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Showing posts from September, 2013

Surprise! Kids Like Music

So, I wrote about my youngster who was absolutely out-of-control in a session on Friday. Today, I found out that the behavior I was seeing was de riguer for him in every other setting, but not music. In fact, the social worker who was observing the session thought that he was doing extremely well! I, on the other hand, felt that he was completely wild and having some medication side effects. Silly me!

Apparently he enjoys music and is able to keep himself under control most of the time - he was able to do so today when I arrived for his usual music therapy session. It's a shame that the social workers weren't around for that session. They would have been absolutely staggered to see him sit quietly, request materials appropriately, and engage with peers in an appropriate manner.

What an interesting situation. I wonder what happened right before Friday's session that set him off.

Several other kids were mentioned as having difficulties during their music therapy times - "S…

Thinking More About Manipulating Music for Therapeutic Ends

Yesterday was another music therapy moment. The same group of kids as the last one with several significant differences...

One student was entirely out of control. He was showing signs and symptoms of tardive dyskinesia - strange facial expressions, uncontrollable behavior, physical twitches and tics, loud speech, and random comments. I asked if there had been any changes in his medication, and, yes indeed there had been. He was wild - not aggressive, but not able to focus on anything! This is the same kid who has been sitting with his head down when he feels that he is not getting what everyone else is getting. Everyone else was behaving in a typical way, but they couldn't really engage in a normal manner since this kid was so out of control.

So, what to do?

I went to my go-to elements of music, rhythm and tempo! The first song seemed to work in a mediocre manner, but the second was the one that changed the group dynamic.

On Fridays, I do theme-based sessions that aren't as speci…

A Music Therapy Moment

Yesterday, I was privileged to share in a music therapy moment. If you're a therapist, you know what I mean, one of those moments when everything clicks together and just works. Let me set the scene...

This was the last group of the afternoon. There were ten kids with a variety of diagnoses and interests, two staff members, my intern, and myself in the room. This group of kids is extremely diverse - some kids speak, some do not, some kids are working on academic goals, some kids are working on preacademic goals. Their goals are to improve impulse control, engage in appropriate social interactions, and increase communication skill. It was mid-afternoon, and we started the session the way we usually do - with an opening song.

Some kids sang, some sat, others just rocked during the opening song. I felt that what I had planned next wasn't quite right for us, so I changed my plan. I started with a strong alternate bass pattern on the guitar. I played the 12-bar blues progression thro…

Talking About Therapeutic Music Experiences

This week, I had a conversation with my current intern about Therapeutic Music Experiences (TMEs). We were going over the different parts of my required paperwork including how to write procedures and goals.

The question I get all the time is, "how do you think up ideas for sessions?" My answer is, "I play around and write everything down as soon as I can." A simple answer for a complex question. I guess not everyone is able to brainstorm therapeutic uses for materials and instruments.

I blame my mother.

My mom, an Occupational Therapist, is an extremely creative person. She sees possibilities every where. She looks at Lunchable trays and can come up with 101 ways to use them in her therapy practice. She taught all three of us to do the same thing.

I led my intern through a decision tree that started with an instrument. She and I brainstormed all of the sensory information that we get from the instrument. We talked about what the instrument looked like, sounded like, f…

It's Been a While Now

Whew. Lots of things have been going on, and I keep sitting down to write something, but I head down a tangent that is not really blog-worthy, and then I delete things. So, here we are.

So, life. Hmm.

In the past several weeks, my facility has gone through another upheaval caused by the defection of a long-time teacher and seven of our students. We've closed one classroom, added another classroom, rearranged all of the other classrooms and basically stirred up all sorts of things. Administrators are mumbling about dress codes and "teachers should be teaching" - themes that are near and dear to my heart, but that have been ignored for several years now. I almost started to laugh in the meeting, but managed to restrain myself.

Right now, I am continuing to move through my current schedule and am trying to fill up the rest of my time with music therapy sessions. I managed to secure a music therapy room for group sessions - this should get teachers off my back for being "t…

Re-reading Those Old Textbooks

So, I make my interns read chapters from different textbooks of mine to illustrate specific ideas. These books are not always the most up-to-date, but they do exemplify specific ideas of music therapy.

One of my favorites is Bruscia's Defining Music Therapy. I was sitting in the only consistently air-conditioned spot in the other part of our school (my office doesn't have a vent, so no A/C there) reading the second edition of this textbook. I was sitting there, waiting for kids to leave for the day, reading this text and marveling at the fact that I get so much more from this text now that I've been a therapist for a long time than when I was in my undergraduate training. We read the first edition (yep, that's how old I am) way back in the olden days. It was interesting, gave me lots of things to think about, and formed the major part of our senior year discussions. Since then, I've read it about every five years. Each time gives me more insight into my life as a mu…

Blogging Mission Statement

So, two days ago, I was talking to my current intern about self-reflection and the use of our journals during her internship. I brought up the subject of my blog, which has been in existence since 2006, and which has been generally my place to spew forth on anything that is challenging me at the time. As I was listening to myself talk about this blog, I was thinking, "What do I really want to do with this forum?" So, I'm going to work on a mission statement for this part of my social presence.

I'll start with this idea - this blog is my online journal. It is a place for me to write about music, therapy, and things going on with me. The posts that I submit are somewhat censored on my end. If my rants tend towards self-pity or too much disclosure, they do not make it to the blog. If things tend to be too self-promoting, the paragraphs don't make it (often!). As an introverted person, I feel comfortable sharing ideas and thoughts in this forum. That is why you will s…

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Goblins...

Today, September 2, 2013, is the day that the US takes to recognize those who work. I find it a bit ironic that the very people that we started off recognizing are now working at special sales so their corporate bosses can earn more money, but I digress from my point. Happy Labor Day!

The best part about days like this is that there is no obligation to do anything! I do not have to work. I do not have to clean. I do not have to dress out of my pajamas. I don't have to cook. This is the best way to have a day off. I can do anything I want to do during the next several hours.

So, what will I be doing this Labor Day?

I look around my home and think, "I should..." Those little shoulda, coulda, woulda goblins start to take over my brain. Should be cleaning the kitchen. Could be organizing the craft room. Wouldn't it be appropriate to use this time in a productive manner rather than frittering it all away? If allowed to roam freely, these goblins start to fill the room, multi…