Pro Music Therapy

2 Simple Christmas-Themed Activities for Verbalization and Relaxation

Categories :Music Therapists
Stock photo which captures the image of my 5-year-old child waiting for the bell sound.

Here are 2 Christmas-themed activities I facilitated this week that may be appropriate for those you work with: 

“Mi Burrito…:” Verbalization

The famous little Cuban Christmas song, “Mi Burrito Sabanero,” comes to you today with a new twist. While the song originally describes journeying to the town of Bethlehem (or Belén), the song can also be used to practice verbalizing target words! For my young adult client who has difficulty verbalizing, we decided to practice saying her favorite places to go with her friends and family. Here is an example of what we wrote:

“Con mi burrito sabanero voy camino de My House. Si me ven, si me ven. Voy camino de Walmart.” 

Notice how “Belén” was replaced with the places my client appreciates going to. These words are important for her because she needs to use them when answering the question of where she wants to go. 

Here is a link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJawRaON8h0

“In Dulci Jubilo:” Relaxation

The classical guitar and vocal arrangement of “In Dulci Jubilo” by Kevin McCormick and his daughter, Rachel, is my go-to for Christmas season relaxation.  The tempo is slow and the voice and guitar blend well for a pleasant and calming listening experience. However, is it enough for me to put on the recording and tell my 5-year-old to relax? By no means! He needs to be actively engaged in the activity in order to relax. 

When I placed the CD in the stereo and took out my bell, he looked at up from his drum playing and asked if we were going to play bells. I replied saying that he needed to close his eyes, and raise his hand when he hears the bell. I pressed play on the recording and this energetic boy bent his head, folded his arms, and closed his eyes in deep concentration (see above for a stock photo representation). 

The song is in the key of E, so I used the yellow E hand bell. Initially, I played the bell every four counts for him to predict the bell sound and entrain to the music. This procedure continued until the chord changed. At this part, you have two options: 1) use the A bell and then the B bell before returning to the E or 2) begin spacing out the presentation of the E bell to 8 counts which is what I did. If your child does not seem engaged by the time the chord changes, you could choose option 1. If your child is responding quickly to the activity by already appearing relaxed, then try option 2.

I facilitated this activity again using the Ave Maria recording and followed the same procedure. If your child wants to play the bell too (mine did), try getting him to count and play in intervals of 4 beats- still relaxing while also practicing impulse control. At the end of the 2 songs, my child was much more relaxed as evidenced by a decrease in hyper-active and defiant behavior, especially in comparison to prior sessions that did not include music relaxation. When we finished he was more cooperative and ready to engage in other activities.

Here is the link to Kevin and Rachel’s music: 
(http://www.kevin-mccormick.com/KM/Music.html)