Explore family relationships with seniors using songsWhat comes to mind when you hear the word family?

  • Is it lots of people or a small group?
  • Are they only blood relatives or does it include neighbors?
  • Does it bring up positive or negative emotions?
  • Does it make you feel happy or sad?
  • What family members did you live with or near?
  • What relatives have died who were an important part of your life?

It is easy to forget that our definition may not match those of someone else. Our experiences may be similar or very different. Being cognizant is important when or if we bridge this topic of family with older adults.

Braving this topic in some recent senior living center, here is some of the music included in the sessions. Use it as a guide to develop your own session.

Move to these family songs

Do you include gross motor movement in your groups? These selections would also be appropriate for lyric discussions. If so consider these selections for the backdrop.

  • “Family Hands” is a slower song for more gentle movements.  
  • “Teach Your Children Wel” has a little more beat that can guide rate of movements such as rowing, head movements, shoulder shrugs.
  • “We are Family” brought the greatest movement. We clapped, tapped our toes, marched. One of the residents led the group in clapping hands and sides of feet at the same time.

Drumming around a family theme

Before you hand our instruments, discuss how the group defines family along with the types of people/labels for who you might find in a family. Use the definition of family to create a chant to drum. For example, you might you a chorus of:

Families can be big. Families can be small.

Families can be a place of love and friendship which I like best of all.

Have a verse where you chant the relationship (example – dads and moms) a set number of times before returning to your chorus.

Consider sharing another familiar family song while participants select percussion to play. An example is “Grandma’s Feather Bed”. 

Songs about family

Sing songs familiar to your group members that mention family relationships. Consider the following:

  • I Want a Girl
  • Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me
  • Que Sera, Sera
  • Dad’s Little Girl
  • Cat’s In the Cradle
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Sing songs about home

There are tons of songs that mention home. A few to consider are:

  • Tea for Two
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Home on the Range

Share your favorite songs to share about family in the comments below.