So Much More Than A Sing-A-Long: Creative Actions for Groups
by Neta A. Wenrick, MS, RNT-BC

So Much More Than A Sing A Long

Great Songwriters:

Irving Berling

It is fun to "celebrate" a famous person's birthday by dedicating a session to that person's life and music. Irving Berlin, whose birthday falls on May 11th, is one such person. Here are some activities to use:

1. Berlin's music is much loved. Use some of the following songs for a sing-a-long:

God Bless America
Play a Simple Melody
All By Myself
Alexander's Ragtime Band (1919)
Always Remember
Easter Parade (1933)
White Christmas
Blue Skies
A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody

2. Start the session by listening to There's No Business Like Show Business. Ask the group to tell you who wrote it.


To stimulate cognitive functioning.

3. Play a recording of Irving Berlin singing O How I Hate To Get Up In the Morning.

Activities and Sessions

4. Play music for rhythm activities. Catchy songs which are perfect for rhythm activities include: Puttin'on the Ritz and Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.


To increase gross motor movement.

George Gershwin:

The birthday of George Gershwin, the great composer, falls on September 26th. The following activities work well as part of a session devoted to Gershwin's life and music.

1. Listen to some of Gershwin's music such as Fascinatin' Rhythm. Then ask the group to tell you who wrote the music.


To stimulate cognitive functioning.

2. Suitable songs for a sing-a-long include:

I Got Rhythm
Embraceable You
Someone to Watch Over Me
I've Got a Crush on You
Love Is Here to Stay

3. Spend some time listening to Summertime from Porgy and Bess and discuss the opera. Listen to excerpts from Rhapsodyin Blue. I was fortunate to get a recording which was madefrom a piano roll cut by George Gershwin himself, so we wereactually hearing Gershwin play. Group members were fascinated.


To stimulate cognitive functioning and increase attention span.

Jerome Kern:

Jerome Kern wrote lovely songs and some wonderful musicals. The following songs can be used for a sing-a-long.

OI'Man River (from "Showboat")
A Fine Romance
The Way You Look Tonight
Long Ago and Far Away
Pick Yourself Up
Why Do I Love You?
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
I Won't Dance
The Last Dame I Saw Paris
Till The Clouds Roll By Look
For The Silver Lining

1. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced to a great deal of Kern's music. Try to find a film featuring some of their dancing.

2. Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy sang many of his songs. Listen to some of their recordings of his compositions. Play thesongs and ask group members to identify the singer(s).


1. To provide an opportunity for reminiscing.

2. To stimulate cognitive functioning.

Johnny Mercer:

Johnny Mercer was probably the most prolific lyricist in history. He wrote hundredsof songs and contributed to 91 movie scores. His music provides a great deal of material to work with.

Activities and Sessions

1. Songs for sing-a-longs include:

Moon River
I'm An Old Cowhand
You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
Glow Worm
Accentuate the Positive
Jeepers Creepers
Goody Goody
In The Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening
On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe

2. Create a trivia game about Mercer's movies. Ask who starred in the following:

Jezebel (1938)
Harvey Girls (1946)
Forever Amber (1947)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Daddy Long Legs (7155) Peter Gunn (1959)
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1967)
Pink Panther (1964)
The Great Race (1960)


To stimulate cognitive functioning.

3. Good songs for rhythmic movement from Mercer's collection include:

The Strip Polka (Andrews Sisters version),
In The Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,
or Goody, Goody.


To increase gross motor movement.

Skylark is a song that Mercer wrote with Hoagy Carmichael. Linda Ronstadt made a particularly lovely version which is great for singing, listening, or easy, expressive movement.


To increase attention span and/or increase gross motor movement.

5. Another beautiful song which Mercer wrote along with Henry Mancini is "The Sweetheart Tree" from The Great Race. This is also a lovely song for listening or expressive movement.

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