Spring Fever

As a school-based music therapist, this time of year is challenging for many of us. Coming out of our own version of hibernation, many of us are feeling the itch of spring fever. This is especially true for those of us here in Northeast Ohio constantly being teased us with brighter days and higher temps and those budding signs of spring. However, it wouldn’t be Northeast Ohio if we also didn’t have those days followed by snow showers, frigid temps, and flowers who decide it’s best not to bloom yet!

If you work in schools many of you may have been witness to those bursts of extra energy that accompany the spring season! This is a trend I see with many of the seasonal shifts and changes. Throughout the years, I have worked to shift my expectations and my sessions plans to accommodate the needs that arise during this time of year and I hope you find my favorite top 5 ideas below helpful until the spring season is in full swing.

1. Whole Body Hello

I have been LOVING playing around with this whole-body hello from Music For Kiddos Stephanie Leavell. I have adapted in many ways throughout the year and I’m really enjoying the adaptability. Used as is with seated body percussion, I find that it really adds a level of grounding before a music therapy session even starts. Adding the option for a boogie break also helps us shake the sillies out before we dive into more focused work together. If, as a whole group transitioning into the group space showcases a lot of energy, why not turn the seated portions into gross motor movement opportunities for some proprioceptive input where students can really stomp their feet and jump up and down to regulate their systems. Extending the B section (boogie break) into a stop and start opportunity also gives students a chance to reset their focus on the external input of the musical cues.

2. Attention Grabbers

Kira Willey’s Instagram account is chock full of attention grabbers that are great for larger groups. She incorporates music, movement, rhythm, and mindfulness in under a minute or two which make them the perfect addition to any music therapy session plan.

Here are some of my favorites to incorporate into my large group sessions: 

This is where my hands are – rhythmic grounding

Body percussion rhythm game

Ready to go

And one related to spring: Rainstorm

3. Modulating the Environment

Sometimes the best way to immediately grab attention is to modulate the environment – create the mood that you want by using your physical environment to your advantage. This might include dimming the lighting, changing your vocal volume, eliminating extraneous auditory input by singing acapella or replacing instrument play (which can sometimes add to the chaos) with finger plays and body percussion, etc. This can last as long or as little as your group tolerates, but has always been something that has helped to redirect a group.

4. Movement

Adding more movement experiences to a session plan can help meet the needs of a more active group. I always like to think of movement based on the energy levels of the group. Wherever you begin, you can always think of this in terms of modulating to where you want your group to go. For high energy groups, active free dance movement, movement with scarves and/or stop and start songs can be a great way to help facilitate movement. For moderate energy groups, seated movement experiences and/or steady beat oriented songs that provide grounding and musical support can be helpful.

5. Adding Novelty Through Movement Props

Early in my career I used to shy away from the use of large group movement props. However, I have found that with the right introduction and expectations, using a large movement prop can help to unify a group and be a fun way to use all of the extra energy to your advantage.

Three of my favorite large group movement props: stretchy band, parachute, octaband.


Abbey stands for a head shot outside in front of a tree

This blog post was written by Abbey Fistek, MT-BC. Abbey has worked in a variety of private and public school settings, gaining extensive experience in the creation, development, and implementation of arts based education and music therapy programming. Most recently, Abbey has provided group music therapy services within the school setting, in addition to providing individual music therapy and adapted music lessons in the community.