Showing posts from October, 2012

Guest Entry: Bella-Cat

Bella-cat here. 

Every so often, I take over the keyboard to express myself. It is time for my opinions on the challenges of living with a music therapist. Sorry if this offends some of you, but there are just some things that need to be expressed about living here with a person that sings CONSTANTLY!

I have been living here for six and a half years. In that time, I have learned countless songs about pumpkins, expressing feelings, independence, and any number of other topics. I am often asked, "What do you think?" I always express my opinions, but it is anyone's guess whether my opinions actually make it into the music therapy session.

I often stumble across some form of file folder or visual aid lying on the floor freshly printed and colored, waiting to be laminated. I evaluate each one and communicate my pleasure or displeasure through what I sit upon. If I like something, I sit on top of it, giving it the Bella-cat stamp of approval. If I don't like something, I shre…

It's 12:19 on a Saturday

I cherish my Saturdays. Saturday is the only day every week that I do not have any type of paid work to do. I enjoy the stretch of lazy hours that await me every Saturday morning. I try to keep my Saturdays free of obligation and just reserved for fun times and housework.

I feel that it is important for every person to have a time free of obligation or responsibility. In order to be a good therapist, there has to be a time where you do not have to be a therapist, or a caregiver, or a parent. You just have to have time to be yourself.

My Saturdays tend to follow a pattern (just like everything else in my life - I do strive to be organized...). I wake up at the regular time - between 4am and 5:15am - and head to the computer. I spend some time catching up with email, Facebook, and committee work for AMTA, and then it's time to start a chore. (Today, by the way, I postponed the chore until later.) I usually end up trying to take an early morning nap while my family members call me and …

Wacky Website Wednesday

A couple of years ago, my wonderful sister started sending me some website links every Wednesday. My sister, a first/second grade teacher in Southern California, is the technology guru for her school. She is constantly looking for interesting things on the web. She realized one day that I also work in a school, and she generously shared her Wacky Website Wednesday emails with me to share with my school.

Many of the sites were educational in nature, but there were a couple that were very valuable for me as a music therapist working with school-aged children and adolescents. I thought I would share a couple today...
Kelly Riley's Music Classroom: This link has a list of online music games. My sister tried out several of the games, as did I. They were fun and sorted by age groups for elementary kids. Lots of good links... Incredibox: This link defies explanation. You just have to try it!…


Ah. Here in the States it is a season of political debates as we get ready to vote for our next President and many of the Congressional Senators and Representatives that we expect to be our voices in government. It is always an interesting time of year - one that sends some of us (for example, ME!!!) shrieking and running away from any and all political conversations. So, as a result, you will not hear about who I plan on voting for or who I think is right. There you go...

Instead, I would like to focus on how we debate - each one of us - every day.

Yesterday, I debated with both sides of my brain whether I should address the pompous school secretary who attempted to throw away one of my projects without even attempting to find out who owned the materials. I erred on the side of caution and did not confront her. We shall see if that was a fortunate decision - I did rescue the materials and the project from the "giveaway" place.

I debated about a response to a particular person …

The Promise of the New Week

It is early on Monday morning, and I am wondering what the week will bring. It is the first entire work week after two unnatural weeks - the AMTA conference week followed by a 3.5-day work week. It has been a long time since I have been in my music therapy clinic to see all of my clients. I am approaching this week the way I approach most weeks - with an open mind and limited plans.

I enjoy the thought of a wide-open week.

What music will we make this week? How will I get my clients towards their therapeutic goals? Who will challenge me? Who will I challenge? What paths will we take to get where we want to go? Oh, the questions are never ending!

When I was a novice therapist, I functioned the way I had been taught to function. I designed session plans and followed those plans as much as possible. (Now, in the interest of complete honesty, I never really thought of those plans as scripts - I was able to go off-script if clients needed it, even as a student music therapist!) I felt that it…

Use Your Words

Forgive me as I move into a bit of talk about spirituality here - I will try to keep it brief...

On Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, I move into a different role than that of music therapist. In short, I am a church choir director. We have a Wednesday evening church service followed by choir practice. This past Wednesday, the pastor started talking about a letter sent to the early church in Colosse where the congregation was not able to communicate with each other. This bit of history started me thinking about the power of words...

One of the phrases that I use often is, "Use your words." 

In my work with children and adolescents with developmental and psychiatric disorders, I am always attempting to encourage my clients to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs in a way that I can understand. My clients do not always use verbal words to communicate, but they all have "words." Sometimes their words are in the form of an object, sometimes a picture car…

Wrapping Up

I have exactly one more thing to do this conference, and that is to attend exactly ONE presentation this morning before hopping on the shuttle and getting outta Dodge (obscure Kansas reference ;-). This conference has been a busy one for me, mostly meetings, greetings, and talks with folks on the way to different meetings and greetings. I have enjoyed myself this entire time and have felt less exhausted than in the past several meetings. I consider this to be a good thing and hope the trend continues next year in Jacksonville, Florida.

As AMTA 2012 comes to a close, there are several things that I want to emphasize and review for myself. Please indulge me as I think "out loud," so to speak.
My AMTA membership is important to me. It is important to be an active part of the organization that represents what I do on a daily basis. Sure, the dues are significant and sometimes difficult to accomplish on my limited budget, but the things that AMTA does for me on a daily basis are wo…

A Community of Friends

Do you know one of the best things about being at a music therapy conference? 

The immediate recognition that music is an important therapeutic medium for many, many people!

It is refreshing to be in a place where nobody asks, "So what is musical therapy anyway?" It is great to be in a place where music therapy is the first focus rather than shrouded in mystery.

This conference has been full of discussion about the future of music therapy as a profession. If you don't know by now, AMTA is talking about moving from a Bachelors Level Entry to a Masters Level Entry. My time at this conference has been predominantly centered around this topic. The conversation has been fascinating, challenging, and just plain old time-consuming. I think my active engagement in the discussion will slow down tomorrow, but who knows?

I am in a place where there are 1600+ music therapists. Two young ladies, walking down the hallway, started chatting with me about how it was their first conference, t…

And Away We Go!!!

Today is Day one of the AMTA National Conference (on my schedule anyway!). I awoke at 3:30 (getting to be my typical time to wake during the week - don't know why. Hmmmm), and am sitting here, three hours later, mentally organizing my day while my nose drips and my roommate is sleeping deeply.I really love these moments at conference - quiet, anticipatory, and full of promise.

Today's schedule is as follows: 8am-3pm - Committee Meeting; 3pm-4pm - Joint Committee Meeting (my committee meets with another committee); 4pm-5pm - My Committee meets with our Council Coordinator and the Person in charge of Professional Programs; 5pm-6pm - My committee meets alone to wrap up stuff; 8pm-9pm - Committee Chair/Council Coordinator Meeting. Then, off to bed, for tomorrow brings a 7:30am CMTE (that I'm kinda in charge of...).

I really enjoy being on a committee for AMTA. I started off as a regional representative on the Association Internship Approval Committee (AIAC) and am now the chair.…

The Surreal Life

There are times when I just have to laugh at the strange nature of my very existence. This is one of those times.

I have arrived at the resort where the AMTA National Conference is being held. The original plan was to meet up with my friend, Christine, and then stalk other people hanging out who looked like music therapists (Do you know what I mean?? There is just a "look" to us MTs) until we found a couple of people to split the cab fare with us.

I found Christine along with five others who had reserved a limo. A black, stretch limo complete with chauffeur. We were invited along and spent about 16 dollars each instead of the 30-35 dollar cab fare, again, each!

I introduced myself to the people that I didn't know and found that I was sitting with AMTA's president-elect (who asked me to send her a song that I am composing), the CBMT representative to the AMTA Board of Directors, an internship director that I have met several times, and one of my professors. I just had to…

Political Rhetoric

I get very tired of political commentary and discussion during election seasons. Last night was the first presidential debate. I did not listen, watch, or engage in any way. This is a conscious choice that I make during each and every election to help me maintain a positive outlook on life.

Now, this does not mean that I am not informed about the political viewpoints of those running for office - I most certainly am. I just choose not to actively engage in the conversation. My feelings (right or wrong, they are what they are) are that I get to vote the way I want. I do not allow others to attempt to change my mind. I fully support your right to vote the way that you want and will not attempt to change your mind.

It amazes me how the rhetoric of politicians moves into every organization at one time or another. If you are unaware of the current political debate in American music therapy, it is time to pay attention. At this point, the members of AMTA are discussing and debating whether en…