This month I am session planning for Memorial Day. Keep reading to learn which songs I use the most for this holiday with geriatric populations to honor the lives of our veterans.
"God Bless America" by Irving Berlin
This traditional patriotic song was composed in 1938 by Berlin and works well for a sing-along!
"This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie
This song was composed by Guthrie in 1956. I often provide accessible percussion instruments for my residents during this upbeat song such as drums and tambourines. As I lead the playing and singing of this song, we celebrate our country and veterans together.
"My Country Tis of Thee"
The words to this familiar song were penned by Reverend Samuel Francis Smith in 1831, though the origins of the melody are unknown. Intentional song discussions often occur naturally during group music therapy as my residents and I discuss and analyze the lyrics together. This song has themes of freedom and acknowledges the cost of that freedom in the line, "Land where my father's died". Some music-prompted reminiscence may occur as the music provides space for residents to grieve, honor, and remember their loved ones who lost their lives serving our country in the military. The music also provides an opportunity for an expression of gratitude for veterans and the many blessings in our country.
"America the Beautiful" by Samuel A. Ward and Katherine Lee Bates
The lyrics of this song were written by Katherine Lee Bates and the melody was composed by Samuel A. Word. The lyrics and melody were combined in 1910. During a music therapy session honoring Memorial Day, I typically pass out small American flags for my residents to wave or hold along to one of the songs I present and to imagine they are at a patriotic parade.
"God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood
This song was released in 1984. I use this song for mindful music listening and encourage the residents to reflect on the beautiful text honoring, "the men who died". Sometimes song discussions occur over the lyrics after the presentation of the song, tears are shed, and memories are shared.
I am grateful for the opportunity to honor and serve veterans, their families, and their lost loved ones with the gift of music. Blooming Bridge Music Therapy, LLC specializes in eldercare, including Alzheimer's/Dementia care. If your organization is interested in group music therapy services in eldercare, you can find more informationhere.