Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 9.00.20 AM

Things have been pretty busy around here!

I am in the process of hiring a new music therapist to join our team in Miami and I recently released a CMTE e-course called Tune Into Teens: Creative Ideas for Connection and Music Therapy Session Planning.

Those things along with chasing around an almost two-year-old keeps me on my toes for sure!

Today I want to share some ideas about how we can enhance the quality of our sessions by changing up our musical accompaniments. 

As music therapists, music (of COURSE) is our medium, our therapeutic tool. Thus, we need to be skilled and adept at using music in new, different and creative ways to meet the needs of our clients.

I’ve touched on this in previous blog posts: how I use my primary instrument (the clarinet) therapeutically and how I utilize a variety of guitar strumming and fingerpicking patterns to add variety of my sessions. (Each post has accompanying videos, so be sure to check them out!)

In addition to that, another way I like to add musical variety to my sessions is to set my guitar aside and set my keyboard aside.

Yep you read that right!

I set the traditional accompanying instruments aside and look at all the other instruments I have at my disposal – the xylophone, maraca, agogo bell, triangle, drum, or tambourine, just to name a few.

Then I look at the song I’m using and see what instrument might pair well as an accompaniment instrument for that song.

I might use the xylophone (alternating on the bass of the I and V chord) to accompany a simple song like “Twinkle Twinkle” for my mommy & baby classes.

Or I might use the maraca to accompany a rhumba number song that I sing with my school age clients.

Here’s a video of me using the drum to accompany myself during a sensory integration activity to the book “Ain’t Gonna Paint No More.” (video title Music & Sensory Integration 2).

I’ve sometimes found that the guitar is too overstimulating for my clients on the autism spectrum. So using a soft maraca or drum accompaniment…or even just singing a cappella can be incredibly effective.

The possibilities are endless. Open your instrument drawer and see – what’s in there that you can use to accompany yourself?

Leave a comment below and let us know!