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Showing posts from May, 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 …

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 p…

TME Tuesday - Cooperative Music Course

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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 clien…

Two More Weeks

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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...

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…

Sing a Song Sunday #1

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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...
Find a song - any song...Parse the song into musical elements - use the TME chart I developed using ideas from Deanna Hanson-Abromeit Go through a decision tree to brainstorm ways that the song can be used with my students - as many as possibleTry it with at least one group of students to see if there are any adaptations that need to be written up in the TME formatMaybe 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 f…

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 i…

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 …

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 b…

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... 
http://www.musictherapyworks.com/ideasandexperiences.html

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...

Fun Stuff!

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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 …

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…

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 origina…

TME Tuesday - Frustration