work as a pianist.
I truly believe that we are all connected, and it is recognizing these connections that can really make a difference in one’s therapeutic work.
The feedback from parents and staff on our “Informances” was very good. In years passed I had done a very large Music Therapy Concert during after school hours in the evening. I realized early on in doing the therapeutic work this year, that the configuration of students I was seeing had more complex needs, and I felt that an evening program of a larger magnitude was going to be very challenging and counter productive. I am so happy with my decision to go the “Informance” route during the school day and was pleased that all 13 families attended.
The other interesting news that goes along with these recent events, is that my husband and I decided to search for a breeder who offered Golden Retrievers. We just brought home our new puppy “Murphy” on April 6th. We are hoping to investigate what is necessary for Murphy to become a therapy dog when he is older. Music therapy and pet therapy were wonderful complements to each other during this work, and I hope others will consider the possibility of a program like this in their future clinical work.