The Town Musicians of Bremen



Loss of and/or change in status

Purpose in life


Potential benefits

Working obliquely with story as metaphor

Engaging with themes through projection on to character

Cohesion and recognising support of friends

Resources needed

The story of ‘The Town Musicians of Bremen’ (alternatively known as ‘The Four Musicians of Bremen’)

The story written as a drama with character parts and a narrator

Animal objects (these could be large and soft toys or smaller objects) to represent the four characters – donkey, dog, cat and cockerel

Props to represent other characters in the story (farmer, robbers etc)


  1. Introduce the four objects that represent the story characters. Notice the responses, engage with these, and be aware to which animal people are drawn
  2. Share the story, engaging with responses as the tale is told
  3. Invite responses to the story
  4. Offer the possibility for the story to be re-read dramatically, with people taking on the different characters. The relevant animals and props can be held by each person – these physical and tactile objects can help maintain focus and enable further stimulation of the imagination (Note – reading or verbalisation is not necessary to participate in the story. The dramatherapist can offer to read the part for that person and encourage vocalisation, movement and engaging with the held character)
  5. Share the story again through dramatic reading, and notice the engagement in people towards their characters
  6. Pause. See what emerges as the story ends and work with this
  7. De-role people from their characters (having time to say goodbye to the animal objects, having a physical stretch/shake, thanking each person through their real name)
  8. Note down observations to add to the book if client’s are in agreement, and photograph objects


Copy the story shared to put in the book, and add photos and comments. Pictures sourced from storybooks, or a photo of the statue in Bremen can be shared and added to the book.

Further sessions

Working with this story can often cover several sessions, as there is a lot of material that may touch on many themes. The story can be revisited in sections to focus on these areas. People may also like to try out different characters, as there are a variety of roles.

The story may lead to other animal stories or poetry being recalled that can be visited in later sessions.

The client’s response

“The story is very interesting, as you can apply it to something else – you are learning something new”

“Most enjoyable. Thoroughly enjoyed it, because we’re all friends”

“It’s nice to be with friends again, rather nice, a nice little group”

“Better because I’ve talked to friends”

The theme of friendship is particularly important in a group where there is the potential for learning more about each other on a deeper level than might be possible in other settings in which the clients might find themselves.

Story-work with older adults can be about the feelings that are engendered – what the story is bringing up for the client that can be worked with and held on to, however briefly.

For some people, this might be the first time they have taken on a role since they were children at school and memories may be shared of those times. Being in role in this story his can be both a powerful and empowering act. Holding the soft animals involved in the story can also bring great comfort.

The resources in this section are free to use. To see our terms of use policy, click here. We welcome feedback on the ways that you have incorporated them into your work, and ask that you cite Roundabout if writing about their use.