Monday, February 27, 2017

Dreaming of the Future - One Thing at a Time

Lately, I've been spending lots of time thinking about what I want to do and where I want to be later on in my life. This has lots to do with the fact that my parents have recently retired and are starting up trusts and talking about what my siblings and I will do when my parents have died. It also has something to do with a presentation I'm giving in three weeks about getting out of a professional slump.

I've been spending time thinking deeply about what I want from life - both now and in the future (near and far). I'm identifying things that fulfill me and things that cause me unnecessary stress. I am thinking about where I need to be going in order to find the future that I want.

The first step I took was to think about my personal life. Where do I want to be at some point? I want to live in a place where it is difficult to see the neighbors. I want wired internet access (which will make not seeing neighbors more challenging). I want to have space enough to walk over ground and to see the sky. I want to be able to see the stars clearly at night. I want to be close enough to my family to be able to see them when I want to see them, but far enough away that it takes some planning to stop by. I want to travel. I want to talk to other music therapists, and I want to have music therapy clients.

So, now I know what I am working towards.

How can I get there?

That's the part that is still a work in progress. If I know where I want to end up, it is time to try to figure out some paths that will get me there. The first thing to do is to identify some things that I do well. After that, I will make a plan to help guide me to my end goals.

Are you interested in how this is going to happen? Me, too! If you are going to the Super Regional conference of the Western and Midwestern AMTA regions, you can find out what I've found on Friday afternoon, March 18th. After that, I'll write more as I figure it all out.

I am going to dream with reality as a basis, with all possibilities before me, and a combination of the two.

What are your dreams for yourself?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Just A Song Sunday: Starting the Idea of Songwriting
I am spending time with some of my adolescents, teaching them about writing songs. We've started in all different places - some already write poems, so songwriting is an easy transfer for those clients. Others are completely intimidated with the idea of writing a song. There are just too many things to think about in the process.

I've learned to break things down into really small steps to help ease folks into the idea of writing music.

For some of my students, the key into writing songs is exploring the keyboard to find beats and tones that they like. For others, it's sitting alone with the recording software, just singing something. For yet others, it's using the cool pencils while writing stories.

We are now getting to the point where everyone has something about ready to be fixed into a set format. We're going to talk about specific ways to fix our music this next week during music therapy sessions. This should make everyone move a bit towards the end goal of offering songwriting as a coping skill and/or life-long leisure skill.

One of the things that fascinates me as a music therapist is how people get into the various things that we do as therapists. I am interested in how my clients get interested in different things - playing the drums, using the guitar, writing songs. I am also interested in how we, as music therapists, do the same types of things.

I tend to write songs in a couple of different ways. Sometimes songs come into my head fully formed - music, rhythm, lyrics - everything in one neat package. (I like it when that happens - it's almost too easy!) Most of the time, though, I am one who starts with lyrics. Words come pretty easily to me, so I base almost all of my songwriting on the way the words arrive. The rhythm of the words makes it into the rhythm of the melody and the accompaniment pattern. I say the words over and over until a melody starts to form in my head. Then, I set the song down in a fixed manner.

I am thankful that I was always encouraged to write songs for my clients. Interestingly, I don't write other songs, but I do write the occasional poem. Hm. Maybe it's time to start writing music to accompany those poems.

It's been some time since I've written down any songs - I've been mostly improvising in recent sessions. I have a project due in about 12 days, so I need to get going on my songwriting goal. It's time.

I will start the way I usually start - brainstorming topics to support my theme of Spring. I will look through my list of therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) to see what I've already started. I will start writing down ideas, and then I will go to the keyboard (that's the instrument that I use to compose - it's easier to determine melodies on that instrument than on the guitar). Once the melody is set, the accompaniment comes pretty easily to me - my ear is well-trained - thank you, theory Professors Shumway and Hahn! Then, it's off to the music writing software. I am currently learning how to use Finale PrintMusic (new software that I received for Christmas). It's just enough different that it's a bit confusing to me, but I WILL master it!

Apparently, I can earn CMTEs for all the songs I've written in the past 18 months. That's good to know, but I don't ever look for CMTEs. I usually have plenty (I should probably check to see what my status is this cycle though). Today's goal? Writing three new TMEs based on my sing about song topic for this quarter - Spring!

I think I'll record the process this time around in an effort to use it in an upcoming CMTE series that I am designing right now. Keep an eye out for an announcement in the next couple of months about it. The application is almost finished and the money is there, so I don't think there will much in the way of becoming a preapproved provider through CBMT - I just need to generate some content.

Time to start generating that content.

Have a wonderful, music therapy moment filled week!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Music Therapy Moments This Week
I had a couple of music therapy moments this week.

You know the ones - those moments when you feel that everything is happening and therapy is going on. You and the client are interacting within and with the music, and things are just going well.

The one that is the strongest for me right now happened yesterday.

We are currently getting a multigenerational choir ready to perform at our annual benefactor event. About 10 of my adolescent students are rehearsing with about 10-15 of the adult consumers that are served by the facility. They all arrive at the music therapy room to rehearse on Friday afternoons (during my preparation/planning time). This year's song is Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones. It's not a song that anyone knew before the first rehearsal, but the words are not really all that comprehensible, so we are kinda doing our own thing.

Over the years of working with these adults and with my kids, I know a couple of things. First of all, it is easier to sing a song that we kinda know already. Second, if we don't know it to begin with, adding movements to cue the lyrics helps with memory recall. Third, we will never be perfect, and THAT'S BETTER THAN OKAY!

Anyway, yesterday we started to learn more of the movements for our song. We had already established movements for "start me up" and "you make a grown man cry," but there are some more phrases that lend themselves to some sort of movement. One of my clients had a pouting fit because another one of my clients was teaching movements, but everyone else was getting into the performance part of things.

We finished the first song, and the fire alarm went off. We all went outside to shiver in the cold until we were released and allowed back into the building.

The common experience of shivering seemed to bring us as a group more closely together. The next time we sang together, things seemed to be easier and more relaxed. I could see some specific benefits to the experience we all shared. The song was running itself, so I had the opportunity of moving from "leader" to "group member."

Try to find those little music therapy moments in your sessions during the week. They happen. Sometimes they happen often, other times it takes a while in order to get to a new moment. When they happen, though, they are wonderful.

Find a moment.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Word Art - Part Two

I did it. I took some time after work yesterday to play with my markers and watercolor pencils. I also did some music listening and paid attention to the lyrics that really spoke to me yesterday afternoon. I ended up choosing Breathe 2 a.m. by Anna Nalick as the basis for my latest attempt at word art.
This song is my mantra some days. Breathe, just breathe. The words and pictures are less dense than in the other art I've shared, but I like that for this song. Who knows, I may find it in me to do some others soon. I wonder if some of my clients would like to do this type of lyric analysis. Hmmm. I know it's not something for everyone, but I could see a couple of my current clients enjoying this type of project.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thoughtful Thursday: Word Art

I think of myself as a "sorta artist." You know, I can draw things, but not really make them into great works of art - I don't know much about how to shade things to make them look realistic, but I can draw my cat in a way that looks like my cat (I think) so I am a "sorta artist."

One of the things that I do enjoy and think I do well is graphic lettering and word art. I have always been fascinated by words (started reading when I was two), and I enjoy making word art. I have books with font ideas and lots of different types of pens to help me with this art form.

You may be asking, "What does this have to do with music therapy?" Not a whole lot - it has more to do with the "me" part of this blog, and it functions as a self-care strategy for me in my life as therapist. I also find that I am a bit more interested and involved with song lyrics after I have written them out and made them colorful or presented them in a way that is significantly different than the way I've experienced them before.

I think that this comes from my bent towards visual learning and my long-time attraction to the fact that letters make up words that make up meaning. My new project is to do some more lyric art. I think I'll spend some time just listening for phrases that catch my attention and then spend some time (on my currently cleared-off desk) making art before I run my last intern webinar for this series. I'll see if there is anything new to share tomorrow...

The thing I really want to emphasize here is that we all need to take time to focus on something that makes us feel truly engaged. When I am making word art, I am fully attentive to the words that I am replicating. I make mistakes, sure, but that's part of life - making and either fixing or living with mistakes. Liquid Paper or White Out is great for fixing mistakes in this case. Sometimes the words flow onto paper. Sometimes they don't. That's also reflective of life. There are times when everything works as planned - there are times when nothing does. We learn to navigate life as we are given.

Friends, do something that nourishes your soul today - certainly you can find 4 minutes in which to do so. Look at the sky and breathe. Listen to a song. Talk to a friend that you haven't spoken to in a long time. Give yourself those 4 minutes to just be you. The world will be better for it.

This afternoon, after work, I am going to make some word art. That will be my gift to myself - time to letter, color, and draw something that resonates with me in the moment. I know it will take more than 4 minutes, but I have the luxury of that time between work and webinar, so I am going to fill it with creativity.

I hope you can do the same.

Happy Thursday, dear reader!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What Am I Doing on Wednesdays?

I've decided that I've pretty much exhausted the options available to me for my Website Wednesday posts, so it is time to change to something else. The problem?


How about Webinar Wednesdays? I'm not exactly sure that I could sustain that on a weekly basis. Maybe that could be an occasional series - announcing upcoming webinars once or twice a month. Hmmm. That would mean having webinars once or twice a month. I could do that (I'm thinking right now).

Now I just have to figure out some webinar ideas.

Maybe I could do a weekly wrap-up of the articles that I've seen over the week. That might be a good idea. So, this week I saw three music therapy related articles. I could start to save the links and then share them. I'm kinda liking that idea as well.

So, starting next week, Wednesdays will either be Webinar Wednesdays or Weekly Wrap-Up Wednesdays.

Now I'm off to do my two jobs and some brainstorming about webinar topics for the next month...

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Late Day Post - Post-Philosophy Webinar

I spent some time last night talking to other music therapy-type folks about writing a philosophy of music therapy statement. Now, I have, in my years of being a music therapist, taught interns and students about writing these types of statements, and I've ready many of them from professional music therapists as well, so I think I know what I am nattering on about.


I decided to start rewriting my own philosophy of music therapy statement.

I have several pages of notes that are helping me figure out what I want to write, but I'm not finished. I even started a graphic organizer to help me with the process, but it's also a work in progress.
This is only the beginning of my thought process, and I wonder what the random icon at the bottom of this was meant to be...

ANYWAY (repeated word, oh dear - by the way, this is why I don't write my posts in the afternoon - my brain is mush after the entire day) - I firmly believe that delving into the idea of a philosophy statement is important for the growth of any and all therapists. It is important to show to yourself the reasons and beliefs behind why you choose this profession day after day, week after week, job after job, and client after client. It's important to remember the theory behind the work and it is just as important to understand the reasons why you do the job.

I figure that if I ever get to a place where I cannot see the reasons why I do what I do, it is time for me to leave this profession and go to another one. I'm not there yet.

Happy Tuesday, all. See you tomorrow!