Sunday, September 30, 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 wasn't doing enough.

These feelings lasted for several years until I had an epiphany.

One conference, I was sitting in a session promoting new ideas for working with persons in geriatric settings. The presenter announced that we would sing, In My Merry Oldsmobile. I started singing right along with the rest of the audience and then had to stop after the first two lines. I had no idea how the rest of the song went!

"Great," I thought to myself, "I am such a bad music therapist. I don't even know one of the old standards." Then, I had my epiphany. I looked around the room and noticed that most of the people that were in attendance were therapists I associated with the geriatric population. I have rarely worked with folks in nursing homes. I work with kids. I suddenly realized that none of the therapists sitting near me would be able to recognize a song by Britney Spears (this was a LONG time ago) if they had to, and I could play them on my guitar, WITHOUT MUSIC! That was the moment that I stopped being so hard on myself as a music therapist. I started to realize that we each have a role to play in our profession. My role was not to be UBERTHERAPIST, but just MJ Landaker, Music Therapist for children, adolescents, and others who come to me. I was then able to relax and not pressure myself into expecting me to do everything all at once!

These days, I spend most of my time at conference in meetings or presenting to others. I have sixteen obligations to attend during the conference - meetings, presentations, social events, more meetings. I move from appointment to appointment and do not always get to sit in presentations. I miss being able to sit and listen to what other music therapists are doing out there in the clinical world. I suppose this is part of my professional development just like my earlier feelings were part of that development.

So, onto the next part of my professional development.

See you in St. Charles!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Proactive

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!

This week, before the latest brou-ha-ha, I was sitting in the staff lounge. (I know, the staff lounge is not a good place to be - I stated that in an earlier post, but it was empty of everyone but me, so I thought it would be safe. Learned that lesson. Sigh.) Anyway, I was sitting on the sofa when one of our staff psychologists came in to warm up her bagel. She opened one of the microwaves, said, "Gross," slammed the microwave door, and used the other one. All I could think was, "If you find something gross, why don't you clean it up rather than leaving it to petrify?" That led to a song based around the theme of "Be a solution, not a problem." Look for it on my website, www.musictherapyworks.com, later. I'll post the sheet music and a Therapeutic Music Experience plan there at some point!

Be a solution, not a problem.

Ignoring an inappropriate supervisory relationship is not being proactive. It is denying that there is an issue.

Deciding that a microwave is "gross" and then walking away from it is not being proactive. It is denying that there is an issue.

Deciding that letting a child manipulate the behavior of others to get what he wants is not being proactive. It is denying that there is an issue.

Denying that there are problems with any aspect of the therapeutic relationship, with the musical information, with the client, or with the therapist him or herself does a huge disservice to all members of the therapeutic relationship. Problems have to be acknowledged, addressed, and prioritized in order to move into an appropriate therapy process.

When we are unable to be a solution, we compound the problem.

Be a solution, not a problem.

It is part of my responsibility, as a therapist, to assist my students in moving towards their therapeutic outcomes and goals. In order to do this, I have to be proactive rather than reactive. I have to develop experiences to help my clients identify the problems that they have in their lives and then others to help them address them. In order to do that, I have to model that behavior as well as assist them. How can I encourage my clients to be assertive members of their environments when I can't?

Be a solution, not a problem.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

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:
  1. rants
  2. rages
  3. incoherent statements
  4. general negativity
The 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 control. 
 
Anyway, the details are really not that important.
 
During the "discussion," the human resources representative asked me why I was so frustrated. I stated that it had to do with being called into the conference. She looked at me and stopped speaking. I think I misunderstood what she was asking. The look made me start to think.
 
Why am I so frustrated at work? I decided, during the drive away from work, that much of my frustration comes from the fact that I do not feel that I am supported by my supervisor. I am only addressed when there is a perceived difficulty. In the 3+ years that my supervisor has been in the role, she has "observed" me exactly 3 times. Once, she arrived in my room for my 3-year evaluation and stayed for 15 minutes, watching me lead an opening experience and start an instrumental experience. She then left. She came by again when a class was short-staffed and stayed for 10 minutes, watching me lead an opening experience. Several years ago, she instituted a "monthly observation" policy where she would observe each staff member once per month, offering feedback. Do you know how many time I have been observed? ONCE! This was at the end of the first month of the new policy, and she told me that she forgot me. How nice! She stayed for 5 minutes and watched me lead, you guessed it, an opening experience! My feedback from her has been, "It is so nice to see kids having fun. You really love your job. It shows!"

Now, don't get me wrong. I have had many supervisors in my 19 years of professional experience. I have had okay supervisors, and I have had one excellent supervisor. This is the first supervisor that I have had that does not appear to care about me at all unless I am having a problem.

I am a supervisor. I have supervised staff members, music therapy students, and music therapy interns. I know that it is difficult to be the best supervisor in the world. There are times when you have to be the bearer of bad news. You do have to be critical at times, but you also have to support and reinforce the good things that are happening in the professional arena. In order to truly supervise someone, you need to see them in the good situations as well as in the problematic situations.

I feel this aspect of supervision is lacking in my current situation.

What to do? I will address this with my supervisor and with the human resources representative sometime next week before I leave for the AMTA conference. Then, I will seriously review my options and make a decision about whether I remain at my facility.

I love the actual nitty-gritty of my job. I love being a music therapist. I love my interactions with my clients. I love my environment, but I do not enjoy or feel that I even have a relationship with my supervisor. It is amazing how one negative interaction can color the entire situation.

Thanks for letting me vent. If you are all the way down here, you are a trooper!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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 am not perfect and realize that daily as well.

So, let me relate this to the profession of music therapy. Hmmm...

As a therapist, I have a professional responsibility to the children and adolescents that I serve. When the negativity starts to swirl around us all, it is my job to focus on the clients, not overly focus on the staff members around them. It is also important that I be able to acknowledge my own situations and how they affect me as a therapist. This is not always easy.

Back to the virtual dam.

Step One: Focus on the client in front of you. The client always has to be first and foremost.in the mind of every therapist. If the therapist is unable to keep the client first, it is time for a day off.

Step Two: Avoid the staff lounge. A very wise professor of mine once said, "If you like your job at all, don't eat lunch in the teachers' lounge." Wow! This has been so very true throughout my career. The lounge is where people go to complain about their students, the principals, and each other. Why put yourself in the middle of that angst?

Step Three: Prioritize. Who and what needs my attention now? What and who can wait for me later? You can only do what you can do. Some things have to be delayed.

Step Four: Only take on what you can handle. For example, I cannot afford to be counselor/ confidante to the school secretary right now. I can't be the receptor of all the negative feelings about "how bad things are." That is just a role I cannot play at the moment. After October 15, I should be able to take that role up again, but I can't and won't do it now.

Building a dam.

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

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 throw out or donate one bag of stuff, I will put a pencil in the clean up jar. When I gather fifty pencils, I will buy the new season of The Big Bang Theory as my reward!

Positive reinforcement combined with organization and re-purposing materials in one fell swoop. Plus - the added benefit of advertising my website without having to purchase anything new, and getting to be creative!

I am going to spend some time in the next 16 days (before the AMTA conference) putting stickers and business cards in pencil kits for the internship fair as well as for other encounters and advertising. I am also going to spend time clearing my house and work of unwanted things. In the long run, this will enable me to be a more organized person in all areas of my life.

Off to start step one of the PENCIL INITIATIVE!

Anyone need a pencil??
 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

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 music and music therapy to those who do not know anything about it?

Feel the power! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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 moved into our free time choices.

Next week we will record our songs using the computer.

What was interesting to me about today's sessions was that both of these young ladies expressed that they did not initially want to complete the task but did anyway!  No inappropriate behaviors with the frustration that I caused them. They were able to complete the task and seemed to be willing to do so after the obligatory complaint.

They both wrote about specific situations and were willing to share their feelings and responses to their feelings to me. They also were interested in my answers to the sentences and related my responses to themselves. They were also interested in how we would complete the project the next session.

I'll be continuing to work on our mutual frustration tolerance. Okay, gotta go figure out how to make 24 hours stretch into 72 - sigh!

You know, I'm going to take a page from the book of my two young ladies and do what I have to do...  

Monday, September 17, 2012

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 time, more energy, more hands, more interest, more money... just more.

One of the things that I have learned as a music therapist is that you have to stop and breathe at times. If I don't take the time, my need for more time comes crashing down in a spectacular implosion leading to a VERY cranky MJ! That is something that I really try to avoid as it is not a good time for anyone in the vicinity. 

So, in order to be the best me I can be for my clients, I have to be more structured, less rushed, and able to focus on one thing at a time - then switch to the next thing to attend to - then switch to the next thing. Right now, the best thing for me to do is to press on through the tasks that I have, but not stress when I don't get everything done. It may be more important that I spend time with the cat than loading the dishwasher, and that has to be fine with me!


How do you find moments to slow down when you, and everyone else, is rushing all around you??

Sunday, September 16, 2012

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 shorter than it used to be, your priorities change.

I watched the movie, A Thousand Words, this weekend. It was concerned with time, priorities, and being cognizant of the sense of every word you utter. I enjoyed it.

I head back into my music therapy clinic tomorrow with a renewed sense of the importance of music in my clients' lives. My time with them may be short, so it becomes essential that music provide my clients with long-term benefits and help them when I am not around them.

I need to focus more on fading into function.

Hmmmm... 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

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 and get some more clues about why my students act the way they do - diagnosis or family.

I had a chance to hear from parents about what their kids say about music therapy. One father asked if I would be interested in getting a couple of violins - I told him I would not say no! He told me he would be sending them to school soon. Oh my! Others told me about the instruments their kids had at their homes. We had instrument demonstrations, and I asked students to tell their parents about what we did in music therapy - always a revealing exercise!!

One student, "B," has been at the school for about four months now. He is a day student and brought his parents to the music therapy room to meet me. B is an adolescent with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. He is 15 and very verbal. I met his parents, spoke to them a bit about what we are working on in group and individual music therapy, and reinforced that he was doing well in music therapy. As they were leaving the music room, I thanked his mother for sending him to our school. She stopped in the hallway and said, "No. NO. Thank you for having him. We are not used to him running out the door in the morning to get on the school bus. I used to get called every day to take him home. You know, he said the other day, 'Mom, I'm not nervous about school...So, thank you!' "

You know, my horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day dissolved right then and there.

A kid who had been struggling in his school found a place with us.

This happens often at our facility. Regardless of your feelings about residential or long-term treatment facilities, many students experience their first successes in school at our facility. All of a sudden, they are no longer the strange kid who flaps his hands or the girl who can't speak clearly. They are simply part of the group. Their uniqueness is just part of the environment rather than being the subject of stares and teasing.

Did I mention that I love almost everything about my job?

I hope that when you are reminded of the reason why we do the job we do that you are able to savor the moment. I'm going to... 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hitting the Wall

Exhaustion.

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.

 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

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 six different things to do with these die-cuts before I can put them into my clinical area.

Time to brainstorm...

Solar System - sun, moon, planet (X2 - 1 with rings, 1 with double rings), comet...

Sea Life - fish (X2 facing different ways), manta ray, star fish, turtle...

Zoo Animals - elephant, hippo, giraffe, zebra, and lion...

So, with the options available to me, I can see songs about rocket travel, being alone, information about animals,....

Oh, just had the need for a shower, and while I was in there, I realized that I now have all the die-cuts that I need to do a therapeutic music experience (TME) for one of my favorite Sesame Street songs, I Don't Want to Live on the Moon. Look for that TME plan on my website, www.musictherapyworks.com as soon as I can write it down!! (It's up now...please feel free to use the idea!) I'm thinking felt board TME or moving around the room, traveling through the song. Hmmm....

So, continuing with the trend of thinking about things that I can do with my new die-cuts, I'm thinking that we could do a dance routine to Under the Sea or All the Fish. Daddy's Taking Us to the Zoo Tomorrow is always a favorite with my little bits, and I have several "move like an animal" songs as well.

It is amazing how one trip to the Dollar Tree can inspire a bunch of new TME ideas.

I didn't even tell you about the little bitty cups and little bitty chairs that I got as well... 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Advocacy

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) - they are so focused on getting the song done that they are not even aware that they would have more client interaction if they slowed their tempo. How can that be??

Here is my current train of thought...

We need to constantly think about why we use the music that we use with our clients. We need to think about why we present the music the way we do in our sessions. We need to be able to identify all of the various ways that we can and do adapt all the music that we present to best assist our clients in reaching their therapeutic goals. Our choices of pitch, keys, tempo, rhythm, melody, lyrics, mode, harmony, timbre, instrumentation, and all the other elements of music must become conscious choices - we need to tell others that we chose the tempo of our TME specifically to allow our clients to sing with us - to provide them with the time to coordinate their oral motor function with their language centers and cognitive processing. We have to know that the value of us, as therapists, is that we can manipulate music in order to get our clients to their goals.

Now, I am fortunate to work in a facility that has had a music therapist on staff for the past 40 years. While I do not feel that my current supervisor has a good or even clear idea about what I do, the President of the facility and my supervisor's supervisors realize that there is so much more to music therapy than playing a CD or a guitar.

When I am asked, I fall back on the therapeutic effect of music on the behavior of my clients. I talk about changes in the music which seem to cause specific changes in observable behavior of my group members or my individuals. I try to demonstrate that there is so much more to what I do than what is seen on the surface. 

Happy kids making happy sounds is just the tip of the iceberg...

Monday, September 03, 2012

Therapeutic Elements of Music

In the year 2010, Dr. Deanna Hanson Abromeit, professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, presented A Closer Look at the Therapeutic Function of Music, a presentation at the American Music Therapy Association's Annual conference. I was unable to attend the presentation, but she was kind enough to send me a copy of the powerpoint for my files.

How many of us really analyze the way we use music with our clients?

How do you describe the reasons why you sing a specific song at a specific tempo for a specific client?

Every so often, the music therapy listserv erupts in a discussion about the appropriateness of sharing therapeutic music experience ideas. One camp feels that we should not share ideas with one another due to the fact that it diminishes the individualization we offer to our clients. The other camp wants new ideas on how to engage clients providing them with novel and interesting experiences. I can understand the point of both groups.

There is a danger in becoming a therapist who cannot interact without having a script. Being told what to do with each and every client does diminish the individual nature of music therapy. If the therapist cannot adapt the musical stimulus to accommodate the needs of the client, then the therapeutic benefit of the music is not realized.

There are also many times when I am planning a session thinking that I cannot stand the idea of singing the same old song yet again. I enjoy hearing new songs and having new musical formats to use with my students.

Now - the rub. A therapist is not a therapist unless he or she can manipulate the elements of music to reach each client and assist the client towards his or her objectives and goals.

There is so much more to music therapy than playing music for a person. If that were the case, anyone would be able to play a CD or a guitar and call it music therapy. Music therapists have to be able to not only adapt musical elements but to speak about those adaptations to people who need to know what we do.

Example - here is a chart that I use when I am developing therapeutic musical experiences. I use it to think about how I can adapt my musical presentation to engage my clients in the experience.



Melody
Pitch
Rhythm
Dynamics
Harmony






Form
Tempo
Timbre
Style
Lyrics





Chart adapted from Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2010). A Closer Look at the Therapeutic Function of Music. Presentation at 2010 American Music Therapy Association National Conference: Cleveland, OH.

So, I end up writing down everything I can think of that fits under each of these categories. If I can adapt the element, I state that in the box. Here is a completed example:


Melody
Pitch
Rhythm
Dynamics
Harmony
Scalar
5 pitches; easily adapted to accommodate client preferences
Macrobeat - pulse
Variable to accommodate client preferences and to engage client attention to task
Major Tonality - Ionian

Form
Tempo
Timbre
Style
Lyrics
Strophic
Variable to accommodate client preferences and to engage client attention to task
Variable to accommodate client preferences and to engage client attention to task
Form of Children’s song
Variable to accommodate client preferences and to engage client attention to task
Chart adapted from Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2010). A Closer Look at the Therapeutic Function of Music. Presentation at 2010 American Music Therapy Association National Conference: Cleveland, OH.


For this TME, the pitch, dynamics, tempo, timbre, and lyrics can be adapted to accommodate the client's unique characteristics and needs. I can sing the song at a very slow tempo to assist the client in coordinating her oral motor skill so she can sing along with me. I can change the sounds of the instruments to avoid sensory aversions. I can change the lyrics to personalized the song and emphasize specific situations and desired behaviors.

This awareness of how I can change the music in each one of the therapeutic music experiences I share with my clients assists me in being an advocate for music therapy. When I am asked why a music therapist is so important, I am able to demonstrate why my services are more effective than a musician who walks into a session and plays. I can also demonstrate that I can often get more response using music than entertainers.

The last thought that I have on this topic is that we, as music therapists, have to be constantly demonstrating the therapeutic benefits and elements of music to the people that pay us. We have to show others how our expertise (music as a therapeutic medium to reach non-musical goals) makes musical interactions more valuable to clients. In order to do this, we have to know and understand our medium.

We always have to go back to what makes us, us. Music.

Music.