This week we continue the series Plan Like a Pro. In this series I offer questions for you to ponder as well as some simple advice. Great plans lead to success! Last week’s article focused on Who are the participants? In case you missed it, you can find it on my blog.
Now, on to Part Two…
What’s your goal?
A good goal is based on what the participants need and what they enjoy.
What do individuals need? What does the community need?
This is the most important step in planning a good music session. But don’t let this part of the planning process overwhelm you. In other words – don’t over think it.
Your goals can be simple and they will change and evolve.
OK – Let’s get started…
Are you hoping to build friendships and community through a group sing along?
Did you ever sing in a church or school choir? If so, you may recall how you felt connected to the other members. Singing and “doing” music together creates a special bond between people. People living in care communities are building new relationships. Music sessions can create a sense of belonging and ease the loneliness of living in a new place.
Are you planning daily music sessions as a routine part of your activity program?
Please say yes! A daily music session does not have to be long or complicated. We know that music is beneficial, so why would we “save it up” for one day of the week? Don’t worry about repetition. For people living with dementia, repetition helps create security and offers them a way to feel competent. Set a tiny goal for yourself to insert a 10 or 15 minute music session into each day. That’s only 4 or 5 songs. All the better if one mini session turns into multiple “mini” sessions throughout the day.
Do you want your music session to spark reminiscing and shared memories?
Music has a unique ability to reach us. Our brains are literally hard wired to connect music with memories. Consider having a small group music session focused on a theme such as a season or a holiday. Other topics might be broader such as transportation or friendship or love. You might only need one or two songs for this. Add props such as seasonal flowers, pictures, objects or record albums linked to the topic. Keep your questions, or discussion starters open ended. Instead of “What was your mother’s name?”, you might say “Tell me about your mother.” Be ready to listen and enjoy all that you will learn.
Do you just want residents to have some fun and brighten their day?
Have you ever turned on music to cheer yourself up? If you’re looking for fun and energy and to brighten someone’s day, then keep your music selections lively and fun. Songs that have a strong steady beat such as I’ve Been Working on the Railroad will help kick things off. Songs like Take Me Out to the Ball Game get everyone involved. Watch for the songs that get toes tapping. Add simple rhythm instruments such as shaky eggs or rhythm sticks.
Would you like to offer an intergenerational activity where everyone can feel successful?
If your goal is to include families, little ones, and people of all ages, my best advice is to choose folk songs. Everyone can join in on funny songs like Old McDonald or She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain. That’s why I made my new CD – Folk Song Favorites for Young and Old. And for more on this topic check out this recent blog post: Folk Songs: Connecting the Generations.
OK – Whew! That was a lot wasn’t it? If you’re still reading, rest assured that this is really not that hard. Give it some thought, set a tiny goal for yourself and go!
And remember, I have my teacher’s hat on. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with questions or comments. I don’t give grades. Only gold stars.