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An EARWORM ACTIVITY – "Hallelujah"

Updated: Sep 19

Activity Design

Sally Gelardin, EdD


Purpose/Learning Objectives

  • Define “Earworm”

  • Listen to variations of Leonard Cohen’s Earworm, Hallelujah

  • Choose the interpretation of Hallelujah that you like (or like best) and explain why

Target Population

Adults of a variety of abilities, ages, stages, backgrounds, and preferences.


Brief Description of Activity

Like telling a story, there are different ways to play or sing a song. We can sharpen our listening and left brain skills by listening to different interpretations of a song, choosing the interpretation that we like, and explaining what we like about a particular interpretation of the song 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.


Supply/Materials Options

Device to play song, such as tv monitor, computer, iPAD, iPhone, and other handheld devices.


Precautions and Adaptations

Some individuals may not be able to define “Earworm” 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. I would be interested in exploring how this activity can be experienced by folks with varying degrees of hearing impairment.


Environment and Set-Up

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


Timed Agenda

  • 2 minutes: Introduction to Activity/Definition. An “Earworm” is a song that gets stuck in your ear or head. All you have to do is look at or think about the the lyrics and your brain can get stuck on repeat. Nearly everyone, 90 percent of people, experiences an an Earworm with some song at least once a week, according to a music psychologist. Let’s listen to an Earworm, such as Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

  • 2 minutes: Purpose/Objectives. Like telling a story, there are different ways to sing or play a song. We can sharpen our listening skills by listening to different interpretations of a song, such as Hallelujah, and choosing the interpretation that we prefer.

  • 2 minutes: Instructions LISTEN to variations of a song (name the song, such as Hallelujah, or invite participant/s to choose a song). After listening carefully to a few variations, you can CHOOSE the interpretation that you like. At the end of this activity, I shall ask you three questions: (1) What is an “Earworm” ? (2) What song did you listen to? (3) Which interpretation of that song did you like or like best?

  • 10 to 20 minutes: Listen to Variations of a Song, such as Hallelujah.

  • 7 minutes: Group Discussion. Participants share with another person or a smaller group of 3 to 5 people, which interpretation of that song they liked best and why.

  • 10 minutes: Group Presentations. Partners or small groups share with the larger group why they chose a particular variation of the song and why.

  • 2 minutes: Summary. Like telling a story, there are different ways to play or sing a song. We sharpened our listening skills by listening to different interpretations of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah song, choosing the interpretation that we prefer, and explaining why we prefer that interpretation.

  • 5 minutes: Evaluation. What is an “Earworm”? What Earworm did we listen to? Which interpretation of that song did you prefer? Why did you prefer that particular version of the song?

Evaluation/Assessment of Learning

  • What is an “Earworm”?

  • What Earworm did you listen to?

  • Which interpretation of that song did you like/like best?

  • What did you like about the song that you chose?

Optional additional sections:

Resources

Key-notes blog, https://www.key-notes.com/blog/what-is-musical-interpretation

Piece of music, https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/piece%20of%20music

Sample Earworm song: Hallelujah, composed by Leonard Cohen.

Definition of “Earworm,” https://www.today.com/health/study-shows-what-makes-song-earworm-t104651


Sample Earworms (variations of Hallelujah, composed by Leonard Cohen) Search for the versions of the song on a streaming music app.)

Follow-up

In addition to listening to variations of a song, we can also practice playing a song with different instruments, different degrees of loudness and softness, different pace and other variations.


An Offer to MAP Members and Presenters:

If you email to me your concept for an activity that can be facilitated with elders, I would be glad to work with you gratis to convert it to an activity in this outline format.


*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.


Thanks to Bob Gelardin for envisioning "Earworm" variations; to Beth Milwid, PhD, for encouraging MAP participants to view the 2022 Hallelujah film, Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song; and to Susan Cain for highlighting Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah song in her Bittersweet book and course. I can't get this "Earworm" out of my head!!!


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