For some reason, I’ve been thinking about how I say hello recently. Of course one of the basic things you’ll see in just about any music therapy session is a hello song and a goodbye song. They provide structure – this is when we’re starting, this is when we’re ending. For groups, hello songs provide an opportunity to break the ice. They also provide a constant, something you can learn that you can keep doing every time.
I have a standard hello song that I use with most of my clients. It’s very simple (hello, welcome to music / hello, welcome to music / hello, welcome to music today). When I wrote it, I was using a principle of imitating speech. The “hello” is a descending major third interval (E to C), and the rest of the phrase follows the basic pattern of speech. It’s hard to describe here, but it works very well. After singing the initial phrase a couple of times, I usually go around and sing hello to each individual person in a group, or to the individual in a one-on-one session. Following the hello, I’ll typically ask each person (in groups – I don’t usually do this individually) to provide one way to say hello (wave, high five, smile, etc), which we’ll do with another verse. And that’s it. I use this in my adult groups, my kid social skills groups, and with most of my individual clients.
During my first music therapy gig in Arizona, I had a different hello song. This one was based off an ascending minor third hello (E to G), and basically went “Hello so-and-so, it’s good to see you today / Hello so-and-so, it’s good to see you today”. I was only doing individual sessions, so I’d sing to them, then I’d have them sing to me. That was how we started, and it worked pretty well. I still use the song occasionally, with my ABA groups and one kid client. I decided to use that one because…well, I’m not sure exactly. I think they could certainly handle the “hello, welcome to music” song, I just started on this old one and haven’t changed.
I have two other hello songs that I use, and both are remnants of my predecessor at this job. One of them is simply a “hello hello” song that I use with a client, mostly because of the simple lyrics and because he belts it out when we sing. And I really am happy to get him singing. The other one is a Broadway-based song that I use with a kid who really likes it, and didn’t want to switch. I’ve altered it a bit – we typically do two verses ballad style, then rock the last verse. He likes it a lot.
There are a couple of clients that I don’t even do a hello song with. They’re higher functioning adults in individual sessions, and I made the decision that a hello song was not needed, so we usually just start off with a check-in conversation.
My goodbyes are along a similar vein. Sometimes, I just say goodbye – typically that’s in sessions where I don’t feel that a goodbye song is called for, such as with my high functioning adults. In the sessions where I use “hello so-and-so, it’s good to see you today”, I switch it around to say “goodbye so-and-so, it was good to see you today / goodbye so-and-so, I’ll see you again next time”. My client with the “hello hello” song used to have a goodbye song based on the song Amen. However, he kept switching over to sing Amen, so I just moved him over to the goodbye song I use with everyone, which is based on Louie Louie: “Goodbye, goodbye, whoa-oh, we gotta go / Yeah yeah yeah yeah / Goodbye goodbye, whoa-oh, we gotta go.” During the verse section, I have a couple of variations based on functioning level. One is “Goodbye to so-and-so, goodbye to you / Thank you for coming to music today”. The other is “Goodbye to so-and-so, goodbye to you / So-and-so can say __________”, and then they fill in the blank with some form of goodbye. I have one client who likes finding out about different languages, so adios, adieu, sayonara, aloha, and ciao have been used. If able, I’ll have them sing to me, then we’ll finish off with the chorus, and that’s it. I’ll usually end it with shave and a haircut.
The point of all of this is that there are many ways to say hello and goodbye. It doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, it really depends on what people need. But it’s always important to provide that structure, even if it’s just saying hello or goodbye. Otherwise, no one will know when it