Are your students as into “Old Town Road” as mine are?

You know, the one by Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X?

I hear about that song in pretty much every session. So, it worked out perfectly that this week’s theme at the Children’s Resources summer camp (for PreK-5th grade students) was Wild Wild West.

I knew this was the perfect time to listen to this song on repeat (much to my husband’s dismay) and brainstorm how I could possibly use it to target my clients’ therapeutic goals.

To prepare:

I created three colorful sheets each showing a 4-beat rhythm pattern that fit for the A, B, and C section of the song. Each pattern below was repeated two times.

Section A (starts: “Yeah, I’m gonna take my horse to the old town road”) –

Section B (starts: “I got the horses in the back”) –

Section C (starts: “Can’t nobody tell me nothin'”) –

In the music therapy session:

I began by showing the students the rhythm sheets. I asked if they knew what the symbols on the page were and what they meant. In each class there were few students that knew the symbols were music notes and that the quarter notes were “ta,” the eighth notes were “ti ti,” and the sixteenth notes were “tika-tika.”

We practiced each rhythm sheet by clapping and saying the rhythm name (ta, ti ti, or tika-tika).

After they were confident playing and saying the rhythms, I handed out rhythm sticks and pulled up the clean version of “Old Town Road.” We played through each rhythm sheet as it corresponded with the song.

It was a success!

The students were THRILLED they were able to hear their favorite song multiple times, and I was pleased that they had the opportunity to work on our therapeutic goals: sustained and selective attention, impulse control, and following directions.

As a variation for another week, I’m planning to assign different instruments to each rhythm section (for example, sticks for Section A, maraca for Section B, and drum for Section C.)

If you liked this idea, you can see how I facilitated a similar musical experience using the song “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes.

Did you know I have an E-Course available where you can learn even more about providing creative, goal-based interventions that your clients will find cool? Check it out here: