My Favorite Thanksgiving Intervention

© Elena Kouptsova-vasic | Dreamstime.com

I know it’s still early November, but I wanted to share my absolute favorite music intervention to use around Thanksgiving time. This is a simple songwriting experience that I’ve used with older adults of various functioning levels, and it could easily work with kids, intergenerational groups, and wellness groups as well. Since this is for Thanksgiving, I’ll present this recipe-style:

Ingredients:

One song: “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain”

One accompaniment instrument

2+ singing voices

Directions:

1.Warm up the group with opening music experiences.

2. Mention the season/time of year and discuss preparations for the Thanksgiving holiday. Say that we’re going to do a little songwriting in honor of this holiday using a song that everyone probably already knows.

3. Sing one or more traditional verses of “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” as a group.

4. Ask the group for ideas for new verses about Thanksgiving and/or specific aspects of Thanksgiving, and sing each one. Some potential ideas:

We’ll all watch some football when she comes

We’ll all eat turkey and dressing when she comes

We’ll all take a nap when she comes

We’ll “forget” to do the dishes when she comes

HINT: I particularly like to ask the group for their favorite Thanksgiving foods. I’ve had groups write multiple verses just about pie!

5. Sing one final verse: “We’ll have a great Thanksgiving when she comes.”

This intervention is great because it allows group members to share many different kinds of Thanksgiving-related ideas and memories. In particular, almost everyone can relate to the idea of Thanksgiving foods, even if they don’t remember any specific family traditions. Musically, since the melody is familiar to most of my clients, they can sing along with the melody even if they cannot remember the new words. The repetition within each verse allows those who need an extra reminder to sing the new words successfully by the end of the verse, and higher-functioning group members can be challenged to fit their own words and ideas into a song verse. Overall, this intervention targets the following goals common among my clients: stimulating reminiscence/life review, promoting socialization with peers, strengthening long- and short-term memory, and providing reality orientation.

There you have it – my favorite Thanksgiving intervention. Do you have your own creative verses to add to this song or ideas for how to adapt this intervention for use with your clients? Please share these in the comment section below!

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3 thoughts on “My Favorite Thanksgiving Intervention

  1. Natalie Mullis, MT-BC says:

    I really like this! I start work with a brand new Alzheimer’s unit week after next, and I think this would be great to incorporate the holiday and to prompt some life review and socialization.

    Thanks! Bookmarking!

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