Showing posts from November, 2011

Composing Songs

On Monday, I was running a sensory session with some children and tweens when I started to improvise a "play with me" song. The song was effective in that it elicited the desired response and appeared to be highly attractive to my clients. As I was singing, I kept thinking that I needed to remember this song for my composition files.

Fast forward to the end of the day.

I finally had an opportunity to sit down at the computer to notate the song.

It was gone.

I have composed many songs in the moment - improvised to make the session goals work. Lots of those songs were wonderful, lots were not so wonderful, but they are all gone into the vapor of my mind.

Now, I know that I could interrupt the session to note down the song. I know I could record every session so I would have all of my songs ready to be translated into music. I can't do either of those things. So, I am resigned to composing wonderful songs but losing them when the moment is gone. Sigh.

Well, time to go to work. I …

Shameless Product Promotion

This year at AMTA, I was the winner of a chance drawing. I won five YOUROCK guitars. Now, out of all of the things that I put a ticket towards, these guitars were the last choice that I made and seemed to be the least interesting for me, but I have changed my mind.

 My package arrived at my music therapy clinic yesterday and contained my new instruments. Now, when I first saw these, I thought they were just for playing Guitar Hero, but then I started to examine the box more carefully.

These are actually electric guitars with MIDI capability, synthesizer presets, and gaming capabilities.

I work with adolescents (and some children, but mostly adolescents) who are enamored by the thought of an electric guitar. They are interested in guitars in general, but really interested in electric guitars. I have not had one that is in working condition since I moved to this job, and I have always told my students that I can't afford to get as many as I would need for my group music lessons. This e…

Focusing on Developmental Levels

I have been thinking about developmental levels for a time now.

I work with children and adolescents with developmental and psychiatric disorders for a while now. In my career, I have moved through several philosophical views, but have always returned to the idea of focusing on meaningful interactions based on the clients' developmental levels.

Recently my facility's population has started to swing towards kids severely involved on the autism spectrum. With these kids especially, developmental milestones are essential when attempting to establish a therapeutic relationship. It is important to understand where a child is on the developmental scale in order to design interactions that are meaningful to the client. If I am asking an adolescent boy to play call-response patterns when he is really in the stage of free play and sensory interaction, neither of us will be satisfied with the result of the session.

I have found a couple of good books that I hope will strengthen my therapeu…

Thankful Things

Yesterday was the American holiday of Thanksgiving, and many folks posted about things they were thankful for. I decided to wait until today for the completely practical reason that I was not around my computer all day yesterday.

Today I am thankful for the community of music therapists that I spent some time with a week ago. The American Music Therapy Association national conference in Atlanta last week was a wonderful experience for me. I do not always come away from the conference as refreshed and invigorated as I did with this one, but I always go to the conference looking for inspiration.

I am thankful for my clients. Those children have gone through experiences that many of us would have nightmares about, and yet they still manage to play, sing, learn, and find good things in life. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help them in their journey through life.

I am always thankful for my family.

I am thankful that I am a music therapist - someone who has the responsibility to use …

Winding Down

The American Music Therapy Association's national conference is coming to a close. This conference has been a tremendous experience and has been so refreshing to me in so many ways.

I have actually met many of the people that I have engaged with in a purely online format. This has been interesting. I have talked to these folks many times via meeting software and emails, but have never seen them face-to-face before now. I am always interested in how tall or short they are, what their voices actually sound like, and if we will get along differently when we see each other in person. (We did.)

The themes of this conference seemed to be looking towards the future, developing leadership, and thinking about moving to the Master's-level entry into the profession. For me, one of the best moments was during the keynote speech when Ken Bruscia appeared to be saying that we as therapists HAVE to be inclusive of all others - even those therapists who have different philosophical viewpoints f…

Overwhelmed, Humbled, and Excited

All of these words are appropriate adjectives for how I am currently feeling.

This conference experience has been an extremely rewarding one so far, and the opening ceremony finished a mere 4 hours ago.

Let me explain further.

I arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon with my meeting schedule in hand. I have the privilege of being the chairperson of the Association Internship Approval Committee (AIAC) for the American Music Therapy Association, so I always get to start my conference before the conference officially starts. *CAVEAT - I am writing this entry at 1:53 am EST, so I apologize if I do not make much sense. I am not used to being up this late on a regular basis, but I really cannot get to sleep yet. I will rue this decision in 5 short hours from now...* Tuesday evening was spent in the company of my friend and long-time conference roommate, just catching up with each other after a year of emails and facebooking.

On Wednesday, I led the AIAC meeting. We met for 10 hours as a commit…

The Power of Music Therapy

In the past 24 hours, ABC news has run several stories on Gabrielle Giffords, congresswoman from Arizona, who was shot earlier this year. Her recovery has been tracked by her husband and by millions of well-wishers, but probably not as diligently as it has been tracked by the music therapy world. From the beginning of her rehabilitation process, music therapy has been a featured part of her recovery effort.

Representative Giffords has been an example of the rehabilitation process at its best. Her tenacity and courage has been trumpeted from coast to coast, and it is truly inspiring to hear her story and watch her progress. Her dedicated therapists (music as well as other professions) have helped her in this process from the beginning through to her present levels of functioning and will continue to challenge her to regain skills.

The amount of attention that the profession of music therapy has received this year around this woman's rehabilitation has been amazing. All of a sudden, t…


Where do you get inspired?

I am a person who finds inspiration in many, church, school, home, in a store, looking at catalogs, watching television, browsing the internet, etc. I have different places for different types of inspiration.

For the next week, I will be in Atlanta, Georgia in the company of about 1400 other music therapists and others interested in music as a therapeutic modality. This is a good place for inspiration, and I hope to be inspired by the people I meet in the course of the week. 

I do not get an opportunity to go to as many presentations as I used to see at conference. I tend to spend my registration money so I can sit in meetings, present things to the Assembly of Delegates, and offer training rather than getting to see what others are doing in my field. The short periods of time that I do get to go see someone is generally spent trying to nap or gather my thoughts for the next meeting that I have to attend. I am proud of the work that I do for the A…

Looking for the "what ifs"

What if music therapy education was completely based on the competencies?

What if music therapy clinical training was a full-time experience for music therapy students from the first day they walked into an academic program?

What if every music therapist in the United States was a member of the American Music Therapy Association?

What if music therapy was an essential part of all mental and physical health treatment and a consistent treatment modality in the education of all kids?

What would music therapy look like then?

I love thinking about "what ifs."

There is a certain amount of "what if" thought when you are going through a session with a client. I find myself consciously (and unconsciously) thinking "what if I sped this rhythm up a bit? What would 'Q' do then?" So, I try it. I then see what happens. I evaluate and make more decisions based on more "what if" statements.

Being open to the possibilities is important in both therapy sessions …

Getting Excited...

I have planned my paraeducator-run music therapy sessions.

I have found all of the trinkets for my hard-working, dedicated committee members that I really enjoy working with throughout the year.

I have finished my presentation outlines.

I am almost finished with laundry, packing, and cleaning my room.

It is time.

Can you tell that I look forward to this every year? I really, really do! I am getting excited about seeing old friends, meeting some interesting professionals, seeing people that I have only ever "met" via social media, following celebrities around, talking to music therapy students, and working hard for the association. This upcoming week is going to be exhausting, but well worth the time, effort, and expense.

I have several goals for this year's conference.
See Ben Folds somewhere.Finish 3 committee tasks and start 2 others.Find something cool to share with my clients after Thanksgiving.Buy something just for me.Go to a presentation that fires me up in some way.Talk…

Refreshment of the Best Kind

A week from today, I am traveling to Atlanta for the American Music Therapy Association National Conference.

I will be joining therapists from around the world in celebrating what we do best - helping others through music. Conference week will include lots of discussions, lots of meetings, lots of difficult decisions for the profession of music therapy. There will be some celebrities - Mickey Hart, Jodi Picoult, and Ben Folds are going to be there during the week. (I probably will get into conversations with these people and not have a CLUE who they are until someone tells me later - I am notoriously famous for finding out later that the people that talk to me are "names.") There will be many more friends, colleagues, mentors, and idols around than celebrities (thank goodness!).

I look forward to conference every year.

I insist on attending for the chance to be around therapists who do many things in their facilities that I never envisioned. I spend lots of time reevaluating my…

Health - Mental, Physical

You may have noticed that I have been blogging about current stressors present in my job at the moment. I have been thankful to have this forum as an outlet for some of my frustrations as writing has always been a cathartic experience for me. Seeing my feelings in word form often allows me to see patterns, twists, and paths to solutions. So, thank you for indulging my recent trend towards complaining.

While the situation has not been resolved yet, I have had to disconnect from the situation to help with my own health.

Friday was the day for the meeting with the teacher who has caused so much conflict in my life. The meeting was canceled, but I spent the night before the meeting in fitful sleep (typical for me when I'm stressed) and then spent the day in a blood pressure flush. I got home and found that my blood pressure was extremely high. 

It is interesting to me that I often feel that I hate my job when I am experiencing some physical health issues. Once the health issues are resol…

Therapy Things

My principal informed me yesterday that we were going to start a new classroom in two weeks. While this adds many complications in organizing an already packed schedule, I am looking forward to this new addition to our school.

The classroom will be called a "low-density" classroom, meaning (according to the principal) that there will be a low staff:student ratio. There will be five students and three staff members in the classroom. The students are students that we already serve in different classrooms.

All of the students require pervasive levels of support for appropriate function in their environments. They are all loud communicators, and they are all not really appropriate matches for their current classrooms. Their presence in group therapy has always complicated my job as a therapist as they do not fit in with the rest of their classroom group. Now that they are in their own group, my job of finding therapeutic interventions to engage them in the therapeutic process is g…