TME Tuesday: My Teacher Says Blues

This is a therapeutic music experience (TME) that I've used many times in my career, but I've never written it down before now. I wonder why that is so - the time has come to make it a bit more formal. I have many TMEs like this one. They are the ones that just sit there in a dark corner of my brain, waiting for me to come searching for them with a flashlight. It is time to get them down in a formal format.

This song is pretty easy - typical blues melody with the typical blues background. We use lyric substitution to complete the words. Now that the TME is developed, I can share it with you. Hope that you enjoy this mostly improvised melody and a more developed TME!

Therapeutic Music Experience
My Teacher Says Blues
Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC 

Purpose: To promote creative thinking; musical skill development; group cohesion; fine and gross motor development when playing instruments; social interaction; impulse control

When using instruments, fine and gross motor skill development. When no instruments are present, body movements can be added
Lyric completion to express specific topic; Replication of word pattern to complete the song; telling a story
Expressive language; making music within group framework; leadership opportunities; follower opportunities
Impulse control through waiting to play/sing until cued by music; expression of emotion about teachers
Pattern replication; impulse control

Source: Original song based on basic blues pattern. © 2002 by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC.

Materials: None required; OPTIONAL: lyric sheets or strips; instruments for group members to play; ways to mark note locations on instruments

Environment: Group members seated or standing within range of therapist’s voice.

(I)When I walk in to class in the morning (C E-flat D C)
I get ready to start my day (C E-flat D C)
My teacher tells me to ______ (C E-flat D C)
(I7)But that’s not what I want her/him to say, (C E-flat D C)
(IV)I wish she’d/he’d say _______, or ________,
(V7)That would really make my (I) day!

Flip flop words to reflect what teachers wish students would say during the day.

Procedure: R = Reinforcement opportunities; C = Redirection/Cue opportunities; A = Assessment
1.      C=start singing the song, filling in lyrics as appropriate to the group members.
2.      C=model the note pattern on instruments.
3.      C=encourage group members to use instruments in cued spots during the song.
4.      A=assess whether group members are responding to the music.
5.      A=assess entrainment to the external stimulus
6.      A=assess whether group members complete pattern
7.      R=reinforce group members who complete patterns and engage. Redirect clients who require more assistance or intervention to complete tasks.
8.      C=repeat the song, changing the lyrics to illustrate different perspectives and the suggestions of group members. If needed, do an improvised section of the TME to brainstorm things that teachers say and list them for use during the song.
9.      C=encourage group members to take leadership roles, singing original lyrics and setting musical elements.
10.  A=assess whether group members replicate patterns as indicated on instruments
11.  R=reinforce group members who contribute according to their roles. Redirect clients who need more intervention.
12.  Continue until all group members have had a turn to be leader or until time runs out during the session.

Therapeutic Function of Music:
The music provides the framework for the experience. The lyrics cue expression of emotion and provide opportunities for expressive language development. The music offers multiple layers of experience and musical interaction including using set keys on the piano to play the musical motives or using full chords on instruments.

Follows pattern of blues improvisation; melody can be expanded to include improvised melody lines.
Variable to accommodate client and instrument requirements.
Slow shuffle
Variable to accommodate client preferences
I, IV, V7

Variable to engage client attention and to promote client independence
Variable to accommodate client needs and preferences
Centered around the concept of creative thought; offer creative expression through changing lyrics
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.

·         No instruments – just use lyrics and sing during extra time during the session.
·         Practice the pattern using the instruments to set up the format

·         Change the lyrics to reflect what teachers wish students would say.
·         Adapt lyrics to express additional thoughts and ideas.


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