Big Band Intervention

Program Structure


30-45 minutes

Participants in the program

Group Size

Medium (8) to large (up to 30) especially if 1:4 staff to resident ratio is maintained

Entrance Criteria

  1. Resident is able to respond in small groups, or thought to have the potential to respond to very stimulating large group.
  2. Resident responds but do not usually initiate social interaction.
  3. Resident enjoys observing their surrounding and the actions of others.

Exit Criteria

  1. Resident demonstrates discomfort by verbal outbursts, agitation, or regularly seeks to exit the group.
  2. Resident sleeps through the majority of the program and does not respond in the least (toe tapping, orienting to sound, smiling).

Staff Requirements

  1. One staff member should serve as the primary facilitator.
  2. Two or more other staff should participate in the group, modeling and monitoring residents (note: suggested optimum staff: resident ratio 1:4).


Physical Environment and Equipment Required

  1. Set up the room with chairs in a circle.
  2. Have instruments available on a table.
  3. Have some sheets with large prints ready.
  4. Have tapes / CD's with music and player, or have music ready.
  5. Review program methods.
  6. Tape or CD in player, instruments, song sheets.

Sample Resources for Music from Big Bands

  1. New Year's 1945 Radio Dancing Party (audiotape cassette). Eldersong Publishers, Inc. P.O. Box 74, Mt. Airy, MD 21771 Tel. (800) 397-0533.
  2. Musical Memories Series: 1900-1920, 1920-1930, 1930-1940, 1950-1960, 1960-1970, 1970-1980; Music Sales, 24 East 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010.
  3. Explore the use of sing along songs with taped vocal music of same era (available from Time-Life (800) 950-7887,

Sample Of Musical Instruments For Music Group

  • bongo drums
  • castanets (handle ones easier to manage)
  • chime bar
  • claves
  • finger cymbals 2" (pair)
  • hand drums
  • handle bells
  • jingle clogs (pair)
  • kazoo
  • lap drums
  • loop bells
  • mallets (pair)
  • maracas
  • portable keyboard
  • ratchet
  • rhythm sticks
  • sand blocks
  • shaker
  • sleigh bells
  • tambourine
  • tone blocks
  • tick tock
  • triangle (one suspended in a frame is easier for residents with dementia to use, only one hand is needed to play it)
  • xylophone, metallophone

Oversized band instruments can be ordered by catalog:

Suzuki Music (tel. 858-566-9710, and from other sources

Forms to Assist in Care Planning

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