Showing posts from February, 2012

Thinking about Music Therapy

What is music therapy?

When you really start to think about that question, you find that there are any number of answers to what appears to be an easy conversation starter. In the almost 19 years that I have proudly worn the title of Music Therapist-Board Certified, I have pondered this particular question many, MANY times.

I have never really come up with one answer to this question. Music therapy treatment is often only linked by the fact that there is a client, a therapist, and music present. A music therapy session led by me, using music common to many of my clients, will be completely changed by the client present. In addition, the therapeutic process is changed by things I bring into the session, things that the client brings into the session, and by the music itself.

It is interesting, isn't it?

How do you define something that exists in a moment? How do you define something that changes all the time?

I think this is one of the fundamental difficulties of music therapy as a ther…


I usually have plenty to say on any number of topics, but for some reason, I have been staring blankly at my blog screen for the better part of a day. I have started over 5 different topics, but none of them have piqued my interest much past 2 paragraphs.

So, today's blog entry will be about creative blocks.

They happen to us all at one time or another. My current block is directly attributed to my current state of health - not well. After the Online Conference of Music Therapy, I crashed and crashed hard. My lungs are full of gunk, and I have a cough that just won't quit. Blech. As a result, I find myself processing information much more slowly than normal. Producing information is an even more difficult situation. 

I am confident that my blockage will go away as soon as my breathing issues disappear. There are times, though, when I get into prolonged periods of creative blockage and have found that I can usually jump start my creativity through several techniques. Writesomething…

Inspiration from the Most Interesting Places

There are many places where I find inspiration. I enjoy walking through the Dollar Tree, especially through the toy section, to find ideas for Therapeutic Music Experiences (TMEs) for use with my clients. I look through coloring books on a regular basis to find visual aid ideas. I spend time looking through my music library for more ideas.

This weekend, I was inspired to write a new song, "Everybody's Everywhere," by something that was said by a presenter during the Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT 2012). Roia Rafieyan mentioned that at the beginning of some of her sessions that "everybody's everywhere." This led to a poem which will be lyrics for a new opening song. I'll publish it later on my website,, when it is fully developed.

I also found inspiration in a different place. It came about in a strange way...

My toilet has been overflowing occasionally. I came home on Friday evening and found that things had overflowed …


It is important to be a part of a community.

This weekend, I spent time involved in the second annual Online Conference for Music Therapy. I was part of this conference last year and decided to continue this year as treasurer and a member of the organizing committee. The reason I enjoy being a part of this group is the sense of international community in music therapy.

The last 36 hours have been spent sitting on my stool in front of a community of music therapists from around the world. With webcams, microphones, and high-speed internet services, you can communicate in real time with real people and get insights into music therapy that you have never considered before.

I was reminded about how much I feel alone as a music therapist at times. At work, I am unique (except for interns who enrich and renew my music therapy community). I work at a church as a music director - most of the people there do not even realize that I have another job that pays the bills. When I start to describe wh…

Getting Kids to Giggle...

There is nothing better for me than the moment when a kid starts to giggle in music therapy.

Last Wednesday, I was faced with a dilemma. There were 8 kids in the music room between the ages of 8-14 years, we had finished my entire plan for the day, and we still had 15 minutes left of music therapy. I was mentally flipping through my bag of tricks to see if I could find ANYTHING to keep these students occupied as they started to show signs of disengaging from me. Yikes!

Quickly I asked them to raise their hands in an attempt to reengage their attention to me and to musical elements. We did a quick stretch and then, BRAINSTORM!

I showed them how conductors control the music of their ensembles and then allowed them to direct me. One person was the conductor and another person chose the song for me to play. Once they figured out that I would start and stop on cue, the giggles started.

It was contagious.

The first student didn't know what was going to happen, so she started off hesitantly.…

Little Steps

Recently I have discussed that I am trying to make some subtle changes in my life. I am trying to find things to throw away, donate to others, and repurpose in my life. I am trying to listen to new music everyday, and I am getting myself closer to some professional goals that I have had for a long time.

Yesterday I took a small step towards my goal of organization in my home.

I moved my DVDs and my DVD storage shelf (5 feet by 8 feet shelving that I made from 2X4s) from the front room to the back room. Does this sound like a lot of work? Not really. Now, remember that I am a pack rat and know that I LOVE movies, so trust me when I say that the task was pretty monumental. I moved seven shelves' worth of DVDs (81 DVDs each) from the front room to the back room. I then had to manipulate the shelving unit around the front room, the desk in the office, down the hallway, and into the back room. Then, I found another obstacle - the ceiling fan. I stopped to think the process through and ev…


This last week I spent much of my music therapy time engaged in a song called "Obwisana." This song was introduced to me by an intern, and I just rediscovered it in a book that I absolutely love called The Melody Book. The Melody Book was compiled by Patricia Hackett, and I happen to have found a copy of it that was published in 1983. It is prohibitively expensive ($118 marked down) on, but I found a VERY used copy on eBay several years ago and only spent $35 on my copy.

Music Therapy Moment

This music therapy moment brought to you courtesy of student "Z."

Yesterday my day started with a group of students from our "low-density, high staff" room. These students are mainly on the end of several spectra - autism spectrum, intellectual disability spectrum, behavior concern spectrum, etc. You name it, they function on the outsides of all spectra.

My music therapy philosophy with these students is to increase their interaction with both the music and with me as the music maker. We start each session with a short opening song, greeting each other appropriately, and then we move into an equally short therapeutic music experience (TME for short). We then take a musical walking break. After a time, we sit again and complete another TME. We follow that TME with another walking break and repeat until the session is over.

These students have been in this form of treatment since the beginning of December, and I have found that I have been able to address each of their …

Trying Something New

Lately I have been feeling restless.

When these feelings sneak up on me, I have to stop and evaluate what is going on. Sometimes this means looking for another job, sometimes it is as simple as changing my hairstyle, and other times it means that I am frustrated with everything that goes on in my life. I am REALLY hoping that this can be solved pretty easily, but who knows.

Anyway, in order to try to shake up my feelings of restlessness, I am trying to do something new. Actually, I am trying to do several things in a new way.

BUSINESS: I am going to focus on my business plan in the next 3 months with the goal of accomplishing my dream of offering online continuing music therapy experiences to music therapists. At this time, I am hampered by a lack of funds to pay for the application fee, but I think I can swing it after 3 months of couponing and limited extra expenses. It is amazing how $250 is a huge cut in my entertainment budget, but in these financial times... you know the restof tha…