The Nuts and Bolts: Plan Like a Pro Part 3

Here we go with Part 3 of my series Plan Like a Pro. In Parts 1 and 2 we focused on the participants and your goals. Knowing who you are planning for and why you are doing something is critical. In case you missed it, you can find those articles in my blog.

This week the questions may seem simple. But don’t let that fool you. The information they provide will surely impact your success. 

Let’s get started. 

What’s going to take place? What are the nuts and bolts of your plan? 
(psst…Don’t forget - the participants and your goals drive all of these decisions.) 

What time of day is best? 
If you are making a plan for an individual who has a hard time waking up in the morning, your plan may be as simple as choosing a lively song they like and using it as a cue that it’s time to get up. It might be something like Oh What a Beautiful Morning or even You Are My Sunshine. If you are planning a group sing along to foster community and a sense of belonging, you might decide to do it right before lunch when most folks are up and about. 

How long do you want your music session to be and how often? 
If your plan calls for a morning song cue, the answer is simple – every day for 3-4 minutes. If you are doing a themed music session using recorded music to spark conversation, you might aim for 20 minutes and extend it if interest allows. When I lead group sing alongs I find the sweet spot to be about 45 minutes. Both of my CDs are about that length so they can be used for this purpose. 

What music will you choose? 
Remember – songs of our youth connect us with memories and reach our emotions. Personal taste in music is important too. Are you using music to brighten the day and liven things up? If so, keep the songs upbeat, with some funny songs thrown in for good measure. Do you want the music to soothe and help people relax? A song like the Irish Lullaby soothes because it is a lullaby and because people tend to join in singing which is calming.  Do you want the music to inspire movement to decrease boredom and restlessness? Patting the steady beat to a song like She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain might be a good choice. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Remember the song lists in my Resource Library are there to help you. 

How will you be sharing the music? 
Will you be using records or CDs or music downloads? If so, make a playlist so you’re ready. Will you be the song leader and if so, will you use songbooks? Sometimes songbooks are a distraction, but don’t assume that all people living with dementia can’t read. In fact, even if they no longer read books, some folks may benefit and enjoy reading song lyrics. Which is why I now offer a companion songbook to my new Folk Song CD with easy to read, large, bold print. 

How will you start and how will you end? 
If this is a one on one interaction, you might arrive to their room for a chat bringing your sweet voice, or your phone with a wireless speaker, or a CD player. You might say “I brought some music for us to enjoy together today.” When I am leading a group I always start with Hail Hail the Gang’s All Here and I end with <em>Goodbye Ladies</em>. Starting and ending with the same song each time helps people know what to expect and helps them feel competent. It also creates community and a sense of belonging. 

Well that sums it up for this week. As always, please keep in touch and let me know if you have questions or comments. Next week we’ll consider What resources (including other people) do you need to make music happen?