Part of getting our of a session planning rut is adding a little freshness.

Most days I start with the predictable couple cups of black coffee. Nothing fancy – just a regular brand.  It is a wonderful way to start my day.

On special occasions, I visit a coffee shop and have fancy sauce or sprinkles with my coffee. Sure – a few extra calories. It likely requires some tools or products I don’t keep around the house.

But come the weekend when I have time to sip and REALLY enjoy my coffee, I grind some special coffee beans and froth a little milk. A simple treat, that takes a few minutes and a couple extra tools to prepare. It is some place between the weekday and special occasion.

Which do I like best? That is not an easy answer. Honestly, if I always had it one way, I might lose what makes it special. But, if I had to choose just one, it would be my weekend coffee – a little flavor and froth.

For me, session planning is a lot likely my coffee.

There’s the basic “black coffee” session made from often requested songs and maybe a little instrument playing, maybe a little movement added. It meets those client goals. Often the group of elders leaves smiling and “more awake” than when we started.  I always have these session plans at the ready.

Then there are special sessions; those times I add the sauces and sprinkles to my session plans. It might be a holiday or maybe the group seems to need a real change to get them going. I’ll add lots of novelty in instruments, props, and songs. Much like the coffee on that special occasion, the coffee base (hello, good-bye and maybe the general order) is still there. As it takes a lot of time on my part, I don’t do this with great frequency.

My most common sessions are like my weekend coffee – easy to recognize but with a little extra effort.  It is still my normal serving of quality music therapy interventions with familiar music. But, I add a grind of a new song or two.  A little froth might be added with a special visual, prop or instrument. Nothing over the top, just a little extra on my part to meet the needs of the group.

How do I add the dollop of freshness to my sessions without needing tons of time to prep materials or to learn new music?

Think of adding just a couple new songs, a new intervention or a unique instrument.

How do you decide which songs to add?

Themes! Themes sometimes get a bad rap. But they don’t have to. Remember, you CAN use a theme as a dollop of freshness rather than changing everything.