Sunday, February 19, 2012

Birthday Song Secrets Revealed!

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I received just a few renditions of the Birthday song today!  It made me think about how useful the song is in music therapy.  Not only is it a very well-known song, even used in France and other countries, but it is full of very clear and motivating cadences.  

A cadence is a musical term describing the resolution of a series of chords.  Basically, it is the way a musical phrase comes to a close or resting point.  This can be very useful in a music therapy assessment to evaluate music skill and music interest that could be important in music therapy activities.

As we all know, the Birthday song goes like this:

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to _________, 
Happy birthday to __________.  

By leaving blanks in the song at the end of phrases, it is possible to find out if a client is motivated to fill in the blanks.  Ending the last phrase on the word "to" leaves the musical feeling in suspense, with an urge to resolve to the tonic chord.  Then, if the client is inclined to sing a response, is it the correct pitch?  

If a client responds to blanks in this song, it is likely that other songs and activities may be similarly successful.  Target information can be placed in key parts of a song to help a client learn.  The motivation to complete a musical phrase can also be used to improve expressive communication skills.

Now, just for fun...go sing the song to someone and stop before you sing the last "you."  How long does it take for them to fill in the blank?  Did you find anyone that it didn't bother?      

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