COVID-19 Safe Music Games and Activities
by Miranda Rex, MA, MT-BC
It’s a tough time to do what we are used to as music therapists because a lot of what we usually do can be a risk for spreading COVID. It can also be hard to engage our clients or patients because they’re overwhelmed by whatever they are already dealing with on top of all the COVID precautions facilities are taking.
This is a list of music games and activities that I’ve been using at my facility because they are low risk and enjoyable for everyone.
Music Man and Scattergories
I wrote about these two games in an earlier blog post here. Both of these involve very few materials from the therapist and little to no materials from the participants. Markerboards are easily sanitized, while the Scattergories sheets are disposable or can be laminated for easy cleanup.
Movie & TV Show Soundtracks and Trivia
The nostalgia these tend to evoke in adults and teens alike is a delight to witness. I typically provide a list of the songs used and have them guess which one is being played, then ask them a trivia question or provide a fun fact.
For the trivia questions, feel free to reach out to me for a full list, or insert your own!
Other activities I have done require a few more materials, but still have an easy clean up.
I based this on something I did during my internship and put my own spin on it. Each of the Jenga pieces is labeled with a number (I do 1-6) and each number goes with a set of corresponding topics/categories. I usually do music along with other things like books/tv/movies, food, celebs, etc. but it can easily be adapted into music exclusive categories like songs, artists, bands, etc.
When a participant selects a Jenga piece, they have to answer a question within that category. I also label pieces with a question mark and a music note, and when these are drawn, the participant can pick any of the six categories (question mark) or pick a song for the group to listen to (music note). Whoever topples the tower must answer a question of the therapist’s choosing.
Similar to Jenga, each card and suit matches a corresponding set of questions. I usually do black-suited odd numbers do categories one through 3, then even-numbered red suits do 4-6. Royal suits (J Q K) get to choose any question they would like while Aces get to pass the question on to any other person in the group. Jokers get to pick a song to listen to.
Google Translate Music
This one can be very funny. I will find a song that is currently very popular, then put it into Google Translate. I’ll typically pick a language that is not as commonly known (Thai, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Gaelic, Greek, etc.), translate the song into that language, then translate it back into English. The results are often very interesting. Then I will read the new lyrics to the patients and see if they can guess which song it is based on the new lyrics. When they guess, we listen to the song!
Name That Tune
A game we all know and love, but this time I use recordings of covers or instrumental covers of the songs. Sometimes it’s really easy to guess, but other times it can be a challenge. I have a playlist for this here that I used with adolescents.
Other activities I have done involve the HeadsUp app — free in the app store but with in app purchases — only using the music-related categories, as well as Chrome Music Lab. Both of these are enjoyable and interactive for patients and clients of all ages and don’t require a lot of contact.
What kinds of games and activities are you all using during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments below!