A relaxing musical exploration, creating a multi-sensory winter themed experience where sensory input is adjusted based on what the person shows they like and dislike.
What you need
- Something to make sound with, e.g. rice or pasta in a plastic container to use as a shaker, a small hand-held percussive instruments such as shakers, bells, wind chimes, tambourines.
- If appropriate – a light source which could be from a torch, light on your phone, tablet or computer, a small light or lamp, or you could use sensory lights if you have them. Do not use light if the person is sensitive to light or becomes distressed by it. Be very cautious of using flashing lights, especially if the person has epilepsy.
- A large sheet of tin foil or a space blanket
- A small piece of greaseproof baking paper, cellophane or empty crisp packets
- Optional: Warm textured fabrics such as fleece, blanket, wool, hat, scarf, gloves
- Optional: A device to play music – phone, tablet, computer, CD player
- Optional: Scented pouches (click here for instructions)
Guidance and instructions
- Make sure the person is comfortable and there is space around them.
- Throughout the activity remove any sensory stimulation that causes distress.
- The fabrics can be placed around the feet, neck and shoulders, on the arms or legs. Gently and slowly move the fabrics across the body. Observe the person’s reactions and responses to the various textures and check always that they are ok with what is happening.
- Position your light source so that it reflects onto the large sheet of tin foil or space blanket and where the person can see it. Is the person becoming more relaxed or are they showing signs of disinterest or agitation? Is the light too bright? Is it flashing, what happens when the light stops flashing and remains steady? Try taking the foil away and just using the lights, or turning the lights off and spending some time feeling the texture of the foil. The lights should be removed if they are causing distress or agitation.
- To make winter sound effects that resemble a crackling fire or the crunching sound of walking on the snow – scrunch up the baking paper, cellophane or, empty crisp packets. Spend some time exploring the textures and sounds of these. Think about positioning so that the person can hear the sounds it makes but that it is not uncomfortably loud.
- Introduce the musical instruments one at a time. Observe and record any reactions to the different sounds. Are they positive or negative? If negative, put to one side and bring it back again a few minutes later and observe whether it receives the same response. Try playing a different instrument or sound. Maybe it is too loud, or too high? Are there any signs of engagement or interaction towards the instrumental sounds? Is there a particular sound the person likes or dislikes? Is it high or low, loud or quiet? Does it have a strong vibration when played?
- Scented pouches can be offered to the person to smell, be positioned amongst the fabrics or hung from a stick or wooden spoon and positioned close to the person. Observe whether the person shows any interest towards the scents and if there is a particular scent which they appear to like or dislike. Do any of the smells help relax the person or do they have an opposite effect?
- If you have access to a music player, suggestions of winter inspired songs are below which can be played quietly in the background. Music can be very emotive, so it is important to observe and record any reactions and responses positive or negative towards the music playing in the background. If you are not seeing any obvious reactions, is the person remaining calm and relaxed? Can they hear the music or does it need to be slightly louder? Does it appear to stir any emotions or memories?
- Bing Crosby – ‘Winter Wonderland’
- Vivaldi – ‘Winter from the Four Seasons’
- Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’
- Idina Menzel and Michael Buble – ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’
- The Snowman – ‘Walking in the Air’
- Fleet Foxes – ‘White Winter Hymnal’
- Debussy – ‘The Snow is Dancing’
- Dean Martin – ‘Let it Snow’
- Ella Fitzgerald – ‘Frosty The Snowman’
What to observe, assess and record
- How the person is before you start the activity and any changes you notice during the activity.
- Any signs of enjoyment, agitation, a like or dislike for a certain sound or texture?
- Are there any body movements or facial expressions to a specific song or part of a song? If you play the song again does it receive the same response?
- If you notice any body movements, are they repetitive? Is it only once, or does it occur often?
- If you have negative responses the first time, you may consider trying it a second and third time, unless it is causing distress. It is important to not stop just after one try as it can take time to get used to and enjoy new experiences. Is it a specific sound or sensory interaction, or is it the whole activity? Take away certain sounds or objects to assess whether the reaction might be caused by a specific thing rather than the whole experience.
- Anything which has a positive response, particularly if it shows excitement or relaxation, smiling or laughing, positive vocalisations. Can this be used for other activities the person enjoys?
- Any negative reactions or responses they have. Does this happen each time they do this particular activity?
- What do you feel worked and/or didn’t work?
© Fiona Sharp, F Sharp Music Practice
Email: [email protected]
F Sharp Music Practice YouTube channel
Created December 2020