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A FILM EARWORM Activity: Maxed Out Watching Movies?

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

I used to watch tv movies in the middle of the night to unwind. Though I haven't had a tv for the past 30 years, I returned to watching streaming movies after dinner during Covid isolation. Eye fatigue impelled me to search for other ways of unwinding, such as listening to EARWORMs (several versions of the same song/musical piece), that did not involve being glued to the screen. From movie watching, I turned to movie listening, with a focus on listening to variations of the theme music of a popular film.

In the new Spielberg documentary, the legendary film director, producer, and screenwriter's profusion of films are featured. As he notes in this documentary, Steven Spielberg highly values his collaborators, especially John Williams, who composed 29 (all but five) of Spielberg's feature films. After watching and listening to the theme music clips in this film, I came up with a new activity, which I am sharing with you: a FILMEARWORM (familiar EarWorm), a "portmanteau" (blending of at least two words that combines both the sounds and meanings of the originals). Listen to the music of some of Spielberg/Williams Collaborations:

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind

  • Star Wars

  • A Space Odyssey

  • Catch Me If You Can

  • Schindler's List

  • Jaws

  • E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Here's a brief version of this activity:

Topic Title

A FILMEARWORM: Spielberg/Williams Collaboration

Activity Design

Sally Gelardin/EdD

Purpose/Learning Objectives

(a) Define "FILMEARWORM", (b) Listen to variations of a film's theme songs/musical pieces, (c) Choose the interpretation of the film's theme. song/musical piece that most appeals to you and explain why.

Target Population

Individuals of a variety of abilities, ages, stages, backgrounds, and preferences. This may be an intergenerational activity if the music is appropriate.

Brief Description of Activity

Like telling a story, there are different ways to play or sing a film's theme song/musical score. We can sharpen our listening and other brain skills by listening to different interpretations of a musical piece, choosing the interpretation that we like, and explaining what we like about a particular interpretation of the musical piece that we chose.

Technology Options

Streaming Music App, such as YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Qobuz. YouTube or Spotify, at no cost, are the easiest to use. YouTube often includes clips from the film to accompany the music, which appeals to multiple senses (both visual and auditory).

Supply/Materials Options

Devices, such as tv monitor, computer, iPAD, iPhone, and other handheld devices, to play different renditions of a musical piece.

Precautions and Adaptations

Some individuals may not be able to define “FILMEARWORM” (familiar musical theme from a film that plays over and over again in your mind) or choose the interpretation that they like with words, but may be able to choose the interpretation that they like using their other senses, such as by dancing to the music, clapping their hands, stamping their feet, singing, and expressing their appreciation through facial and other body gestures.

Environment and Set-Up

A quiet environment without distractions is best so that the listener/s can concentrate on listening to a musical piece played or sung in different ways. This activity can be used with groups of varying sizes and with individuals one-to-one or by themselves, depending on their ability.

Sample Variations of a Film's Theme Song

This activity is voluntarily donated by Marin Activity Professionals to MAP for web posting as a free public resource. Thanks to Betsy Best-Martini, Mary Anne Weeks, and Priscilla Wirth for including the outline, as a basis for this activity, in their Long Term Care for Activity Professionals, Social Services Professionals, and Recreational Therapists, Seventh Edition.

You are welcome to share with others a "FILMEARWORM" (variations of a film's theme song). Include your name to be credited as the creator of your activity. Send to

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