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Showing posts from June, 2012

Happiness Initiative - Things I Love...

This post is dedicated to the things that I love...   Sleepy cats - This is the look that I get when I am flashing the camera when her highness is trying to sleep. Don't you love the personalities that animals convey? My music room (the view from my desk) - When my facility decided to make a new gymnasium wing, I was asked what I wanted in a possible music room. My answer, "SPACE." I got almost everything I asked for and am grateful every day I get to work in this beautiful music room! Mandalas and other Word Art - One of my favorite forms of relaxation is to doodle words and small pictures. This is one of my offerings from the past year. There is nothing that I like better than a blank piece of white drawing paper, a big box of markers, and some time to just cover the paper with words. J's Rainbow - Shortly after a young client of mine passed away, I saw this beautiful stormy morning and this glorious rainbow. The child's teacher always ref

Happiness Initiative: Update

Check out this post by Gretchen Rubin, who is not my inspiration, but may be someone I start to follow: The combination of Happiness Project and Ray Bradbury really called to me. I love Ray's comment to his young fan about loving what YOU love regardless of what others think. My happiness initiative is in its third or fourth week - I actually have forgotten. I am trying the best that I can to focus on positives - hot days? An excuse NOT to go outside! Cranky clients? An opportunity to rejoice in the clients that are pleasant and a joy to be around. The strange communication from the principal that makes little sense to me?? Hmmm. I am getting ready for the next in my series of webinars for music therapists. It will happen on Thursday evening and should be pretty fun. If you are interested, look at for details on how to register. Keep seeking happiness!

Old Joe Clark

I have a "go-to" song that I use in therapy sessions when I need to get behaviors under control - my behaviors and those of my students. I learned a version of this folk song at my internship at the Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies, Inc. in Phoenix. Arizona, and have used it many, many, MANY times over the years. I use it for its repetitive nature, its opportunity for some social interaction, and for its familiarity to me. I can sing and play this song on autopilot - a skill that allows me to think more about how I need to adapt the song to manage behaviors rather than the music I am presenting. Now, my version of the song is simple. Old Joe Clark, he built a house, sixteen stories high, And every story in that house was filled with chicken pie. Rock and a rock, Old Joe Clark, Rock and a rock, I say. Rock and a rock, Old Joe Clark, we ain't got time to stay. Being of a curious nature this morning, I decided to see if there was more information about


My current blog themes vary between my current happiness initiative and creativity. Today's blog post will be creativity-based as I am currently a bundle of energy in search of a project. Do you ever get that way? Now, I enjoy lots of different creative projects. I like to sew, craft, paint, sing, compose, write, draw, you name it! I am a jack-of-all crafts, master of none. This lack of specialization allows me to dabble in lots of things allowing me to find things to do that challenge my current mood. Right now, I am without a specific project or goal in mind. So, it's time to start brainstorming... WARNING: Creative process and stream of consciousness writing ahead! Proceed at your own risk!! I bought three pencil pouches yesterday at the Dollar Tree (love that store!). This got me started thinking about contained activity packets for my M-ee (Music-enhanced education) products...a pencil pouch with three to four therapeutic musical experiences (TMEs), small file fold

The Summertime Blues

It is summertime - officially now - and we can feel it here. The past three days have been hot, humid, and windy. The kids are restless, the staff members are cranky, and there may not be a break in the near future. As a result, we are starting to get the summertime blues. What are the summertime blues you may ask? According to Wikipedia... " Summertime Blues " is the title of a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran . It was written in the late 1950s by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart . Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958 [1] and peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 29, 1958 and number 18 on the UK Singles Chart . It has been covered by many artists, including being a number-one hit for country music artist, Alan Jackson , and a notable hit for the English rock band, The Who . In my reality, the summertime blues manifest themselve

Simple Joys

I had a chance to run therapy groups today. This may sound like a natural thing for a therapist to do during her workday, but I am now supervising two interns, so my work load is pretty much split between the two of them. I don't get much time to make music with my clients these days - I spend most of my time with a clipboard, taking notes, and offering constructive criticism. I ran two therapy groups and an individual session today. Another group canceled and the guitar lesson folks did not show up. Today, I had a meeting with the director of therapeutic services for our psychiatric residential treatment facility's residential side of things. Now, you would think that this would be a natural progression for a music therapist, but I am hired by the school rather than by the residential facility. So, after 16 years at the facility, I finally had a conversation with a person who kinda knows what I do and can kinda understand. Kinda. I started some targeted goal groups thi

Never Underestimate the Power of Chocolate

The only promise that I make for my interns is, "There will always be chocolate." I cannot promise that I will always be the most effective supervisor, that my attitude will always be positive, or that I will be able to be a good example of a music therapist all the time. I can, however, always promise that chocolate is available when it is needed. Darth M stands watch over my stash! My love affair with chocolate started when I was just a small child. My mother potty-trained me with the use of M&Ms. One use of the toilet = one M&M. She used to watch me when I was not aware and states that I only took one M&M after I was finished each and every time. That love affair has just continued as I have become older. I have started a personal reinforcement schedule involving housework and chocolate. Each morning I establish a task that needs to be completed. At the end of the day, if I have completed my task, I get some chocolate. If not, no chocolate. My kitche

The Happiness Initiative - Week Two

My happiness initiative was sorely tested this past week . My brother continues to struggle with his health, his fiance called off their relationship, and he found out that his job is in jeopardy due to his health situation. My entire family is struggling with this situation. In addition, I had a bout with colitis that kept me bedridden for two days. When I went back to work, I found that my paperwork, meeting schedule, and other elements of work have now changed significantly - all decisions made by people who do not have a clue about who I am or what I do. Sigh. I am trying to figure out where the happiness is in all of these situations. I am able to find it in my own situations, but the ones with my brother and work are not as easy. Still, I made a promise to myself to focus on happiness this summer, and I am going to. I am hoping that my brother will take an opportunity to figure out his life. Unfortunately, as his older sister and a therapist, I want to swoop in and fix w


An online music therapy friend of mine posted yesterday that she had witnessed the power of a drum with a client who is mostly nonambulatory. Apparently the child took several steps in order to keep playing the drum, surprising both my friend, the client's father, and the child - once the child realized what was happening. I love stories like that. I love that it is often the simplest of things that make music therapy such a meaningful form of treatment for so many people. I love that music reaches us all, but I especially love that a trained music therapist is able to recognize the significance of how that music reaches each one of us. Often the simplest therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) are the best with my clients. There is nothing wrong with making sounds with one another in a free-flowing pattern. I often turn on a background beat (from the organ) and pass out instruments. We play music with one another. The sophistication of our musical experiences vary, but we are all


Every so often, I review my written philosophy of music therapy. I require that my interns write a philosophy statement for their marketing packet, and it is important that I have my own as an example. So, I review it periodically and change it as needed. As I have changed in my clinical interaction, my philosophy has also changed. I find the exercise of writing a personal philosophy of music therapy practice an interesting and revealing one. I have taken my inspiration from several places throughout the years. I was raised by Gaston/Sears descendents, so Gaston and Sears are my first influence. The first two chapters of Music In Therapy offer me the general truths about music that I firmly believe. Music is human behavior (p. 7). Rhythm organizes and also energizes human behavior (p. 17). Esthetic expression is part of being human (p. 21). Music is interpreted through social and cultural modes (p. 22). Music is communication (not a universal language, by the way; p. 23). Music req

Happiness Intitiative - Nuts and Bolts

This is the end of the first week of my happiness initiative. If you missed the first post about my attempt at changing my amygdala and responses to specific situations, it is the one preceding this post. I will go into some more detail about exactly what makes up this initiative in the following paragraphs. Please bear with me as I work through all of this on this blog...I think well when I can produce a product that I can see. Anyway, this decision to seek happiness has been an interesting experience. It has required some changes in who I see, how I interact, and what I do in particular situations. Let me explain... Take a Breath - Do you ever find yourself in situations where you are not breathing in a healthy manner? I do. I have asthma and respiratory infections on a regular basis and find breathing to be a challenge at the best of times. When I am involved in a situation that I find negative, I tend to engage in shallower breathing than necessary.  Breathing Initiative

The Happiness Initiative

I am practicing positivity in my life right now. Just in case you don't know, things were pretty rough last year and being positive was difficult. I do not like to be a negative person, so I am actively practicing positivity. I was helped along yesterday by an article on the MSN page, . This little article was just enough to continue me on my path towards being happy in my work situation and reminded me that happiness is a learned habit - thanks, amygdala! Much like learning to do anything else, our brain needs practice in being positive. The article states that our brain evolved as a finely tuned instrument for survival. We had to be able to recognize negative or dangerous situations, react to those situations quickly, and engage in our fight/flight response immediately to simply stay alive. As a result, our brains have a tendency to react more strongly to the negative happenings in our lives. We have to

Administrative Tasks

I find it interesting that most interns do not seem to understand what an administrative task looks like. As the AIAC chair, I don't think I am leaking a big secret when I say that interns regularly score their Internship Directors and Supervising Music Therapists the lowest on teaching administrative tasks during internships. I find this tied to an unclear definition of "administrative tasks (ATs)." Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time with my two interns teaching them about scheduling (AT). I demonstrated my process in a way that would be easy for them to see. I placed the names of all 93 students on sticky notes (I LOVE super-sticky post-its in all types of colors and sizes!) and placed the names on the cabinets in the music room. I then took a large piece of paper, divided it into four sections (lessons, small group, individual and ???), and asked my interns to place each child in a place on the paper. They had to place all kids in the category where they fit the

...And I'm Off!

It is time to go back to work. This thought both saddens and excites me. I am sad because I have to be awake and ready to go by 6am - blech! I am excited because it is time to get ready for a new school session. There will be new co-workers, new students, and new music therapy sessions. The only problem is that there are two inservice days to get through before I can get to the new music therapy opportunities. I am not a person who sits still easily. I fidget and squirm and yawn and have to take notes in order to stay awake. Fortunately, I am in the midst of a professional bunch of people who are also attention-challenged. I feel that this version of hyperactivity goes with hyper-acuity - something that serves us well with the kids that we serve. We must be able to move and anticipate what clients will do before they respond. What makes us a good team for kids with developmental and psychiatric concerns does not make us a good inservice audience. After the inservice portion of th

The End of a Good Thing and the Beginning of Another

Today is the last day of my summer break. Tomorrow, I go back to work for our Extended School Year. It is time to get back into the therapy groove, into supervisor mode, and finding new ways to engage clients in using music to reach their goals. Vacation is one of the best things to refresh my work ethic. I enjoy time off, but I also enjoy my job. There is something about being alone for an extended period of time to reinforce that I enjoy being around my clients. I look forward to getting back into the routine of groups, individual sessions, and daily interaction with people. Over the past week, I have spent time by myself. This is an essential part of my renewal and refreshing routine. I looked through my music therapy texts, songbooks, and TME file. I have completed a project and have started a couple more (of course!). I am now getting back into "work mode," and I am starting to make plans for the next seven weeks of summer school. There are several things that I

Random Thoughts

There are times when I just post random thoughts on this blog. This is one of those posts - sorry in advance... Sometimes clients are like mystery stories - they are a puzzle to figure out. How should this person be approached? What is the best way to engage this client in this particular time and mood? Why doesn't the "prescribed" plan work? Lots of questions for a therapist to consider and figure out. My bag of tricks... Yesterday, Cathy Knoll posted the following: WORD OF THE DAY for Friday, June 1, 2012 from armamentarium \ahr-muh-muhn-TAIR-ee-uhm\, noun: 1. A fruitful source of devices or materials available or used for an undertaking. 2. The aggregate of equipment, methods, and techniques available to one for carrying out one's duties. She used this as an example of her "bag of tricks" that she takes from session to session. I think of my personal "bag of tricks" as my Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) file. My TM