Saturday, August 24, 2013

Well then...

It has been a LONG week!

I spent most of the week at work, of course, and managed to make it through an entire week without crashing (well, until now!). I saw all of my groups and went to all of my places according to my schedule. Last week I inadvertently changed my schedule for two of my groups, and NO ONE said anything. By the time I figured out what I had done, another person changed her schedule to accommodate mine - I apologized to her once I knew what was going on.

I have lost more things than I have found this week, and I really am getting a bit disgusted with myself. I set something down, turn around, turn back around, and it is GONE. So far I have lost my cell phone (found, thank goodness), my lunch bag, three flashlights, and my constellation cups. I think I lost my brain around Wednesday. If you see it, would you please send it home?? I miss it!

It is a great turn of events to report that work is the least of my concerns right now. What a great sensation!!

I am starting to settle into new routines at work - shuttling from building to building, accommodating a new intern's learning style, keeping track of all of my materials when they are spread out around all of the buildings, session planning FAR in advance. My morning starts with a trip to drop off my car and pick up the van for classrooms to use on a daily basis. Once that is done, I go into my office and try to get organized. That has been my biggest struggle so far over the past two weeks. ORGANIZATION!!

(Now, in the interest of appropriate self-disclosure, organization is always a struggle for me, but this has been compounded by the fact that stuff is strewn everywhere.)

I am trying hard to coordinate myself into a smooth routine. Right now, the plan is to make a list of materials and TMEs for an entire week, put together all that stuff, and tote it to the main storage area for each week. Then, the next week, I flip-flop all of the materials to the other area. So, I am planning two weeks in a row. This is not my usual way of doing things. I have always been more of a "Go with the flow" type of music therapist - lots of improvisatory ideas at every session. I'm still improvising, but I do not have all of my instruments, visual aids, songbooks, and other things with me at all times. I am good at finding new things to do with old materials, but this is something that now happens all of the time.

One of the other new things happening is that I have increased the amount of treatment time for each session to 60 minutes from 50 minutes. I haven't quite been able to plan appropriately yet. I still need to be thinking about planning more than I need, but I am still limited to how much I can tote from place to place (physically - nice aftermath of surgery), so I have to limit what comes along when I move from place to place. This is where my insistence on being able to use all of my materials in at least 6 different ways or TMEs comes in handy, but it's been a long time since I had to do itinerant therapy, so I'm a bit rusty.

So, next week, we will be playing drums on one side of the facility and we will be doing lots of singing on the other side. We'll be doing some Mad-Libs. We will be singing Man In the Mirror by Michael Jackson and will be doing some word substitutions to the song Downtown by Petula Clark. There will be lots of other stuff as well.

Speaking of, I need to start making my visual aids for next week. Anyone for Down In the Meadow visual aids? Also, I need to make some rhythm wheels and pictures of fruit. Busy day ahead...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thankful for Things

I have tried and tried to write blog posts lately and have found that most of my posts end up in rants. Now, I hate it when I can only see the negative sides of things, so this post is a Thankful post - the rules? I have to see positive sides of every situation going on. Here goes...

  1. I have a job that challenges me on a daily basis.
  2.  I have health insurance that pays for most of my medical care, even when they seem to want more and more money from me...
  3. My pet, Bella, purrs when I get home in the afternoon.
  4. My family loves me.
  5. I love my family.
  6. I have friends and acquaintances all over the world who stay involved in my life in a variety of ways.
  7. I am a strong, independent woman.
  8. My health is improving day by day, but I still need to remember that I am recovering from surgery and to rest when needed.
  9. There is much in my life to be thankful for, and I will attempt to remember this fact in every moment.
Today, I am going to try some new session formats with my students - some familiar to me, some brand new. I am going into my old room for a meeting (there will be some mourning involved there since the room is no longer mine and never will be again). I have my oil pan to start conceptualizing into a reality in the therapy session (see my post earlier this week for more details about this project!). Tomorrow will be the first repeated day of the school year, so I should be able to start getting into a routine here pretty quickly. I think I am starting to learn my schedule pretty well...I no longer feel like I have no idea where to go next! Progress!! Huzzah!
It is now time to get dressed and make my lunch for today. Then, off into the world for new adventures! Look out, world!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An Oil Pan

Today I ventured out to Walmart in the early hours of the morning to grocery shop and get some things for my new work spaces. One of the things that I really wanted to find was an oil drip pan. I saw some ideas about how to use an oil drip pan as a magnet board, and I wanted to try it out on my cart!
Oil pan magnet door 
I found a drip pan tucked away near the oil treatment materials and loaded it up into my cart. It is very light, bends quite a bit, and makes some interesting noises as you go over bumps. It is shiny and is currently in the back of my car awaiting the trip to the music therapy storage closet. Here is a picture of an oil pan that I found on Pinterest: a775af4d6439cd5b 1a89a.jpg

This example is attached to a door, but I'm not going to do that in the music therapy area - I'm going to add magnets to the back and stick it to the metal cart that I have in the psychiatric residential treatment facility storage area. I may buy another one for the day student storage area as well. I
have an idea that I can cover one side with felt for velcroed visuals and use the other side for magnets or white board materials. I need to test the board to see if it will be able to take dry erase markers. If not, I have a bunch of pre-magneted white boards that I can use on the metal side of things. Ooh, a new challenge and new ideas are starting to arrive. Lyric strips? Velcro pieces for stories?

The ideas are starting to flow. I love being able to find new uses for unusual materials, especially when those materials are not ever thought of as music therapy equipment or possibilities! 

So, off to play with my new drip pan.

(By the way, I spent $12 on the oil drip pan!)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Just Plain Old Thinking About Stuff

I'm at home today after two days of working with kids. This post-surgery life is new to me - exhaustion has set in and is just kicking my behind!

As I am sitting here, eating my breakfast of spaghetti and meatballs, I am starting to think about various and sundry things about music therapy.

Last night, I participated in a conference call with lots of folks that I really respect in the world of music therapy. It was interesting to be part of the conversation about this and that. I enjoy talking to other music therapists about music therapy - interns, professionals, folks older or younger than me, students, folks who practice a different music therapy philosophy than me - all therapists are interesting to me. It fascinates me that we have so many ways of thinking about the same thing - the use of music as a therapeutic medium.

Yesterday was a good therapy day (even though it exhausted me physically!!). I spent my day working with some of the residents at my facility. Now, all of my students have had major changes in their lives recently. They have new classmates and/or new classroom staff and/or new classroom locations. Some have had all three! In addition, the residents of the facility went to new living assignments yesterday afternoon. Everything has changed.

These changes have led to unsettled classroom groups. Add several new residents into the mix, and no classroom group is relaxed. Let's introduce music therapy into the environment...

I met five new residents yesterday. They all had different approaches to participation. I met the "I'm too cool for everything" kid, the "I'm going to pretend you aren't there" kid, and the "I'm going to show you how bad I am so you'll leave me alone" kid. Now, I've met these types of kids before, so I know how to approach them in music therapy. By the end of each of the sessions that I ran yesterday, all kids were participating and interacting with me as the therapist. I consider that a pretty good day.

I enjoy being an internship director. This comes up because I started a new intern a week ago, and I have an applicant traveling to audition for the next placement tomorrow. The best things about being an internship director are the challenge that it brings on me to be clear, to think about music therapy in new ways, and watching each intern grow significantly over the 120 days of the program. I love reminiscing with each intern about the things that challenged them in the first several months that are no longer concerns. Now, don't get me wrong - being an ID is lots of hard work, but it is very rewarding as well.

I am ready to go take a nap, so I'm going to close with my final thought for this post...

Music therapy is what I was meant to do. I was meant to be a music therapist. I am glad that I found this and hope that it is always my way of interacting with the world!

Time for a nap!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shoulda Zigged Instead of Zagging...

Oh, the joys of living a life two weeks after abdominal surgery!

I was doing pretty well until lunchtime today. I almost dropped a glass bowl of noodles on the ground. When I went to catch the noodles, I pulled something around my suture site. Blech. I am carefully monitoring my temperature, the area (just in case it swells), and my movements so I will know if I need to go to the doctor again. Here I thought I was doing so very well!

I went back to work yesterday for our first work day since Fall Break. I welcomed intern #21 to my facility, and tried to figure out how to use my computer (no internet, no server, no chance to use any of my jump drives...). I spent lots of time trying to remember the Internship Handbook and eventually gave up. Poor intern #21!

Monday is a typical inservice day. We will be sitting and listening to folks drone on and on about OSHA requirements (two years ago we heard about how to construct buildings to the proper specifications - Something essential in my role as a music therapist, right??), sexual harassment, blood-borne pathogens, and various and sundry other topics that have very little with day-to-day operations. I hope to take my TME file so I can write new things down during the discussions.

I have been in search of a project today. I have been unable to find anything to stimulate my desire to do anything other than sitting still on my cot in the living room (the bathroom is still not finished, and my bed is not accessible). Maybe I'll figure out some new webinars or maybe I'll just vegetate. Who knows?

Here's hoping that you zig when you need to zig, and have a great day!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Just For Fun!

Over the past two days, I have had to sit in my semi-functional apartment as plumbers have taken apart the main bathroom. Between the jack-hammering, concrete pouring, and tub-wrestling, it has been quite the noisy environment around here! In order to stay somewhat sane, I have been playing with file folders and bulletin board strips - just for fun!

Now, usually I want everything in my music therapy clinic to be multifunctional and versatile. I generally try to keep things around me that I can do several things with in music therapy sessions. If the materials are not things that I can use at least six different ways, I don't keep it in my main therapy space. That's my general rule...

These materials mainly break that rule all apart!

Even as I say that, I am brainstorming different ways to use the materials that I have made. It is great to find my creativity again, and I hope that I'll be able to continue to create things now that my health seems to be fixed a bit.

Anyway, here are some of the things that I have made in the past two days...
Pictures about Fear
Number and Color Strips
Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
Monkeys for Swinging In a Tree
Do Your Ears Hang Low?
Do Your Ears Hang High?
Behavior Modification Count Down Strips

Partially Open LapBook

Instrument Families LapBook
Let me know if you would like patterns or how-to sheets for any of these projects. It can be done on my website,

Just plain old fun! 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Getting Back Into the Groove

School starts with its usual rigamarole on Friday, so I am trying to get back into the pattern of being a school therapist. I am not quite there yet, but I am trying.

There aren't many things that I can do right now to prepare for school. Everything is up in the air and is due to change as soon as I walk into the building on Friday. The entire facility is doing things differently this year as we go through an entire school renovation. Classrooms are scattered around two different locations, all support services (including music therapy) are now cart-based rather than being room-based, and the schedule for individual sessions is null and void. Sheesh. Now we have an entire year to try things in ways we have never tried them before.

There is a gaggle of people who are convinced that this entire year will be a horrible experience. They are not interested in solving problems - they feel more comfortable wallowing in how horrible things are and will be this year. When asked to meetings to develop team schedules, they just throw out comments about how the entire year will be just plain full of despair, doom, and gloom. You ask them if they want to see a group of kids on Tuesdays, and they respond that it really doesn't matter since the entire year is going to be horrible.

I am experienced enough to know that I cannot be around these particular people right now or I will be sucked into the abyss. So, I am choosing to embrace this new situation through seeing the challenges as exciting rather than depressing. This point of view requires me to be positive, and so I shall!

I am getting ready to learn how to do my job as an itinerant therapist (again). I am going to try to chronicle some of the new skills, ideas, and challenges that come my way during this year. I am also going to savor the fact that I will have a separate office for the first time in my tenure here. I am going to have to develop new TMEs to use with my clients since I will have to plan more formally than in times past. My intern training will also change a bit as I will change during this year. This year will be challenging, but well worth the time and effort!

Time to gather my new visual aids and get ready to go. Back to School!!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

That's Over!

Do you ever look back on a situation and wonder why you waited so long to acknowledge the situation?

I am recovering from the first major surgery and hospital stay in my life, and I am glad that it is over! I am also glad that the timeline for "fixing" me played out in the best possible way for us all. I am also grateful to the people in my life who told me that I needed to do something very difficult for me, "take advantage" of them.

I went into my bowel resection surgery with lots of trepidation. I had anxiety moments filled with scenes where they could not keep me under the anesthesia (did not happen, though I did apparently try to slide off the operating table once), where I awoke with a total colostomy (also did not happen), and where I didn't wake up at all leaving my mother to coordinate my funeral, junk distribution, and cat care. Thankfully, none of that happened, and I am on the mend!

This is a good thing as it allows me to deal with the additional stressors that have popped up around here lately. These include mystery leaks from "somewhere in the wall" that will include a three man plumbing crew as well as three days of jack hammering to fix. This gets started tomorrow as I am still on vacation and under a "rest" order by my surgeon. I'm not sure what I will do with all of the renovations that will have to occur, but I am ever so thankful that I am able to drive away with my little Bella if needed! In addition to the mystery leaks, I have had problems with the air conditioner, the sliding glass door, a strange deviled egg smell, and leaks from both toilets. Ugh. Mom took care of most of that while I was attached to a morphine pump and catheter. Timing is really an important part of everything.

It is now time to start thinking about music therapy for this new school year. What will I do now that my big, beautiful music room is no more? What will music therapy look like in the 2013-2014 school year? Who will be arriving to be interns at my facility?

I get excited at the beginning of each and every school year. It is a time where students and teachers alike can make goals for themselves, so I will be doing that in the next several days. Stay tuned!

I'm going to go lie down now - gotta keep my strength up!