Orff and Montessori (follow up to question)

Kathy Newby wrote, “I enjoyed the combination of two types of music. Thank you for the Orff demonstration. You mentioned that you were going to creat an Orff school program. How will that be conducted? I also enjoyed seeing Morgan as part of the tapes. She’s into it. Is Melody too young? Too shy? Is there music therapy she can do?”  Kathy Newby

Thank you Kathy for your comment and questions.  I felt the answer would be too long for a typical comment so here is a short blog on incorporating Orff into the Montessori school that I will be working. 

Melody may be just a little young for the structure of the improvisational activity; however, she does normally participate during music class.  Melody actually does well with imaginative play and instruments. 

With working for the Montessori school, I have found after researching various educational models that the Orff process really fits well with the Montessori philosophy.  Montessori follows, “the spirit of the child,” and enhances the current developmental stages to allow full growth.  I believe the way Orff designed his process, he was encouraging each child to enjoy the music in his/her own way; this not only leads to learning the musical terminology but also understanding it.

With all that said, some of the ideal activities will include storytelling through music.  I believe this will be a great way to start the year, inspiring the children to think creatively.  I will tell stories giving them examples of the way music/sound is utilized; however, the next step will be to allow the children to use the music to tell each other stories.  Following this introduction while experimenting with sounds, dynamics, and tempos, I will introduce the various families of instruments through song and movement.  Programs developed such as the holiday program and possible spring program will incorporate the children’s “compositions” as well as feature each child’s level of comfortability and success.   While one child may play a solo on the xylophone, another may be just as comfortable playing a “crash on the cymbals.”  Meanwhile, all the children are learning musical concepts through involvement.


Orff and Music Therapy

“Tell me, I forget… Show me, I remember… Involve me, I understand.”  Carl Orff

Carl Orff’s motto describes his development of a music educational approach. 

Carl Orff, (1895-1982) contemporary German composer of dramatic operas such as Carmina Burana, developed a music educating model for children.  Defined by Orff, the ideal music for children as “never alone, but connected with movement, dance, and speech—not to be listened to, meaningful only in active participation.” Orff said, “Experience first, then intellectualize.”   The Orff approach builds the understanding of concepts and skills through interpersonal connections with the music by experiencing it on all levels. These levels include speech/chants, movement, singing, drama, and by playing pitched and unpitched instruments sometimes referred to as “Orff” instruments. 

While Orff created this process (carefully NOT labeled a method) when working with children in music education, a music therapist can adapt this approach to all ages in therapeutic interventions.  This is because as in therapy, there are certain connectors to the next phase but not really a step-by-step procedure.   In Music Therapy, there has to be flexibility in the direction a therapist and/or client then chooses to take.   The main focus is to obtain non-musical goals through music as a medium.    A client could show an interest in development of sounds, movement, speech, social connections, and creativity while working with the music medium.  It would be a professional Music Therapist who could then take that desire and adapt it to meet the non-musical goals.  Check out a video blog demonstrating the use of an Orff activity to obtain non-musical goals beginning with simple and complex social interaction, fine and gross motor skills, internalization of rhythm, and creativity.

Ostinato and Improvisation Demonstration

This is a brief demonstration of the xylophone along with the bass bars being used for improvisational purposes. This is one of the many musical activities often referred to as Orff; based on German composer Carl Orff’s approach to early childhood education. The ostinato and improvisation activity is one of my favorites when working with any age through therapeutic intervention.

Motivational Music with Physical Therapy

I received a question asking what type of music is motivating for physical therapy goals.  After several days of thinking about the various answers such as: strong rhythmic styles, clients’ personal favorites, rock, country, classical, instrumental, toe-tapping, relaxing, etc.  I have decided to write that the answer is all of the above and more.  Motivation comes in many forms for all of us and particular for some of us.  The goals trying to be obtained will also direct the style or music activity chosen for each client. 

I gave an example of using music therapy with a girl with Angelman’s Syndrome and she wouldn’t even provide eye contact for the physical therapist; however, she would get up, dance, and move for me.  When walking up those steps during co-treatment, I utilized her favorite instrument (ocean drum) and played a strong beat while singing a marching song.  We changed the lyrics to match her activity of walking up the stairs, walking down the stairs, etc.  

With an adult client who has Cerebral Palsy and his hands tightly clenched, I utilized the autoharp with it’s melodic string sound and an adaptable pick.  He preferred this sound and he was motivated to get that pick to work for him.  Over time, I would adapt the pick style instead of the style of music. 

With a baby with developmental delays, partial deafness, and difficulty holding his head, I chose various loud instruments, singing through a cut oxygen tube directed to his ear, and placing him on his belly, he was highly motivated to lift his head to see what he was hearing.  

Music therapists can provide so many examples of musical motivation; however, I do not think a music therapist could identify a specific style applicable to every client.  This said, there may be certain activities and instruments that are commonly used.

Thank you for the great question and I have truly appreciated the thought process that went into answering this question.  Please feel free to ask any questions you may have concerning music therapy and its interventions.

Music Therapy and Physical Therapy

I’ve received a request asking how music therapy can be helpful for physical therapy.  I actually love this topic for many reasons.  I get the chance to demonstrate how music works biologically in a setting where the evidence is so concrete because it is witness through movement.   There is also immediate gratification when witnessing a physical therapy goal met through music.  Some of my clients’ greatest successes  were a result of physical therapy and music therapy implemented together.   Music Therapy is utilizing the musical components and adaptive tools to accomplish non-musical goals.  Goals in areas such as physical therapy, speech therapy, mental health, and occupational therapy are studied and communicated with a music therapist to enhance treatment.  The result is sometimes shocking even to the co-therapist.   

I remember a little girl who was involved with physical therapy twice a week in her home.  The physical therapist struggled with her client to make eye contact, much less participate in therapy.  The client was encouraged to stand with assistance and to make several steps through out the home.  The client also loved water and the physical therapist encouraged her to take the stairs to the bathroom and rewarded her with water play in the sink.  This worked temporarily; but then the client would be “exhausted” after one trip up and down the stairs.  The mother of the little girl reported to the physical therapist that while music therapy sessions were going on, she would dance for 20 minutes of the session.  This surprised the physical therapist and she  then observe the music therapy sessions.  After a few observations, the physical therapist was impressed by the clients music motivation.  Co-therapy began and took place one time a week and the first session included several walks up the stairs, down the stairs, and several minutes on a treadmill.  This was incredible! 

The first step into any treatment is to get them moving and to motivate them to get themselves moving.  Music is a motivating factor for everyone in ways of involuntary neurological participation through rhythmic structure.  Music also motivates emotional participation through rhythmic structure and tonal sounds with melody and harmony.   With emotional and physical motivation, an increase in voluntary participation can be witnessed.  Music Therapist often have adaptive tools that can assist a client in participation.  Tools can include a variety of instruments as well as adaptive gadgets allowing ability to play chosen instruments.  I have worked with several Cerebral Palsy clients whose hands are clinched so tight, yet, they can play an autoharp when a large flat pick is slipped in between the fingers.  Various shakers can be found to work with a variety of hand positions.  I even have a tool that clamps onto a table and several instruments can be hung, clamped, placed upright, or placed on the sides to allow various positionings allowing fine and gross motor skills work. 

I have recently come across several  research articles regarding stroke victims and music therapy.  It is encouraging to read that other professionals are recognizing the benefits and profound effectiveness of music therapy in physical and neurological recovery.   Through emotional motivation, increase of memory input, and social involvement of music therapy, some have reported a diffference in progress as much as 60% between stroke victims involved in music therapy and those not involved in music therapy.  That is significant and makes me wonder why we do not have more Music Therapist working alongside physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech therapist in the hospitals.

Music Therapy and Autism Intro.

In response to an email asking for help with their autistic grandson. We can find many, many articles on the benefits of music with autistic children and adults. The purpose of these blogs is to focus on the practical information that anyone can follow and practice.

Without having any further information regarding level of autism, developmental age, and chronological age, I will provide you with some  music therapy ideas. Because people with autism often have sensory integration issues, music can help in various ways. Even if the client is highly sensitive to sounds, music offers structure and can be adapted to just the right amount of sensory input by tempi, dynamics, and range.

It is very important to chose the right tool for the client based on their reported likes and dislikes. For example, does the person enjoy melodic sounds or rhythmic sounds, loud or soft, and fast or slow? An important melodic tool that can be adapted to almost every degree is an autoharp. It is a stringed instrument that can be played loudly or softly; fast or slow, and with rhythmical harmony or melody. The client may choose to play or listen, feel the vibrational effect or not, and he/she may participate or end participation immidiately. The autoharp also offers the option of space. A client may use the autoharp close to another person or on the other side of the room, this is another important choice for an autistic client.

Check out the video blog marked Autoharp under Music Theray tools for a demonstration.

If a person with autism does not like string sounds, I like to offer a rhythmic booming instrument such as drums.  I have found through experience that a client will prefer one sound over another.  A drum that often grabs their attention is a large gathering drum.  This can be played at full capacity (loud) volume or can be dampered for softer sounds.  Check for postings on this drum as well marked Gathering Drum under Music Therapy Tools.

As a music therapist, I practice immediate success with each client and bringing up challenges within reach. As I get to know the person and their capabilities, those challenges are adjusted.

Gathering Drum

This is a demonstration of the gathering drum; specifically Lynn Kleiner’s Gathering Drum. 

The sound on the video is discouraging for me because it does not do the real sound of this great instrument any justice.  This drum really is a hit with all groups and individuals.  The only exception would be those very sensitive to loud, booming sound.  Even clients that have some sensitivity to hearing those booming sounds still enjoy this instrument while playing on it themselves.  This is a great diagnostic tool and can provide some incredible therapeutic moments.

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