TME Tuesday: Strange Things by Randy Newman

As you know, if you read yesterday's post, we are getting ready for our Super-Secret Special Event to be held on Thursday. This year's theme is super heroes. I got my shirts yesterday, and they look great! Anyway, that sent me searching for a super hero therapeutic music experience (TME), but I haven't written any. I had a wonderful intern who wrote a great song, but since it is her intellectual property, I cannot share it here. Here's another something to use - you could adapt it into a super hero origin song, I guess - the changes that occur when you become "super." I love Randy Newman, so try this out and let me know what you think....

Therapeutic Music Experience
Strange Things
Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

Purpose: To provide venue for discussing changes in life; to encourage discussion; to encourage identification of emotions associated with life-changes; impulse control; social interaction; expressive language; receptive language

Source: Words and music by Randy Newman. © 1995 by Walt Disney. TME and adaptation © 2012 by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

Materials: None required; OPTIONAL: guitar/keyboard; white board and markers; lyric sheets and writing utensils for group members

Environment: Group members arranged so they can see therapist and/or writing surface

Song: Strange Things
Album: Toy Story

Procedure: R = Reinforcement opportunities; C = Redirection/Cue opportunities; A = Assessment
1.       Arrange materials for use during the TME – guitar/keyboard, white board/markers, lyric sheets – make sure that materials are within easy reach to ensure that TME is not interrupted by searching for materials
2.       C=start singing song
3.       A=assess whether group members are paying attention, singing along, or other responses to the song
4.       R=reinforce desired responses through verbal and nonverbal reinforcers
5.       C=if desired, engage in lyric analysis protocol with group members (only if group members have ability to process abstract concepts). Focus on following questions:
a.        What are the strange things happening to the singer in the song?
b.       What happens in the movie Toy Story when this song is played?
c.        How did Woody feel about the changes that happened when Buzz arrived in his life?
d.       Has anything changed in your life?
e.        What has changed in your life recently?
f.        How do you feel when things change in your life?
g.       Have you ever had a friend that stopped being your friend? How did you feel when your friend stopped being around you? Did you know why?
h.       What was the biggest change that you have ever been through?
i.         Other questions as appropriate to the group members present
6.       C=using prepared lyric sheets or white board, ask group members to complete new verses focusing on personal experiences
7.       R=reinforce appropriate responses by adding comments to the board/lyric sheet
8.       Repeat steps 6-7 until song is complete
9.       C=sing new version of the song, using new lyrics developed by group members
10.    R=reinforce singing, entrainment behaviors, and participation through verbal and nonverbal reinforcers
11.    Repeat steps 6-10 until group members start to show s/s of boredom or time runs out

Therapeutic Function of Music:
The music provides a familiar structure to start or continue to process potentially emotionally threatening topics – abandonment, changes, not being able to make choices. The use of a song from a child’s movie, Toy Story, offers a point of interest that encourages engagement and attention to task. The lyrics, in their original form, address situations that are often familiar to clients in residential treatment facilities – friends leaving, lack of control of major life decisions, being forgotten by people, and having an emotional reaction to all of the changes that occur. Several elements of the music are easily adaptable, offering the therapist with options for changing the music to increase client engagement.

By Randy Newman
Variable to accommodate client-preferred ranges to encourage client singing
4/4 meter
Variable to engage client engagement and entrainment
I, Im7, I7, I6, I#, IV, V7, vi, V/ii, V7/V

Verse, chorus
Variable to engage client engagement and entrainment
Variable to engage client engagement and entrainment
Variable to engage client engagement and entrainment. Informative, narrative
Chart adapted from Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2010). A Closer Look at the Therapeutic Function of Music. Presentation at 2010 American Music Therapy Association National Conference: Cleveland, OH.

·         Ask group members to identify emotions in original song – use PECS, icons, pictures, words
·         Sing original lyrics without adaptation

  • Ask group members to write own song either to share or to keep to selves
  • Act out situations and appropriate responses


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