Monday, August 11, 2014

The countdown is on!

Welcome back to More with Music!
The time is closing in quickly!  Soon it will be time to go back to school!
Today I'm posting an album of songs called The Back to School Batch.

This album is a collection of 8 songs, designed primarily for elementary teachers and their students.
The album includes songs about bus safety, the parts of a book, patterns, safety signs, shapes, community helpers and the seven days of the week.  All of the songs included have been student (and teacher), tested.   I have personally used these songs to help students learn over the past five years.
The album is below.  Lyric sheets are available via email request for free. (

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Stay tuned to read about two new projects I've been working on!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Squish Me, Squeeze Me

Summer break is slowly but surely coming to an end.  I have one week before the full time schedule resumes.  As I've been busy planning for the upcoming school year, I've been organizing existing songs, jotting down ideas for new songs and taking the time to listen to a lot of songs written by other folks as well.  
I listened to one song in particular the other day that I just had to share with all of you.  
It's a song by Brady Rymer called, "Squish Me, Squeeze Me".  You can listen to the song here.

I really love this song because I have several students in mind who have Sensory Processing Disorder, who often need a "squeeze".  

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), is a neurological disorder that causes a person's body to have difficulties interpreting information from their senses that they receive from their environment.  A person's senses may be over or under reactive to the sensory information and they may not be able to respond "appropriately" to ordinary sensory experiences.  
We have all learned about our five senses:  vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.  We also have two additional senses:  vestibular and proprioceptive.  All of our senses work together to help us understand and move within our environments.

This song would be most beneficial to use with someone who needs proprioceptive input (sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that lead to body awareness).  It's important to note that different types of sensory stimulation effect each person differently.  Sensory interventions should only be done under the approval and guidance of a licensed occupational therapist or other approved professional.

Overall, it's a super fun sounding song!  What songs do you use to help students who have SPD?  
Have a super weekend and check back soon for additional song posts!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Expressions we use

Welcome back!
Today I'm sharing a song that took a little longer to create than others.  It took longer to create because for me, it was a tricky concept to explain.
In the public school setting that I work within, the middle and high school grades do their best to introduce topics and teach concepts within our adapted curriculum.  One of the topics introduced in language arts is idioms.
Idioms themselves are not complicated when you understand what they are and their true meaning(s).  However, teaching idioms to students who are very literal, visual learners is not an easy challenge.  Many of these students are challenged when it comes to abstract thinking also.
So, I approached this tricky concept with caution and thought about a few different approaches for several days.
When writing this song, I decided that I would define the concept of idioms in the song,  and that I would also have to include some of the more simple idioms as examples.

By definition, idioms are word combinations.  Left alone, these word combinations don't make sense.  They are expressions we use to talk about people, things, situations and events.

To select the examples, I first searched the web for pictures to represent idioms.  This was a devotion of time as well, but I knew it would be very helpful for the visual learners.  I finally narrowed down my selections for idiom examples.

My selections included:
"It's a piece of cake"
"Hold your horses"
"It's raining cats and dogs"
"Don't let the cat out of the bag"

Below is the final product.

Overall, the students loved the song and enjoyed learning about idioms and discussing different expressions they could use for different situations.

You can also check out the video I created with this song here.
For each of the four idioms, I included a representation of what the idiom would literally look like, and also a representation of what the idiom (as an expression), really means.  The visuals helped so many of the students catch on quick!

Have a great day and stay tuned for additional song posts!

Friday, July 25, 2014

If I were a fish

This week I've been busy organizing my song files.  It always seems like a major endeavor, but it needs to be done in order to stay organized during the school year.

One song I found swimming around in my song files was a song I wrote this year about fish.
A couple of teachers I work with asked for me to come up with a song to help teach simple things about fish to their students.

My challenge was to include the following information about fish:
they swim underwater, they breathe through gills, they have scales and fins and they lay eggs.

We used various visuals to show the different parts of the fish while we sang the simple verses in this song.  In one class, we also incorporated the sign for fish as we showed a picture of a fish with this song.

What are your favorite songs to sing about fish?

Thanks for stopping by and check back here soon for more song posts!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Feelings: Ideas & Interventions

Welcome back to More with Music!
Today's post is a brainstorming of ideas for anyone working on or introducing the topic of feelings in a 1:1 or group music therapy session.
Thursday, I posted a song I wrote that I use with students to learn and talk about feelings.  You can listen to the song here.

When I use this song with students, I almost always incorporate pictures of each emotion.  I recommend using real pictures of a variety of children and adults.
After singing the song with younger children, you could have an assortment of pictures of each emotion and pass them out to each student in the group.  As you sing the song again, students are asked to hold up the picture of the emotion you sing about (there is some time in the song after each emotion is sung).  If you are working 1:1 with a student, then there is time for them to find each feeling card and hold it up as it is sung.

Another idea would be to sing the song again, and have students sit in a circle and pass the pictures while the song is sung.  Whenever you stop, each child is asked to make the face of the emotion on their card.  This intervention would help students understand some nonverbal cues (facial emotions), and further develop their abilities to recognize emotional facial expressions.
Another idea would be for you to hand out only one emotion card that is passed around as music is played.  When the music stops, whoever has the card has to copy that emotion and the group "guesses" how that student is feeling.  This would be great for students who need more practice on copying modeled behavior and/or copying an action.
Later, you could sit the group in the circle and pass around a single instrument and when the music stops, the student who has the instrument has to play an emotion and the group guesses how that student feels.

After labeling each feeling and seeing a visual of that feeling, then you can move on to sessions where you ask, "When do you feel sad?" or "What makes you feel mad?".
For students that have a difficult time answering questions like this, you can make simple notecards with situations that will likely occur and then have students pair a feeling picture with that situation.  For example, notecards might read, "It's my birthday!", "I spilled my drink.", "I lost my iPod.", or "I got a new puppy!",etc.  
As you work with that particular student, this is a helpful intervention because you can apply situations going on in their everyday school life and/or family life, and write down situations on cards and help them process the feelings they feel when those things happen.  There are so many additional questions you can ask once students can label their feelings.  (To clarify, this would probably be with students elementary to high school age.  I'm thinking this approach would be specifically helpful with students who have been diagnosed with autism and/or asperger's syndrome due to the fact that they are usually very visual learners.)

All of these ideas can be tweaked for different age groups and populations.  I hope these ideas are helpful or at least get your creative juices flowing for ideas of your own.
I'd love to hear some of your ideas as well!  Feel free to comment below!

Thanks for stopping by and check back soon for more summer posts!