Music for CPR

When heart attacks or other emergencies occur, it is important to respond quickly.  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can support the flow of oxygenated blood across the body until medical care arrives.  CPR emphasizes chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2012).  Healthcare providers are encouraged to use conventional CPR according to their updated training, received about once every two years (AHA & ASA, 2014). You can find an online course or local training center here.

Anecdotal experience has suggested that the use of music as a mental metronome can improve CPR compression rates.  Researchers selected “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees which has an appropriate 103 bpm (and a perfect name), measured compression rates while medical providers listened to the song, then measured rates again at least five weeks later when participants were encouraged to use the song only as a musical memory aid.  All participants in both the first (x̅ = 109.1 bpm) and second (x̅ = 113.2 bpm) assessments maintained compression rates safely over 100 bpm.  Participants also reported that the music increased their confidence and technical ability to perform CPR (Hafner, Sturgell, Matlock, Bockewitz, & Barker, 2012; Matlock, Hafner, Bockewitz, Barker, & Dewar, 2008).  Disco music in general has a strong, steady tempo.  My most recent training featured Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” which is thematically ironic but rhythmically effective (e.g., Aleccia, 2008). Enjoy some lifesaving songs below!

Continue reading


Hello & Goodbye Songs

A familiar hello song for many music therapists is piggybacked from “Goodnight Ladies.” This simple tune is great for children and older adults alike. Listen to “Hello Friends!” and quickly memorize the lyrics: “Hello friends, hello friends, hello friends, I’m glad you’re here today!”

Next, you might greet each group member through song: “Hello Emma, hello Noah, hello Emily, I’m glad you’re here today!” Walk around and engage each person individually. Encourage the whole group to say, “Hello, Emma!” Ask for names if you haven’t yet met, shake hands, check-in, offer high-fives, ask questions, give specific reinforcement. If your group is small enough, or you’re providing one-on-one therapy, you could dedicate a whole refrain to each person.

Finally, conclude your sessions with the same melody but now sing, “Goodbye friends, goodbye friends, goodbye friends, we’ll see you another time!” Some clients may have more success participating if you sing, “Bye bye friends” instead.

What are some other great hello or goodbye songs? Comment below or add your ideas to the Music Therapy Activities Wikia page titled, “Hello Songs” or “Goodbye Songs.” Thank you!


Spring Equinox

Center. Equal. Spring. Equinox.

Trane your primary or secondary instrumental/vocal improv with this gorgeous C#m blues. “Equinox” was originally released in June of 1964 on Coltrane’s Sound. If you’d like to play along in the key of C minor, below is a lead sheet (a page sample courtesy of Northwest Musical Services) and a backing track with chords and suggested scales available here. Enjoy!




Music Theory and Ear Training

There are many tools available to advance your music theory and develop your ear training. Here are just a few tools that I have enjoyed: For MELODY, here’s a great interval ear trainer from the Children’s Music Workshop, with many more lessons, trainers, and utilities available here. HARMONY – here’s a simple chord ear trainer, which is offered among many other exercises by TEMPO – I really appreciate this tempo exercise, because you can set the tempo like a metronome, but you can also control cycles of normal and silent measures (to practice keeping a steady beat)! RHYTHM can be practiced here, among other theory and ear training exercises by teoria. And REASON for music is an exercise in self-analysis. Why do you play music? Why do you engage with clients or other musicians? What emotion or experience do you want your improvisation to facilitate?