Written by: Nick P., Music Therapy Intern
Every part of a music therapy session is planned with the growth and development of the individual or group in mind, even the “hello” or introduction song. For most younger populations, calling it the “hello song” is perfectly acceptable, as it reinforces social cues and expectations when interacting with others. But when working with most adolescents and adults, calling it the introduction to music therapy or not even naming it is more appropriate. Whether or not it has its own title, most people benefit from having a musical transition from outside life into the music session.
Hello songs with younger children have many benefits, including reinforcing the greeting of others, improving their understanding of sequences and the order of activities, and serving as a way to engage and prepare them for the session. The “Hello Song,” by The KIboomers, for example, can be used as it is or modified based on the group or individual to provide the above benefits as well as offer a way for children to begin to recognize and name emotions and feelings and possibly relate to other peers and how they might feel.
For groups of adolescents, giving them the opportunity to share songs that were or are meaningful to them or symbolize how their time has been since the last session can serve several purposes. First of all, it can give the music therapist some insight into their inner world without having to dialogue, improve the relationship between individual and therapist, give the rest of the group a way to possibly relate and connect with the individual who shared, as well as provide space for someone to communicate their feelings beyond just verbalizing them. For individual sessions with adolescents, song-sharing can be beneficial as well, and so can a short relaxation experience, or simply playing instrumental music from a speaker as they walk in to provide a simple but effective transition into the music therapy space.
For adults and older adults, especially if working on memory recall, choosing a song that’s familiar to everyone in the group and singing it every week can be a great way to signify the transition into the music therapy space. Though for some groups of adults, a verbal transition or simple musical transition into the space might be more beneficial, such as a relaxation experience or verbal check-in. Currently for a group of older adults, my internship supervisor and I are using the song “It’s a Good Day,” by Peggy Lee to open up each session. Once the song is over, the group is asked “What makes today a good day?” This gives the group a chance to share something personal with the group, and gives opportunities for connection and relation.
These are some of the ways I have incorporated opening experiences in sessions, mostly during my practicum experience while studying music therapy. While a hello song or introduction song may not always be appropriate, they can be a useful way to transition into a session in a routine and beneficial way.
Providing music therapy services for early childhood to older adults, music instruction and enrichment plus continuing music therapy education in Greater Charlotte Area of the Carolinas.