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Music Tools: The Tambourine Song... for improving gross motor and social skills. Bringing you music tools for early childhood & kids with special needs

In my history of music therapy, education, and training I have quite a few songs in my tool belt to use in my classes. Some of them I can't pinpoint who wrote it, but I know where I first learned it. That's the case with this fun song simply titled "The Tambourine Song"! When I was studying Music Therapy at California State University Northridge, I had the honor of working with Julie Berghofer, NRMT, a music therapist with over 20 years experience in the pediatric field, and Assistant Director of the Music Therapy Wellness Clinic at CSUN. She used this song is her sessions with kids with special needs, but I think it's excellent for many ages and abilities.

The lyrics are so simple and state exactly what is happening.

"What are we doing? What are we doing? What are we doing today? We're taking turns on the tambourine, taking turns today. (Billy) can play, (Andy) can play, and (Suzie) can play! We're taking turns on the tambourine. 1 - 2 - 3!"

With this simple song we are working on gross motor skills and social skills. The kids must extend their arms to hit the tambourine on the most basic level. For the older kids you can add variations such as right or left hand only, reaching high and low, and crossing body midline. Not only are we working on improving gross motor skills, we are simultaneously working on social skills. Many music interventions work on taking turns like this one, but I love that the Tambourine Song also helps improve kids ability to wait their turn. You can see how eager even the infants are in the video to have their turn to hit the tambourine! When using this song with preschoolers or older kids they most likely will want to play this "game" standing up. Give them a special marker on the carpet/floor that is their own place and part of the "game" is to stay in your spot and wait for the tambourine to be presented to them to hit. Use the variations above to make it more fun for them, let them take a turn being the leader if they can, and ask them if they want to go faster and faster!

Across many age groups and abilities my students love this song! It works in my classes and at home, and I hope it does the same for you.

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Thanks for being you and making music with me at!

Sarah jane