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Name that Tune! – Integrating Music into Senior Fraud Education

By Miles McNeeley, MSW, ACSW, Program Manager, Elder Abuse Prevention, WISE & Healthy Aging

January 11, 2021

Name-that-Tune!-–-Integrating-Music-into-Senior-Fraud-Educatio.jpgFor those entrusted to engage older adult communities in safety awareness and education, the limitations set by COVID have presented providers with a multitude of challenges to carrying out their mission. Through various meetings and discussions with colleagues, it seems clear that these challenges are widespread throughout urban communities and rural communities alike. Adjusting outreach approaches, and learning by trial and error, has certainly been the case for our Elder Abuse Prevention Program covering Los Angeles County.  

In the absence of in-person events, the challenges to online programming have been 3-fold. Seniors may lack the resources needed to acquire internet connection/devices, may lack familiarity with the technology used to facilitate social connections, and experience Zoom burnout (like the rest of us). On top of this, we’ve been experiencing heightened political and social stressors making workshops around financial abuse even more challenging to promote.

In light of these circumstances, it seemed that an alternative to PowerPoint may be helpful in engaging a broader community. It occurred to me that “Name that Tune,” a trivia game familiar in some older adult communities, could be facilitated online and be easily modified to incorporate information sharing. Using music as a focal point allows participants to associate information with personal experiences which may help with concept memorization and increase participation. The game also allows us to approach the topic of fraud with levity, an appreciated change of tone during these stressful times. From a learning theory perspective, research on arts integrated learning has shown benefits related to memory and recall; engagement; and may provide a relaxed atmosphere more conducive to learning[1][2][3]. In terms of inclusion, the format of the game and conferencing software functionality allow for “phone only” players to participate as well. Perhaps most important, we came to learn that participants just really have a lot of fun participating in this activity.

The activity:

The title we settled on is “Name that Tune: Scam Defense Edition.” We use a song list of 12 songs from mostly the 1950s and 60s. The facilitator plays about 45 seconds of a song, then asks participants to show off their trivia knowledge by guessing the name of the song or artist. Participants track their own points. After the song is guessed, the facilitator spends a couple minutes connecting the song title to a common scam. For instance, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye will be followed by a discussion about robocalls and strategies to avoid engaging in these scams. The “Sound of Silence” is used to talk about how the IRS will not initiate a phone call. “Chances Are” by Johnny Mathis is used to make the point that “chances are.. we did not actually win the lottery”. The participants begin to anticipate what kind of scam the song will relate to and the engagement develops throughout the game. 

Participants seem to really love this activity. We see folks singing the lyrics, smiling, and dancing in their seats. The facilitator is encouraged to maximize opportunities to engage participants (e.g., “who has seen Simon & Garfunkel Live?”). After some practice, the game host makes seamless connections between the music, the educational content, and the conversations around the music.

We encourage our partners to try this game, or a variation of it, with their communities and let us know how it goes. There are a few software considerations to keep in mind, especially when it comes to playing clear music, and I am happy to give suggestions around any tech issues that come up. In the meantime, have fun with this game and enjoy the Good Vibrations!

To learn how you can replicate this activity in your community, please reach out to MMcNeeley@wiseandhealthyaging.org.


[1] Crowther G. (2012). Using science songs to enhance learning: an interdisciplinary approach

[2] Hardiman, M., Rinne, L. and Yarmolinskaya, J. (2014), The Effects of Arts Integration on Long‐Term Retention of Academic Content. Mind, Brain, and Education

[3] Hardiman, Mariale& JohnBull, Ranjini& Carran, Deborah & Shelton, Amy. (2019). The Effects of Arts Integrated Instruction on Memory for Science Content

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