There are a plethora of children’s stories out there… and what’s so great is that most are easily adapted to music. This is awesome for music therapists because setting a story to music will typically allow a child to stay focused longer, be engaged, increase their recall, and improve rhythmic skills.
One children’s book that i’ve had experience with is “Animal Boogie” by Debbie Harter. First introduced to me in a music therapy class, it seemed like a great tool to use during a session. However, when my first practicum assignment came… a movement activity… I quickly regretted my decision. I’m sure it was my lack of inexperience, my client being unfamiliar with me, combined with the extreme overstimulation the book and CD presented him with that led this activity into the swirling vortex of doom and embarrassment (for me of course). My client, a child with Autism, shut down and did anything but “active movement.” The book is very colorful (which is great), but combined with me holding the book, and the CD recording which modulates every other verse on top of being very very fast and quick moving was a recipe for disaster. It was a learning experience, and once I took a step back and looked at it again, I realized there are ways to adapt this CD/book set and make it more manageable and user friendly for music therapists.
Here is a recording of the actual CD that comes with the book.
It jumps very fast from creature to creature, and you have no control of the speed of the recording. Using a different instrument to accompany you, like a simple shaker or hand drum allows the therapist to regain control of the activity. You now have to power to slow down, speed up, and add little extra cue to trigger certain movement such as a shaking sound (for bear). You can also repeat certain verses or lines, and emphasize the words since you are no longer competing with the recording. The recording may be great for a group of high functioning children, however it’s great to know that it’s easily adaptable and I can add it back into my repertoire with no regrets! Comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks for checking back!
Watch out for a guest writer post by junior Kristen Muldoon at Nazareth College of Rochester, who just returned from Jamaica as part of the Jamaican Field Service Project. She will be talking about her experience and recommendations!