Getting Kids to Giggle...

There is nothing better for me than the moment when a kid starts to giggle in music therapy.

Last Wednesday, I was faced with a dilemma. There were 8 kids in the music room between the ages of 8-14 years, we had finished my entire plan for the day, and we still had 15 minutes left of music therapy. I was mentally flipping through my bag of tricks to see if I could find ANYTHING to keep these students occupied as they started to show signs of disengaging from me. Yikes!

Quickly I asked them to raise their hands in an attempt to reengage their attention to me and to musical elements. We did a quick stretch and then, BRAINSTORM!

I showed them how conductors control the music of their ensembles and then allowed them to direct me. One person was the conductor and another person chose the song for me to play. Once they figured out that I would start and stop on cue, the giggles started.

It was contagious.

The first student didn't know what was going to happen, so she started off hesitantly. She raised her hands, and I started to play. She stopped moving, and I stopped playing and singing. She eventually realized that she was the one controlling the music, and I had a control-freak on my hands.

We spent the rest of the session taking turns and sharing the power of conducting.

We also spent the rest of the time giggling.

The therapeutic music intervention offered here was not planned or complex. It was simple and yet it addressed many of the skills that my students need to learn. We engaged in a social interaction - between me and each student as leader-follower, between students as co-conspirators; we engaged in impulse control - how difficult it is to wait for someone else to give us permission to move and play; we worked on gross motor development; we addressed emotional expression; we developed our therapeutic relationship through musical interaction. Whew. There was a lot going on.

The most important thing to me, though, was the giggling.

Take some time to laugh with your clients.


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