Music Therapy in Adult Day and Work Programs

While Adult Day Centers and Adult Work Programs typically serve adults with special needs each facility is very diverse.  As are the adults each program serves. Enter Groovy Garfoose Music Therapy Groups. Our music therapy programming provides adults with DD age-appropriate, layered social opportunities to communicate with their peers and self-express through music creation no matter the ability or diversity of each individual’s need.  Every week we bring themed session plans choc full of LIVE and recorded musical styles supported by hands on instrument playing, movement experiences with props and fill-in-the-blank songwriting individualized for each group. It’s amazing to see how each group responds to the theme rising to their full potential through music. From adapted instruments like the q-chord to unique songwriting experiences, each individual has the support to showcase his/her vast skill set, while still contributing to the group.

Session Planning: Where to Begin?

Session planning for adult groups revolves around a specific theme based on the season, holiday, weather, travel, sport, and much, much more. We carefully select a song list to correlate, not only with the theme, but to foster each individual’s physical, social, and communicative needs for maximum participation and engagement. Once the songs have been selected we curate music therapy experiences paired with adaptive instruments, visual choice boards, pre-structured songwriting experiences, and adaptive props to engage, motivate and foster participation within each group.

Session planning isn’t JUST for music therapists.  We LOVE to include our adults in the session planning process too! We have found it can: increase self-expression, collaboration, and responsibility. Group members have the ability to choose experiences, select dance moves from visuals, create musical ensembles, write original songs, create age-appropriate musical games to name a few.  Recently, group members worked together as a team to create a rhythmic loop in Garageband which served as the musical accompaniment to an original song they wrote. Group members discussed what style of music they liked, what beats meshed well together, and the overall feeling or theme they would like their song to have. When writing the lyrics, I provided structured support by printing a variety of pre-made lyrics based on the theme chosen. Group members individually decided on one of the lyrics provided to create a lyric mashup to flow over the beat they created together.  

What Does Group Music Therapy For Adults with DD Look Like?

30-40 minute weekly sessions are provided in each group’s designated area, whether that’s a community space or their work room. Group members and staff gather in a semi-circle to maximize group cohesion and social interaction with peers, MT, and staff. We want each group members’ feedback to be valued and equal.

Each session includes a greeting song, movement experience, expressive, songwriting experience, and group instrument play and individual instrument play experience in which group members take turns playing a solo for the group. Recently, our groups participated in a “Wacky National Holidays” theme in which music experiences were curated for traditional holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras and wacky holidays like National Frozen Food Day, and Love Animals Day just to name a few. The songwriting experience for Love Animals day included rewriting realistic or silly verses to the famous song “In the Jungle” by The Tokens. Some original verses included “At Applebees the kangaroo eats breaded shrimp tonight” and “At home the dog takes a nap tonight.”

After the groups conclude, each member is given a summary of the session including pictures of instruments and description of experiences to share with family and friends as a communication support so the value of programming is communicated to caregivers, parents and staff.  We conclude every 5 to 10 week program with a performance in front of family, friends and staff so group members can showcase their talents and favorite experiences from the program. Being able to witness each group member showcase their skill set to their loved ones is an indescribable moment…we call that closure with a cherry on top!