Songwriting Challenge #3: Instrument Song

The Songwriting Challenge for Music Therapists | Rachel Rambach, Listen & Learn Music

I’m having such fun with Rachel Rambach’s Songwriting Challenge! Here are the first two weeks’ challenge songs:

Songwriting Challenge #1: Hello Song

Songwriting Challenge #2: Piggyback Song

This week, we are to choose an instrument and at least one goal or objective we might target using that instrument with our client population, then write a song we would use to facilitate that instrument play.

I am working with a client that is very sensitive to sound, so much so, that if she is startled by a sound that it might cause a seizure. My goal for her is to tolerate sensory stimulation and to make choices, so that she can work towards self-expression and communication of her needs and wants. I selected a tambourine, because it would be more likely to make a sound given her limited range of motion and motor control, but I was concerned that the sound might startle her. So I began by talking about the tambourine and explaining the sound that it would make as I brought it out of my bag. I made sure to explain what I was doing and give warning before she heard a sound.

The lyrics are more explanation and support the sensory stimulation goal, as well as making sure to gently introduce the sound that a tambourine makes. I recorded it the way I used it: a cappella, so that I could play the instrument and to limit the amount of auditory stimulation occurring at the time.


Her response to this song was a big grin, so when I offered it to her and positioned it in a way that she could play it, she really expressed her musical self! We played a song together–one of her preferred songs–and then I introduced another instrument with an explanation and an improvised song about that instrument, so that she could then choose which one to play–the tambourine or the second instrument–which would work towards her goal to make a choice and my goal to make sure she never had a seizure during my session!

(The no-seizure goal was met. The choice goal had to wait until the next session because after being introduced to and playing two instruments, she was showing signs of fatigue. So we ended the session with some music-assisted relaxation.)