Friday, November 27, 2009

Where are we going?
I often wonder what the professional of music therapy will look like 40 years from now. Why 40 years? I figure that the last of my generation of MTs will be dying and in assisted living facilities, and I like that number. That's all. I get an insane giggle that bubbles up in my throat when I think of the music that MT students will have to learn as "typical repertoire" for working with folks my age. Early Madonna, Guns and Roses, songs by Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. No more You Are My Sunshine for my crowd!

I also wonder about how technology will change our profession. Will MTs have to be in the same room as their clients? Will we have become isolated to the point that all interaction will be electronic and remote? I think we will lose lots of skills as humans if we get to that point. Can therapy occur if there is no human contact? Will we get used to the idea of isolation? Is this making any sense at all?

Just some musings for this Thanksgiving Weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crossing the Line
I think that we, as music therapists, must be aware of habits and attitudes that interfere with our growth and development as professionals. One such attitude is that of "if a music therapist isn't present, then others cannot use music as a medium for therapy." This attitude is often presented when we feel threatened that another professional can do our jobs simply by adding music into psychotherapy or into speech-language treatment. I feel that any use of music in any form of therapy is a good advertisement for music therapy - familiarity with the power of music as a therapeutic medium often opens the door for a music therapist.

The issue for me comes when professionals from other disciplines state that they offer "music therapy." I am often approached by educators on how to incorporate music therapy into their educational programming. When I talk to them further, they reveal that they do not want to pay a music therapist to facilitate therapy, but want to incorporate music into their schedule. I then explain that they are practicing "music-enhanced education" rather than music therapy. I often write programs for educators to use to enhance student learning. After all, every music therapist is aware of the power of music for memory enhancement and recall. I do stress and insist that they do not refer to their programs as "music therapy."

I feel that we need to educate and "hook" possible and potential funders with tastes of music as a therapeutic medium in order to encourage them to add music therapy to the treatment of clients.

We, as a profession, need to get rid of our professional jealousy and then start to work within the system.

My two cents...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am in San Diego, on day 2 of the AMTA conference.

I love conferences as they are generally a time for me to reflect and celebrate the reasons that I became a music therapist and reinforce the dedication that I have to my job and vocation. I often find myself absolutely exhausted after the 6-day event, but I also tend to be renewed by the opportunity to share "war stories" with others who go through the same hassles, issues, joys, and musical collaboration that I go through. There is comfort in knowing that other music therapists experience the same kinds of things that I experience daily, whether it be the excitement that a client gets when they learn how to play their first chords on a guitar or the frustrations that can also occur when trying to explain or adapt that same set of guitar chords for a client who is having difficulty with the motor component of guitar playing.

The camaraderie and social aspects are wonderful, but there is lots of work to be done. I serve on one of the committees as a regional representative. My committee is comprised of regional representatives and a committee chairperson. We all share one specific music therapy experience in common, and that commonality is the reason why we are on this specific committee. Within that commonality, however, we have lots of variation and a wealth of experience. The midwestern rep (me) has a very different experience of music therapy than the rep from New England. These differences serve to enrich the committee and allow the members to really think about music therapy as a whole, rather than from our own skewed viewpoints.

I encourage anyone and everyone to become involved in the music therapy organization at any level - local, state, regional, and national. There are so many things that you miss if and when you refuse to be a member and then refuse to serve. The time commitment can be significant, but the rewards are often great.

The most difficult part for me is that my committee work starts well before the rest of the conference. By the time the opening session begins, my committee has been in meetings and training courses for two days and are often EXHAUSTED! This exhaustion sets in before the conference officially starts and keeps me from really wanting to participate in the rest of the concurrent sessions and social interactions. I often want to sleep as much as possible.

This is the official opening day of the conference. Music therapists from all over the world are converging on the San Diego area even as we speak. The excitement is building. Stay tuned for more details.