Tag: arts and recreation

Nature Play Blog

two boys playing on stonesWhat is Nature Play?  Nature Play is going outside to play and explore.  Kids spend more time indoors than ever before. Kids who play outside more often sleep better.  Those who play outside are sick less than those who stay inside.

Nature Play helps kids be happy and creative.  It shows how to solve problems and deal with stress.

Nature play uses the colors, textures, sights, and smells of the outdoors. There are many ways to make your own areas in your backyard! As a mom of five children, here are some cheap ideas that we have around:

  • trees, flowers, and plants;
  • water;
  • sand and stones;
  • seek and finds;
  • music; and
  • bug hotels.

For more information, please see: What is Nature Play?

Arts for Everyone!

a concert with musicians on stage and families in the audienceWhile some still think of theaters as a place for quiet adults, there are many shows open to everyone! People of all ages, young and old, and children and adults with a wide range of likes and dislikes are welcome at many shows, concerts and performances.

What are “Sensory Friendly” Performances?

Just a quick search on Google for “sensory friendly” leads to over 6.5 million hits! There are sensory performances at movie theaters, big stages in major cities, and small community and college shows. There many ways people with disabilities to enjoy the arts in the community.

What are “Sensory Friendly Concerts®?”

“Sensory Friendly Concerts®” are spreading around the country. CJ Shiloh, a Board Certified Music Therapist, and her non-profit “The Musical Autist” are making music concerts available to everyone.  Sensory Friendly Concerts® create a welcoming and accepting space for people who love music and with any type of disability or differences. These concerts are adapted to be friendly for children or adults with sensitive sensory systems. Noise level, lights and seating are comfortable for people with autism spectrum disorders. The artist may be a professional artist, a music therapist, or a musician who wants to share their love for music. Sometimes the performer has a disability. The concert includes the support of a music therapist to share the love of music with everyone in an accepting and inclusive space.

Where do they happen?

While Sensory Friendly Concerts® are an aspect of Community Music Therapy, there are other kinds of shows that are sensory friendly. Check your local listings for organizations that offer these kinds of shows. In Boston, you will find them at

  • Local colleges and universities in Boston
  • Broadway shows coming through town
  • Local movie theaters

How can I get involved?

There are many ways you can get involved.

  • Attend local sensory friendly shows!
  • Let the organizers know that your family wants to be involved in the arts scene!
  • Learn more about the Sensory Friendly Concert series by exploring The Musical Autist.
  • Talk with a Board Certified Music Therapist in your area to make your program more sensory friendly.

Whether enjoying Sensory Friendly Concerts® or going to a sensory friendly showing of a film at the movie theater, children who are sensitive to dark spaces and loud or startling sounds can enjoy the arts with their families. As opportunities like this increase, I look forward to seeing more arts experiences that are welcoming to all children, adults and families.  We need more family friendly open mics, accessible performance venues that welcome everyone and arts performances that invite the audience to participate, rather than be quiet.

To learn more visit The Musical Autist .

The Joy of Music Brings People Together

Colorful musical notes
When I think of ways to bring people together, music would have to be at the top of the list.

Whether you are making music together in a choir or just singing with friends, music makes you part of something bigger than yourself. It crosses all boundaries, as people find themselves with a common interest that can touch the heart and feed the soul.

For a person with a disability it can truly make a difference.

Music saves the night

One of my first work experiences was at Belchertown State School. I worked as a Psyche Aide on the evening shift with about 40 adults of different ages, backgrounds and disabilities. People didn’t socialize with each other; in fact the goal was to reduce the  arguing.

It was chaotic to say the least.

One evening I decided to bring in my guitar and try to get people to sing together, or at least listen. It was 1978, and I figured everyone knew at least the chorus to “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

As I started to play, the change was amazing. People from all over the building slowly came into the room and either started singing, moving to the music or just watching quietly.

Singing with a friend

But the biggest surprise was Jane.

She and I did not have a great relationship, as my main role in her life was to convince her not to take another shower. You see Jane took an average of 20 showers a day.

When I got to the chorus, Jane pulled up next to me and started to sing with the most beautiful voice, one I never imagined from her. .. And as the night went on, we shared our love for music and my friend and I sang at the top of our lungs.

A local chorus makes a difference

This month, I am excited to introduce the Special Needs Art Program (SNAP), a wonderful group in Lexington offering music and the arts to people with disabilities. They too know the value of singing at the top of your lungs and the simple joy it can bring into a persons’ life.

We will hear from Marilyn Abel, one of the founders of SNAP and  a member of the chorus who shares her enthusiasm and support for the program.

As we hear more about the role music can play in the life of a person with a disability, don’t forget to include it in yours.

Whether you sing in a chorus or in the shower, believe me, singing is just really fun.