Monday, June 30, 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 start to get upset about my lack of professional supervision, please know that I do believe that there is a place for talking to others about clinical issues and concerns. For me, that place is in discussions with my Art Therapist colleague. While neither of us is supervising the other, we do have mutual respect for each other and for the work that the other accomplishes with our clients. I feel that she has a good idea about the challenges that I face as a therapist since she faces most of the same challenges daily. We offer each other a place to reflect and problem-solve.

Anyway, this blog has really become my place to work out the problems that I have with other aspects of my life. Here is where I think in writing and try to solve issues or problems of my own. There is a reason that this blog is titled, "Music, Therapy, and Me." It is a place for me to think about me and how I approach our profession of music therapy.

I encourage all music therapists to figure out their own way to process what goes on in their lives. If you are a visual person, write or draw something. If you are a kinesthetic learner, then use your movements - try acting out the situations with someone that you trust. If you are a musical processor, then compose a song or improvise a recording that you can listen to and reflect upon later. If you learn best by listening, then find a sounding board to help you hear and listen to you and your thoughts. Find your way into processing your thoughts, ideas, and feelings about clients, sessions, the profession, co-workers, and yourself as a therapist.

What am I currently processing right now? Oh. Too much to really talk about here, but please know that I'm working through my thoughts and situations in my own way, in my own time, and with a discerning eye.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

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. This might work for an episode of make-believe with my clients, but not if they are familiar with the movie music. If they are familiar with the music, they will probably just remember Captain Jack and the movie plots rather than transferring details of their lives into the music. If they are unfamiliar with the music, there is a greater chance that we could do something along the lines of imaginary play or emotional discussion, but that is a skill that is often not easily communicated by my clients.

Personally, I use music like this for relaxation, stimulation, and motivation. Recently, a life hack (#762, if you are interested) on Pinterest suggested that you listen to the Hans Zimmer channel on Pandora when studying as "Music has no distracting lyrics, and the scores are intended to motivate." I disagree with the last part of the statement - I'm not sure that the scores were composed to motivate people, but they are composed to direct your attention.

I will spend some time this week reviewing all of my soundtracks to make a personal playlist and to remind myself of the vast library of music that I have at my fingertips. It will be nice to be able to introduce some music other than Justin Bieber and Lady GaGa to my clients...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

5 Steps to Creative Therapeutic Music Experience Development








Products at www.musictherapyworks.com
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, or we are just so busy that we don't have the time to sit down with a bunch of others to talk about a particular song that we use in our music therapy sessions or about a particular client whose music therapy progress has plateaued. There is power in the connection of minds and in exploring our own creativity.

Creativity, though, fluctuates throughout our experience. I have found that creativity ebbs and flows. There are times when I am stuck in a concept, a song, a way of approaching a particular client, and I want a spark but don't get one. There are other times when I cannot contain the amount of ideas that are occurring to me. I have become used to these ups and downs and have figured out ways to keep myself going.

Here are my top tips for sparking some creativity:
  1. Start with the idea of a particular client. What does that client like? What types of music is most effective with this client? What is his/her current level of functioning? What are his/her current music therapy goals? How can you engage that client in music therapy interaction? The answers to those questions should start you thinking about how to structure your TMEs for this client - OR - Start with an object. I often stroll around the aisles of the local Dollar Store looking for something unusual or interesting. I figure that if I am interested, I can figure out a way to use it with my clients. Start with a particular song.
  2. Brainstorm everything that you could do with the client or with the object or with the song. Think about what the client contributes to the session. Is there anything that you shouldn't do with the client? Are there things that you really have to do with the client (goal areas)? With an object, use your senses. What can you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel? How could you use this object? Is there a theme that the object fits? (For example, how could you use a toy truck? Do you have songs about transportation? Do you have letter songs where this object can be used? Could you pair the truck with a song to increase sensory stimulation on arms and legs? - There is no limit to what can be done). With a song, look at the various elements of the song (any of the Sing a Song Sunday posts on this blog will give you an idea of what elements to examine). What can you change or adapt to make the song something good for your client?
  3. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN! Keep lots of idea boxes or books around. You don't have to see every idea through to the very end, but if you don't document it, there is a good chance that you will forget the idea until someone else offers it to the world.
  4. Try your ideas with the client or with the object with more clients to see if the ideas work.
  5. Share those ideas with others and expect adaptations from those others.
One of my mantras is that a good music therapist is a creative music therapist. As a group of people, I feel that we do our best work when we are able to engage the client in a creative experience that enriches his or her journey towards his or her particular goals. There are times when that journey is very structured and there are times when the journey goes in ways that are creative and unexpected. The good music therapist can create both before, during, and after the session to promote the benefit of the client.

Are there other things that you do to increase or spark your own creative process?

My latest idea/obsession? A bag for music therapists so you can easily tote lots of stuff around with you with pockets for lots of different instruments and objects. That one is still in the "brainstorming" phase (step 2 up there), but I see some potential.

Happy creating, Therapists! 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Talking About Organization

Organizing, system, music therapy
One of my work cabinets - this is the instrument cabinet
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 lots of stuff - especially if you are a therapist who works with a diverse population of clients or with children. If you tend towards packrat-ness (like me), you tend to have even more stuff that you need to keep organized.

PET PEEVE RANT COMING NOW...

One of my pet peeves is when a music therapist stops the music in order to go find an object, instrument, visual aid, or something else during the session. Now, I am guilty of this, but I try VERY hard not to stop the music. If I don't have something out of a cabinet that I want for a therapeutic music experience (TME), I figure out a musical stimulus that can happen while I am obtaining those materials. Also, if it takes more time than 30 seconds to get out of the cabinet, I don't get it out. My students can move from engaged to defiant or aggressive, bored clients in less than 30 seconds if the musical stimulus stops, so - KEEP THE MUSIC GOING ALL THE TIME!!

End of rant... I really hope.

So, when I am organizing my stuff for easy use, I have a couple of tips that I recommend. Here are some of the things that I have found to be most useful in my clinic areas this past year as I have been a bit more of a traveling music therapist:
  1. Keep an inventory of what you have.
  2. Get multiple sets of materials so you don't have to lug stuff all over creation.
  3. Color-code storage to help you easily transition between different groups and different sessions.
  4. Keep things that you need with you always in an "always bag" or box. If you always use shaker eggs in all of your sessions, then keep them in a bag or box that you can take with you everywhere you go. I also recommend that you keep some marketing materials in that "always bag" for elevator conversations. You never know when you might want a pamphlet or a business card for chance encounters.
  5. Brainstorm as many uses and TMEs for everything that you use in a session as you possibly can. What are all of the things that I can do with scarves with my younger students? What are all the things that I can do with my older students? Write those things down on a small card to prompt you in those moments when you realize that you have 24 minutes left of a session, and you have run through everything that you planned to do.
Organization is my downfall and my deepest dream. In my fantasies, I dream about my dream home. Someday I will live in a place that has a large, open area with lots of storage around the perimeter of the walls, but lots of space in the center. Everything will have it's own, labeled, custom-built space, and I'll be able to find anything I want in a moment's notice. For the moment, however, I'll keep trying to organize my music therapy life, my home, and everything else around me, one box and bag at a time...

Off to try to organize something today. Maybe I'll take on my craft room some more...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

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 hot weather, even as a toddler. I forgot that, too. Hmmm...)

This exhaustion makes it into my music therapy sessions, even though I really try not to show how much it affects me during the day. Being human is rough, isn't it?

I have hit my exhaustion point right here, right now.

I am sitting here, debating with myself about all sorts of things. Am I able to breathe enough to sing? Should I take a sick day just to sleep? What would my interns do? When could I reschedule the meeting that I scheduled yesterday? Am I really trying to avoid another situation that started last week and is now just festering in my mind? Can't I stick it out today and tomorrow and then sleep during my three-day weekend?

All of these questions are being filtered by the fact that I awoke at 3:15 am this morning and am now still about 75 minutes away from being able to leave for work. I mean, I could go to work now, but that would mean three extra hours of work rather than just the one extra hour that I do daily.

I will go to work - there is so much more work to do if I decide not to go than if I just go, but the debate will continue during the commute and will probably continue tomorrow morning as well.

Anyway, I think I do a pretty good job of keeping my energy up during music therapy group sessions. I really yawn when we sing about feeling tired, but I can usually keep it together for the rest of music time. After the sessions, when I am sitting in meetings, it takes every ounce of energy that I have to pay attention to what is being said. Heaven help me if I have to actually contribute to the conversation! It just isn't going to happen. I can barely follow the conversation by that time. My energy just drains out by about 2 pm and doesn't really arrive again until 2 am. It's a crazy schedule, let me tell you!

So, what does this all mean in the long-range scheme of things?


My internal life affects my music therapy life. This fact is part of being a human being in this world of ours. I will occasionally need to put my own needs before those of my clients, but, hopefully, not often. When I know that there are situations going on in my life that affect my music therapy life, I need to address them rather than pretending that they are not present. If I pretend that those situations are not there, they magnify and affect my therapy skills more and more. It is better for me to think about the situation, try to find solutions, or accept what is going on. 

UPDATE: (The next day) I did go to work and had a good day. I had a bit of anxiety going into a session that had been a bit of a problem the week before, but everything went well. I spent some time talking to my teammates about our new class formats for the fall, we sorted kids into groups, and we just engaged in a bit of information sharing. I ended up staying later than I usually do, but it was definitely worth it for the ability to talk to some people that I enjoy working with but don't see often since we have such busy schedules.

I woke up this morning at 2:45 am and started my real day at 3:30 am. I still have 3 hours and 10 minutes before I am required to be at work. I'll be leaving in about 2 hours so I can enjoy a bit of quiet time in the building before the rest of the staff and my interns arrive to start their day. Today is the last day of the work week, so I can spend some time doing a bit less out in the heat and humidity.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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:
  1. Reader's Digest Songbooks - I love these. I have purchased mine mainly at thrift and garage sales. They offer sheet music (with both guitar and piano accompaniments), come in a variety of styles, and have a picture (most of the time) at the beginning of the song to help my nonverbal clients identify the songs that they want. They are kinda bulky, so I make it point to either transcribe music on a smaller card or I memorize the music so I don't have to lug them around. The books themselves are good to remind me of songs that I don't
  2. The Big Book of Music Games - This book has lots of wonderfully drawn games cards and visual aids just ready for game development. I use these to teach music education concepts (when I need to), but I also use them for therapy concepts as well.
  3. Wee Sing Books - any kind, any title - If you work with little kids, these songbooks are wonderful for reminding you about familiar songs that you may have forgotten and for giving you some new ideas as well.
  4. Rise Up Singing - This songbook is great if you think like a guitarist or a fake book enthusiast. There are no melody lines, but I can find most of the songs on YouTube so I can learn them easily. The book has over 1200 songs and are divided by themes and indexed as well so I can find things that talk about "work" easily.
  5. I find some resources on Amazon for FREE! You have to look and keep looking, but there are some good things there.
  6. Camp songbook websites - http://www.ultimatecampresource.com/site/camp-activities/camp-songs.html, http://www.flyingpigs.org.uk/song_index.shtml - I love camp songs. Always have, always will! These songbooks offer me lots and lots of songs that I know and lots that I don't know. The music is there, but the TME ideas come from me. These tend to just include words, so I have to compose music at times, but I like that challenge.
Those are my "go-to's" when I need something new or want to explore what my clients can do during music therapy. I also have lots of books written by music therapists, but I don't often use those resources. Strange.

What resources are your lifeline when you are coming up with TMEs for your clients? I'm always looking for more!!  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

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 promises to make up with her due to the history that they have together. It interests me that he never actually says that he is sorry for what he did. He discusses not wanting to be kept away from her body, but not that he is sorry for the situation. It seems like he just doesn't want her to leave, so he'll hint that he's sorry about what he did, but never actually say so.

As a young girl, this song seemed extremely romantic to me. I would (and still can) sing every word. It brings back good memories of first crushes and thoughts about romance. Chicago will be one of the groups that future music therapists MUST know to elicit memories and engagement in me when I need treatment.

Anyway, back to how to use this song in music therapy treatment sessions. I've been thinking about how I use music quite a bit this week. There are times when the music that you use in a session has a primary role where all elements of music are directly and specifically chosen and adapted to affect change in our clients. There are times when the music is chosen for some, but not all of the music elements. The music may provide a background figure to encourage another specific response. For example, the tempo may match the desired cadence of a client walking down the hallway. At that time, the lyrics, timbre, and theme of the song are less important than other elements.

In my music therapy clinic, I would probably not use the original recording. It is a bit too old for my clients to completely understand. If we were doing a series of lyric analyses on appropriate social behaviors and interactions, then this song might make an appearance, but I would probably search for something a bit more contemporary for my adolescents. The chord progression is consistent so it can promote entrainment and possibly relaxation in clients. The melody is not complex. It is repetitive but offers some variation between verse and chorus. I could see using this melody and harmonic format with completely original lyrics to encourage desired responses in the clinical moment. The lyrics would be improvised, but the musical structure would not be. Since I am so familiar with the song, I can use the music and adapt it in the moment to fit any client that arrives. If we need to sing about waiting patiently, the words will be about waiting patiently. If we want to direct the attention of a client to something, the lyrics will encourage the client to attend to that something. If a client needs to wiggle, I can change the tempo from "moderately" to something with a bit more movement and then change the lyrics to encourage wiggling.

I feel that this is the greatest power of a music therapist. We know how to adapt the musical elements that are present in every song to match what our clients need in the therapy setting. I also feel that we do not explain this well to people who do not "get us." It is difficult to describe the reasons why you choose a particular song for a particular client in a particular moment to someone who does not understand the complexities of music as a therapeutic medium. It is our job to understand those complexities and to share them with the people who need to know more about them.

 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Re-Imagining

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.

re-imagine


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 hungry, so off he went to feed them with the directive to think about more ideas for him to use in his campaign!

The idea of re-imagining things has been coming up over and over in all of my various situations - professional, personal, and hypothetical. My school is getting a physical makeover that has necessitated some new ideas about how music therapy will be offered within the school year. The music therapy job itself is constantly changing and evolving because new clients arrive and change the job over and over again. The music therapy profession is on the verge of a shift - lots of talk about "how we always do things" that lead me to think that it is time for a paradigm shift there. Ideas just keep evolving and revolving in my head.

I think I have been programmed to think in a specific way. I blame the parents, of course...

Our mother is very good at taking an idea and making it into something new, different, and better. I think she started us all off on a path of creativity and seeing many options available to us. Our father takes those ideas and builds on them often pointing out the opposite viewpoint in a way that prepares us for opposition. He challenges us to move from our place in the world to other points of view. Between the two of them, they raised three creative people.

My parents helped us become critical thinkers. They challenged us to try new things. They also helped us to see that "the way of doing things" was not "the ONLY way of doing things." There are always more options available.

That's the purpose of re-imagining. Seeing the options that are available.

One of the tasks of a "re-imaginer" is to reflect on what happened in the past, observe what is happening the present, and dream about what will happen in the future. It is important to think about the many aspects, opinions, and ideas that are out there in the ether - not just your own, but those of everyone affected by a change in "how we do things."

So, the professional association isn't doing what you want it to do. Start asking yourself some questions. What do you want the association to do? How can you help the association do what you want it to do? Who will be affected when these changes occur? It this in the best interest of all professionals or just you?

Your life isn't where you want it to be. Ask yourself some questions again. What do you want to do with your life? Is music therapy what you want? Is your idea of music therapy a match for the ideas in your present employment place? Do you need a change in location and situation?

People often make excuses for not making changes. I am guilty of this. "I can't move right now - I can't afford it." "I shouldn't quit my job until I find the 'perfect' job." "It's worked perfectly well this way up to now, so why rock the boat?" "How can I, a mere [insert term here], expect to change the [association, job, profession, world]?

There is a quote that I have carried around with me for a long time. It is attributed to Corita Kent and says the following:
"Structures are restraints - a way of limiting. What you can build within restraints and structures is almost limitless."
That thought sits over my shoulder when I present a webinar. It is on a bulletin board that I see daily. I try to remember that structures and restraints are upon us but they do not define who we are or what we can do with ourselves. We may have the structure of "the ways it's done," but that doesn't mean it always has to be that way.

Re-imagine.
 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Randomness...

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's just been strange. During times like these, I wonder if my attitude, feelings, and internal situations are overshadowing my clients' or if we are all sharing the same type of feelings, attitudes, and internal situations. All I know is that I am hot, sticky, achy, and finding it difficult to breathe in this hot, wet air...

Failed Blog Post #2 - Where Have All the Bloggers Gone? - One of the things that I like to do when I have a bit of time that needs to be filled is to explore the world of music therapy blogs. Nothing frustrates me more than to find what I consider to be the perfect blog post written by a music therapist that has good ideas and then find that the blogger hasn't continued writing. I always want more. So, if you are going to start a music therapy blog, please write in it! I'm out there looking for you and your thoughts - no matter how important you think they are. Please share!!

Failed Blog Post #3 - Learning the Calendar - I woke up this morning thinking it was Thursday. It wasn't. It was Wednesday. I was very disappointed when I figured out that it was Wednesday. This isn't because I dread my Wednesdays - much the opposite. I enjoy the classroom groups and students that I have on Wednesdays. They are very enjoyable, but for some reason this week, Wednesday was not something that I was anticipating with positive thoughts. I blame the weather. The overnight temperatures hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit so there really isn't any relief from the heat. Maybe that has something to do with it...

Failed Blog Post #4 - Ideas - Ideas just keep popping into my head for short periods of time and then flee as quickly as they arrive...

Failed Blog Post #5 - The Mess is Taking Over - enough said?

Failed Blog Post #6 - Sjkjgpoiaser SDfpaouulsdknf - My brain has officially overheated and is gone...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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? https://www.hooktheory.com/theorytab

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.

I've looked at this site, and I think it will become one of my favorites.

I signed up for the community - so far, no charge - and have looked around. There is a dictation challenge to help out with ear training, and links to charts that offer the music in chord format, tabulature, original keys, color-coding, you name it. In addition, you can speed things up or slow things down within the learning part of the site. The melody is notated using color and shape lengths - there are smaller note lengths for shorter notes and longer for longer notes - very good for visual learners like me. It also has a link to the YouTube video (that might be a problem if I ever use this with clients rather for my own musical development...), but it allows you to use a piano version rather than the YouTube version as well. The last feature that I really like is the loop function. The loop allows you to listen to and play along with the phrase until you have the chords well-practiced.

Basically, the site takes you through the basic chord progression of the indicated song and that's it. It doesn't take up more space than necessary, so, if you want to use the entire song, you have to find the sheet music or the tabs or learn all of the words. The site does give you enough of the music to figure out how to play the song. For example, the arrangement of Happy by Pharrell Williams includes the Intro, the verse, and the chorus. I am looking forward to playing around more with this. I may even download the HookTheory software. We will see how much it costs...   


https://www.hooktheory.com/theorytab

Monday, June 16, 2014

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 requested music from the movie, and I, being a somewhat decent therapist in the moment, wanted to support their choices. Sigh.

To finish off the session, I made them listen to music from Tangled. I currently find that music less offensive than Frozen, but still not up to the standards of music from movies such as The Hunchback from Notre Dame and anything outside of the Disney genre by Hans Zimmer, John Williams, and Rachel Portman.

Maybe some time with the soundtracks from the 1984 Olympics, The Lake House, and Pirates of the Caribbean would help me purge these songs from my head!

Tomorrow is TME Tuesday. I wonder what I'll post tomorrow.

See you then!!

mj

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sing A Song #4 - A Rainy Day

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 that Mr. Nordoff and Mr. Robbins (who gave me one of the greatest thrills of my music therapy career when he stopped to look at and then comment about a display of file folder activities that I had generated for an AMTA presentation) offer suggestions about how to use the music with children. They also focus on group treatment and play. There are suggestions for many of the music elements that I focus on during my TME development, but I think that both Mr. Nordoff and Mr. Robbins would understand that there are times when you have to change the recommended tempo to accommodate client needs and differences.

My only complaint about this book is that it is written for piano rather than piano and guitar. I know exactly why it is written for piano, but wish it was written for guitar as well. I'm going to have to sit down with my guitar and figure out the chord symbols for each of these songs (playing the piano is NOT my forte!) so I can use it a bit more easily. So, (dripping with sarcasm here) I will HAVE to USE my MUSIC THEORY classes to figure this out! Oh tragedy!!! 

If you are interested in getting copies of these books, here is a link to the Nordoff-Robbins Musical Resources page through NYU. These books are offered for VERY reasonable prices and their contents will enrich the music library of any music therapist who works with children. I recommend them if you are needing some new repertoire that is already designed for therapeutic purposes.

I never had the privilege of meeting Paul Nordoff, the composer behind these songs, but I did have the privilege of meeting Clive Robbins. He was a wonderful man who never met a music therapy stranger. Like I said before, he stopped by my display during a Clinical Practice Forum at an AMTA conference a couple of years ago. Mr. Robbins stopped, looked over my display of file folder activities designed for use in music therapy, and started to talk to me. I was flabbergasted and tongue-tied to begin with, but Mr. Robbins quickly put me at ease. He asked questions about how I used my materials and about my clients. He stayed with me for 20 minutes and brightened my day. It is amazing when a personal music therapy hero takes notice of something that you do. I hope you have a similar experience with one of your music therapy heroes. It was a thrill!


Robbins, C., & Nordoff, P. (1968). The Second Book of Children's Play-Songs. Theodore Presser Company: Bryn Mawr, PA. p. 9.


UPDATE: So, I actually played the song through on the keyboard, and lo and behold, it's in Dmajor, but it doesn't look like it when you look at the music. It's amazing how you can look at something and it looks like it's a complicated modal piece, but when you hear it you can tell that it isn't...

Maybe I should brush up on my theory. I wonder if I still have the old Shumway? Probably...


Saturday, June 14, 2014

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? How would we evaluate each member's level of need? Everyone will always be unhappy with how much they would have to pay, especially when the therapist sitting next to them has to pay less. So, how would that work?

One of the problems with walking away from the box of established thinking is that you start to feel that your path is the only path. You can start to think that you are the "SAVIOR" of the situation. There are people who feel that their solution to any situation is the ONLY solution, and they start to act like bullies towards anyone else who stands up to them. I am guilty of this, but I try to recognize when I am moving towards bully status and move away from that role. (I hate bullies.) One of the things that has to happen with any paradigm shift is a conscious recognition that change is difficult, slow, and scary and people will resist.

There will always be people who don't want to change. There will always be people that want to change, but only change into their own utopian view of what the future should be. There will always be people who just go with whatever happens. There will also always be people who have different ideas that are just as valid as any other, but who will not be heard or acknowledged. There will be people who leave and there will be people who join both because of the change.

As for membership dues, I feel still feel that, if you want to be considered a professional, you must be a part of your National Association. It doesn't matter what type of professional you are. You should be linked to other professionals in the way that is available to you.

My professors used to say, "Would you ever go to a doctor who wasn't certified or a part of the AMA?"
 

Friday, June 13, 2014

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 enough now, so we won't be able to get better salaries when we have to get Master's, but... we will never get more money for salaries until we can prove that we deserve it! No employer is going to pay a Bachelor's level music therapist the same salary as a physical therapist with a doctorate (the requirement now for PTs to ENTER their fields as clinicians!). They just are not!

It can be a huge chunk of change to be a member of AMTA, but our dues are not out of line when compared to those of other associations out there. 

Professional Dues for some of our fellow therapies: American Occupational Therapy Association - $230; American Physical Therapy Association - $295; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association - $225. ASHA conference fees - member - $385-$495; non-member - $775-$915; APTA conference rates - member - $380-$530; non-member - $540-$750; AOTA conference rates - no costs on the website.

I can hear the arguments now, "But THOSE people get paid SO much more than we do!" Not always, but sometimes. The difference is that we, as music therapists, are often not as qualified, are not strong negotiators when it comes to salary, and will often just take a job because it's a job which reinforces employers who do not want to pay more than they have to to get our services. We have to remember that employers are always thinking about the almighty buck and will look to get more for less every chance they can. Can you blame them? I want to get more for me for less as well!

I am sorry that there are people out there who feel that being a member of their professional association is an option rather than a requirement. They wonder what has AMTA done for them lately and do not have a clue about what goes on in the average day of an AMTA office employee. I don't either, but I know that there are legislative issues that come up, there are discussions with other associations about reimbursement, about health care standards, about state recognition, and about things that help me keep my job. I also know that people at National Office drop everything when I call with a problem. They help me, even if there are other things that they need to be doing.

For me, membership is never an accessory.

Even years like these years, when money is tight due to my medical bills and lack of pay raise (gotta love working for a school district these days! - that's a whole OTHER rant!!), AMTA membership is not an option. Meat is.

What does that mean? Well, I will eat macaroni and cheese rather than meat so I can afford my membership dues.

Without being an AMTA member, I would not be able to be an internship director. Without being an AMTA member, I would not be able to attend conference at a lower rate. Without being an AMTA member, I wouldn't have the direct attention of folks at the National Office, but I would still get that attention.

That's what our association does. It cares about music therapists - members and non-members alike.

Most of what I want to say about this particular topic is, "Quit your gritchin'!" You know, if you decide that being a member of your professional association is not important to you, great. Don't pay your dues. You then forfeit the opportunity to complain about things that go on within the association. If you are not within the system, you have no right to complain about what goes on within the system. If you are within that system, you are then tasked with working on the problem from the inside, seeking to understand the entire implications of the problem.

I'm going to put a bit of money aside every month for my dues and for my commitment to attending the AMTA National Conference.

I will continue to be a member of AMTA. That is non-negotiable for me as a professional and as a music therapist. It is too important to be trivialized.

Rant done for the moment... 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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 side of the road.

My grandmother loved it. She was a bit amazed at how much I knew about my family history - I laughed as I see myself as the family genealogy nut. 

Her family tree has a place in her new home just like it had a place in her previous home.

It amazes me how much I can miss when I am not looking around me. The milkweed fluff is blowing around outside. For some, it could be a distraction and/or a nuisance. For others, it is a wonderful experience (one I don't remember seeing in past summers).

Attitude changes everything.

When I am in a negative mindspace, I miss the little things. I miss the giggle of a 6-year old when he crashes his toy car into his shoe. I miss the twitch of the cat's whiskers. I miss the flash of a sunrise. I tend to focus too much on the mundane, the routine, and the negativity. I admit, I do this often and have to remind myself that there are lots of things that are great about the mundane.

When I am being positive, there isn't much that doesn't make me stop and wonder. This is a positive time - so, I am looking for those wonderful things to inspire me.

I drove past My tree today, all leafy and green in its summer foliage. There may be a tree song in the near future. We shall see...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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 musictherapyworks.com!

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

Monday, June 09, 2014

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 leave for a meeting while Intern#22 gives a tour of the facility and can talk to Intern #23 in privacy without my listening ears nearby.

I think I am ready for all of this.

My feelings of nervousness come from many of the same places that we think interns' nerves come from. Questions like, "Will he/she like me?" "Will I be a good supervisor?" "Will #23 like #22?" "Will he/she respond well to the clients?" All of these questions pop up and rattle around in my head with each new person who walks through the door.

In my 15 years of experience as an internship director, I have never had an experience that ended with the dismissal of an intern. I have had one relationship with an intern that was not positive, but that was a personality conflict rather than a bad clinical experience. I have learned to trust my instincts, be very careful about letting in just anyone, and to set up all of expectations up front and in writing. I have been lucky in being the person who gets to help music therapy students transition into music therapy interns and then, into music therapists. It is a job that I take extremely seriously, and I love the challenges, frustrations, and growth experiences that arise with each individual who choose to do training at my internship. I am looking forward to greeting Intern #23 today - the same way I anticipated Intern #22's arrival, Intern #21's, and on into the past years.

Now it's time to start thinking about Intern #24...

Sunday, June 08, 2014

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 out to be pages 4 and 5 - The Land of Silly. The words are pretty absurd and lend themselves well to silly movements with our bodies. I cannot post a scan of this song due to copyright issues, so, if you are interested, buy the book. You can also buy an mp3 of the song through Amazon at this link.



As you can see, there are lots of musical elements that can change to accommodate client needs or preferences. I can adapt the tempo, timbre, lyrics, dynamics, pitch, and melody in order to give my students music that will fit them.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

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 place before, and it was always identified as my parents' business. This is a bit strange.

Anyway, in the dream, my mom arrived just as I was locking up the business. I remember being very interested in the fact that there was a store called "The Cookie Connection" across the parking lot. Mom asked if I had found what I was looking for, and I replied that I had but that I was surprised by the packing and moving. She was somewhat confused, but I reminded her that I had only visited the business three times. As we got to our cars, she told me that she wanted to talk to me about something important, and, when we were done, if I wanted to, she would take me to "The Cookie Connection."

At that moment, she was lit up by a flash of light. I woke to a loud clap of thunder, and the dream was over.

I woke feeling a bit disoriented and thinking it was Sunday. I got up, watched the thunderstorm for a bit, fed the cat, and moved into my Summer Sunday mode. When I turned on my computer, I was taken aback to see that it was actually Saturday, not Sunday.

What does this have to do with music therapy? Not a blooming thing, unless you take into account the altered state of consciousness that I found myself in when I actually awoke. I think many of my clients live in a state similar to my temporary view of the world, and they live in that state most of the time. The reality we see and experience is the only reality that we can know. No one would have been able to convince me that my mom doesn't have something that she has been keeping from me or that it was Saturday. I needed something concrete in my environment that I could trust to show me the reality that I'm living in. Something I could trust to show me the world as others see it. Kinda illustrates why some clients have difficulty trusting others in their lives, doesn't it?

I know that my clients look at me in a skeptical manner on a regular basis. They often stay on the periphery of the group, watching me carefully. Often, my first authentic interaction with them (especially the "Too-Cool-for-School" adolescents) involves me doing something that most of the adults in their lives refuse to do - being silly or playing with them rather than just watching them engage in play. I often seem to break through to them by acting in a way contrary to that of the others around them. They often respond by shaking their heads, saying, "You are crazy!" I smile and say, "Thank you," and off we go into the wonderful world of music therapy treatment.

I wonder if my acting "off-script," as it were, is similar to the prompt on my computer screen this morning; the thing that jolts my clients to reality. I wonder if I am acting differently from what is expected by the hallucinations or previous experiences, and that is why my clients seem to engage with me quickly and positively. It is a quandary.

One of the tasks of the music therapist, a long time ago, was reality orientation. It was part of my job to use music to illustrate to my clients that they were living in a world that was outside themselves. Music was a good way to do that as music is an external stimulus that affects internal processes. Reality orientation TMEs included calendar songs, working on Life Skills or Activities of Daily Living, social skill development, and other TMEs as needed for specific clients. We no longer really focus on this as a therapeutic goal, at least in my area of music therapy. Reality orientation is something that has been superseded by impulse control, appropriate interaction with others, communication, and other work, but there are times when it is important to remember that one person's idea of reality is very different from another person's experience of that same environment and situation. 

Sometimes it is difficult to remember that fact. My reality often does not include flashes of light, but some of my clients experience those flashes on a regular basis. I cannot argue that what they are experiencing is not actually happening just because I cannot sense what they sense. Who says that my reality is THE reality? 

So, now that my reality is back in sync with what the computer tells me (that is an ENTIRELY different blog post - my over-reliance on computers...), I am going to go through my Saturday routine rather than my Summer Sunday routine. I am going to interrupt that routine so I can call my mom just to make sure that everything is okay with her... 

Friday, June 06, 2014

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 NOT, but he is really content sitting in an office writing proposals for business contacts all the time. I am NOT! I obviously need to be in a profession where music is around me as much as possible. It's a good thing that I found music therapy when I did!

Since recorded music has a tendency to stick in my head to the point of driving me mad, I will take out my guitar, my fake books, and my TME file to sing, compose, and create musical sounds. There is nothing like live music to stimulate the brain, right?

What to play first? What a great question to have in front of me! 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

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 why we like specific songs or types of songs. So, like any good graduate student, I did a research project that showed little to no correlation between our favorite songs and our heart rates or respiratory rates. So, that's not the reason we like particular preferences, but that's okay. I have no other ideas about why we like our particular favorites, but I'm okay with that.

It is time to listen to some music.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

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 during my year, and it would work with those few. I probably wouldn't start using it as a group TME though. There are some thoughts that need to be shared without the prying ears of peers around...

Comments are always welcome!

Monday, June 02, 2014

This is the Life...

It is the eleventh day of my Summer Break, and I am currently reclining on my craft room 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. She seems 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 philosophy, form of practice, population preference, and attitude towards the therapeutic function of music.

Whew - I started going into a rant about music therapy bullies and being inclusive, but that tangent has no place here in this blog post and in this time.

Back to the good life...


In my adventures in organizing the craft room, I have found lots of old work pictures including some of former interns and clients. All of those familiar and forgotten faces have brightened up my day. I saw pictures of my clients performing The Wizard of Oz, Annie, and Grease back in the day when we had enough time with clients to learn music for an entire musical. I saw pictures of Holiday programs with the entire school participating. I glimpsed the old music room and remembered what it was like to try to run large groups in limited space (something I'll have to get used to this school year as we move into a new music room yet again...).

Oh, dear, starting down a dismal road again. Time to turn myself around...

This year, I will strive to be the best therapist I can be for all of the clients who arrive at the door to my music room. I will try to be a good internship director, and I will be happy.

This is the life...

Sunday, June 01, 2014

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 for using this song with my clients...

This song is not very familiar to my students and probably not to their parents either. The song would not have many extramusical associations (I would think) for my students since they are not very familiar with the song or the performer. It may be a good way to introduce some discussion about people that they miss during their stay at our facility. There could be some difficulties, however, with feelings of abandonment, situations with past trauma, and confused sexual roles for many of my clients. So, the song may not be appropriate for all of my students with the original lyrics, but the lyrics could be easily adapted to address the concepts that each student needs to address within a therapeutic format.

If the emotional content of the song is too abstract for my clients, I can use the musical format to address rhythmic behaviors and support those behaviors in a way that encourages steady movements and entrainment. The melody lends itself well to lyric substitution. I could change the lyrics easily since the melody is repetitive and predictable. The long notes in the phrases also allow for changes in the rhythm to accommodate words and stories to illustrate what is going on in the moment.

Well, another song for my repertoire.