Song Spotlight: “Beer Barrel Polka”

Photo via Heather / CC-BY-SA-3.0

  • Mood: Giddy
  • Themes: Drinking Beer, Dancing, Having Fun
  • Tempo: Upbeat
  • Genre/style: Polka

Quick question: Which country does the “Beer Barrel Polka” come from?

Answer: Czechoslovakia. You’ll be forgiven, though, if you thought it came from somewhere else.

The “Beer Barrel Polka” is the first polka song I ever learned, and it’s the most familiar polka among my clients here in Kansas City. The polka is a dance that originated in the mid-19th century in Bohemia. The dance gained popularity quickly and soon spread all over the world, from Poland to Paris to Peru. The dance gained a resurgence in popularity during and after World War II, when immigrants from Eastern Europe flooded the United States.

The “Beer Barrel Polka” is one of the songs that became popular during this resurgence of “polkamania.” The music was composed by Czech musician Jaromír Vejvoda in 1927 and first arranged by Eduard Ingriš, with the title Modřanská polka (“Polka of Modřany”). The first lyrics appeared seven years later, by Václav Zeman who retitled the song Škoda lásky (“Wasted Love”), and by 1939, “Beer Barrel Polka”, as recorded by Will Glahé, reached #1 on the Hit Parade. The song has since been recreated in many other languages and was popular with soldiers during World War II across the world, no matter their alliances. Even today, the song remains popular, especially in the state of Wisconsin, where it has been played during the seventh inning stretch at Milwaukee Brewers baseball games, at numerous University of Wisconsin sporting events, as well as Green Bay Packers home games, and Milwaukee Panthers basketball games.

What makes a tune like this so popular? I can’t say I know for sure, but I have a few suspicions:

1. The raucous sound. I would almost call it goofy, but that might be evidence of my generational bias. Polkas are typically in 2/4 meter, and they tend to be quick. It’s the sound of fun, of a party, and certainly the English lyrics describe a particularly wild affair.

2. The drive to dance. Polkas are for dancing, and the relentless perkiness of polka music makes sitting still rather challenging. Even if you can’t get up and dance like Lawrence Welk does in this video, you can hardly help tapping your toes. And moving to music feels good.

3. The cultural ties. Various immigrant groups have claimed “Beer Barrel Polka” as one of their own cultural touchstones, and hearing the accordion and tuba play this song brings you back into the fold, even if your family has been thoroughly Americanized for years.

I’ve been playing recordings and singing “Beer Barrel Polka” frequently in the last few weeks, in celebration of Oktoberfest. You can use this song, too! Here are a few ideas:

  • Play a recording to spark memories for people of Eastern European origin. You might not even know a senior has roots in Eastern Europe until you play this song!
  • Show a video or photograph of people in traditional dress, dancing the polka. I like this Lawrence Welk clip, but examples abound on YouTube.
  • Discuss topics related to the song. You might ask, are you a beer drinker? Do you like dancing? Have you ever danced the polka? When did you learn it? Have you ever been to Oktoberfest?
  • Move to this song. You might have seniors that feel compelled to get up and DANCE the polka, but even if they don’t (or can’t), you can still move to the music. With a group of seniors, try demonstrating various movements (clapping, tapping toes, stretching up and down) for them to follow. For folks that need more of a challenge, use movement patterns (such as clap-clap-pat-pat).

Do you know and love this polka classic? What’s your favorite way to enjoy this song? Please share in the comments section!

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.

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How Music Therapy Brought a Couple Together Again

I started seeing this couple because he was on hospice and she was his caregiver. He had dementia, and his disease was causing him to be agitated and angry and sometimes even aggressive towards his wife. She was invested in keeping him at home as long as possible. As a nurse, she knew what she was getting herself into, and she wanted as much help as possible in helping her husband to stay calm. That’s why the hospice called me, the music therapist.

In our first session, he was dozing in his recliner, late in the afternoon following a dose of something sedating. I asked her about his music background and preferences, and she showed me his collection of CDs and the Bose stereo system that made him so proud. Continue reading

What Happened in One Group Music Therapy Session

Music therapy with seniors is incredibly valuable, but it can be difficult to understand and to explain. How is what a music therapist offers different than what any musician could offer as an entertainer?

Let me describe the session I just had today as one example.

Today’s music-making session was with a group of seniors who meet in a church basement once or twice a week for a day program that offers a range of activities, including exercise, craft projects, games, music, and a meal.  These folks live in their own homes but have some long-term health concerns, incuding the cognitive difficulties that accompany the early stages of dementia.  Group members generally need some extra social support, especially the opportunity to share their lives with other people.

I come to this group twice a month for music-making sessions. Today was the group’s Valentine’s Day party, so the room was already decked out in red and white. We started our session as we usually do, with “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” as our welcoming song. I then told the group that we were going to have LOVE songs for Valentine’s Day, an announcement met with smiles and perhaps a few eye rolls. Continue reading

Help Seniors Write a Song for Labor Day

With Labor Day coming up next week, I wanted to share a simple songwriting exercise that I have used frequently with older adult music therapy groups. One trick to successful songwriting interventions with groups that include seniors with memory impairments is to base the group’s song on a familiar favorite, leaving the melody and harmony intact and changing as few of the words as possible. You get from the steps of songwriting to the performance quickly enough to let more people feel the joy of creation. (I shared another songwriting exercise for Thanksgiving last year.)

Here are the steps for this songwriting exercise:

1. Start with the familiar folk tune “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Sing it through once with the group to let everyone recall the melody.

2. Tell the group you are all going to add new verses to the song about the kinds of work they have done in the past.

3. Ask individual group members what kind of work they did. Make this a conversation, and give them a chance to reminisce for a moment, too! Some folks can share this information more readily than others. Here are some questions that might help them along:

  • What kind of work did you do when you were younger?
  • Did you work outside the home? Were you a homemaker?
  • What were your responsibilities at that job?
  • How did you get that job?

If participants aren’t able to answer these questions themselves, use the information nursing staff know about the resident’s occupation or what might be in the resident’s chart.

4. Fill in the lyrics with individuals’ names and occupations. Change words as you wish to make the lines work. Here’s an sample verse:

Mary’s been working at the schoolhouse all the live long day.

Pete’s been working at the Boeing factory just to pass the time away.

Joe’s been selling shoes. Sylvia’s been watching kids.

Everybody’s working hard. We’ve all got work to do.

Advantages of this activity

You might get to learn something new about a participant’s background.

Participants will likely share something that they’re proud of, and it might be different than you expect. For example, I had a client once who worked as a stewardess for a few years before getting married and spending the next few decades as a homemaker. She loved sharing the stories from those few years as a flight attendant, even though it wasn’t the occupation she had for a lifetime.

Using participants’ names keeps them actively involved and reinforces their importance as a member of the group.

You can involve all the members of a large group in this activity since four people can be mentioned in each verse. For a smaller group or one-on-one activity, you can add more detail about individuals’ job responsibilities, where and when they worked, etc.

This activity would be great to include as part of a Labor Day party, a nursing home sing-along, or a Labor Day-themed music therapy session.

What do you think? What interesting stories have you heard about seniors’ working lives? Please share below.

Minimal verbal interaction. Full musical participation.

“Minimal verbal interaction. Full musical participation.”

I find myself writing these two short statements pretty often. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I work primarily with older adults in various living settings, but I also have quite a few younger clients that share a similar long-term need with many of my older adult clients – they have a need (like all human beings) to engage socially with other people and to communicate with others, but they don’t have the ability to do so effectively through speech. Whether my client is a thirty-something with severe autism, a forty-something living with the help of a ventilator, or an eighty-something in the later stages of dementia, they all have the need to get something out to the people around them.

Luckily for us, music is perfect for helping people connect without the use of speech.

Musical interaction can occur in a variety of ways. Some people sing (even if they don’t speak.) Some people vocalize without words. Some people tap their toes or wave their arms or follow the movements demonstrated in a structured movement to music activity. Some people play instruments, sometimes spontaneously, and sometimes with a few verbal or tactile cues to help them get started. My role as the music therapist is to provide the musical material to elicit and support these interactions.

These musical interactions vary widely, but I can say that I am frequently amazed and humbled by what happens because of music. Take, for example, the times when I have a client who does not easily engage in conversation – who might answer questions with one word or none at all – but who still shakes a maraca with a steady beat for the duration of a song, starting with the group and stopping with the group. Or when I am with a woman who sits in a chair most of the day barely moving, and I hold her hands and begin singing a tune while we sway our arms together, and soon I am following her tempo and her movements. Or when a man just looks at me and smiles when I ask his name, speaks not a word in conversation with other group members, but sings all the words to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

These moments happen frequently in music therapy sessions with the clients I serve. These moments offer a special opportunity for a person to connect with others, while also serving as a powerful reminder to caregivers, family members, and others that there is still a musical person inside the man or woman that might not be able to say or do much. This recognition helps to strengthen relationships and improve quality of life for all involved.

When have you seen music experiences help someone interact with others in a new way? How did that affect the people around him/her?

7 Ways Music Therapy Contributes to Person-Centered Care in Long-Term Care

A major shift in attitude, environment, and professional practice has come to the world of elder care in recent years, with a culture change toward person-centered care in many places that serve seniors, including long-term care facilities. In years past, care was more focused on the needs of the institution, with a hospital-like environment, daily schedule determined by staff members, and standardized treatments or programs based on clients’ diagnoses. With the culture change, focus has been shifted to the seniors themselves to have greater self-determination in making decisions about their medical care, their living environment, and how they spend their time on a daily basis. A new focus has also been placed on making long-term care as home-like as possible, with meaningful relationships among staff and residents.

Along with many professionals in elder care, I welcome this shift towards person-centered care. In fact, my profession of music therapy by its very nature is person-centered. Here are some ways that music therapy contributes to person-centered care:

1. Music therapy leaves lots of room for resident choice. I plan opportunities for making choices into all of the sessions I facilitate. The participants in my sessions get to choose instruments and songs, and their feedback helps me to plan what kinds of experiences to facilitate with the group. Even elders who cannot communicate well can choose between two different rhythm instruments or two colors of scarves.

2. Music therapy is highly adaptable to residents’ needs and preferences, even on a day-to-day basis. Even when I plan sessions based on participants’ suggestions and preferences, I am willing to throw these plans out the window if they need something else on a given day. Music therapists can easily adapt the amount of time spent in a particular experience, the type of music used, and the various musical elements involved, lending to an experience that is person-centered every time. 

3. The heart of the music experience belongs to the group or individual resident rather than the music therapist as the performer. I repeatedly tell residents that this is their music. I am there to facilitate their musical explorations and creations. Their ideas and experiments – new dance moves, song suggestions, rhythmic ideas – always feed back into the music that we make together as a group.

4. Music therapy encourages music experiences that are naturally social. It used to be common for people to gather on a front porch or around a piano to make music together, and people still seek out music experiences when gathered informally in a group, even if that is just to listen to the radio. Conversation happens easily with musical support, helping to build community in a natural way.

5. Music therapy works well in a home-like environment. It is easy to bring a guitar and a bag of instruments to the living room area in a nursing home neighborhood. Elders can walk a short distance from their rooms, sit in their favorite chairs, and enjoy music with their closest neighbors without the big production of going to a large group activity in the main dining room. All of this contributes to the home-like environment that is a central part of culture change.

6. Music therapy encourages the sharing of personal life experiences, and in my sessions, everyone (including staff!) gets the opportunity to share. This helps to build relationships among residents and staff members, which are key in the person-centered model.

7. Music therapy can give elders a purpose through creative expression. In contrast to the more-common entertainment event, where residents listen to someone perform music for them, music therapy centers on the musical expression that the elders make themselves, at whatever level of musical interaction they can participate in. Creating something new in the present moment is a powerful experience! (P.S. Entertainment events are great to have, too! They just have a different purpose than music therapy.)

In my career as a music therapist, I have seen several long-term care agencies embrace culture change, even to the point of amazing renovations to their buildings to foster the home-like environment and community orientation that person-centered care calls for. Adding or expanding a music therapy program is another great way to foster culture change in long-term care, without an enormous expense at the outset. (As always, contact me if you are interested in bringing music therapy to your agency to help elder care continue to move towards a person-centered model!)

What are your thoughts on culture change in long-term care? How have you seen music therapy contribute to the person-centered care model? Leave your comments below!

Song Spotlight: “The Glory of Love”

Valentine’s Day is coming up next week, so that means it’s time a for a spotlight on one of my favorite love songs: “The Glory of Love.” This song was written by Billy Hill in the 1930s and made famous by Benny Goodman. It has since been covered by many singers, including Dean Martin, Otis Redding, Eddy Arnold and Bette Midler, and was also the theme song to the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Here is a recording by Peggy Lee:

This song has a lovely, light, jazzy feel to it. which is a sound preferred by many of my older adult clients, and many of them recognize the song and can sing parts of it. What I love about this song, though, is the lyrics. Here are the first few lines:

You’ve got to give a little, take a little

And let your poor heart break a little

That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

You’ve got to laugh a little, cry a little

Before the clouds roll by a little

That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

This song is different from many love songs in that it acknowledges the give and take inherent in any successful relationship. It leaves room to talk about the hard times in a relationship, and it gives people a chance to talk about their relationships in a more honest, authentic way: Of course people who have been married 50+ years had some hard times. Of course parents and children have had some arguments! The joy (the glory?) of that kind of relationship comes from seeing the hard times through and still being together.

This song could be great for starting a discussion among family members about those special relationships. It also works well for a group setting because it allows a lot of room for people who have been though and are currently experiencing various stages of relationships. People who are happily married, people whose spouses have died, people who were divorced, people who have distant relationships with their children – all of them can participate in a discussion surrounding this song.

What kind of questions might you ask to start a discussion? Here are a few ideas:

When did you give a little? When did you take a little?

When did your poor heart break a little?

Tell me about times when you laughed and when you cried together.

Questions like these could lead to personal stories (Remember that time when you were going to let me drive the car and I wrecked it pulling out of the driveway? Yup, you still loved me anyway!) or sensitive topics (When did your heart break a little? When your father died), so do be ready for whatever might come up in the conversation. Again, the great thing about this song is that by acknowledging the more difficult times in a relationship, it can help validate and contain those difficult feelings at the same time. Simply being with your loved one as you experience this song will help them to feel your love and support.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this song and on any other great love songs that you know. Please leave your comment below!

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.

Self-disclosure: How much should I share?

Since I am returning to music therapy practice after two months of maternity leave, one clinical issue that I have thought about a lot recently is the issue of self-disclosure. I have had some major events happen in my personal life, and it is sometimes tricky to figure out how much of my personal life to share with clients. Depending on the client population, some sharing is appropriate and even beneficial for the therapeutic process. On the other hand, sharing too much may cause problems in the clinical setting.

Self-disclosure has some potential benefits. Sharing personal stories with clients can help to develop rapport and establish a genuine, authentic relationship by helping the music therapist and the client find similarities or identify differences. When the therapist shares her own story, it can take off the pressure from the client when their own sharing gets to be overwhelming. Sharing on the part of the music therapist can also shift the balance of power, allowing the therapist to show some vulnerability, some humanness, rather than having to maintain the all-knowing, totally-objective, unreachable role.

Of course, self-disclosure carries risks as well. Over-sharing can damage rapport, especially when it leads the client to feel misunderstood or minimized. Taking off the pressure can be counter-productive when it prevents the client from digging deeper into the therapeutic process. In fact, in this case the therapist might jump into self-disclosure because he/she is actually the one uncomfortable with silence. Over-sharing can also shift the focus of the session away from the clients and their needs to the therapist, skewing the balance of power further towards the therapist.

Obviously, the issue of self-disclosure on the part of the therapist is both very complicated and very important. How do we figure out how to negotiate this issue? Well, here are a few self-disclosure situations I have encountered in the past.

Story-time!

My first real-world experiences with negotiating self-disclosure were in my work on an inpatient psychiatric unit. In that kind of setting, boundaries have to be pretty firm and self-disclosure has to be considered carefully. One of my co-workers shared a story about a time shortly after the birth of his first child when he couldn’t help but show pictures of the new baby around the unit. One of the adolescent patients, apparently trying to get under my co-worker’s skin, yelled some verbal threats against the baby. My co-worker got angry, and the taunts from the patient ended in a restraint and seclusion situation, derailing the therapeutic process. In this case, my co-worker’s seemingly innocuous self-disclosure led to a negative outcome.

Since the psychiatric hospital was the place where I really learned about developing a therapeutic relationship, my tendency was to keep my personal life entirely out of my music therapy practice, with self-disclosure at a bare minimum. When I got engaged to be married, though, my shiny new ring made it difficult to keep this a secret. In fact, in the first session after I got engaged, the wife of one of my private elderly clients immediately noticed my ring. I shared a little about my fiance and that yes, we were getting married. The best part, though, was that this led my client’s wife to talk about their own courtship and wedding, and we discovered new songs that had been significant in their relationship so that my client, who was in the later stages of dementia, could connect with his wife through music. Because the husband’s dementia had caused strains in their relationship, finding ways for them to connect and enjoy each other through music was a primary goal of music therapy. My unintentional self-disclosure led to a positive therapeutic outcome.

Pregnancy is another aspect of one’s personal life that doesn’t stay hidden for long, and indeed, many clients commented on my changing appearance and seemed to delight in sharing stories about their own experiences with pregnancy and childbirth. I even found that my big ol’ baby bump could spark the interest of some folks who were more difficult to engage – once I had their attention, they were more easily drawn into our music-making. I didn’t make pregnancy or children a central part of any session – I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself – and I kept an ear out for folks who might be saddened or confused by the topic, although I didn’t notice any negative responses. I tried to make this necessary self-disclosure an asset to the therapeutic process rather than a detriment.

So what am I doing now? Some of my clients don’t remember that I was having a baby, but others have been waiting to see baby pictures since the last session I had with them. (This doesn’t even include all of the staff people at various facilities who are also curious!) Again, I don’t want to make my life the center of attention in any session, but I know that many people love babies, and I do have some extraordinarily adorable pictures to share! I decided to begin each session by explaining why I haven’t been around for a while and passing around a small book of just a few 4×6 photos. This gave me some time to reconnect with group members individually while others were looking at the pictures. Once everyone saw the pictures, we moved on to non-baby-related music-making. As before, with my pregnancy, my clients had an opportunity to share their own experiences with babies and some folks were more engaged in the group process than they typically are. Several people have asked for me to bring the baby to visit, although I haven’t decided yet if I will do this or how I will handle it. And again, I’m keeping my ears open for unexpected responses – people who are saddened or confused by the baby pictures. I have one resident in mind who sometimes thinks that her young children are missing and she needs to go find them – she gets terribly upset that no one else seems worried or wants to help. I will be especially mindful with her when her group sees the baby pictures.

So, now that most of my clients are older adults in residential facilities, it seems that sharing more of myself and my personal life is beneficial. This would not have been the case if I were still working at a psychiatric hospital, however. Boundaries and self-disclosure considerations change depending on the population and the setting. How have you handled self-disclosure where you work? Have you experienced someone sharing too much? Please share your comments below!

Fresh Holiday Music Ideas

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It is December, and after a period of resolutely avoiding Christmas music and decorations since they started showing up around Halloween, I have been thinking about how to use holiday music effectively with older adult groups. As pointed out in this recent post by JoAnn Jordan, a fellow music therapist, it is easy to go a bit overboard with Christmas music – community groups seem eager to come caroling, the regular music groups are easily converted to Christmas sing-alongs, and it seems obligatory to play those 24-hour Christmas music radio stations in the dining room and living areas. Of course, it is appropriate and important to integrate holiday music into activities with older adults during this season, but since your residents will probably have many opportunities to sing along with their favorite carols, consider structuring sessions around sub-themes within the overall idea of holiday music for added depth and interest. Here are some theme ideas:

1. Decorating for Christmas: Your group can write new verses to “O Christmas Tree” and talk about what exactly “don we now our gay apparel” means in the song “Deck the Halls.” Add these musical activities to the time spent decorating one of the home’s Christmas trees for a richer overall experience.

2. The Sights/Sounds/Smells/Touches of Christmas: These can each be their own session or can be combined into one session. Great songs for this theme? How about “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” or “Silver Bells?” Again, you can combine music experiences with related craft or cooking activities.

3. Christmas Around the World: Use this session as an opportunity to discuss familiar and unfamiliar holiday traditions from various cultures and play music from around the world. This is also an opportunity for residents to share their own traditions that may have been passed down from relatives from other parts of the world.

4. Gift-Giving/Receiving: This theme is another way to bring up giving traditions from other faiths and holidays while also touching on the ever-popular Santa songs. A simple songwriting activity on this theme is to write new verses to the song “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” – change the first and last lines to match the residents’ suggestions (e.g. “All I want for Christmas is my family here…so we can celebrate together.”)

5. Reindeer Games: A spin-off from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” lyrics, this invites a variety of musical games, such as Musical Hot Potato, Name That Tune, and Stop/Go Drumming. This would also be a good time to play the dreidel game to celebrate Hanukkah.

6. Meditative Holiday: This is an opportunity to plan a deliberately quiet, meditative session as a contrast to the usual emphasis on holiday cheer. Choose a quieter, more private place for this session if possible and set the mood with slower-tempo songs and relaxation exercises. This is especially appropriate for residents who are having difficulty coping during the holiday season, perhaps because of losses in their personal lives.

Any of these themes can be used to enhance the regular activity programming in your long-term care or assisted living facility. Music therapists can further expand and refine these ideas according to their clients’ needs and goals.

A couple of other thoughts on holiday music are worth repeating:

1. Don’t forget that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Know which of your residents do not celebrate this holiday and make sure that their traditions and values are not left out.

2. Be sensitive to the effect Christmas music has on your residents. Christmas is not always a happy time for everyone, and holiday music may bring up difficult memories or make the season even more difficult for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones this year.

3. Give yourself permission to play non-holiday music during December as well. Your ears will thank you.

Song Spotlight: “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy”

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month in the United States, and in discussing the particular place that music therapy has in hospice and palliative care, I have been looking at special songs that have led to significant moments in care at the end of life. Previous posts were dedicated to the spiritual song “The Beautiful Garden of Prayer” that was significant for spiritual and emotional support and a set of Filipino folk songs that helped bridge cultural boundaries with a client with dementia. In this post, I’ll discuss another favorite song of mine for hospice music therapy: “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy.”

It is a common misconception, I think, that the most therapeutic music in hospice is the slow and relaxing kind. It is true that many patients referred for music therapy in hospice and palliative care need relief of pain and anxiety, and music therapists do structure music for relaxation for many patients. Music therapists have the ability to address many other needs through music, however. Two common goals are to help patients with dementia connect with their family members or other caregivers and to provide emotional support to those caregivers as the patient’s illness progresses. A variety of music can help address these needs by changing the mood in the room or sparking discussion or reminiscence.

In supporting verbal interactions, one technique is to choose songs that are familiar to the listeners and personally significant in some way, as was discussed in this previous post. Another technique is to choose songs that might not be as familiar but that are useful in their musical elements and in their lyric content. “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” is one of these songs. It is upbeat and lighthearted, and it is in the big band style that is popular among many older adults. I have not had many clients who knew the lyrics well enough to sing along, and many family members have not been at all familiar with this song, but the lyrics lend themselves to reminiscence – about the special treats someone’s mother used to make, about the cooking a patient did herself, or even just about the normal routine of a family.

I had a hospice patient recently who was in the end stages of dementia, and while she was alert and responsive to music in most sessions, she spoke very little. Her daughter was present during one session in which I sang “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy” as a change of pace from the dozen or so songs the daughter had requested in previous sessions. My patient’s daughter did not know this song, but it did lead to a conversation about her mother’s love of baking and how she always had some sort of baked good for dessert each night at the family dinner table. We talked more about the routines of her family growing up and the things she and her mother like to do together in more recent years. Our discussion led to other song ideas and more singing, which helped to keep both the patient and the daughter engaged with each other in the moment during the session – both were smiling at each other, holding hands, with the daughter stroking her mother’s hair. The music helped to bring about a tender mother-daughter moment that was less focused on the difficulties of the present than on the loving relationship they had enjoyed for so many years. As a music therapist, this was a need that I could identify and a musical intervention that I could facilitate.

What are the special songs in your family? For music therapists, what songs have been surprisingly powerful in your sessions? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

This post is part of an occasional series on special songs to share with your loved ones. For more song spotlights, click here.