Showing posts from July, 2012


Yesterday, I called my sister for a chat. I found her in the midst of a pain crisis - this happens quite a bit with my family. We all have strange aches and pains that are not easily explained by modern medicine. It is not unusual for one of the members of my family to be the topic of an article dedicated to strange things...anyway...

My sister and I were talking about things just strange and typical for us when she mentioned an old record we used to listen to when we were kids. Feeling helpless to help her pain, I decided to see if I could do something for her, so I went to the computer. Lo and behold, iTunes had the album I was looking for, so I downloaded it and made a CD (which will be going to the mailbox to her shortly).

"The album," you may be asking? Why, it's Mickey Mouse Disco, of course!

I feel the guffaws starting now, but this record made a pretty big impact on the musical lives of my brother, my sister, and me.

Imagine, if you will, three kids between the ages …

My Summer Playlist

I am a music therapist who rarely listens to music simply to listen. When I need stimulation, I turn on talk radio or the television rather than the radio. This is a fact that constantly amuses and amazes me as I go through my life as a music therapist.

Right now, however, I have decided that music is what I want in my atmosphere. My head hurts...again...and the television does not seem to be helping that situation, so I have turned on my Pandora channels and have requested a quick mix. This has helped me vacuum and steam clean the front portion of the living room carpet and has allowed me to give my eyes a rest for a time.

So, the music has been playing for a time now, and I am really enjoying the selections that have come from my Pandora selections. Now, I have eclectic tastes in music, and I think that my channels reflect that taste. I have a John Denver channel, a Simon and Garfunkel channel, and a channel for the Irish Rovers. There is a John Williams channel, Epic Soundtracks, Cha…

Happiness Initiative Update - The End of the Summer


The summer session at work has ended and with it a part of the happiness initiative that I took on for my own well-being.

The past few days have included struggles with thinking about positive things happening around me. So, I have wallowed a bit in the realm of negativity. I will get back to positivity! I like myself and so many others so much more when I can easily see positive things and am feeling happy.

It is now Fall Break. For the next two weeks, I am blissfully unencumbered and have very little to do except clean, sleep, catch up on projects, vote in the primary, go to Office Depot's Star Teacher Appreciation Breakfast, attend Aida at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, start a research project, color things, make Christmas gifts, clean and rearrange the bedroom, and chase the cat. Whew.

I think most of my recent struggle with my happiness initiative has been related to the environment surrounding me. It is very hot. Now, I am from Southern California and used to …

Vocal Hygiene

One of the hot posts on the Music Therapists Unite group on Facebook has been about a need for a wireless microphone system to assist a music therapist with projection. Out of all the comments, not one suggested that there may be a medical issue contributing to this situation - until I posted about checking out the possibility of vocal nodules.

We do not often think about how we are exercising our vocal folds as therapists. In fact, we do not often think about our vocal folds at all...until they start to cause us trouble. At that point, it is too late!

Some links to information about vocal nodules that explain things MUCH better than I can:

A friend of mine experienced an issue with vocal nodules this last year that required six months of time away from her job as a music therapist. She was not allowed to talk, sing, or interact…

Project Drawer and Happiness Project Updates

So, the happiness project that I have taken up during the summer months has been pretty good for me both as a therapist and as a person.I have been spending as much time as possible training my brain to find the positive in things. My biggest challenge to this summer of positivity has been my co-workers - several are displaying signs of burnout. I have had to make decisions about who to spend time around at work. Some of the decisions have been difficult, others easy as I continue to move towards training my amygdala towards thinking in a positive vein rather than in a negative vein.

Some of the other happiness project things that I have been trying to complete include my project drawer. The project drawer is where I put all of my ideas that are not fully fleshed out until I can get some time to complete them. The problem is that I never really seem to have time to complete anything. This summer, I am making time.

Last week's challenge was a file folder visual aid for the song, On T…


Last night gave me a chance to be part of a music therapy community. I have been hosting webinars this summer through my business website, has been an interesting and fun experience that I am planning on continuing.

Anyway, what I find important about these experiences is the opportunity to connect with others who are interested in music as a therapeutic medium. I now know many folks who are in various places in their music therapy journey. These folks are not people that I would have had the pleasure of meeting in any other situation, primarily because we are far apart geographically, but now I have had an opportunity to interact with more folks that I would have ever engaged with in other situations.

Last night's webinar was supposed to be a swap shop where participants shared ideas with each other. It ended up being me sharing several of my ideas and a couple of conversations that were scintillating. We talked about co-treating, about inservice idea…

Going Through the Project Drawer

I was looking around this morning and stumbled across a book about sketchbook challenges. This led to a blog,, and an idea for myself.

The contributors to the blog set a theme for themselves every month and post ideas that address the theme. This month's theme is circles. Now, music therapists have done this occasionally, but I am going to take this idea in a new direction for myself.

My challenge for the rest of the month of July and the first half of the month of August is the project drawer. The goal is to look through my drawer of half-finished ideas for music therapy sessions and clients and finish some of them! Does anyone else have a drawer, or a cabinet, or a box, or a file of half-finished ideas?

My drawer is a place where I put all of the ideas that I have started but never quite seen all the way through to completion. Sometimes ideas make it into the drawer because I am waiting for the laminating materials to arrive, some…

Love Me Tender

On Thursday, I had a meeting that kept me busy during the first half of a targeted goal group session. My interns, on their own, went and got our students for the group and engaged them in music making. I finished my meeting and hurried down to the music room.

When I entered, everyone was engaged in music making in one way or another. One client was playing the conga drum, one was playing the guitar, and the third client had chosen to listen to an Elvis karaoke CD and was mouthing (his form of communication). When I entered, I greeted everyone and asked them to tell me what we were doing.

Elvis's song, Love Me Tender, came on the stereo. I asked the young man who simply mouths for communication if I could sit next to him. He started smiling and moving his mouth rapidly, indicating that I could. I found my fake book, sat next to him, and started to sing the words to the song. He leaned towards me and kept moving his mouth along with the words. The song ended, and we repeated the proc…

The Importance of Music for Music's Sake

Tonight I get to go to our local amphitheater to watch the musical, Memphis. I love my season tickets - a commitment I make to myself every summer. My summer evenings sitting under the stars, listening to musicals, and being an audience member are treats.

It is important for me (and I would think, for other music therapists) to have opportunities to participate in music making or music performances where I am not actively using music for a therapeutic purpose. Being an audience member allows me to simply immerse myself in the experience rather than attempt to adapt the music to affect behavior.

Since music is such a big part of my life as a music therapist, it makes sense that it is something that I find enjoyable. Yet, I cannot use music to assist me in concentrating. I need talk to help me concentrate. I use music for aesthetic purposes and for professional purposes in my own life.

I am going to take some time this evening to sit and simply marvel in the fact that musicians exist.


Happiness Initiative: An Update

There are many things that I find make me feel happy. I enjoy spending time with music therapists from around the world (in online settings) talking about my first ever passion, MUSIC THERAPY!! I love time in my music therapy clinic, giving my clients opportunities to express themselves through music. I enjoy my current restriction, placed upon myself, that housework = chocolate! I spend time with my family via the telephone.

All of these things make me feel happy.

Look up happiness on Google, and wikipedia is the first thing to pop up. ( The article in wikipedia includes the following quote: "Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy."

Positive psychology is the third listing ( Following the posts led me to an article about the secrets of happiness (…

Not Quite Patriotism

Last night, my Dad suggested that I spend my day singing every patriotic song that I know...all day long. Now, I did not think that this idea was a good one (I kinda like my quiet time at home), but my thoughts did move towards an incident that happened in a patriotic setting a long time ago.

My best friend, Maryann, and I were the oldest Girl Scouts in our town. We were sophomores in high school, a bit rebellious when it came to our style of Scouting, and didn't really care what others thought about us being scouts at the advanced age of 15.

We went camping with about 200 other scouts from our area. Maryann and I were standing next to each other during the flag-raising ceremony looking out over a ring of scouts from ages 6-15 (us), all acting very solemn. The tradition for flag ceremonies often included a song, and this ceremony was no different. The caller announced that we would sing "God Bless America."

Maryann and I started singing enthusiastically but found ourselves …