Enhance Movement Using Rhythm and Songs

See how individuals and caregivers can easily use songs to initiate and enhance movement and boost spirits.

I influence my world, and my response to it, with the help of galvanizing emotions evoked by drum circle music and rhythm. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1995 and experience varying degrees of symptoms; linked to my stress level, physical health, emotional well-being, self-esteem, passion in life, and, of course, the stage of the disease itself.

I have discovered that I can enhance movement and cognitive function and quality of life if I Accent-tu-ate the Positive.

As I progressively lose the ability to do simple things, cut my meat, effectively brush my teeth, give my hair a good scrub in the shower, button my clothes, or open a soft drink, I use vintage songs, and drum circle music to enhance movement.

Songs along with drum circle music can create an immediate shift, an acoustic memory. Instead of being faced with consciously initiating movement, I respond to the memory of the music, allowing my body to remember and respond to emotions, not dictates.

Emotional Moves

When I am low on dopamine, I often drag my right leg. It is as if I am pulling a lead weight along with me. I have found that my movements can be jump-started if I do not focus on the movement itself, but instead use the emotions evoked by rousing songs to galvanize me to action and enhance movement. The more difficult the initiation of movement is, the more I sing. I basically spend my life as if I am in the shower.

Musical Animation
” The power of music to animate and organize brain activity is particularly spectacular in patients who lack the normal ongoing motor and motor-regulatory activity the rest of us have. Music is not a luxury but a necessity to such patients and can...provide what their brain can no longer supply.” Clinical Applications of Music in Neurologic Rehabilitation , Concetta Tomaino, p3









The following songs help when I am dealing with challenges of movement.

♪ Ain’t She Sweet (see her walking down the street. Now I ask you very confidentially, Ain’t she sweet?)
♪ Oh, I Was Left, Right Out of your Heart
♪ When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin Along
♪ I’m Walking (yes indeed, and I’m talking, about you and me)
♪ These Boots are Made for Walking (and that’s just what they’ll do)
♪ I’d Walk a Million Miles for One of your Smiles
♪ I Keep a close watch on this heart of mine
♪ Heigh ho, Heigh h, it's off to work i go
♪ Hit the Road Jack
♪ Walk Right In, sit right down.

Dextrous Dressing

Although I am still able to use large motor movements, actions involving my hands and fingers are becoming more and more challenging. Suggested dressing songs to enhance movement are:

♪ You Belong to Me (Button up your overcoat when the wind is free)
♪ Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree
♪ Yakety Yak (Don’t talk back. You just put on your coat and hat.)
♪ Zippedy Do Dah (for zipping up pants)
♪ Button up Your Overcoat

The Instantaneous Effect of Music
”The effect of music, in contrast to the effects of L-DOPA or other drugs is virtually instantaneous: the patient suddenly switches from one neural mode to another and may do so within a fraction of a second. It is not imaginable that the chemical status of the basal ganglia could be normalized in so short a time; one must suspect, rather, that the basal ganglia are being bypassed, and that alternative neural pathways are being brought into use.” Oliver Sacks. Clinical Applications of Music in Neurologic Rehabilitation , Concetta Tomaino, p3








Using Drum Circle Music to Facilitate Gait and Movement

The following songs help when I need to enhance movement.

♪ Ain’t She Sweet (see her walking down the street. Now I ask you very confidentially, Ain’t she sweet?)
♪ Oh, I Was Left, Right Out of your Heart
♪ When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin Along
♪ I’m Walking (yes indeed, and I’m talking, about you and me)
♪ These Boots are Made for Walking (and that’s just what they’ll do)
♪ I’d Walk a Million Miles for One of your Smiles
♪ I Keep a close watch on this heart of mine
♪ Heigh ho, Heigh h, it's off to work i go
♪ Hit the Road Jack
♪ Walk Right In, sit right down.

Using Rhythm to Facilitate Gait and Movement
”Thaut et al. (1994) also conducted studies using rhythmic auditory cues to facilitate gait performance in Parkinson’s and stroke patients. Results showed that subjects without auditory cues were not able to perform sequential movements at regular time intervals. However, the use of auditory cuing led to significant decreases in variability of movement duration.” Biomedical Foundations of Music as Therapy , Dale Taylor, p89







Dextrous Dressing

Although I am still able to use large motor movements, actions involving my hands and fingers are becoming more and more challenging. Suggested dressing songs that enhance movement, especially for drum circle music, are:

♪ You Belong to Me (Button up your overcoat when the wind is free)
♪ Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree
♪ Yakety Yak (Don’t talk back. You just put on your coat and hat.)
♪ Zippedy Do Dah (for zipping up pants)
♪ Button up Your Overcoat

Momentum for Meals

I used to love to putter around in the kitchen. Now, it is often too much of an effort to cope with combined issues of back pain from standing, stiffness from Parkinson’s, and weakness from arthritis, while struggling to open cans, cut parsley, or slice cheese. Vocal action instigators that enhance movement include:

♪ Hey good lookin’, what’s ya got cookin’?” (How’s about cooking something up with me?)
♪ Sugar time (Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening sugar at suppertime)
♪ Just a Spoonful of Sugar (helps the medicine go down)♪Tea for two

Beating the Blues

A high percentage of individuals who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease must also cope with depression. Depression sneaks up unannounced. I have learned to observe my moods and emotions and try to take action to ward off the ennui that sets in. Singing songs such as those shown below helps enormously.

♪ Help! I Need Somebody
♪ Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This
♪ Que Sera, Sera (whatever will be, will be)
♪ You Can Get It If You Really Want
♪ Pick Yourself Up (dust yourself off, and start all over again)
♪ Happy Days are Here Again

Anxiety Allies

Confusion is a factor of my existence when my dopamine level is low. My movements become slow and my thoughts are sluggish. Having spent most of my life in action, the following songs are reminders that it is ok to be slow.

♪ You Can’t Hurry Love (no, you’ve just got to wait)
♪ Slow Down, you move too fast. You’ve got to make the morning last.

Keeping Count with Timing Tunes

When I get ‘stuck’, unable to initiate movement, I have found that songs with counting words help to punctuate the rhythm I need to enhance movement.

♪ One for the Money (two for the show, three to get ready, now go cat. Go)
♪ One, Two, Three O’clock, Four O’clock Rock!
♪ (One, two, three, uh!) Look at Mr. Lee (three, four, five, uh! Look at him jive!)
>br>

Silly Songs

Some songs are guaranteed to place a smile in my heart and boost my energy level.

♪ Barney Google ( with the goo, goo, googley eyes)
♪ I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover (that I overlooked before)
♪ Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp-sh-bomp-sh-bomp? (Who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a ding-dong?)

All in all ... have lots of fun with your drum circle music and enhance your movement!

Parkinson's disease

Enhance Movement Using Your Body Balance Sheet

Songs, Science & Spirit




Return to the top of this Enhance Movement page

Visit our home page to see how you can create your own music therapy programs

Songs, Science, Spirit by Heather MacTavish availble here, securelt through Amazon.


Please click on the image above to purchase Songs, Science & Spirit! Your purchase will support the World Centre for Creative Learning Foundation, formed by Zubin Balsara, based in Pune, India.

Some related Drum Circle information pages you may be interested in are: