DIY Music Therapy Instruments

The Covid-19 pandemic has created the new “normal” of staying home and social distancing. While we’re remaining safe and doing our part by staying indoors when possible, boredom can still strike. The pandemic has shown us how important it is to find novel, creative outlets for ourselves. 

Have you ever thought of making your own instruments at home? Well, now is your chance! Below are a few common instruments that music therapists use in our sessions. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to make your very own DIY music therapy instruments for yourself or your kiddos. 

  1. Egg Shakers

Do you have extra plastic Easter eggs laying around? If so, you’re in luck! Egg shakers are easy, portable instruments to make that sound great with any song. You will need…

-Plastic Easter eggs

-A filler (rice, popcorn seeds, dry beans, etc.)

-Tape

-Stickers (not required, but a fun addition)

Fill the plastic eggs with the filler of your choice. Be aware of the small holes that usually are found at the end of your eggs so that your filler does not sneak out. Fill one half of the egg about halfway full considering you’ll want to leave room for the filler to move around and create the “shaker” sound. You’re almost done! Make sure to seal the eggs with tape (Scotch tape works) to ensure the filler doesn’t make a mess at home. Feel free to decorate your plastic shakers afterward with colorful stickers or use markers to draw fun designs! Enjoy!

  1. Drum

We’re all rhythmic and rely on a steady beat. Take your heartbeat and breathing for example! Now you can play along to a steady beat at home with DIY drums! Check and see if you have any of these items on hand…

-Empty coffee, soup, Pringles cans (the bigger the better in my opinion!)

-Balloons (7-9in.)

-Rubber bands

It’s pretty simple…take the empty can you have available, place the balloon over the opening of the can to cover the entire circular face, and secure with a rubber band! Using numerous sizes of cans will create different sounds for each. All you need now are two items to work as drum sticks and you’re all set!

Ready for an even easier option? Leftover oversized paint buckets work perfectly! Flip them over to use the bottom as your drum face and play away. This will give the drum a deeper, louder sound compared to the “can drums” up above. Lowes and Home Depot have these available for under $5!

  1. Tambourine

The final instrument to add to your “at home band.” Tambourines are great to take on-the-go or dance around the house with. This DIY instrument is a little more complex, but still uses common, household items. Look for…

-2 Paper plates

-String/Yarn

-Hole punch

-Jingle bells

-Anything else needed to decorate

Put the two paper plates face to face while punching holes around the perimeter. Taking your yarn, weave it through a hole around the outside of the plate and back through that same hole to create a knot. Once you do this, you’ll be able to take your jingle bell and string it through the yarn. You can include a jingle bell on every hole or skip a few depending on how loud you’d like your tambourine to sound. Once you return to the original hole, tie off the yarn and you’re almost ready to play! Feel free to personalize the tambourine however you’d like! 

Ready, set, make music!

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

With the recent news of the events in Afghanistan, we know that Veterans are hurting, feeling overwhelmed, and may be triggered by what they see and hear on the news and social media. Our team was honored to provide an online Music & Wellness session for Veterans this week.

The Metro Music Therapy team spoke for a few minutes, sharing ways to decompress, de-stress, and to set oneself and their loved ones up for success when life feels out of control.

After the speaking portion, one of our team members led the participants in a live music and relaxation exercise, wherein each attendee participated in the way that they felt most comfortable.

We hope you enjoy a glimpse into our Music & Wellness Session for Veterans, which took place on August 24th. Thank you to all who attended (both those pictured and not pictured)!

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival 

Online Wellness Session for Veterans

Veterans are Hurting.

With the recent news of the events in Afghanistan, we know that Veterans are hurting, feeling overwhelmed, and may be triggered by what they see and hear on the news and social media. Our team is inviting Veterans to join us online on Tuesday, August 24th @ 8:00pm for a free Music & Wellness session.

The Metro Music Therapy team will be speaking for a few minutes, sharing ways to decompress, de-stress, and to set yourself and your loved ones up for success when life feels out of control.

After the speaking portion, one of our team members will lead the participants in a live music and relaxation exercise, wherein each attendee can participate in the way that they feel most comfortable.

Veterans of all ages are welcome to attend – please share this information within your personal and professional circles!

Registration is FREE and must be completed to gain access to the Zoom call — Registration closes at 1pm eastern on August 24th!

REGISTER NOW

A Pandemic of Grief

One year ago the Covid-19 pandemic startled the world. With over 30 million cases recorded to date, the pandemic has caused a drastic shift in our everyday living. Will life ever be “normal” again? While that question still remains, one thing is known; grief has impacted all of our lives in some way.

Grief is defined as “the natural response to losing someone or something that is important to you.” Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, grief also has physical, behavioral, cognitive, cultural, social, spiritual and philosophical dimensions as well. Losses such as a loved one, financial and job related losses, the feeling of normalcy, social and familial interaction, and certain freedoms we may have taken for granted have caused grief to be present in our current lives. Anxiety, depression, sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness are all common symptoms that can accompany grief.

While this is still a difficult time for many, Metro Music Therapy is here to provide ongoing support and comfort. Our experienced staff understand the difficulty and uniqueness of each circumstance faced by our clients. Metro recognizes that grief has no timeline and that your feelings and thoughts are valid. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know are interested in our grief and loss services, please visit the contact tab on our website to fill out our client intake form. You can also call us at 404.510.3799 if you have any further questions.

 

Why Music?

One of the strengths that music holds is that it can encourage, uplift and support. It can and does at times remind us of better days ahead and that we have the internal strength to get to those better days.

But I also believe that, unlike most other things in this world, music has the power to meet us where we are in the dark and deeply sorrowful places. It validates our feelings and acknowledges them without the push to also remind us of the good ahead. Music can just sit with us, free of judgement and opinion, and instead of saying, “this too shall pass,” say, “this hurts so much.”

The power and science behind music therapy comes from knowing what we need from music and when.

We are with you, and we are for you. Let us know how we can help you.

2020 Gift Guide!

 

We frequently have parents and grandparents ask us for recommendations of instruments and other gifts for their loved ones who participate in music therapy or music lessons with us.

In order to make 2020 a bit easier this year, we are proud to present our
2020 Gift Guide for the music lover in your life!

Happy Shopping!

MMT SINGING GRAMS:

  • During this season of isolation, send the gift of connection and community through song to a loved one, friend, or co-worker! {Order here}

STUDIO PTC GIFT CARDS:

  • Studio PTC Gift Cards come in increments of 4 lessons, and can be purchased simply by emailing us @ mallory @ metromusictherapyga.com!

BEGINNER GUITARS:

INTERMEDIATE + ADVANCED GUITARS:

UKULELES:

KEYBOARDS // DIGITAL PIANOS:
{You want 88 weighted keys, a stand, a sustain pedal,
and the least amount of extra buttons possible!}

AUXILLARY PERCUSSION:

Items to avoid: anything sold in a toy store or that looks and feels like a toy! If the music lover in your life wants to learn to how to play an instrument, the best way to keep them motivated is to make sure they learn on a quality instrument that sounds nice when played, and that will stay in tune! 

Military Suicide Up 20%

Six-months into this “new norm,” and everything still feels very strange and heavy.

On the way to my office this morning, I heard these statistics on the radio, and I had to take a minute to wrap my head around these numbers that were screaming out to me over the car stereo:

Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019 …

And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30% jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told The Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments … *

Last year, the suicide rates, 20% lower than now, were still too high and unacceptable. It is overwhelming to think of each and every one of the lives that have been tragically changed because of these statistics.

I do not have all of the answers, and these situations can be so complicated; but I do know that music therapy services can help our active-duty military members and veterans. Not only does our field have the research to show this, but we have firsthand anecdotal evidence that music therapy can improve overall well-being and the outlook for the sometimes long road ahead.

Our team provides in-person and telehealth music therapy services for Veterans and active duty military personnel, and we are also very proud to partner with Music Therapy of the Rockies, a non-profit very near and dear to us who provides Songwriting Retreats for Veterans with PTSD.

If you or a loved-one is struggling due to military-related trauma, please know that we can help — no matter where you are. Our team now provides telehealth services to clients all over the globe, and we would be honored to walk alongside you during this crucial time.

With you in the hard times and the good,

 

 

 

 

*Read the full article from WSB News & Talk here.

What If Christmas Makes Me Cry?

*In accordance with HIPAA, and out of respect for our client’s privacy, the name “Ruth” will be used as an alias in this blog post.*

Happy Holidays!
Merry Christmas!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! …right?
Or, at least… it’s supposed to be?

For a great many people – maybe yourself included – this season truly is a time of good cheer, fond memories, gatherings of family and friends, bright spirits, colorful decorations, and cherished traditions. It’s a time to be grateful, to be kind and compassionate.
And I sincerely hope that the holidays bring all of this and more to you and yours!

But acknowledging, and even experiencing, all of these warm emotions and happy thoughts typically associated with the holidays certainly does not negate or invalidate those painful feelings that may also be stirred up at this time of year.
Joy may be followed by sadness. Laughter may be preceded by tears.
Maybe the gift you’re really hoping for this season is just a little bit of relief from the seemingly constant fatigue, stress, irritability, anxiety, depression, etc. Stressors like lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, pressures (whether perceived or stated) of gift-giving, and loneliness can feel all the more amplified when the rest of the world seems to be telling you to celebrate. Family gatherings can bring up difficult and painful memories, whether of childhood trauma or the loss of a loved one.

As Music Therapists, colleagues, friends, brothers, sisters, parents, neighbors – it’s important to remember that any number of painful circumstances, situations, or seemingly conflicting emotions could be the reality of the person sitting next to us this holiday season.
Our clients, our friends, our family could very well be hurting, and that pain might even be brought to surface by the very season that’s intended to bring joy, peace, and good will.

Take the phrase, “Happy Holidays!” for example.
Do you ever feel a sense of pressure when you hear that?
What if I’m not happy at all? Am I doing this wrong? Shouldn’t I be happy right now?
What’s intended as a simple expression of well-wishes can start to feel like a command.
“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. Do it.”

Kacey Musgraves says it well in her song “Christmas Makes Me Cry.”
Let’s pause and take a listen.


So how do we respond when Christmas makes us cry?

One good rule of thumb is validation. 
It’s okay not to be okay.
It’s alright if Christmas makes you want to curl up in a ball.
And if the last thing you want to hear right now is another chestnut roasting, sugar-plum dreaming, mistletoe waiting, bell jingling, sleighing song, then so be it!

A client – let’s call her Ruth – recently said to me, “I’m dealing with a lot of holiday depression right now. Is it okay if we don’t do Christmas music? I’d rather just keep singing country songs with you, if that’s alright. That actually helps me feel better.”

Can’t you almost hear that sense of pressure?
Ruth was asking *me* if *I* would be okay with not doing Christmas songs –
and of course that’s okay, because the session is for her.
But, since it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” Christmas songs are just expected. And maybe they don’t need to be. 
Especially if they’re a detriment to a person’s mental health.

If Alan Jackson’s “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” does more good for your soul than “Silent Night” right now, then that is okay. Really. And if you change your mind later and feel like singing “Joy to the World,” that’s okay too!

Ruth, in fact, did ask for Christmas songs the following week (“The upbeat ones, though, not the sentimental ones.”) We sang “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and had a good laugh!

All of this to say, whatever you’re experiencing this holiday season, it’s worth respecting and acknowledging.
If you want to laugh, do it heartily. If you need to cry, then go right ahead.

It may not be a bright, shiny, sing-songy, happy good time, and that’s alright. (Though I hope it is!)
To paraphrase [or, y’know, just rewrite] the song “White Christmas:”

May your days be whatever they need to be right now,
And may all your Christmases be white.

If you’ll allow me to finish with a simple expression of goodwill – for real, though, no pressure –
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


– Written by Kevin Middlebrooks, LPMT, MT-BC


Resources:
What We Know About the Holiday Blues
The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, 2017
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/201712/what-we-know-about-the-holiday-blues

Photo: xenia_gromak / Photocase

MMT & Northside Hospital

maternityMetro Music Therapy is thrilled to announce the details of their newest project that is being completed with the H.E.A.R.T. strings Perinatal Bereavement and Palliative Care office at Northside Hospital.

The MMT team and H.E.A.R.T. strings have been working for months to write original scripts and original music for a Relaxation CD for parents who have lost or are anticipating the loss of their baby.

The CD will be finished in the Fall of 2016 and once completed, will be available for public purchase. Proceeds will benefit H.E.A.R.T. strings patients at Northside Hospital.

You can learn more about the bereavement services Metro Music Therapy offers here. Click here to learn more about the H.E.A.R.T. strings Perinatal Bereavement and Palliative Care program.

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