LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

albumcover

Our Christmas album is the perfect gift for EVERYONE on your list!

One of the reasons I haven't been a regular blogging machine these days is that I'm in a band. And now we have a Christmas gig. So we're desperately scrambling to get our set list together by December 10.

What we don't have – STILL – is a name. We usually rehearse at the same band member's house and he lives in an area called Rose Hill. I suggested that we simply call ourselves Rose Hill – and was promptly shot down as the guys claimed it sounded like the name of some soap you get in a fancy hotel.

They want a “cool name,” they say, like The Doors or The Eagles or AC/DC, at which point they launch into playing “Back in Black” or something else that's totally not on the set list and I have to throw a glass at one of them to get them to stop.

Today, while I was waiting for Billy's speech therapy to finish, I downloaded Band Name Generator on to my phone. “Guaranteed to give you stuff you can USE!” it claimed, and then promptly coughed up “Screaming Mustard Snakes” and “Nerdy Little Lamps.”

It also generated ...

Sexy Orange Logs
Hmm...

Hairy Fighting Burgers
Nope. If we name our band after something I found in the back of my fridge it will be ...

Angry Rubber Ketchup
...which is actually GREAT on hairy fighting burgers.

Dirty Drunk Train
THAT one I kinda like.

Happy Drunk Bats
Can it SEE me right now?

Nerdy Scowling Devils
It CAN see me!

Well, that's 99 cents and 40 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. Clearly, the solution to this problem was to download ANOTHER band name generator. This one, which was free, made no promises it couldn't keep. And it generated ...

Occasional Songs
Well, that's kinda accurate. We haven't been terribly consistent with our practice but I'm not sure flakiness is a brand I want to advertise.

Southern Raven
Yes! And our first album cover could feature a crow eating a bowl of grits.

Live Songs
Not GOOD songs. But LIVE. We promise only to be an alternative to turning on the stereo.

Dire' Road
The apostrophe is theirs. This makes me angry-sad. Ask me one day about how much I HATE careless and confusing use of the apostrophe.

Downer Songs
Mmm, possible.

Downer Raven
The Crow's depressed cousin.

Immediate' Charlie
Huh?

Starry' Words'
ARGGHHHHHH!

On a whim, I decided to ask Billy's opinion on the ride home. “What do you think Daddy and I should call our band, Billster?”

“CHARLIE BROWN YOU'RE MAKING ME NERVOUS!!”

I like it.

OK, anybody have any better ideas?

Reader Comments

Security text:*

Enter both words below, with or without a space.
The letters are not case-sensitive.
Can't read this? Try another

You Are Officially Cooler Than Me

Dude...A BAND? What a great way to keep mommyhood from sucking away all your kewl. I like "Broadfoot". If the other members of the band fuss about it being your name, remind them of a little band called "VAN HALEN". I don't think the fat guy who played the bass in VH cared after he became a gazillionaire.

In honors of Wills and Kate's Engagement...

and giving a nod to Dave's disgust with it all, how about Royal Flush??

I'm with Chris...

...show us a video! Your band could be part of your next vlog!

Personally, I think the name Rose Hill would be awesome!

Charlie Brown Loves the Possums of Destruction

You guys are the best.

HOW could I have forgotten about the Possums of Destruction?! Of course, without the accompanying possum hats (which, after extensive research, I found are nearly impossible to come by), it just wouldn't be the same.

I'm the vocalist and keyboard player. Part of the reason "Back in Black" is NOT on the playlist. Our catalog runs the gamut from Bonnie Raitt to U2. And at the moment, a bunch of Christmas songs.

With any luck, I'll be able to post a not-too-embarrassing video from rehearsal next week :-)

How about "Beat the Feet"?

Wendy

What do you do in the band? Vocalist? Drummer? What?

Unicorn Stew

My eyes are bleeding from that Man-O-War album cover.

I still like Unicorn Stew.

Or Captcha. My Captcha made me say that.

Our vote...

What happened to the 'Possums of Destruction'!?!? Or the POD for short!! LOL! This is our vote! You'd surely get a gig at the annual Wausau Possum Festival and Fun Day!! ---- That is meant to be a plus for the name idea! LOL!

Total 13 comments

Music truly is a universal language. Even pre-verbal and non-verbal people can be moved to communicate through melody, harmony and rhythm. There's something inside us that literally craves the sound of music.

Therapy based on music is growing in popularity in the autism community. Billy attends Kindermusik with the whole family, as well as a couple of normally developing friends. And we also take him to weekly music therapy sessions at TMH Rehab.

Music therapy can be done in a group setting or one-on-one. Billy's session is one-on-one with the therapist, though I usually attend with him -- and most of the time Willow is there as well, sitting in her stroller, sipping a bottle and occasionally demanding a "cook-cook" (cookie).

At TMH, music therapy is free to their existing clients (we also attend occupational and speech therapy there), because it is a teaching hospital and intern therapists regularly participate in -- and often lead -- the sessions.

We always start with a "hello" song. We take turns singing hello to each of us -- Billy, the teacher, Mama, Willow (who has started waving as soon as she hears that song) -- while the therapist plays the guitar. Sometimes, Billy strums the guitar while the therapist holds it and changes the chords.

Then he gets to choose between a couple of activities. In the beginning, we used a picture schedule, and his two choices would be represented by pictures. For instance, he might have a choice between a drum or puppets. If he chooses puppets, he picks that card and places it on the position for "activity we're doing now." After we're done, he takes the card and puts it in the "All done" pile. That way, he can visually understand that an activity has a beginning and end and that we complete one activity before starting the next.

If he chooses the drum, one of the activities we do is "Leader of the Band." We each hold a drum, and we all sing: "Billy is the leader of the band. Billy tells us when to start and stop." Then Billy has to shout, "Start!" before we can all start playing our drums. And we keep playing until he commands us to "Stop!" That activity helps reinforce the idea that communication helps him to get people to do what he wants. He got the hang of that one pretty quickly. I frequently hear "Stop!" at home. But he also started commanding me to "Tickle!" which was nice.

There are several different puppet-based activities. One of Billy's favorites he calls "Alligator Monkey." It sounds like an inexplicable Japanese cartoon, but it's actually a game in which the therapist holds an alligator puppet, while Billy and I hold five monkey "puppets" (which are really just felt monkey on a popsicle stick).

Then we sing:
"Five little monkeys swinging from a tree,
teasing Mr. Alligator:
'Can't catch me, no, you can't catch me.'
Along comes Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and he SNAPS that monkey right out of the tree!"

At the SNAP point, the therapist grabs one of the monkeys in the alligator's mouth. At first, I was worried Billy would be frightened by the game. But recently, he's started feeding the monkeys to the alligator as soon as the song starts. He sometimes tries to give the alligator a couple of monkeys at once.

Another favorite game: Bean bags. We each receive a bean bag of a particular color and sing:
"Bean bag, bean bag, where ya been?
Way up high (we hold our bean bag up high)
and down again (we move the bean bag down low).
Bean bag, bean bag, don't get lost.
If you're bean bag is (insert color here), then give it a toss!"
And whomever has the bean bag of a particular color, throws it into an upturned drum.

Music therapy uses instruments like the xylophone and various drums and shakers. We also occasionally use streamers, balls and balloons, bubbles, books. The unifying element is that there is a song involved with every activity, and each game or song helps teach a concept. There's a song for taking turns, a song for greetings and goodbyes, a song for cleaning up, a song for following instructions, even a song for sitting down in your blue chair and not running around the room.

When we started music therapy six months ago, each transition to a new activity was a struggle. Even getting from the lobby to the therapy room inspired a meltdown for the first few weeks. He didn't want to give up one activity or instrument he liked in favor of a new one. But now he'll run right in there shouting the name of whatever instrument he wants to play. He understands that he has to sit down in order to play. And he understands the concept of taking turns. He still prefers "Billy's turn" but he grudgingly accepts that other people get a turn with the Lollipop Drum too.

I'm a huge believer in music therapy for my child. I've seen it work with my own eyes, because Billy loves music. I can ask Billy to do something, and he'll ignore me. But if I sing the command to him, he'll look up, and most likely, respond. Sometimes, as I'm making up a melody and belting out, "Please, please, BIL-ly, stop stick-ing your hands in the toil-LET!" I feel like I'm starring in my own very strange way-way-off-off-Broadway production, but I don't mind that. I like musicals.

Reader Comments

Music Therapy for Autism

To the tune of every SLP's favorite song, "It's Time to Clean Up":

It's time to wake up, it's time to wake up...

It's time to eat breakfast, it's time to eat breakfast...

It's time to brush teeth, it's time to brush teeth...

This song is making me crazy, this song is making me crazy!

Total 1 comments

If an elementary school music class and Floortime therapy had a baby, it would be Kindermusik. I've written before about what fans we are of this program, but having been through an entire semester now of Family Time at Good Samaritan Arts, taught by Jaci Niks, I can be more specific about what is special about Kindermusik -- particularly for kids with special needs.

Kindermusik isn't designed specifically for special needs kids; the classes are available for all children from birth to seven years old. But where a traditional, highly structured music class or lesson might be impractical for an autistic child, or a child dealing with any kind of developmental delay, Kindermusik provides a positive, flexible environment, while still encouraging development of real skills through hands-on participation.

We participate in the Family Time class, which has a mix of ages and allows Billy and Willow to interact in the same class. Like Floortime therapy, Kindermusik supports the child-led philosophy. So while the teacher provides a certain amount of structure, with activities and songs selected prior to class, there is plenty of room for individual expression and creativity. From playing with rhythm instruments and scarves to rocking and listening with Mom and Dad, the activities encourage exploration and family bonding.

Take-home materials include CDs with each unit's music, a set of rhythm instruments (like egg shakers or wood blocks), copies of the books introduced in each unit, a puppet, a game, and a parent's guide with activities you can continue at home to reinforce the new concepts introduced at Kindermusik. Both Billy (age 3 1/2) and Willow (1 year) love and respond to the music. In fact, we hadn't originally planned to enroll Willow in the class, but she had such a positive, joyful response after a visit at 6 months that we decided to make Kindermusik true Family Time once a week.

Some of the music may be familiar to you. In our first unit, we worked with versions of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Ring Around the Rosey." Our parent's guide explained the origins of these songs, which I'd never known. We also learned new songs like the beautifully restful "Shalom Haverim," which has become a favorite calm-down song, and "Bubbles on Me," which Billy sings every time we blow bubbles. There are traditional American folk songs, music from around the world, such as the beautiful Nigerian Boat Song, and original tunes.

Activities during each class include a "Hello" and "Goodbye" song, a great way to reinforce social skills, a "Family Jam," when we all get to grab various instruments and play along with the music, story time, active listening, and a whole lot of various types of movement. We might be asked to listen for a particular phrase in a song, like "Hands all around, Jing Jang," and when we hear that phrase, we all run together and join hands for a circle dance. We might practice walking slow during the slow beat and jumping fast during the fast beat; or we might wave our scarves up high during the major key and wave them down low during the minor key change. Even if they don't undestand the terminology, you'll be amazed how quickly children pick up on things like key change and rhythm variations.

When we started the class, Billy mostly ran around and around the room non-stop. Our teacher, Ms. Jaci, taught me to let him be. I learned to follow his lead and bring the music to him if need be. Fairly quickly, he saw the advantage of joining the group and getting his pick of instruments. He loves to try out new rhythm instruments, particularly those that allow him to bang stuff with a stick -- and luckily, there are a lot of those.

All of our jaws dropped one night when he grabbed a wood block and started beating out a complicated, syncopated rhythm in time with the recorded music. He knows every song and poem by heart, and it always makes my heart swell to hear him reciting "Happy Little Me," which he learned at Kindermusik. He now loves to join the group for circle dances and playing with the parachute, and at the beginning of each class, he grabs all the stuffed animals lined up along the walls and sets them out on the story blanket for the hello song. Because obviously, they need to participate too.

I can only speak to our experience, and I believe we are truly blessed to have a phenomenal teacher in Ms. Jaci who seems to have a magical way with children of all developmental stages, and we have a great place to go in Tallahassee with Good Samaritan Arts (which also offers all kinds of dance and music classes to kids and adults). But the great thing about Kindermusik is that no matter where you are, you can try out a class in your area for free.If you do, I'd love to hear about your experiences, so please keep in touch!

Reader Comments

Subscribe to this blog!

...or grab my button!

Lifeisaspectrum.com button

BUY THIS BOOK!
(Billy and I are in it.)

Tags

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31