Showing posts from August, 2012

Taking the Next Step

I submitted my first two manuscripts for review and possible publication just a couple of seconds ago...

There is something really nice about being able to be informal in this setting, but there is something really thrilling about writing something that may be published in a peer-reviewed journal. This has been a long time coming, and now it is time to show my thoughts and the fruits of my research to the more formal world.


Moving on from this topic into another...

I have started doing music therapy groups with kids who have never had me as a therapist before. These past two weeks have been interesting.

I can firmly state that I am having to reestablish my therapeutic relationship with my clients. Every classroom group has experienced some sort of change whether it be changes in peers, in scheduling, in teachers - every group! In addition, I have only one intern right now, so I am taking back the groups that my recent intern led. This means that I am havin…

Thinking about the nuts and bolts of music therapy...

I have been thinking lots about how I do my job. There are things that no one ever really tells you about how to arrange yourself and your environment so that you can effectively do your job as a music therapist. How do you arrange your instruments? How do you organize your documentation? Now, not just what do you include, but what do your forms look like? Do you use a paper copy or an electronic copy? All kinds of things that no one ever really thinks about until they are in the midst of needing to complete these tasks.

I hosted a webinar about one aspect of being a music therapist - that of organizing our stuff - last Thursday. It was a topic inspired by my most recent intern graduate who is getting ready to start a job as an itinerant therapist, doing most of her sessions in homes and storing things in her car. In addition, it was inspired by my mother's garage, pictured here...

 Aaah, the familiar environment of home!

Anyway, when I see this, I see all of the tools that my Mom, a…

2800. 2800!!!

When I logged into blogger today, I found the number 2800 - the number of times my blog has been viewed by others out there in the universe. Seeing this number totally changed my topic for this blog post which was originaly going to be something along the lines of "Pinned and Wriggling Against the Wall." Aren't you glad I changed my mind?

It could have been SO much worse!


This blog is my place to process, vent, analyze, and engage myself in thinking about music, therapy, and me - my place in the world of music therapy. I think of it as my online journal and tend to treat it as such. So, when you look at an entry on this blog, pretty much anything goes!

Today, I am thinking about the role that music plays in our lives - not necessarily from a music therapist's point of view, but from the perspective of a human being...

One of the people on the Music Therapists Unite Facebook group asked for ideas about demonstrating a music therapy intervention for a local telev…

Satisfaction in a Job Well Done!

I am the proud owner of a website,, which has never really made it off the ground - at least, not in the way that I hope it will. I have owned the site since 1996, probably longer than some of you have been alive (sigh), but have never really found my way into the business side of things. That is starting to change.

In April, I started offering webinars to music therapists through my website and various social media sites. I started demonstrating how to make mallets. Five people signed up and three were there on the night of the webinar. Two stayed for the entire presentation.

In May, I talked to an audience of eight or nine music therapy-type people about composing songs in ways to get us out of creative blocks when they occur (and they do). We continued the conversation in June with a talk about approaching our goals and objectives with clients from a different perspective than we were taught in our schooling.

The webinar in July was supposed to be an opportun…

Happiness Initiative

This week consisted of three days of not only being a music therapy internship supervisor, but of actually being a music therapist!!

One of my biggest challenges as a supervisor is the time when my interns need to be independent and have some time alone in their sessions. This situation, while great for them, is harrowing for me.

From the times when I start to feel scattered, restless, and out-of-sorts, I have learned that I really need the daily contact with clients to keep me actively engaged. This has led me to make several decisions, starting right now!

I will no longer accept two interns at a time unless it is necessary to do so. If I do have two interns, I will make sure that I still have plenty of therapeutic interaction with my clients. I will never fully leave the music therapy clinic. If there is a teaching position in my future (doubtful, but you never know), I will be an adjunct professor instead of a full-time professor. You couldn't pay me enough money to transfer my cl…


Today is Friday.

I have a multi-disciplinary day ahead. On Fridays, the art therapist, the music therapy department, and the adapted physical education department get together and plan a large group session. Four classes for an hour of Music, Movement, Art and Rhythmic Sensations (MMARS). We start with running games and activities, all centered around a weekly theme. After we exhaust their bodies, we move into cognitive experiences.

These sessions tend to be very popular with the kids.

I like the change in routine from music therapy focus to multi-disciplinary focus on Friday. It makes Fridays seem like a day for play rather than a day for therapy.

I'm going to go play now. More music therapy thoughts this weekend!!!

Happy Thoughts

Today's early morning cruise around my social media sites revealed that most of my friends and acquaintances are starting to be faced with challenging situations. At this moment, my life is settling into a routine (and I am certainly NOT complaining about this), so I am going to dedicate my happiness initiative to others right now.

So, here are some of the good and happy thoughts that I am sending out into the universe right now...


Safe journeys.


New jobs for those who need them.

Continued jobs for everyone else.

Clear directions for those of us who need direction.

If you need one of these thoughts, take it. If you do not currently need one of these thoughts, try passing them on. Think about the people in your life who are in the need of thought, and send thoughts into the world to find their way to the people who need them.

Going Back

Today was the first day of the fall semester at my facility. It was a work day interrupted by waiting to sign up for health benefits and behavior management training. Once my two tasks were finished, I didn't do much more with my day. I reviewed the 105 emails that had accrued in my inbox, made a list of kids who were leaving and another list of kids arriving. I spent some time talking to my friend, the Art Therapist, about schedules, our break, and various and sundry other things, and I took down the summer school entry bulletin board.

The rest of the time was spent sitting in my music room wondering what I should be doing.

I didn't do much - just enjoyed being in my space, by myself.

My intern was not present as she was originally going to the intern of my recent graduate. I had already taken an inventory of all of the materials in the music room (thanks to the help of my interns). The senior intern's desk was clear and ready to use as storage. My desk was relatively clear,…


Over the past two weeks, as I have been on Fall Break, I have been cleaning my residence. One of the benefits of cleaning, at least to my music therapy side of life, is a reminder of all of the books that I have about music therapy.

I have lots of books about music therapy. You know that part of my life is a tendency towards being a packrat, so just imagine what I have available to me on the topic of music therapy. I even started my music therapy education before Davis, Gfeller, and Thaut published their first edition of Introduction to Music Therapy, so I have the articles used before textbooks! Can you imagine??

I enjoy looking at the texts that I have in my library. One of my treasures is an original copy of Music in Therapy edited by E. Thayer Gaston. It was part of the professional library at my facility when I started. When they disbanded the library, I asked if I could have the book. The administration granted my request, and now I have a good copy. Now, most of the information t…

48 Hours and Counting...

My part of school starts in 48 hours. There are three, count them, THREE days of teacher in-services before students start back to school. Friday's schedule contains signing up for health benefits and a review of Safe Crisis Management - a behavior management system used at my facility. The rest of the day will be a work day. My former intern is getting married in Oklahoma, and my current intern is attending the wedding, so I will be by myself at school on Friday. Monday and Tuesday are meeting days - lots of sitting and looking interested as we review the characteristics of persons with diagnoses on the Autism Spectrum.

I am currently trying to shut down vacation mode and get back into work mode. 

Vacation mode is full of lazy days, limited tasks, and attempts to organize my life. Work mode is made up of scheduling, thinking about music as a therapeutic tool, and practicing my functional skills. 

My major task for the next 48 hours is to pack the car with materials to take to work. …

Lessons on Therapy that I Learned from My Cat

So, BIG SURPRISE! I am a cat person. 

I am sure that that fact isn't much of a big reveal to many of you, but in the interest of full disclosure, I thought I would use my pet to introduce several lessons about therapy that she has taught me over the past 6 years. Since it is time, as well, for my annual goal setting exercise, I will just combine the two.

Lesson One: Sometimes the best way to relate is to get comfortable. Lie down on the floor if that is what is needed. Sit on the floor, recline in the recliner. If your body is comfortable, you may be able to address uncomfortable topics better. 

Goal One: Interact with clients where they are rather than where I think they should be.

Lesson Two: Be curious. Ask questions. Keep asking questions until you get to the right question. Try new things - go into them cautiously, but try them anyway.

Goal Two: Deny no opportunities when they arrive.

Lesson Three: Rest when you need it. There is nothing more calm than a sleeping cat. Since they sp…

Being Lazy

In the movie, Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds, and Fred Astaire, Bing sings a song called, Lazy.In the song, he expresses a sincere request to just relax, sit around, and do very little. The unfortunate part, for the character he plays, is that he chooses to buy a farm for the scene of his laziness little knowing what is required with farming. Here is a YouTube link for you: .

His idea of laziness doesn't work out very well for him. That tends to happen to me as well. I always start off each break and vacation with a picture of how my time will be spent. That picture often ends up being wrong and nothing goes as planned.

My current break from work is coming to an end. There are four days left until work starts up again. I have been lazy. I have completed some projects and have ignored others. I haven't pushed myself to do anything, but, like Bing, things have not worked out as planned.

This is not a bad thing. 

My wor…

Turning the Corner

My sister, a second-grade teacher, actually took most of the summer off. Now, you may be thinking, "Of course, she did. She doesn't get paid to work during the summer, so she always takes the summers off!" But, oh dear reader, that it is the furthest thing from the truth. She has not taken a summer off in years. She generally goes in and rearranges her room, makes copies of worksheets, updates her technology on site, and spends time at school. This year, however, she turned in her keys and did not go to work for almost two months!

She started the summer enjoying being at home, but very quickly started thinking about her job again. I knew she was ready to be back in her classroom when she had a brainstorm! She decided to change her classroom theme from Winnie the Pooh (theme for the past 14 years) to Cars! The change gave her something to organize and work on while she was not able to get into her classroom. For the past two weeks, however, she has been in her classroom ev…


Yesterday, I had one of my insomnia nights. These often happen around full moon time and tend to be a pretty obsessive time for me. Last night was no exception. I started off the evening trying to sleep, but just could not find any type of drowsiness in me at all.

Now, I am an "early to bed, early to rise" type of human. I enjoy my seven hours of sleep daily and like to take naps as well. So, a night of insomnia is not something that I look forward to.

Last night's episode was particularly difficult to start with. I kept obsessing over the recent arrival of another music therapist in town. While I have met this therapist and consider him an acquaintance, for some reason I just kept thinking of his name - over and over again. Often when I get into these loops, I am ill, but not last night.

After three hours of trying to sleep, I finally gave up and started to work on a long-term project. I spent three more hours writing an internship text and finished two chapters. I went to…

Music, Therapy, and ME!

I find the origin stories of music therapists very interesting. You know, the stories of how we found out about music therapy, when we knew we needed to use music as a tool to help others, and how we found our preferred populations. I also enjoy the stories about how we sustain ourselves as music therapy professionals in our various facilities. While the origin stories fascinate me, the sustaining stories are part of what keeps me going day after day.

I found music therapy at a Girl Scout Wider Opportunity. 

I attended Studio '84 with 103 other Girl Scouts in Evansville, Indiana on the campus of the University of Evansville. I attended as a vocalist, and part of the Opportunity was to explore different careers in music and the arts. We had a lecturer come from the music education department who gave a nice talk about being a music educator. On her way out, she said, "Oh, there is another program here but the professor wasn't able to be here. It's called music therapy, a…


I have been thinking about the concept of shelter for the past two days. This is due to the challenge for August from the website, The Sketchbook Challenge. The task is to represent an idea in your sketchbook in any way, shape, or form that you want. So, I have been thinking.

I am new to the idea of art journaling and sketching, but I am enjoying the task.

Anyway, back to the concept of shelter.

My friend, Tawnya, the art therapist at my facility, asks students to make a "safe room" representation during their sessions with her. They get to make the best place in the world - someplace that is safe and all their own. There are no rules to what has to be in the room - no rules about what is not allowed - no rules at all.

As a music therapist, I have never really thought about the concept of shelter, especially how it is interpreted by my clients. I have been pretty spoiled in my existence, but the contemplation of this topic is starting to challenge my place in the world, my famil…


You know how things just seem to be going along on one specific path, doing your job, and just minding your business? All of a sudden, there is something little that happens that changes your outlook, your plans, and your mind.

Serendipity is a funny thing. You can just move around your world minding your own business when something happens.

The something is not always a big thing - it may be just a little thing, but it is just enough to jog you from one path to another path. Part of looking for happiness means looking for those small things that can bring joy into your life. Today, I am planning to clean my bedroom carpet - the whole thing, clearing, vacuuming, and steam cleaning - and when I got ready, I happened upon new episodes of a television show that I really enjoy - 13 more episodes! Oh joy, oh rapture!!

So, at this point, I have several options. I can give up on my plan to clean my house, setting myself back on my vacation plans. I can pretend that there are no new episodes and…