Play is an important concept not only for childhood but also into adulthood. Play is both a noun and a verb. It is both an act of being and doing. There is non-scripted play and there is formalized play such as playing an instrument, a sport, or a game. In young kids engaging or not engaging in play is how we mark development and find if there are any delays. In adults, it is thought we “loose” our need to play, but I beg to differ. Participating in the act of play every day is healthy.
From the youngest to the oldest individuals I see in my music therapy practice, the act of making music calls upon the person to respond to their own inner creativity. I allow time and space within the music for individuals to “play”.
Singing a song while trading a maraca back and forth with a three year old, saying “My Turn” is cooperative play. While the three year old has the maraca, he or she is able to shake it as fast or slow as they would choose to play it during their turn. This increases cognitive personal choice making skills in the earliest stages of development.
When working with a teenager with Autism, it may be a goal to for them to break out of comfortable mindset patterns of playing or reproducing composed music and begin to create their own melodies on a piano through improvisation. This can create new pathways to learning, increase self confidence, and allow them to have agency over personal decision making.
Adults often need to be reminded that music making doesn’t have to be formal and “just right”, but I teach that it can be silly and playful with creating fun warm-up sounds to strengthen their voices, moving and dancing to the rhythm of music to encourage movement, and making up humorous lyrics to help lift feelings of depression and increase positive thinking.
Often, I find as grown ups, we forget to engage in our ability to be silly and fun, especially when there seems to be so much bad news and many concerns in our lives. Our outlook on difficult situations and news can be addressed by how we respond to the stressors in our lives. Engaging in the act of play through sport, games, and artistic endeavors, like music, helps us express our thoughts and feelings in constructive ways. Play also helps us to move our bodies as in structured exercise, walking, or dancing which helps to relax us afterwards. When participating in a communal play through activities like singing, playing instruments, playing games, or participating in sports, play helps us make important bonds and connections with family and friends.
Here are some ideas to “play” more:
- Write down for yourself or collaborate with family 10 things you’d like to do together.
- Pick one and plan to do it within the next three days.
- Plan one for next week.
- If it’s a “bucket list” of vacations and trips, then plan one when it is safe to do so, or begin gathering information about places to visit.
- Go with the mindset of of having fun and playfulness. I say this because often grown ups get bogged down with details of timing, traffic, fussy kids, and interruptions – don’t let this stop you from enjoying the moment.
- Take pictures not for social media’s sake, but to go back and remind yourself that you had some fun and play to your day, week, and month.
Subsequently, we should all take some time to laugh each day. I often have to remember to laugh, yes, I do! And when I do, it feels good!
And if your are curious how to increase a sense of playfulness through music therapy, feel free to send me questions or sign up for a FREE 30 minute consultation to see if music therapy is a good fit.
If you are looking for more music therapy experiences for a family member or yourself, Music Therapy services are available by appointment for private music therapy. My specialties are as listed:
- Music Together within Therapy for early childhood developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and special needs
- Music Therapy for children, youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and special needs
- Vocal music therapy for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (both private and group)
- Music Therapy for Memory Care and Older Adult Wellness
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All the best,