Making music simple can be driven from either a client or therapist side.

Clients may be agitated by an instrument or by the sound level, or they may have processing issues. Maybe they request a change. Maybe a change is needed to bring them closer to a goal.

As a music therapist, life happens. Inclement weather strikes. An injury or medical procedure limits what we can offer as far as music.

At times like these, we can embrace quotes like these:

“The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” ~ William James

“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” – Amelia Barr

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” – John Maeda

Consider the options using the following questions:

  1. How does removing this element add meaning for my client or the situation?
  2. How can I support my client in having a marvelous experience?
  3. In this situations what can I subtract so that I can focus on that which adds meaning for this client?

4 ways to simplify your music4 Ways to Simplify Your Music

#1. The accompaniment

  • Limit the number of instruments used
  • Limit the chords or changes in the accompaniment
  • Use only a single instrument

#2. No accompaniment

  • Just your voice or solo instrument
  • Just your client’s voice or instrument
  • Just the group’s voice or instrument

#3. Fewer words

  • What words are key in the lyrics? Use only them.
  • What repeating phrase can be used? Sing only this phrase.

#4. No words

  • Only a melody line hummed, sung on “la”/”ah” or played on an instrument
  • Only the rhythm of the lyrics played on percussion

Please comment below on the ways you have used simplified music in your sessions.

Bonus points for sharing the response by the client.