Forward March and Welcome Spring

Since it won’t officially be spring until March 20th, we haven’t gone full throttle with the seasonal “theme” yet. But with the nearing spring-like weather here in Charleston, I couldn’t help but throw one or two into our morning exercise group.

Warm began with some simple stretching and self-massaging to loosen our bodies and prepare for exercise. “Carolina in the Morning” seemed only fitting today for our light movement to music. The overarching sweeping melodic lines help encourage swooping-like movements and facilitate range of motion goals. “Bushel and a Peck” served as the medium movement warm up song because of its slightly faster tempo and its more staccato accompaniment. 

*Quick side note. As you are probably aware, tempo is the most important element associated with music assisted exercise (Wininger & Pargman, 2003). When picking my songs I use a BPM app that gives you an estimated BPM when you tap your phone to the beat. It’s very helpful in sequencing your selections to follow more of a bell curve model. 

The lovely Taylor Alexander, CTRS led two therapeutic games: a very lively balloon toss game and chair Simon Says.

The main MT intervention I want to share about includes a little poem about March and spring.

                 Forward March and welcome spring, 

                 Rabbits hop and all birds sing!

One half of the group recieved a spring-colored scarf and the other half received jingle bells. 

The group with the scarves was taught to march on the phrase “Forward March” and fling their scarf on the word “spring.”

Group two led by CTRS hopped on “Rabbits hop” rang their bells on the word “spring.”

After each group learned their respective lines, we chained them together and progressively increased the speed. Once we reached a successful appropriate speed, we switch the groups and instruments and reassigned the lines. 

This was intended to address a variety of physical movements, but was certainly a cognitive challenge as well. I’m proud to say that they were able to learn the poem with the help of the kinesthetic and visual cues.

If I ever do this activity in a smaller group I think it would be interesting to add one more component at the end giving each member a scarf and bell. Especially in the population I work with, I know this would be an extreme challenge, but I think with appropriate pacing and simplified chaining it could be achieved! 

In keeping with the March idea, we did some “arm marching.” Every other resident received a paddle drum and the in-betweens received a mallet. I’ve split up the mallets and drums before to facilitate social interaction but this time the goal was more focused on range of motion and crossing midline. It’s also a good trick if you have more participants than drum sets available. It seems so very simple but the task of  alternating  playing the drum on the left and then the right was very challenging. We had to start slowly playing only on one side then giving verbal and model cues in time to switch to other side. In activities like this, it is imperative to maintain your steady rhythm as the anchor. DO NOT STOP! Even if someone is playing the wrong drum or looking around confused, exercise your multitasking skills! Pull their mallet to the right (or the left) drum while still calling out “Drum, drum, drum…etc.” or whatever your auditory cue may be. Remember that the music is what’s driving this exercise and if it doesn’t sound organized or musical to them it will not motivate their minds and bodies to follow. 

Happy “Marching!”


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