Fun with Online Music
Ryan Romero, MM, MT-BC & Hillary Gomez, MT-BC
Ryan: Like many other music therapists at the start of 2020, I was overwhelmed. How could I possibly convert the novelty of in-person music making to an online format? After confiding in my colleagues and researching various resources, I've found some online music materials that my clients have found engaging and fun!
Hillary: I found myself in a similar position to Ryan. Part of the challenge was to not only supplement the tactile experiences of making music in-person, but also to use online resources in a therapeutic manner (instead of just “playing around”). Luckily, our team at THMT has been sharing different resources and interventions to provide us with a good balance!
Ryan: Some of my clients are engaging in adaptive piano lessons. Due to camera angles and the online format, it can be cumbersome to position the camera so my clients can show their fingers, as well as positioning my own camera to model proper technique. After reaching out to my colleagues for some advice, they recommended virtual piano.net. Virtualpiano.net helps me show the keyboard without manipulating the camera to see only my hands. All I needed to do was: share my screen, visit the website, and play the passage/ scale on the virtual keyboard.
Hillary: I’m also a big fan of https://www.onlinepianist.com/virtual-piano. As a pianist, I appreciate the innovative use of keys on a computer to simulate playing keys on the piano. It’s easy to practice patterns with some limited fingerings, plus, there are several options to learn music theory through note names or solfege. I’m also able to play duets with clients through remote control (thank you Zoom!).
Another resource that I often use is https://www.bandlab.com. This music production website offers a free and interactive means of producing music and is accessible on the computer or on mobile devices. For my clients, this app allows them to record songs on computerized instruments in lieu of physical instruments; it also provides a visual representation of what the music looks like, which is difficult to replicate otherwise.
Ryan: Most of my clients need significant visual stimulation to stay engaged in reciprocal music making. Without this visual simulation, they tend to leave the room and seek that stimulation elsewhere. In order to keep them engaged with both sound and visual stimulation, I compiled a PowerPoint full of GIFs, making sure they don't flash or strobe (this can be overstimulating and possibly trigger seizures). I was looking for something soft yet stimulating. After I finished the PowerPoint, I shared my screen in Zoom and incorporated the colors and characters into the music we created together. I have seen a significant increase in reciprocal musical interaction in my clients since the creation of this powerpoint.
Hillary: I definitely am guilty of using Zoom backgrounds as a means of providing visual stimulation. Not only do the backgrounds allow me to be a part of a client-preferred scene, but I have also used the background as part of different interventions such as item identification. Luckily, Disney has provided free backgrounds from popular movies which can be found on https://popsugar.com/tech/disney-princess-zoom-backgrounds-47352488 and https://www.elitedaily.com/p/14-pixar-movie-zoom-backgrounds-to-add-some-magic-to-your-next-call-22806885.
These tools have helped enhance the music experiences we provide for our clients. We are still compiling resources that help our clients meet their goals in a fun way that aligns with their interests!