When I first started my in-home private practice, I told myself that I would never, ever go into debt for this business. Any money that I used would come directly from this business and not from my own pocket. Luckily, my family believed in me and I received a generous donation of $200 to get started! So there I was, $200 and nothing else. I had already set up my insurance (had to do that out of pocket but only knowing that at least one client would cover that cost) but I had no instruments! So I looked on West Music and Music in Motion (two of my favorite sites to order from at my work) and quickly realized that with the budget I had, and to get multiple instruments for groups, I was going to have to look elsewhere for now. So I went to my next favorite place: EBAY! I was able to purchase 11 items for my business and not go over my $200 budget (including shipping!). Here is a lovely, simple list of instruments and tools for your music therapy practice, no matter how big or small:
1. Egg Shakers- Egg shakers are one of my go-to instruments for small groups and even individuals. Using egg shakers in a session provides the opportunity to work on fine motor skills, gross motor skills, listening skills, and so much more. These specific shakers come in packs of 12 and are much stronger than you'd expect!
2. Tambourine- Using tambourines in a session can have many benefits: Tapping finger on it works on fine motor skills, holding the tambourine can work on grip, shaking it works on gross motor skills, having a client follow the tambourine with his or her eyes works on tracking and increase focus. There are so many fun things that can be done with a tambourine (including using a mallet)!
3. Wrist Bells- Wirst bells can be used in groups for sound response during movement activities. Receiving an immediate sound response from a movement can encourage that movement to be repeated. Even wearing a wrist bell bracelet while playing a drum can provide motivation for repeated movement.
4. Lollipop Drum- Lollipop drums, or any hand-held drums, are so much fun in session! I prefer to use the lollipop drums because they are eye-catching and fun to look at, which provides a focal point for activities. When I use the drums to begin, I have the client use just their hands to hit the drum, crossing the midline, etc. As time goes on, I will introduce the mallet, using an adaptive grip if necessary. I also like to use the smaller hand-held drums to have a client walk down the hall and play, working on multi-tasking and even paced gait training.
5. Ukulele- If you have a guitar already, you can pass on buying the ukulele and spend your money elsewhere, but especially for travel purposes, ukulele's are great! The can provide a nice, quiet sound in both a small room or a larger room. Just like guitars, they can be open-tuned, capoed, and easily adapted.
6. Ocean Drum- This was a tough purchase. You have to know whether you want a quiet ocean drum or a loud one, and you also need to know whether you want the beads visible or not. On one hand, the beads can be distracting, but on the other hand, the sight of the beads flowing like the waves in the ocean can provide a connection to the motion. This has to depend of exactly what you have in mind for it's purpose.
7. Glockenspiel- There are many glockenspiels out there, but what I believe is most important, aside of tonal quality, is that you find a glockenspiel with the colors in the order of red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue, purple, and red. Many children, as well as adults, have very good color memory, so associating color with a musical note provides fluidity. I use these specific colors because they are used in many different instruments, including the diatonic hand/desk bells set. You can get some great ideas about how to use the colors with individuals and groups right here
8. Dance Ribbons- Ribbons are great tools for movement and expression. Moving to pre-recorded music or moving to a directional song that you find or even make up is a great activity for groups or individuals. You can also use these to work on color identification, directional movement, and so much more! And plus they're just plain fun!
9. Bluetooth Speaker- If you are running groups or even traveling, a small, Bluetooth speaker is extremely helpful to have on hand. Whether you are creating music or listening to pre-recorded music, Skullcandy speakers have a wide range of volume and are very reliable. Helpful hint: Just make sure you purchase a speaker that is small, portable, and has an aux cable incase the bluetooth pairing does not work.
10. Rubber-Tipped Practice Drumsticks- All children love to drum. Unfortunately, the problem we may run into is that we do not have the ability to have a drum available. With these, practice tips, any surface becomes drumable! Rhythm and drumming activities are perfect for those with ADHD or the need to increase focus.
11. Diatonic Hand/Desk Bell Set- There are many hand bell sets out there to purchase that are music cheaper than these, but believe me, I have my reasons. These bells here allow for a simple, whole hand push to produce a sound for those clients who are unable to hold the bells. The next step with these bells work on fine motor skills by using a single finger to push the bells. Another step after that is holding the bells and actually ringing them. These specific bells with the ability to push and hold allow for growth!
The total of all of these items come to $195.41! Once you have some continuous income coming in from your clients, you can purchase some higher quality, more durable instrument for your clients and for your practice!
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Have another instrument that you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!