I don’t have to tell you that last week our world was turned completely upside down.

My business stopped all in-person services and moved as many clients and students as we could to virtual sessions and lessons.

Definitely NOT what we had expected or planned for.

But, music therapists are by nature creative, innovative, flexible, and resilient! So, we are already coming up with unique and engaging ways to work with our clients and students.

Here are a few ideas to engage our clients when using technology:

Use Lots of MOVEMENT – Your client on the other end of the computer doesn’t need any materials or instruments to be able to move and groove along with you. Incorporate lots of movements to wake up their body and the brain (and yours too!) – jumping, twirling, hopping, skipping, running, and stomping. Add in cues to “Freeze!” to work on attention and impulse control. Ask for their ideas for kinds of movements to do, so they have a chance to practice executive function skills like decision making.

Homemade Instruments – If your client families don’t have traditional rhythm instruments at home, give them ideas for how to make homemade instruments. (Even if they do already have instruments, it’s a fun project for them to make their own – everyone’s homeschooling now, right?!) Oatmeal and coffee containers can de decorated and turned into drums. Beans or rice can be added to soda cans and paper towel rolls to make shakers.

Songwriting – Simple songwriting can be done with clients of all ages. Think of topics that are relevant to them – St. Patrick’s Day…Feelings…Favorite things to do at home…Something they choose?

Body Percussion – No rhythm sticks at home? Try rhythm patterns using body percussion. It’s a great way to work on attention skills, impulse control, and auditory perception skills. You give a four-beat pattern, and they imitate it. Or, write out a four-beat rhythm pattern for them to learn and play along with your singing.

Fun pop songs – Have you heard of “The Git Up” by Blanco Brown? This would be a great song to teach older kids and tweens. The song is super upbeat and there’s a series of dance steps to learn, which is great for working on sequencing and memory.

Incorporate the Whole Family – This is a wonderful opportunity to engage parents, caregivers, and siblings in the session. This gives them a chance to bond with their child in a positive way AND learn musical experiences they can do once the computer is shut down.

These are just a few simple ideas.

I have a feeling we will all learn as we go, and begin to generate more and more ideas as time goes on.

I cannot wait to get back to my in-person sessions. I miss hearing a whole class of children singing along with me and getting big hugs at the end of a class. But for now, we will make the best of what we have.

If you have ideas that have worked well in your virtual music therapy sessions, please leave a comment below and let us know!