Over the past few weeks, I’ve observed that several people have reached The Special Gathering blog after googling “music for mentally challenged people.”  Therefore, I decided to do a couple of entries about music. 

Over the past 20 years working within the mentally challenged community through the ministry Special Gathering, I’ve found that our members’ taste in music is varied and complex.  However, there are some songs that seem to hit their praise and worship buttons. 

First, let me explain.  I’ve had years of formal and informal musical training.  But I also have the worst eye-hand coordination known to mankind.  Therefore, I don’t play any instruments.  I don’t play them even badly.  That means, that I have to depend on someone else to play the piano or guitar. 

When we lost our piano player about 15 years ago, our executive director suggested that I begin to use CD’s with musical accompaniment.  He even bought me a CD.  (He had heard me play the piano.)  I wasn’t happy about the CD’s that I found.  They seems too simplistic and terribly outdated.

There is a pattern to the songs that I find works well with our members.  Reviewing quickly, the selections are singable songs with simple but very melodic  melodies.  (I remember the first time I heard “The Sound of Music.”  I know that song was my immediate reaction. Of course, I didn’t know that song but I could sing it anyway.  That’s what I mean by melodic melodies.) Second, these are songs with words that have lots of repeating phrases. 

The CD’s that I’ve depended on for years are  All the Best Songs for Youth (split-channel).  It is published by Lillenas and the product number is LILLENAS DC-9214S.  It is a four CD set with 98 songs.  Almost all of the arrangements are excellent.  Some of them (“Pharaoh, Pharaoh”) are too silly for our members and somewhat childish.  However, when you want to have fun, they fit in perfectly.  Most of my members only know the songs that I teach them. Consequently, they are happy with the oldie goldies because these ancient favorites are new to them.

I’ve purchases perhaps 50 other CD’s but I keep returning to All the Best.. when I’m frustrated because nothing else seems to fit.  If you’ve looking for something new and you don’t have this set of CD’s in your collection, it’s a must have. 

What is a CD that seems to minister to your members?  Maybe you don’t use CD’s.  What musical instrument do you think works best for them?