Egg Shakers with Older Adults
As a music therapist, I primarily work with older adults and infant/toddler aged children. I really love this aspect of my job as it means I have a lot of variety in my work. The only downside is that I have invested in a lot of instruments typically used with young children (egg shakers, lollipop drums, rhythm sticks, etc.) but have always felt it was inappropriate to use them in my older adult groups.
The past few weeks I have been mulling over the idea of putting my older adult group’s favorite song titles on egg shakers. I knew it was the start of a fun idea, but couldn’t get my head all the way around it. (These half-developed ideas happen much more often than I would like!) I wanted to figure out an intervention that could be adapted for both assisted living and memory care groups, and also meet several goal areas. I mentioned my idea to a friend, and he came up with an awesome idea that I’ve been using all week in my nursing home groups. This intervention exercises cognitive processing, socialization, and motor skills.
Egg shakers (enough for each group member to have one)
To prepare, put a piece of masking tape on each egg. Write the number 1 and a favorite song title. Continue until all eggs have a song written on them. Put all eggs in a bag and have residents each take an egg. Next, depending on your group you can take the session one of four ways:
1. Go around the room in order and ask each resident what song is written on their egg. Play the song on their shaker together as a group. Encourage the residents to shake their shakers along with you.
2. Ask the group which resident has the egg labeled “1.” Ask that resident what song is written on their egg, sing that song as a group, and encourage them to shake their shakers.
3. Ask the residents to get into numerical order. After they do this, starting with egg shaker 1, go around the room and play their songs in order. Don’t forget to encourage them to shake their shakers with you!
4. Try a “Name That Tune” variation! Start by playing the beginning of a song and have the resident with that title on their shaker start shaking when they hear it!
My residents have all loved this intervention so far this week – I hope yours do too. I think the moral of the story is to not pigeon-hole instruments into certain age groups or populations. Also, keep in mind that our friends can be great people to brainstorm session ideas with. Yours might come up with something fun like mine did!
For a fun extension, use the songs below and try having group members only shake their egg when they hear the word “shake!”
How do you use egg shakers with older adults? Let us know below!