Music Therapy Life Hack #1: Songwriting

IMG_7085 Here’s a tip for all you music therapists implementing short and quick songwriting with a decent sized group of participants. I work in a variety of skilled nursing facilities and I use songwriting from time to time to aid in self expression, reality orientation and creativity. This week I am using the chorus of “Springtime in the Rockies” due to its simple phrasing, familiarity, relevance to the time of year and rhythmic structure which allows easy implementation of instrument cues for the participants to follow once the song is written.

So here’s your MT life hack!

I’m sure everyone has had the struggle or annoyance of shifting through large poster boards when no chalk/white board is available for easy implementation (insert clever B roll here) We tilt back the stand and hope that the poster boards won’t fall as we try to move from page to page. In addition, it is a bummer having to waste the poster board once it has been written on for this one time experience. Well here is the solution that I have used which helps minimize this problem.

What you need:

  • Dry erase poster board sheets ( I get mine from Walgreens)
  • Permanent marker
  • Dry Erase Marker
  • Foam poster board
  • Large clip

IMG_7087The steps are just about as easy as gathering the supplies!

1. Using the permanent marker write the songwriting skeleton on the dry erase poster board sheets trying to minimize the amount you will need. This will help with reducing your shuffling of visuals. Remember to take your participants’ eyesight into account when creating and write large enough for the group to see.

2. Clip the dry erase poster board sheets back to back on the foam poster board so they stay in place. This will allow you to flip the more sturdier board over when it’s time to move to the next sheet of lyrics, removing the shuffling of poster boards from your experience.

Side One

Side One






Side Two

Side Two










3. Fill in the blanks with your group using the dry erase marker.  Make sure not to write on the permanent marker with the dry erase or it will be removed when you erase (as you can see in the image below)

photo 3







4. After you have completed your song you can erase the dry erase words that you filled in leaving behind the permanent marker skeleton for another group on another day!photo 4







It’s that easy! I usually print off a copy of the final song for my groups if they inquire on a nice sheet of paper and pin it to the bulletin board at the facility so all the residents can enjoy 🙂 This way the song is immortalized for the group, but you get to keep your materials ready for a new group and save time and money! And who doesn’t like doing that? 😉

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3 Responses to Music Therapy Life Hack #1: Songwriting

  1. I’d never heard of dry erase poster board sheets before. Thanks for the tip, Leslie!

  2. Pingback: Breaking Conversation Habits with Songwriting |

  3. Pingback: #ThursdayTherapyTune: Songwriting with Older Adults | How Has Music Helped You Today?

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