I used to start all my music therapy sessions with teens the same way I would start my sessions with kids – a Hello song.

I cringe now because for many of the teen clients I worked with, I think this made them feel like a child.

This was definitely not my intent.

My intent was to have a way to bring everyone together and mark the start of the session.

So, I moved away from Hello Songs and began using Group Rounds.

Here are some of the group rounds I’ve used that have been effective with middle and high school students with autism and related disabilities:

Drumming Round – Each student selects a drum. Together, we keep a steady beat and each student takes a turn to chant “My name is ____________, I like ___________ (favorite singer or band), and here’s my beat.” They then play a rhythm on their drum and the next student goes.

Instrument Round – I place a variety of rhythm instruments at the center of the table. Each student chooses an instrument and plays it in a way that demonstrates how they are feeling in that moment. For example, if they’re feeling tired, they might select the guiro and play it softly and slowly. The other students then try to guess how that student is feeling.

Song Round – I print out a list of songs on a piece of paper. Each student circles the song that best describes how they’re feeling that day. As they feel comfortable, they can share with the group and briefly state why they’re feeling that way.

Here are some of the song lists I’ve used:

“Complete Mess” by 5 Seconds of Summer

“Problems” by DeathbyRomy

“OKAY!” By KayCyy

“Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish

“Superstar” by Beach House

Other: ___________________________________________


“Falling” by Trevor Daniel

“Super Gremlin” by Kodak Black

“In My Head” by Lil Tjay

“A-O-K” by Tai Verdes

“Dynamite” by BTS

“Let’s Get It Started” by The Black Eyed Peas

Other: ____________________________

I hope these ideas get the wheels turning for you about how you can move from a Hello Song to group rounds with your teen clients and students.

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