Friday, May 30, 2014

Self-Care and the Vacationing Music Therapist

It is now the official middle of my Summer Break from work. I have as many days in front of me as I have behind me. I like long breaks from work because I get to the point where I have had enough rest and relaxation. I refresh as a therapist and get ready to get back into the daily routine of my job. Before I get to that point, however, I have to go through the depths. I'm there.

I am a person who needs time alone in order to refresh my energy. It is part of being an introvert. Not a bad thing, all in all. It is just part of who I am and how I interact with the world.

There are downsides to being an introvert, though. One of them is that I get tired of being away from my routine and my schedule, and I get bored with everything that is before me. I'm tired of my movies, my books, my television options, the chores sitting in front of me, and the food that's in the refrigerator. Everything just plain old disgusts me right now.

Now, I've been through this enough to know that there are several things that I can do to shake up my world. First, I just need to embrace the ennui and find something to keep me occupied until I am truly motivated to do what I need to do at home. Being bored is part of self-care. Second, there will be times when I have to just bite the bullet and do something. Third, I can try to find something new to do during the rest of my time. Or, I could just take a nap.

I am a big proponent of the need for self-care in any therapist. Others seem to feel that there is a "best way" to care for yourself, but I think that each therapist has to find his or her own way to care for self. For me, I find that I need significant time away from my work and from other people in order to find the passion that I need when I am working with my clients. The trick (again, only for me) is to avoid getting stuck in thoughts of self-doubt, inadequacy, and my personal goblins. 

How often do I think, "If you WOULD only do this, you COULD finish all of the things you SHOULD have already done" - how often? OFTEN, especially during these breaks from work.

For now, my self-care regimen will include celebrating the things I have accomplished today - I emptied out a huge box of socks that have been sitting in my craft room for a long time. FINISHED! I mashed potatoes for the first time in my life! FINISHED! I'm blogging now - almost finished. The next thing on the agenda is to clean up the craft room carpet, put some laundry away, and then take a nap. There you go - that is plenty for a vacation day in the middle of Summer Break.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Getting Into the Mundane

One of the best things about a long Summer Break is getting really and truly bored with being carefree and away from my professional responsibilities. It is wonderful to have time away, but I always realize that I do love being a music therapist and that I enjoy time with my clients. It often takes a long period of time for me to get to the point of being really and truly bored with time off. It has been seven days, and I am getting to that point. I still have eleven days to go, so I am trying to pace myself.

I am clearing things out of my house. This is a difficult process for me as I tend towards being a packrat and love having all of my stuff around me. At this point right now, I am staring at boxes of stuff that I have moved from the craft room into the front room in an attempt to sort through things and move stuff out of my living space. The stuff in those boxes are not really necessary to my everyday life, so it has to go!

Easier said than done.

I did throw out a bag of pens and pencils without even looking closely to it. Now I am second-guessing myself. Should I have opened the bag? Looked at what was inside? It's too late. The bag is gone.

Oh dear.

Does anyone need some plastic storage containers? I have many. Of course, you could buy your own or repurpose the ones you already have around you (which I'm doing). 

There is something comforting in waking up everyday to an empty span of time. There is nothing that I have to do today. (There is something that I have to do tomorrow, but that's a whole other story.) I can take a nap, if I want. I can revel in the mundane tasks of vacuuming, cleaning the tub, or washing dishes. I can go for a walk or go out to eat. I have no limits, expectations, or requirements.

I really miss my work routine, but I am glad that I have the chance to be out of the routine. I find that I enjoy the things that happen at work so much more when I have been away from them. There you go.
Eleven more days of Summer Break.

In twelve days, I'll return to my job a happier, healthier, and refreshed music therapist.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TME Tuesday - Cooperative Music Course

I am a big fan of cooperation, especially when it comes to my students. Many of them do not have good frustration tolerance, so competition tends to make them unnecessarily cranky and to lose sight of the purpose of playing a game. Almost all of the games that I use in my music therapy clinic are cooperative between clients. They have to work together in order to "win."

This therapeutic music experience (TME) focuses on motor planning, impulse control, interpersonal skill development, motor entrainment to external beat, and vestibular and proprioceptive sense integration. I like to mix up the seating options including my T-stools, rocker boards, and bean bag chairs to increase the sensory stimulation. I also mix up the instruments so my clients can play the piano, the electric guitar, an Orff instrument or two, and various hand-held rhythm instruments. They progress in a round robin pattern so everyone gets to play everything at least once. This works really well for my clients that have short impulse durations. It's a bit more difficult for the clients who need time to engage, but they get the idea and seem to do better with transitions as the experience continues. This is often a requested TME and clients often remain engaged in the experience for 40-50 minutes without showing signs or symptoms of boredom.

There are two ways of going through this course - one at a time (which I find VERY difficult since there are lots of clients just sitting there watching) and everyone moving all the time (I like that better since it keeps all of my clients engaged all of the time). We use the drum beat to arrange our movement around the room. Clients step on a spot with every beat - tempi vary during the TME. We can also keep the drum beat going during our improvisation on the various instruments.

One more adaptation - I have used this format to arrange a class-wide blues experience. Prior to the TME, I use my Super Sticky Post-It notes to identify the note locations for a blues riff on my keyboards, the guitars, and other melodic instruments. I also include a microphone as one of the stations so we can all experience the blues. My clients move around the instruments, playing the basic blues riff while their classmate sings - either improvised or guided by me. Each person gets a verse. I love recording these pieces.

So, I have used this format and TME with all of my clients - folks with multiple disabilities, mild disabilities, and all of my clients in between.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Two More Weeks

I am on Summer Break from my full-time job as a school music therapist. It has been four days now, and I am already starting to get restless. This is a good sign - restlessness often means productivity. I decide to do something and finish jobs. It doesn't generally start so quickly in a break, but that's just the way it is today.

In the past four days, I have had a couple of brainstorms, a very successful blog post (see the one right before this one for information on Sing a Song Sundays), taken most of the stuff out of the craft room, laminated things for my giveaway, and have made lots of meals. These things are very good and are helpful to my well being, but I still have 14 days before I get back into my routine. Fourteen days to fill with something...

Self-care should ALWAYS include fuzzy slippers!
I have always needed solitary time and make time alone a priority in my self-care plan. Recently, there has been lots of discussion in the music therapy world about self-care. I think that self-care is one of the most important skills that a therapist (any therapist) can learn. I have a self-care plan and hope that others do as well.

My self-care plan has never been extremely formal, but now I'm thinking it is time to write something down. Maybe something along the lines of a vision board for self-care. Something that could be personalized for each therapist that needs it. I wonder if there is something out there already. Probably, but who knows without searching. (Thank you for indulging my brainstorming process here!)

So, for me, self-care includes time away from work, solitary time for renewal, talking to my fellow creative arts therapist (an informal supervision structure, I guess), creating things, eating food, and taking naps. I also spend time writing in my supervision journal (the journal that I keep to be an example to my interns), writing on this blog, and writing therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) for my clients. I also spend time cuddling with my cat and just listening to her purr. I limit my time on Pinterest (for some reason, Pinterest brings out my shoulda, woulda, coulda goblins more than anything), and I don't read every email that comes over the music therapy listserv. I try to avoid things and people that are toxic to my wellbeing, and I try to express my emotions as they occur rather than stuffing them down deep.

Self-care has always been a part of my therapeutic viewpoint. This was a gift that I was given by one of my professors during my undergraduate education. She emphasized our need for self-care through talking about burn-out. We discussed how to recognize the symptoms of burn-out and had some discussions about how to avoid it as well. In the years since, I have had many episodes where I felt that I was heading towards burn-out, but I was able to work through those episodes and emerge a stronger therapist. I thank Dr. Clair for giving me the awareness to understand what was happening during those times, but I do think that my self-care plan came from me. Each of us has to learn how to counteract burn-out in our own ways in order to survive burn-out, compassion fatigue, or whatever we want to call it.

Now, with fourteen days ahead, I am finding myself in a state of boredom. Sigh. There are plenty of things that I could and should be doing (goblins!), and I will get to those things because they simply have to be done. I will also take some time to stop what I have to do to do things that I simply want to do. For example, right now I want to listen to the birds sing and watch the sky get lighter with the dawn. So, I will end this and fill part of my break doing just that...

Take some time for you, readers! You deserve it and probably need it as well!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sing a Song Sunday #1

So, TME Tuesdays are going along pretty well. I have managed to remember to post things every week for a couple of months by now. Since I'm in a TME Tuesday habit now, I am ready to expand. I think I will launch Sing a Song Sundays (I just came up with the name right now...). I'm hoping that this will also become a habit, for me and for you.

So, here is what I think I should be doing on these Sundays...
  1. Find a song - any song...
  2. Parse the song into musical elements - use the TME chart I developed using ideas from Deanna Hanson-Abromeit
  3. Go through a decision tree to brainstorm ways that the song can be used with my students - as many as possible
  4. Try it with at least one group of students to see if there are any adaptations that need to be written up in the TME format
Maybe there should be a form. (Ooh, I LOVE making forms! This is getting better and better all the time!!)

So, now it's time to get started. I think I will choose a songbook from random here near my desk...

Well, the first book that I picked was a chord dictionary for keyboard instruments, so no songs there. The second book was a bit better - Biggest Hits of 1985-1986 - oooh, the Now That's What I Call Music printed sheet music version of the 80's. The problem with this book is that most of the music printed here was thinly veiled sexual innuendo - not something that I'm going to bring into my music therapy clinic with my clients who do not have good boundaries when it comes to sexual topics. We do not play any music that would lead to negative behavior consequences if students were caught singing the lyrics, so most of the music in this book is not really appropriate, but for the purposes of this exercise, here I go...

I thought I would start with a song sung by Sheena Easton, but the comments on YouTube were specifically referring to a topic that I don't feel comfortable writing about, so off we go to another page. After some additional searching, I found a song on page 148 called, "Only the Young," words and music by Steve Perry, Neal Schon, and Jonathon Cain. I'm not sure about this song, so off to YouTube I go to find the original performance by Journey. Here is a link: 

So, now I have the song, the lyrics, the sheet music. Time to start the parsing procedure...

This starts with an examination of the music and the musical elements of the song. As I have previously discussed in this blog, I have a chart that I use to organize my thoughts about these elements. It's my tool, developed around the ideas of Deanna Hanson-Abromeit. I use it in my therapeutic music experience development (TME) process and have found it to be extremely helpful when I've had to explain what I was doing to the music to make it an effective therapeutic modality for my clients.

Whew. Here is the chart for this song. I am now moving into the brainstorming part of this Sunday...

This is lots of work, but I think it will be beneficial to me in the future. What do you think?

Alright - how to use the song with my clientele...
  • Introduce as dance music - limited active engagement with lyrics, focus on use of tempo, harmony, and style to encourage motor involvement. Could use as start/stop background, structured or unstructured movement framework, and/or dance team routine
  • Use video as music history lesson - discuss the instruments, the style, and the time frame of the music
  • Lyric analysis - my clients do not always participate in lyric analysis the way that others do, so I don't often run lyric analyses with my kids, but this could be used in a discussion about making choices in our lives. The song could act as the framework for discussion about the difference between responsible and irresponsible decisions - bring in impulse control as focus...
  • There are other ways to use the song as well...
Now it is time to start practicing the song. It should be pretty easy to learn - the chord structure is simple as is the melody. There we go!

Please share any ideas or comments about this series or this song. I strongly feel that our creativity increases exponentially when we work as a collective.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Ever-Continuing Quest for ORGANIZATION!

It is the third day of my school break. I have spent some time napping, reading music therapy books, cooking, and eating. I have also started a major project for this break - my craft room! I am hoping that my craft room will be reorganized and looking spiffy by the end of my break and the beginning of the extended school year.

Here's the deal. As I have stated before and will state again, I am a packrat. Not on a Hoarders-type scale, but a packrat nonetheless. I like stuff. I know this trait comes from my family members - on both sides of both sides of my family. There are stories about my great-grandmother that make me cringe, even as I put more stuff into my craft room. It is now time to look over things, steam clean the carpet, and ORGANIZE!

My organization style can best be called "convenient." I group my instruments together based on how they sound together. The wooden-type instruments go together in one box. This is primarily because I have only one or two of each instrument, but also because they sound good when played together. The rhythm sticks, bells, triangles, and egg shakers are in one box together since there aren't enough of any of those to fill up an entire box on their own, but they also work together. So, my organizational style makes sense to me, but not so much to just anyone else.

My craft room is no different.

I am a novice crafter, and I like little bits of every kind of crafting. I like some woodworking, some needlepoint, some crocheting, some scrapbooking, and lots of visual aid making for my clients and music therapy practice. I have lots of things. Crafting takes lots of stuff.

So, this break is dedicated to corralling the stuff into a manageable system. First step? Moving things out of the room. I have moved all of the boxes and loose stuff out of the room, but I need to move the shelving units out, steam clean the carpet, and then start from scratch with an empty room. 

The process will take some time - going through materials and boxes, throwing things out, donating things I don't need anymore, identifying projects to complete for presents or for the music therapy clinic - but I have 15 more days to work on the project.

I have a vision for this space - a creation station within arm's reach of the materials that I need to make file folder activities. Yarn storage that is color-coded so I can get to red yarn without having to hunt through boxes. Fabric near the sewing machine. Space on the floor to cut out patterns. Music nearby at all times. So, that is my dream.

When things are organized, I feel like I know what I am doing. I can put my hands on any materials at any time. My crafting experiences flow smoothly because I do not have to take time to find the materials I need. This is the same thing that I strive for during my music therapy sessions. I don't like having to turn my back on my clients in order to look for the shaker eggs. I want to be able to reach my hand into the cabinet and automatically find the shaker eggs. That level of organization is my zenith.

I also get to label things - did I mention that yet? I love labels!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reading Some of the Classics

Last year, I spent about six months reading parts and portions of my music therapy textbooks. I tried to read something every night for about an hour, and I would take notes about my reading. Sometimes I would read books, sometimes songbooks, and sometimes things related to music therapy but not music therapy (do you know what I mean?). I started a new notebook in June 2013, but stopped my nightly reading. I think this is due to the increasing health issues that I had around then, but I also felt a need to talk to others about what I was reading. I got that opportunity, but still stopped reading.

Well, it is my summer break, so I am looking for things to do to fill up my days. So, I reached for the notebook and a text again.

I randomly go through my bookshelves, looking for something that strikes my fancy. Come to think of it, I have never included my journals in my reading - perhaps I should. Yesterday, I picked up Music Therapy in Principle and Practice by Donald E. Michel and Joseph Pinson. The text was written in 2005 and was published by Charles C Thomas Publishers, Ltd. It was a quick read that offered several ideas for teaching music therapy theory to visual learners (lots of diagrams that are just my way of thinking about difficult concepts).

Several things struck me about this text and the things that Michel and Pinson developed. First, they often presented differing perspectives to the same ideas. It was refreshing to see music therapists with different points of view respectfully agree to disagree about some of the things they believe about the power of music as a therapeutic medium. Second, they pointed out that some of our founders and original "experts" in music therapy were not able to define music therapy except through descriptions of "the profession in terms of its processes" (page 3). Third, they made a distinction between "therapeutic music" and music therapy. I like this distinction because it allows others to use music for therapeutic gain and benefit but that true music therapy must include the relationship between therapist, client, and music. (Check out pages 3-4 for more about this distinction.) Rae Sirott, a former student of Michel and Pinson, diagrammed the process involved in music therapy. She used a triangle to do so. I prefer to use overlapping circles in my diagrams, but the ideas are the same. Thank you, Ms. Sirott, for reinforcing my ideas about how music therapy actually occurs. 

NOTE: I have probably written about my opinions concerning music therapy versus music for a therapeutic purpose on this blog. I'll check out my former posts and update this post if that is so...

After reading the first chapter and skimming through the rest, I landed in the last chapter of the book. Chapter 11, "Looking Back - Looking Ahead," offered several ideas and thoughts as we move forward in this profession. Michel's vision of the future stressed the "importance of the professional organization and how its policies could influence the future of the field" (p. 131). In light of a recent debate on the Music Therapists Unite group on Facebook, I find the comments from Dr. Michel to be especially relevant to me right now. It is important to continue to be a united front, especially as we are moving into an era of greater recognition from the public. Michel also emphasizes the need for us to "increase connections with advisors from medical and healthcare fields to gain further recognition in treatment guidelines (p. 132). 

Pinson, on the other hand, seemed to find a different need for us as professionals - increasing FUNCTIONAL music skills (p. 134). This topic has been a recurring theme in the therapy circles I tend to hang out in - those involved with education and clinical training. We would always like students to have more experience playing instruments and using our tool to adapt and change our clients' behaviors.

My favorite line from the book was a quotation from an anonymous client.

"Music therapy is a kind of sneaky therapy."
(Page 136)

It is. 

That is one of the many reasons that I love being a music therapist. 

Michel, D. E., & Pinson, J. (2005). Music Therapy in Principle and Practice. Charles C Thomas Publisher, Ltd: Springfield, IL. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summertime, and the Living is...Well?

Today is the first day of summer break.

I love the beginning of any break. There is something comforting about the start of a vacation, even when you aren't planning on going anywhere. Maybe this is part of my introversion, but I think that the first day of a long break holds so much promise. The only real goal that I'm making for this break is to nap whenever I want to.

My job is a music therapist in a private school that is publicly funded. We have an Extended School Year, so we will be returning to school in a mere 18 days. When we get back, I know that I will be refreshed. I often find myself getting tired of being home when I have the opportunity to be by myself for that long. It is the best way of renewing my love for music therapy and for my clients.

When I am alone so much, my mind starts to get creative. I start to write music, make visual aids, sing to the cat, and change things.

Be prepared.

When I spend so much time out of my regular routine, I tend to post lots on my blog...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TME Tuesday - Waiting Is Hard to Do

Do you ever work with people who have difficulty understanding the need to wait? I do.

The Therapeutic Music Experience for this week is one I've used a significant amount over the past 5 years - Waiting is Hard to Do. The link to the TME plan and the sheet music is listed here... 

Over the years, I have found that my clients respond very well to this song. It fills the empty void of waiting for something to happen while reinforcing the desired behaviors that people want kids to display while they are waiting. In addition, it serves as a reminder that other people may not display those behaviors, but...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fun Stuff!

I love making things for my clients to use during music therapy sessions. I enjoy being able to create something from paper, scrapbooking supplies, and a bit of imagination. This is one of my favorite ways to spend my free time.

Yesterday, I spent some time making a set of file folder activities that my clients seem to use more than any other at my facility. This picture is a scheduler - a way to organize what clients want to do during the session. This one has words, some do not since not all of my clients are readers. If needed (I use this most often with clients who do not complete ANY entire experience but who flit from place to place during their sessions), the client chooses 3-6 things to do during the session. We move through the schedule and move our choices from the first pocket to the "finished" pocket. If I need to, I limit the choices that are available so my client has to complete the tasks that I want them to address. The laminated pockets also have a place for me to write on them using a dry erase marker. So, we can choose the "Karaoke Machine" strip and write "Call Me Maybe" on the pocket so we can see which song we will sing while karaoke-ing.

The other folders pictured here are fill-in-the-blank, composition, and song-based folders - things that I use with clients in varying ways. The yellow ones (in this picture) are the fill-in-the-blank songs. Songs in the public domain lend themselves to these types of songs. The primary goals for these songs are review of parts of speech, creativity, and just plain old absurdity. 
The pink folder (again, in this picture) will eventually be joined by two others. This one is for rhythm reading. It comes with instrument pictures and rhythm cards. The other two folders are composition-based and rhythm identification matching. The last folders, the green ones (only one is pictured here), are songs, again from the public domain, that come along with original visual aids. One has monkeys, one has spaghetti, and the other is a structured movement board.

The last part of this packet includes five mini-folders. Here is a picture of one folder next to the big folders. The mini-folders include a schedule board (shown here), matching, and composition folders.

The entire packet has 15 folders - 10 large folders and 5 mini-folders. I have used all of these visuals with my clients in several different ways during my time at my facility. They are useful for my students. I think they'd by useful for others as well. So, I am going to give one of these sets away. In addition to these folders, I'm going to also throw in a copy of a book I've written about Therapeutic Music Experiences for adolescents.
Please check out the website home page at for details on how to sign-up for this giveaway! I will draw the name of the winner on June 30, 2014.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Scheduling Nightmare... OVER!

Administrative tasks are some of the most frustrating for me, but they are necessary evils if you want to be a therapist. It is important to know how to make a budget, how to organize your materials so you can use them, how to repair materials, and how to schedule your time. This week's task was scheduling not only my time but the time of three other departments...

This should have been an easy task, but people made it SO much more difficult than it had to be. First of all, we did not have a meeting where everyone was present. Secondly, people who were supposed to pass on information to the entire team did not do so. Third, we had lots of difficulty with people who absolutely refused to consider the changes that others needed for the good of the team.

Being a good team member is an important administrative skill.

I gave up lots of the things that I wanted (and still think I need) in order to get the most effective schedule, but it was important to do so in order to get something that works for us all. Next year I will be running sessions at varying start times because the art therapist needs time in between groups to reset her room and get her supplies organized. So, instead of having group times that start on the hour, I will have sessions that start at 10:45 and end at 11:45. It will take some time to get used to, but it is the new reality. I also have to change my session duration for four classes because the others do not feel that they can keep the students' attention for more than 30 minutes. Okay. It means less actual therapy, but the students in question are my more concrete processors, so we don't do lots of verbal processing of the music experience anyway. It will take some getting used to, but it will be worth it in the long run.

One of the things that I have to remember in all of this is that I am not the only one who has to make changes to accommodate the wishes of others. We all have made sacrifices in order to support the vision of our principals of our "new school."

Our school is moving into a "Pod" format - something that other schools here do. Kids are assigned to a "Pod" and do all of their subjects, electives, and daily tasks within the "Pod." Our schedules are changing to accommodate the request of our administrators to provide the teachers in each "Pod" some common planning time so they can meet with each other during the day. So, every student in a "Pod" will be doing some special service each and every day. All of the high school aged kids will be in something from 10:45-11:45 Monday through Thursday. Fridays will be special interest group days.

I was disappointed at the beginning of this week about my dashed hopes for a drastic change in schedule, but I feel better now that I know what may happen during the next school year. Of course, the way things go, all of this work may not actually happen, but we have a beginning...


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Frustration is Something We Cannot Escape

I have spent the last four months of my professional life getting ready for an audacious change in how music therapy is offered at my facility. I asked for and received assurances that the change will indeed happen. Two days ago, I found out that the change will not happen after all. The people who were continuously assuring and reassuring me that the ideas and changes that I had proposed (on their behest) had not checked with the people who sign my paychecks. So, in one fell swoop, my months of planning dissolved.

I am feeling frustrated.

Unfortunately, frustration is an emotion that I have become familiar with over my years as a human being. I'm sure that we all have experienced this emotion a time or two in our lives. The trick is to acknowledge the emotion, allow yourself to feel that emotion fully, and then move into a new emotional state when you are able to do so.

My primary cure for a frustration funk is a new project.

The problem with this frustration funk is that the original idea for the change was my solution for yet another frustration funk. Oh dear. I am now back at the first place I was in about a year ago - the original frustration funk. So, now it's time to re-evaluate my situation and see if there is a different solution. We will see if I can do that.

Here are my frustration tips:
  1. Identify what is fueling the emotion in you - Think about themes to the emotion. Are you more frustrated after interactions with particular people? Are you reacting to specific traits or programs or situations?
  2. Allow yourself to fully experience the emotion - Find a time and a place where you can act on the emotion that you are feeling. (It occurs to me that these tips can be transferred to any emotion - Duh moment...) Allow your emotion to be fully expressed in a medium of your choice. (I like art journaling, personally. Oh, and blogging!)
  3. Establish a routine for resolving the emotion - If you need to resolve the emotion (I don't believe that all emotions need to be resolved, but frustration is something that I absolutely have to address for my own mental health), try techniques to assist you in resolving the emotion. If talking to a trusted person is your resolution, then do it! If journaling or blogging is your way, do that. If you have a routine and it doesn't seem to work this time, adjust your routine. 
  4. Remove the cause - If you can identify a particular cause for the emotion, evaluate whether you can adjust the cause in order to change the effect. If you cannot seem to change the situation, remember that there comes a time when the only way to "solve" a situation is to leave that situation behind you.
With my current situation, I am still stuck in step 2. I am allowing myself to feel frustrated with the roll back in my present plans. I am trying to decide how to proceed from step 2 and get into steps 3 and 4. In the meantime, I am finishing my school year and getting ready for our extended school year after a two-week break. I hope that will assist me in moving on.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TME Tuesday - Frustration

Here is a TME that I use with my students who have very low frustration tolerances. We discuss our ways of handling frustration.

Therapeutic Music Experience
Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

Purpose: To provide outlet for emotional awareness; to increase emotional awareness in others; to encourage self-examination regarding emotions; to acknowledge emotion of frustration; to problem-solve appropriate responses to feelings of frustration; entrainment to steady beat; social interaction

Source: Original song by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC. © May 8, 2012 by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC.

Materials: None required; OPTIONAL: dry-erase board and marker to assist in songwriting and problem solving or Frustration Song Blank (see below)

Environment: Group members close enough to the therapist to easily hear the song.

Song/Chant/Words: (I can't figure out how to upload an audio file to the blog, but I'll try to get that onto my website...)

Frustration  X xx X     Frustration  X xx X    Frustration is a way to feel.

I feel frustrated when I don’t get my way.

When I feel frustrated, I yell and scream and have a fit.

Frustration  X xx X

*Replace underlined words with personal expressions from group members.

Procedure: R = Reinforcement opportunities; C = Redirection/Cue opportunities; A = Assessment
1.      C=introduce concept of frustration through modeling the facial affect and behaviors displayed by group members during frustrating moments
2.      C=ask group members to identify the emotion being displayed
3.      A=assess whether group members can identify emotion in another person
4.      R=reinforce group members who can correctly identify the emotion. Redirect group members through guided questioning such as, “What is my mouth doing? What are my eyes doing? Do I look happy? Do I look sad? Do I look angry?” Reinforce with identification of correct answers.
5.      C=start singing song, placing personal words in place of the underlined words.
6.      A=assess whether group members are attending to the song or the emotion being presented
7.      R=reinforce appropriate responses and redirect inappropriate responses often displayed when others express emotion
8.      C=continue to sing song, changing words and responses as appropriate.
9.      C=encourage group members to take leadership role, changing the words to the song as appropriate to their own responses to frustration
10.  A=assess which group members will take the leadership role
11.  R=reinforce all contributions to the conversation.
12.  Repeat steps 5-11, continuing the song until group members start to show s/s of disinterest or boredom or until time is complete

Therapeutic Function of Music:
The music provides the framework and setting for the discussion surrounding the emotion frustration. The minor tonality illustrates that the emotion is not typically a pleasant one. The repetitive rhythmic figure provides a time to process the verbal information into meaning for group members. The elements of pitch, dynamics, tempo, timbre, and lyrics are easily adaptable to encourage participation and engagement from group members.

Variable to accommodate preferred ranges of group members
Steady – on the beat; no syncopation
Variable to engage attention and engagement of group members
Minor tonality

Variable to engage attention and engagement of group members
Variable to engage attention and engagement of group members
None identified
Variable to engage attention and engagement of group members
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.

·         Do not offer others the leadership role, but describe their responses as observed in other situations

  • Make book of frustration strategies and responses, using group members as examples and models – Use the book to prompt singing and interaction during the TME

Frustration Song Blank
Frustration. Frustration.
Frustration is a way to feel, frustration.

I feel frustrated when ______________________________________________________________________________
When I get frustrated, I ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My Name: ________________________
The Date: _________________________