Showing posts from September, 2012

Countdown to St. Charles

It is officially time to start my countdown to the American Music Therapy Association national conference. I am SO looking forward to being in the company of over 1400 music therapists and music therapy students in just under 8 days!

I have always gone to national conference - ever since 1996 when I was asked to present for the first time. I am not as apt to go to the regional conferences (mainly because I have to use all my professional days for AMTA), but I always go to the national conference.

In the old days, when I was a new therapist, I went to the conference in an attempt to get as much information as I could possibly cram into the four days. I was always challenged by thoughts of inadequacy when I would sit and watch phenomenal music therapists talk about their use of music as a therapeutic medium. I would leave feeling challenged and not quite up to the par of other therapists. My thoughts and perceptions of myself were based on what I saw others doing. I always felt that I was…


My last several posts have reflected some trying times in my life as a music therapist. They haven't been very musical in content or reflection. Since the title of this blog is "Music, therapy, and me," I feel justified in sometimes focusing on the "me" portion, but since this really is a music therapy blog, I think it's a good idea to get back to the therapeutic triad and focus on all three of the important elements of music therapy! 

Here goes!

If you have read any of my recent posts, you know that I am not happy with my supervisor. Unfortunately, this relationship colors most of my professional interactions with persons at my facility, but seems to have not diminished my interactions with my clients (I think...but, that is difficult to see as I am in the middle of the situation rather than being observed from the outside...hmm). I love my client interactions and enjoy every moment that I am engaged with a client - even when they are screaming or kicking!


WARNING: Proceed at your own risk!!

***SPOILER ALERT*** The author of this particular blog post is currently undergoing some major issues at work and at home.  The following post will probably contain one or more of the following: rantsragesincoherent statementsgeneral negativityThe author apologizes to any reader who is still reading at this point for the paragraphs that follow. NEGATIVITY SWOOPS IN... Today I got called to the principal's office AGAIN. I generally try to avoid going anywhere near my supervisor for many reasons, but seem to get called on the carpet on a regular basis these days. I hate going in there and closing the door. I have to sit on the low couch, allowing her and everyone else in chairs to tower over me. Today, there was a human resources representative in the room as well.
The situation that I was in trouble for was never fully explained to me, but had to do with a student who had to wait to change her clothes until the end of a session due to lack of staff support and children who were out of con…

Building a Dam

Has anyone else been flooded with a tidal wave of negativity lately? Every where I seem to look these days, people are not happy, are disgruntled, are talking behind the backs of others, and are not helpful. Can you sense a bit of negativity in my own attitude (she asks, sarcastically)?

This attitude is spilling over into my music therapy clinic. Kids are arriving for sessions growling at each other. Staff members are short-tempered. The therapist (AKA, me!), is overwhelmed by her own issues, family situations, and perception of limited time before having to go for a professional conference. I am having to take some drastic measures.

I am building a virtual dam between me and the negativity of others.

Now, let me be clear here. I am still working on positivity and the happiness initiative, but there are times in everyone's lives when you just have to express a little negativity. I struggle daily with deciding what is necessary to express and what is just me being a real you know. I a…

Does Anyone Need a Pencil??

I am starting to clean up and clear out my various environments - work, home, and mental.

One of the things that I have found in my pack rat existence is an obsession with pencils. I have hundreds of them - novelty, colored, sharpened, and unsharpened! Some have memories attached - like the one from Disneyland that is shaped like Mickey's ears. Others are just regular pencils.

Do you think that my obsession with pencils is linked to the phrase, "A good musician always has a pencil?" I'm starting to think so...

Of course, a good musician does not have to have hundreds of pencils, so I am starting a PENCIL INITIATIVE for the Fall season.

Here it goes!

The first thing that will happen is that every one of my choir members will have a pencil in his or her folder by the end of the day. 

Second, I'm going to use my pencils at the AMTA conference as incentives for my business and my internship.

The last part of the pencil initiative is to clean up and clear out! Each time I th…

Music Therapy Power

So, my adventures in organizing led me to clean out my front closet this morning. I pulled out box after box of old work objects and supplies and managed to get to the bottom of the closet and all the boxes!

As I was going through one of the boxes, I found this small pin.

Now, I have NO idea how I got this pin, but as I am a self-avowed pack rat, I am sure that it was part of a conference at one time or another. (If anyone out there recognizes where it came from, please let me know!) Finding it has led me to start thinking...

I know, I know, thinking always leads to strange blog posts. I make no guarantees that my train of thought will make any sense at all, but here goes...

Music therapists tend to be a very passionate, very dedicated lot. We know that music is a powerful therapeutic medium that encourages participation, motivation, and movement towards therapeutic goals and objectives. We know the power of music because we experience that power every day.

How do we express the power of m…

Frustration Tolerance

Yesterday I did the same songwriting TME with two young ladies who have extreme difficulty with frustration tolerance. Both of them have issues with social interactions and with being told, "No."

So, I have been kicking around the idea of a song written just for them, and it just solidified into a full-fledged TME today. (Isn't it nice when that happens?? Wish it would happen more often!!)

I prepared the room carefully - two pieces of paper with lyrics, two mechanical pencils, and two record albums in their jackets (great sizes for writing boards, by the way). We entered, - each young lady has her own time to be with me in the music room - and I asked them to sit by one of the pieces of paper. I explained that we were each going to write a song and sang the chorus to them. I then asked them to finish the sentences, "I feel frustrated when..." and "When I feel frustrated, I ..." I wrote on my paper, they wrote on theirs. We then shared our sentences and …

Everybody's Rushing All Around

Do you ever feel like there just isn't enough time? I do - most of the time. This is REALLY evident to me at the present moment as I am getting ready for the AMTA National Conference, working at my full and part-time jobs, and attempting to engage in creative expression in order to develop more things to do...

Always moving around...and around...and around...and around...

Enough of that!

So, right now, I am sitting here writing my blog post while cooking meat for dinner and washing laundry. (Oops, gotta go start the laundry.) Goals for this evening include finishing the tasks listed above plus unloading and loading the dishwasher, writing down a TME idea that is percolating right now, and making the bed up with clean sheets. Oh, then there is the need to chase the cat and tackle her before smothering her with scratches between the ears and whisker kisses!!!

At times like this, when I am trying to set up my appointment calendar for the week of October 9-14th, I wish I had more. More ti…

Needing More Time

I just plain old need more time.

I am always amazed at how quickly time goes when you are trying to get to a big picture - conference, life plans, long-term clinical goals...

In the past 16 years that I have worked at my facility, we have moved from a long-term care model where clients stayed with us for their entire education to a shorter-term care model where we may only get 3-4 months with a resident before he or she is transitioned to another setting.

SIDE NOTE: I know that 3-4 months is a long time in the views of other therapists who are in acute treatment settings or in hospitals, but for school therapists, 3-4 months is just a blink of the eye.

As a music therapist focusing on treating kids who are under-served or difficult to serve due to intellectual, developmental, and psychiatric disorders, I often feel that I could help my clients more if I only had more time. This change in the length of stay of our clients has made my therapy style change dramatically.

When your time is much…

The Reason for it All

Last night was Back to School Night at my job.

Now, I really do not like having to work 12-hour days, and, to top it all off, had a aggressive encounter with an 8-year old who beat my right side up, started a strange migraine (don't know if the two were related), cried when I saw my old principal (blaming the migraine and the beating earlier, of course), and had a severe case of the drops (where I cannot put ANYTHING in its place without it jumping back out at me and hitting me on the head!).

Anyway, I had placed the sunglasses down since sunglasses are not considered "professional dress," and my intern and I were talking to parents and students about the music therapy room.

Working in a special education facility, I do not often meet family members of my clients. About half of my students are part of the residential psychiatric treatment facility and the other half are bused from as far away as 70 miles from the facility. So, last night was a time to meet family members an…

Hitting the Wall


It hit me hard last night and continued into this morning. The temperature was hot all night, and I didn't sleep well. Add in a dose of allergies, lots of deadlines, strange meetings, and good old-fashioned worry about a family member going through lots of mysterious health issues, and well, I hit the wall of exhaustion at 5am this morning.

I made the decision to take a personal day off from work.

I am constantly telling my interns (Hello, KP!) that self-care is crucial for any therapist, and I strongly believe that statement is true. Without being aware of our selves as therapists, we cannot be appropriate in assisting our clients towards their best selves. So, here is what I think...

Sick days are available for a reason - use them.

Make sure that you use vacation days to vacate.
Take care of your self before you attempt to take care of others.
There you go. I'm going back to bed with the idea of getting back into therapy tomorrow.

A Trip to the Dollar Store

If you know me at all, you know that I love stuff and love paying very little for it. As a result, I am often at the Dollar Tree (my local Dollar Store). Today, I woke up with the urge to shop and took myself to the store in search of toilet paper (I thought I would see if there was any) and anything else I could find. I left the store with three bags and 21 dollars poorer with the toilet paper and various and sundry items.

There is nothing like a trip to the Dollar Tree to get my creative juices flowing.

Today, there were new die-cuts!! Die-cuts are large shapes cut out of paper. I have an extensive collection of these visual aids that I use with my students and most of my songs. There were solar system, sea life, and zoo animal die-cuts that I have never seen before. I bought two sets of each and will be laminating them very soon. Then, following my very own rule, I will need to find sixdifferent things to do with these die-cuts before I can put them into my clinical area.

Time to brai…


How do we let others know about the importance of music therapy?

We music therapists do not always do a very good job of letting people know why we are more qualified to use music as a therapeutic medium than the other folks out there. We aren't always articulate enough about what we can do that others cannot.

For me, as evidenced in my most recent post, this all comes down to an awareness of the therapeutic elements of our medium - music.

How can I be an appropriate advocate for music therapy in any environment if I do not understand my medium?

I hope that music therapy students have a chance to think about why it is important to change the tempo of a song to engage their clients' attention. In my experience, we often get out of our initial training as music therapists with very little opportunity to think about the crucial elements of our music. My interns often do not seem to be aware of the needs of their clients when presenting singing TMEs (therapeutic music experiences) - t…

Therapeutic Elements of Music

In the year 2010, Dr. Deanna Hanson Abromeit, professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, presented