Showing posts from June, 2014

This Blog is My Processing Place

One of the things that I have found over the years is that I really use this blog to process through any and all issues in my life. There are many posts that I write just to decide that they are too personal and not really appropriate for a semi-professional blog, but those posts help me figure out things in my life that need some contemplation and reflection. It is amazing what becomes clear when I write things down, even if those posts never see the light of day.

I find that a certain amount of self-reflection is important for me as a therapist. I have been able to do much of this reflection in my own way, as a personal task and practice. I am sure that there are therapist out there who are currently thinking, "You have to be in supervision with a therapist to truly be able to learn and grow as a therapist," but I don't believe that is true for me. I think that we each have to find our own way through processing what goes on in our therapy practices.

Now, before you star…

Sing A Song Sunday - Jack Sparrow

I am a soundtrack music junkie. The music for movies, television shows, and plays just draws me in and gets my attention wherever I am. I spent most of yesterday watching The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, so I have that music in my head this morning. Today's music selection is from one of my favorite composers, Hans Zimmer.

I chose a piece from The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest entitled Jack Sparrow. You can hear the piece here. I love this particular piece of music as it seems to embody the character of Jack Sparrow - oh, excuse me, Captain Jack Sparrow - in a way that exemplifies his swagger, ne'er do well attitude, and insouciance all through the music.

How to use this musical piece clinically? I'm afraid that most of my use for this type of recorded music is as a background figure for something else entirely. For example, I may be playing this piece when encouraging clients to move their extremities in a pattern - they may have props, they may not. Th…

5 Steps to Creative Therapeutic Music Experience Development

I enjoy making things. I like taking an idea, trying to make it into a reality, and then trying it out with my clients during music therapy sessions. Then, I REALLY enjoy sharing those ideas with other music therapists to see if what I make has value outside my own small corner of the music therapy world. To that point, I've sponsored a giveaway of the things displayed below as a good step towards getting others to use my tools.

I also enjoy finding out what other therapists out there are making, using, and doing in their own practices. One of the things that I've noticed is that we, as a collective, are able to take one simple idea and expand it, shift it, and adjust it until it is a multi-faceted, therapeutically-enriching, deep music therapy experience that affects more than just the clients we have before us. 

The problem is that we don't always have the opportunities to participate in a collective experience. Often we are the only music therapists in our facilities…

Talking About Organization

Last evening, I was joined by several music therapy interns from around the country to talk about time management and organization. We have seminars every other week on topics that seem to be common to all interns no matter where they work or what they are doing in their internship. I try to offer ideas to help out with some of the more concrete jobs of a music therapist. We will be talking about things like leadership, self-care, having crucial conversations, and how to market ourselves as music therapists. We spend some time talking about these things because I have found that many of my own interns have struggled with these skills. I have also found that I continue to struggle with some of these skills, so I think we, as a group of music therapists, should talk about them a bit more.

Last evening's topic was mostly centered on organization. There are lots of decisions that you have to make when you are trying to stay organized in a music therapy place. We therapists often have l…

Yawning Through the Music

I am exhausted. This happens every year during the summer time. The weather gets hot and humid, and I get tired. I love summer (all the flowers, sunshine, opportunities to get into water, and all the rest of it), but I always end up not getting out to do these things. I just want to sleep.

Lots of people seem to blossom when the sun shines more. Folks with Seasonal Affective Disorder do better when the sun returns after the dark days and nights of the winter season. I don't seem to do that. I just seem to be exhausted. Some of that is due to the humid air out there. It is more difficult to breathe when the air is heavy and wet. Less oxygen to the brain increases my feelings of exhaustion. (I just looked at the Mayo Clinic's information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, and there is a version that happens in the Spring and Summer - maybe I should be thinking about that seriously instead of just blaming all of this on my asthma. Mom says that I've always had an aversion to the …

TME Tuesday - Recommended Resources for Ideas and TME Development

Well, if you came to this blog today looking for something new to do with your clients later this morning, you are probably going to be disappointed. Unfortunately, I wasn't really inspired to find a TME (actually, I had lots of them, but they are older so I would have to do lots of work to get them ready...this would not be the best day to do something like that. I feel hot, cranky, and so...). I decided instead to offer my recommendations for resources to inspire music therapy creativity.

A caveat here...

I do not get anything from anyone for mentioning things on my blog. I could probably change that, but I'm not going to. I like being completely independent when it comes to product reviews and the like. So, if you decide to look at one of these resources, please know that I offer a true opinion that is not tied to units sold or anything else.

The Resources I Use Most Often When Creating New TMES:
Reader's Digest Songbooks - I love these. I have purchased mine mainly at thri…

Sing A Song Sunday #5 - Hard to Say I'm Sorry

Today's song is from a Hal Leonard book, 55 Contemporary Standards, published in 1994. The song, Hard to Say I'm Sorry, was written by Peter Cetera and David Foster, starts on page 88, and is one of my favorite songs from my adolescence. I was excited when it was in the book I randomly chose for this week's blog post.
Find a YouTube video of this song here.

This song became popular in the early 1980's and was the slow dance anthem of my junior high school. Chicago wrote and sang some really good dance songs - the ones where you would loosely hug your guy and sway back and forth. We weren't the best dancers back then, but it was the 80's! You should have seen our mosh pits!!

The basic theme of the song is apology. The guy singing has done something that makes his partner decide to take a break. He's not sure that's what he wants and asks her to stay with him. (By the way, these pronouns are in the song.) He talks about how he needs to around her. He promis…


My father called me with a challenge. He often does this - gives me an idea to think about and to refine. I think he does this because I'm always home when he calls, we think an awful amount alike, and I can see things from a different perspective. I often do the same thing to him, so turn about is fair play!

Anyway, his task is to run the pledge campaign for his church this upcoming Fall. He started with the theme idea of "Imagine," but it has changed to "re-Imagine." He had the beginning of his campaign going and wanted some input about where to take it from there.

I started off the situation like I always do, a bit confused and not thinking about the idea AT ALL, but I eventually started to get involved in the idea. He sent me some thoughts written down and the power of the visual stimulation started to take over. I was able to send him some thoughts back in written form, so we are off and running. Just then, my sister called to let him know that my mother was…


For the last two days, I have not been able to formulate a coherent thought for this blog. I have tried. I started countless thoughts that either took off into a rant that had NOTHING to do with music, therapy, or me, OR I just started rambling around and around. So, I've decided to just go with it. Here are the things that I started this week. I will stop the topics before I turn them into rants since that's why I've deleted them. Time for my random thoughts to come spurting out for all to read about...

Failed Blog Post #1 - The Temperature - It is hot outside. It's not as hot as it will be getting later in the season, but this is the first taste of summer weather for us this year. The heat affects me in strange ways, and I'm sure that my students are affected as well. This week's sessions have certainly been out of the ordinary - some kids have burst into tantrums. Others have been very helpful when they do not give me the time of day during most sessions. It&…

TME Tuesday - Speaking About Theory

Wow. I was wondering what to write about today for TME Tuesday, and along came this post off the Music Therapists Unite group on Facebook. Kimberly Werner posted the following:
Dorian MusicTherapy Campbell, could this be what you were referring to some time back?

Such an innocuous little post, but there it was, a website dedicated to tabs and sheet music that thinks like I think! Huzzah!!

I don't play the piano. I have never claimed to do so. At best, I am a very good functional pianist who can fake it and play by ear, but I rarely can play an accompaniment in my left hand and an independent melody in my right hand. This effect is a combination of my own difficulties with being EXTREMELY left handed and a lousy program for class piano that really didn't teach me how to play the piano, but did show me how to do mirror scales. Anyway, it has always made sense for me to think of music in theory chords rather than in specific key signatures.


Do You Want to Build... Heck No!

I can honestly not remember a time when I was more tired of a song or a soundtrack than I am right now with the music from Frozen. Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the movie. I love the storyline and the thought behind it and the music was nice for a time, but I am SO tired of hearing all that music!

Like I said before, I can't remember having such a response to the music from a Disney movie before. I usually love the music and want to listen to it often, but I am really not there with the Frozen soundtrack. The songs stay in my head way too much, and I cannot get away from the music.

Anyway, I saw a sign on Pinterest (I TOTALLY blame Sarah for my Pinterest addiction now) that said, "This class has gone 0 days without singing a song from Frozen." A variation of that sign now sits on the desk of one of my current interns who, I must admit, has significantly decreased the number of times that she uses the music in her sessions. Today, the group of kids that I had reque…

Sing A Song #4 - A Rainy Day

There must have been something happening in my subconscious when I chose this song since, now that I'm sitting down to write about it, it is raining outside. It's a rainy day out here, so this post is completely apropos of the situation I am in right now...

Anyway, my random pick from my bookshelves this week led me to some music by Clive Robbins and Paul Nordoff. When my facility decided to no longer support a staff library, I was given a set of music from Nordoff and Robbins. The texts were published in 1968, and these copies are pristine. They have been sitting on my shelves largely ignored by me. That will change now that I remember that I have them!

The song is written in one of the modes based on f#. I need to hear it completely through to figure out which mode it is, but it does not include the raised seventh scale degree. The mode makes the music a bit more atmospheric and representative of the weather associated with the rainy day.

What I am enjoying about this book is t…

Thinking Away From the Box

There are benefits and drawbacks to being a divergent thinker. Now, I am not always the best at thinking about different or new ways to do things, but I try. It is not always easy to identify when things should just keep going the way they are going and when things should be shaken up a bit...

So, there is a hot topic on Music Therapists Unite going on right now. I offered my rant yesterday about why people should be members of their professional organizations. Since then, I've cooled off a bit about that particular topic, and now I am thinking about other ways to do things. In addition, I have some other projects going that are requiring thinking about the status quo in a different way.

So, as far as the idea of how to get people involved more in the National Association, several folks have suggested a rolling membership payment scale. I wonder how that would work. Would membership fees be based on salary? Would membership fees be based on need? How would we establish such a thing?…

Ranting and Raving - You've Been Warned!

If you are a person who feels uncomfortable with strong opinions being expressed, SKIP THIS BLOG POST!

You have been warned...

Wah, wah, wah. It's time for the naysayers to start whining about money again. I've been reading comments from the Facebook group, Music Therapists Unite, about how much money conference costs for NON-MEMBERS of AMTA! We were started off by a person who seems to make it his personal job to take down the association anyway possible, and the conversation has just escalated into a frenzy of "It's unfair." "I don't get paid enough." "RNs just laugh at us." "Wah, wah, wah!!!"

Okay, there are some facts being bandied about out there. We don't always get paid what our other colleagues get paid to work in the same facilities. I personally think that this is an indication of our level of education and desperation as a general profession. The argument against Master's-level entry is that we don't get paid …

Looking Around in Awe

This is MY tree.I have no idea what it's address is or who actually is responsible for this actual tree, but it is MINE!

Several years ago, I was driving along a stretch of highway and noticed this proud tree sitting in the middle of a field. It was sitting there, leaves gone, in all its glorious skeletal structure! I became obsessed with this tree.

At the time, I was trying to figure out how to make my Grandmother a family tree of some sort for her birthday. I really wanted to make a tree - not paint or a drawing - but something actually made that represented our family. My tree became my inspiration and led to this tree...

This tree has the names of my great-grandparents as the roots along with my grandparents' siblings, my grandparents' names are on the trunk, and the various branches of our family are on the limbs of the tree. The grandkids and great-grands are listed on the tree as well. The entire thing is rooted on a piece of Kansas granite that I purloined from the si…

TME Tuesday - We All Have Names

During the now past summer break (sniff), I spent a bit of time finishing some old Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) ideas and fleshing them out into full TMEs. I often write down ideas and then let them percolate for a time before completing them. This one, We All Have Names, is one of my favorites. Check out the website for more information on this TME. While you are there, we are still taking submissions for our first giveaway! Feel free to look around, leave a comment, register to win a bunch of free stuff, and let me know is there is anything specific you would like to see on!

Gotta go back to work! Getting into this routine again is tiring, but it's better than being bored!

Even After All These Years

...I still get nervous before a music therapy intern starts his/her program with me.

In internship director supervision training, we talk all the time about how the new intern feels when he/she starts his/her internship, but we rarely acknowledge our own feelings about the process. Now, I know (because I can actually remember that far back) that interns are nervous, excited, and scared, exhilarated and energized, but I feel all of those things as well (probably on a lesser scale, but still valid feeling to me).

Intern #23 starts today.
I will meet her at 7:30 at the front door and walk her into the cafeteria where we will have breakfast with the certified staff. She will get to sit through bunches of irrelevant meetings simply because I have to be there. Then, we'll head over to our office space in the other school setting and get to work. There will be orientation information, documents to sign and send off, the dismissal policy to read, and a journal to decorate. Then, I have to le…

Sing A Song Sunday #3 - The Land of Silly

Today's book choice was one of the WeeSing series. If you work with young children, these books are worth finding and purchasing. The fakebook arrangement of music and small size makes these books good to keep around if you need a quick inspiration. I grabbed this book... WeeSing and Pretend: People, Around the House, and Toys and Music by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp. When I checked out Amazon for this title, I found it being sold for $1.87. Just search for "WeeSing and Pretend people," and this book pops up. I found mine in a discount bookstore along with other volumes. They are books that I use to refresh my repertoire when I get in clinical ruts. I also use them with students. The students seem to like the size of the books, the pictures, and the music. I like the Fakebook style as well as the variety of songs inside. Too bad that I'm not actually getting paid to promote these books - I could be making some money!!

Anyway, today's random page turned …

A Rude Awakening

I was having a very lucid dream this morning; one of those dreams where you aren't quite sure whether you are actually dreaming, but things are just a bit off, so you must be dreaming... Does anyone else have those types of dreams? Just me?? Oh dear.

Anyway, I dreamt that (sidenote - did you know that dreamt isn't recognized by spell check? Weird!) I had to go get something from my parents' business site and when I got there, things were packed up. It was pretty obvious that they had closed the business and were moving out. Yet, no one had told me about it. I was very sad about them losing the business and somewhat resigned to the fact that no one had told me about it.

Now, my parents did have a business several years ago, but this location was not the same. Also, when my parents decided to close their business, they told me, so none of this dream is based on the reality that I have lived. The business site wasn't even the same, but I have dreamt about this particular pl…

Missing the Music

I have been away from my music therapy clinic for 15 days now, and I find that I am craving musical stimulation. As I was driving to the post office yesterday, I was humming the theme song from a show I'm watching on Netflix right now, Warehouse 13. Halfway through the drive, I started humming the interstitial music for the program that was on the radio. It was only a five note melody, but it stuck in my brain like nothing else...

I guess that one of the benefits of being a full-time music therapist is that there is always music going on. Whether the music around me is preferred or not, there is always music. I get quite a bit of musical stimulation during my regular work day - so much that I eschew any form of music on my commute to and from work. I find I am now needing music to stimulate my brain.

I firmly believe that each of us is drawn to our professions for specific reasons. I am well-suited to working with children and adolescents (ESPECIALLY middle-schoolers). My father is …

What's Your Favorite Song?"

I really do not like when I'm asked to name a favorite something or other. It may sound strange, but I often am stumped by the question, "what's your favorite song?" I don't have just one. I have thousands!

My favorite song changes depending on my mood, the time of day, the purpose behind it, whether or not I'm hungry or tired or bored, and many other situational events. 

Since it is so difficult for me to name just one song, I avoid asking my verbal clients to name only one as well. I ask my clients to name several songs that they like or I ask them to choose one type of music as their favorite type of music. After that, I let them scroll through the iPod and all of my music to see if there is something else that they like but haven't thought of the particulars. It amazes me how many of my students state that they like to listen to rap and ONLY rap but know all of the words to every country song that I own.

I have long wondered if there is a physical reason…

TME Tuesday - Can't Smile Without You

The song that I randomly chose for Sing a Song Sunday #2 was Can't Smile Without You sung by Barry Manilow. Not my normal choice for my students, primarily because this song was popular when I was little and most of the students' parents are younger than me, but also because it is just plain old sentimental and not generally what we use in my music therapy clinic. 

So, that led me to think about how I could possibly use the song with my clients. I think about using the music itself as a background figure, supporting and changing the elements of music to incorporate the iso-principle. Then, my brain moves into how to use the entire song as a therapeutic catalyst. Voila, a TME!

Check out the ideas and experiences page on my website for the entire TME.

This TME is not something I would do with just any client in my practice. It would not work with many of my students with diagnoses of developmental disabilities and psychiatric disorders. There is a group of clients that I see durin…

This is the Life...

It is the eleventh day of my Summer Break, and I am currently reclining on my craftroom carpet, listening to the tornado siren test that happens on Mondays at noon. I have had a productive morning - I've done some laundry and have moved the furniture around in the craft room to make some more room in the center. There is an empty shelf on the bottom of one of my storage compartments that has been taken over by the feline. Sheseems to feel that she needs to be in that shelf, and I'm not going to argue with her! I'll put a blankie in there in a bit in order to make it more of her own spot.

Anyway, the thing that is sticking in my head today is that everything has its place. The cat's current place is under the shelving unit. My current place is on the floor of the craft room, blogging, and watching old seasons of Sherlock on Netflix. There is a place for everything.

That is a good thing about music therapy. There is a place for every music therapist regardless of philosoph…

Sing A Song Sunday #2 - Can't Smile Without You

Here is the second in my Sing a Song Sunday series. I enjoy opening up a songbook at random and then seeing if I can make a therapeutic music experience (TME) out of it. Today's offering is Can't Smile Without You, a song written by Chris Arnold, David Martin, and Geoff Morrow and performed by Barry Manilow in the 70's. It's a typical 70's pop ballad - lots of crooning and rich orchestration and VERY sentimental - the music of my early youth!

Here is my chart. If you are interested, the program that I use to generate these charts is called Inspiration version 9.0.3. I love this program. It is a graphic organizing program that offers lots of options for organizing concepts into visual aids. As a visual thinker, I enjoy this program and highly recommend it. The ideas and concepts within the chart are my own, based on information presented by Deanna Hanson-Abromeit on the Therapeutic Elements of Music - our tool as music therapists.

Anyway, here is my thought process fo…