Now that the holidays are over, everything is back in full swing. I've been busy writing songs, singing songs, designing visuals and the most important thing-seeing lots of cool kids!
My last post (see below) briefly discussed a wait time and covered a couple of definitions of the concept itself.
Today I want to post more about this topic and more specifically, how you can incorporate it within a music therapy session.
A wait time is a therapy tool.
As I wrote previously, a wait time is defined as "the duration of pauses separating utterances in a conversation, (i.e. the time a teacher waits after asking a question and after receiving a response)."
Another definition I found online for wait time is "the amount of time that elapses between a tutor-initiated (teacher) question and the next verbal behavior (e.g., a student response)."
Many students have wait times (sometimes written in specific increments of minutes), in their IEPs and it is important for the music therapist to ask and/or read the student's IEP to find out if this is true.
A wait time gives the student time to process what was said (by therapist) and gives them time to respond (whether it is verbally, physically,etc..).
Within a music therapy session, there are several ways to give appropriate wait time, while at the same time providing feedback and validating the students. I always keep in mind that each student is an individual, and what motivates one, may not always motivate another.
When you ask a student (who requires a wait time) a question (i.e. What do you want to play today? What comes next?, etc.), I recommend you try the following ideas:
1. Ask other students the same question first. This gives students time to process what is going on, what is expected, giving an answer is modeled to the
2. Make eye contact with the student whom you want to answer the question.
3. If the student is nonverbal, be sure to represent choices with picture cards or
the real choices (instruments, stuffed animals, etc.)
4. Watch the students' eyes. Look to see if they gaze at one choice longer than the others. If this happens, verbally validate it "I see you are looking at the maracas. Great job! Matthew wants to play the maracas!"
5. Verbally (and musically)provide feedback to the student while waiting for their answer.
This can be incorporated into a song/chant "Matthew's thinking. Matthew's
thinking. Thinking about the choices today." or another idea to motivate (to
the tune of "Hey good lookin'"), "Everybody's lookin', everybody's lookin, lookin
at their pictures to tell me what they want to play".
Keep playing to support the student. Be patient. Strum in between verses, try decreasing tempo, and try to limit other distractions.
What are your thoughts? Are there other ways you motivate students during a wait time?
Feel free to leave additional comments below!