Friday, October 31, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - The Musini

I love these things.

Have you ever seen one before? These are Musinis. I got my first one from my mom and my sister who found it at their favorite thrift store. I turned it on and was hooked! The bigger one (pictured below) was in a huge stack of old board games that was donated. I swooped in and grabbed it before anyone else found it. After that, another little one mysteriously showed up in one of my recent music rooms. So, I now have three Musini (I assume that the plural is just the "i" ending, but have also used the version with the "s" at the end just in case...) 

The Musini (singular) is a motion-sensored toy that plays music when it perceives movement in the environment. It doesn't have a beam or anything, but responds to stomps, wiggles, and movements. You can change the sensitivity to encourage large or small movements with your clients, and the musical selections are also easily changed or adapted.

I first used this with my students with multiple symptoms who required pervasive levels of support. I had one little guy who really had a "cause and effect" realization during our first session with the Musini. He started to engage in a way that he had not engaged before - purposeful movements to create music. That "cause and effect" realization led us all into large group improvisations and blues-fests. I don't think we would have ended up there if he hadn't used the Musini. (Of course, this cannot be quantified, but that was the first time he seemed to understand that He was the one who was making those sounds!)

Here's the description from Amazon:

E=MC2! Neurosmith's revolutionary Musini magically converts your child's energy into music and creativity! Musini's patented MagicSensor transforms any room into a musical playground where every step, turn, touch, and tap activates a unique musical response. Children simply select their favorite musical styles and instruments and start moving! Musini does the rest - sensing the strength and speed of each vibration and responding with a totally personal and unique musical composition. Mini-maestros explore tempos, rhythmic patterns, and musical structures and they'll never make the same masterpiece twice! Musini encourages physical expression and creativity, rewarding each movement with inspiring music. Children can also explore various musical styles, instruments, tempos, and structures, cultivating a deeper understanding and lifelong appreciation of music.

I agree with the description. If you can find one, and you don't want it, PLEASE send it to me!!

Thanks, all.

Happy Friday. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time Traveling

I spent most of yesterday in the past. I greeted one of my clients with, "Happy Tuesday." She looked at me strangely, walked with me a bit, and then said, "It's Wednesday." I had to think for a moment and then realized that she was right. I thanked her for setting me straight. Later, I was sitting down writing some notes about some music therapy reading that I have to get finished and wondered what the date was. I figured that it was October 23rd and kept going. A bit later, I found out that it was actually October 29th.

It's somewhat disconcerting to have this type of timeline dysfunction.

One of the things I learned about way way back in my undergraduate days was reality orientation. We discussed the necessity of providing our clients with a frame of mind that included the date, the time, the season, and other information that would keep them in the present rather than in a state of disorientation. I am sure that there is another term for this process, but I now understand some of the disorientation that can follow when you are not aware of the time around you.

So, I am going to spend this day reminding myself that it is October 30th, a Thursday, and time to be present in the moment. I am going to try to remember that I have reasons to be present here and now. Time for some reality orientation.

Move into the moment, music therapy friends. I'll see you soon.   

UPDATE: Well, I went to work and then got sick, so came home. I wonder if the time shift I experienced yesterday had anything to do with my current virus... Hmmm. Timeline dysfunction as a precursor to getting sick? I'll have to remember that...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Catching Up...

I didn't post this morning since I was trying to get some other music therapy work finished and sent to CBMT as well as organizing my thoughts about music therapy for the day, so I'm posting this evening instead.

So, how are things going with you?

I realize that I've been overly focused on me lately. Can I get my stuff done? Why am I having problems with these kids? Why does EVERYTHING happen to me?? (Dramatically throwing myself on my bed and sobbing in a manner fit for a Disney princess!!)

This is probably why things haven't really been going as well as I always hope. I've been focusing a bit too much on the internal and the external things that occur within my personal space bubble rather than looking outside that bubble to the other people sharing my space.

Today was a good day for music therapy moments. We (my intern and I) are finally starting to increase our individual interactions with students, and she had one of our more difficult group members today. They sat with the keyboard between them and an old bongo drum nearby. She demonstrated the keyboard and he spun the drum. She started to hit the drum once it stopped moving. He reached over and played the keyboard. She played the keyboard. He spun the drum. She hit it again. He played the keyboard. She echoed the keyboard.

The session kept going. A student who had not really interacted much in the group session was not only interacting, he was initiating, changing the patterns, shaping her responses, and laughing!

The worst part for me? Not getting to play! But, I realized that it was not my place or time to be actively in that experience...even though I REALLY wanted to be a part of the conversation. I was able to stay out of most of the interactions, but he did look at me and twinkle every so often!

Watching that interaction, occurring outside my personal space bubble, really reminded me of what I am constantly challenged by - the idea that there are some situations that do not require or need me, my person, or my thoughts, opinions, and interactions - there are times when I am not needed.

Now it's time to check in with you again - how are you doing? Are you getting a chance to focus on yourself (but not overly so?)?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

TME Tuesday - Halloween Carols

Today's post is kinda a cheating post. In other words, I'm tired, have to get to work early, and wanted to sleep in a bit this morning, so I am not sharing my own work, but promoting that of others.

'Tis the season for Halloween songs and carols. There have been lots of lists of music presented on Facebook in the Music Therapists Unite group, but here are some resources that I like...

Halloween Carols - Aaron Hertzman

Alphabet Soup

Not Just For Kids!: Halloween Carols

So, these are kitschy and corny, but there are lots of songs included in these collections of songs. Soon, I will arrange and organize these in my TME file, but right now, I'm just going to share this information with all of you.

Happy Halloween - enjoy the songs.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Back To Basics - Again and Again and Again

It's that time of year - time to get back to basics.

"Basics," you may ask? "Yep," I reply wearily, "basics."

This is the time of year when staff members, clients, and, oh, music therapists get restless and need some focus on what is really important during music therapy.

We've had lots of changes in the past three months. We've all moved (some of us SEVERAL times) from our temporary locations into the newly renovated old school building. Classroom groups have had lots of changes lately. Kids are leaving and arriving daily, so classroom climates are changing daily. There is no clear hierarchy of student relationships, and, by the time students start to know where they stand in the pecking order, a new student arrives and throws off the entire order yet again. This confusion and difficulty with knowing how to act with peers transfers into the music therapy session. It's my job to try to provide some regularity in music therapy while still assessing the new kids and promoting group cohesion and appropriate social awareness.

In addition to what the students are bringing to the session, I am bringing lots of my stuff into the session as well. A good therapist understands that it is difficult to separate personal self from professional self, but that therapist attempts to separate those selves when in the music therapy setting. But, being human, the good therapist also recognizes that both of those selves affect what happens in the session. Here's my confession - I have been less able to engage my clients in therapeutic music experiences just lately. I think this is because I am overextended, overwhelmed, and over focused on things that are not part of music therapy treatment.

So, it's time to get back to basics.

For me, the most basic and most therapeutic element of music is tempo. Others may comment that that is not their element of choice, but it is mine. Each group has a tempo at which they function best. Sometimes the tempo is related to motor entrainment, sometimes it's oral motor entrainment, sometimes it's just plain old musical preference related, but there is a tempo for each group.  The trick is finding that tempo.

When you are attempting to get a group of people entrained to a steady beat, it is pretty easy to see who doesn't have the same tempo as others. I do this with body percussion often. We start a beat pattern - patsch patsch clap rest, repeat - and I can tell who can keep up and who cannot. I then adjust the tempo for the person(s) who cannot keep up to see where their tempo is in the range of possibilities. If the rest are truly entrained to the external beat, they will adjust to the new tempo. If not, then you shift again.

So, for this week, I'll be doing as much as I can to work on finding the tempo of each group that I work with in music therapy (still in classrooms, but getting closer to having a music therapy room - I am starting to move things into cabinets!!). We'll be grounding as much as we can into a steady beat. We will be finding our groove as a group. Back to basics.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sing A Song Sunday - Haul Away Joe

Good morning, everyone! I had fun with this one - it's in the Dorian mode. (Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE modes? If not, I REALLY LOVE modes!!) It is wonderful when you find something that you love in a state of serendipity, don't you think?

Anyway - here is the song. On page 202 of Rise Up Singing... Haul Away Joe.

It's a sea shanty from the English tradition and has a very strong macrobeat feel that allows for entrainment for all types of outcomes. I don't really like most of the lyrics - they are a bit salty - so would change the words to use the song in my music therapy space. This would be a great song for lyric substitution or piggybacking. I could certainly see myself using this as a gait training song or as a gross motor beat exercise...

Sheet music can be found here. Chords and verses also are here. And here. A YouTube video is located here. And, here's the song chart...
Dorian mode!! Hooray. Now, off to find something in Lochrian (maybe my favorite, though I do love saying Phrygian...).

Happy singing, all!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

The To-Do List

Are you a list-maker?

I am.

I absolutely have to make lists in order to do what I need to do, ESPECIALLY at times like this when there are lots of different things happening in the next several weeks. Without my lists, I forget essential things.

Right now, my list is long and is getting longer. Not only do I have a list, but it is divided up into which days I can do which part of the list. There are different categories, different priority levels, and different people I have to talk to about things. It's quite a list.

Today, the focus is finishing my AMTA preparations.

I have two CMTEs and a concurrent presentation to prepare. In all honesty, one of the CMTEs and the concurrent presentation are things that I have done before and am only one of the presenters for, so there is less to do for those than the other CMTE (my first solo attempt at a CMTE!!), but there are still things to do and prepare. The other CMTE is taking over lots of my time, but I think I've got a handle on what I want to publish and what I want to present (I think...). It's essential that I get these handouts finished now so I can print them next week.

I also have a BUNCH of reading for a series of meetings that I have to go to at AMTA. I think there are about 10 papers, 2 chapters, and and entire book to read before I go to my first meeting on Friday. Fortunately, I love to read, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem, but I am always a bit less excited to read professional stuff than any and all fiction. Sigh. The things I do for music therapy. {Any sympathy out there? Anyone??}

Next I will try to finish up some tasks for the Online Conference for Music Therapy. This event is an online conference for international music therapists and happens in February most years. If you haven't heard about it, check it out at It really provides me with an interesting perspective to be here in the United States and get to interact with music therapists in India and Bahrain. Anyway, the tasks for OCMT will be next on the list for this weekend.

So, that's the weekend. Oh, I also tried on my professional clothing to see if ANY of it still fit me (IT DID!!), so I don't have to go shopping, but I do need to pack some things. I also need to arrange for the sitter and buy candy for CMTE attendees (yep, I BRIBE my participants!).

So, now I am doing my laundry and cleaning up the kitchen so I can make some meatloaf and eat for the next week. I am also getting all my AMTA ducks in a row so I can focus on doing music therapy sessions for my clients next week. I've been very distracted by all these things to do and have had some less than stellar sessions lately. That will change. We will spend time focusing on the basics - rhythm, tempo, social engagement - next week. Oh! I am also starting to move my stuff into the cabinets of my new music room (squealing quietly so as not to disturb the cat). I hope to be able to do music therapy in the new room when AMTA is over (if not just before!).

I'm going to go before I start to think of other things to put on my to-do list.

See you soon?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - AMTA National Conference - Top 10

Today's favorite thing is also something that stresses me out at this time of year - less than 2 weeks until the AMTA annual national conference. This year's excitement and stress is happening just on schedule, and I am in the throes of dreams, trying to figure out what I want to say to folks, and stressing that I am going to miss some of the meetings that I'm supposed to attend. Here are my top ten reasons for attending the AMTA national conference every year:

10. Time Away From Work - It is really nice to spend some dedicated time away from my clients and from the other stressors at work. I am often so busy that I don't even think about work - it's a nice change of pace.
9. Networking - I find it very interesting to meet new music therapists, and conference is the time when I personally meet people I already know from other places. I don't often meet my social media contacts (since they live around the world) in person, but there is a greater possibility of breathing the same air at AMTA.
8. Concurrent Sessions - This part of the conference has slipped down and down and down during the years. This is primarily due to the fact that I don't get to attend many concurrent sessions these days. Meetings take up most of my time. I try to attend as many as I can. I love hearing about what other therapists are doing in their clinical areas.
7. Travel - I can't lie, I use this as a mini-vacation from the things that happen at work and in the holiday season. This year, I am driving to and from, so I am looking forward to time in the car to practice my CMTEs, to sing, and to explore a part of the country that I haven't driven through on my own before.
6. Continuing Education - Attending conference is one of the easiest ways I get continuing education credits. Five for attending and more through umbrella groupings - it's a deal! In addition, I'm giving two CMTE courses, so I get more credits for presenting!! Hooray!
5. Hotels - You know, I first felt really grown up the first time I checked into a hotel room on my own. There is something about living in a hotel room that makes the entire time feel like a vacation. Also, having a hotel room in the conference hotel gives me an oasis to escape to when all the people and noise and other things happening start to wear on me - introvert, ya know.
4. Exhibit Hall - I try to get something completely new from the exhibit hall every year. I enjoy walking around and looking at what various exhibitors have to offer. I roam that area several times during the week trying to figure out what I want to purchase for my students. Lots of time it's things like books, but I've found some ginormous triangles for only 2 dollars each and squeaky horses that my students absolutely love! Go to the exhibit hall, people!
3. Committees and Boards - I enjoy working for AMTA as a volunteer in several roles. I like being on the Association Internship Approval Committee and a member of the Education and Training Advisory Board. I don't like that I have to pay to go to conference and then spend most of the conference time in meetings, but I do like helping my professional association work.
2. Being Around Like-Minded People - You know what it's like. If you're anything like me, you spend much of your time around people who have very little awareness of what you actually do on a daily basis. It is refreshing to spend time around people who not only "get it" but who also live the life. I don't have to explain music therapy to the people I see. They are already music therapists, so they know what it is. I can focus on the great stuff... 
1. Friends - I can't lie, I do like other aspects of the conference, but the best part of conference is seeing my music therapy friends.

So, while I am stressed that I'm not going to get my presentations completely letter perfect, that I will crash in exhaustion on Thursday afternoon halfway through my second CMTE course, that I'll have to speak in front of the Assembly of Delegates and will stutter, I am also getting excited to go and be at the AMTA conference.

I will see you soon! Please say hi!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'm Plain Old Tired...

I am frustrated, frustrated, and frustrated with things going on right now. Staff members at work are just simply not doing their jobs when it comes to music therapy, so, I get to be really strong and assertive today. Seating charts for all!! Well, not for all, but for the class full of staff members who cannot seem to understand that it is their job to actually sit next to students and help them do what the therapist asks them to do!

Today's post is going to be a rant. Be warned!!

The following list of grievances contains what I am currently struggling with (it's just a rant, so please know that things will get better):
  1. I am tired of teachers shouting to each other during my sessions - especially when I'm trying to run things like, I don't know, calming TMEs.
  2. I am VERY tired of being cramped into a very small space with two other people. I cannot spread out.
  3. Incessant humming all the time!!
  4. Staff members who watch children engage in inappropriate behaviors and do NOTHING!
  5. Classroom groups that are constantly changing and yet, someone always forgets to tell those of us who do therapy with those groups.
  6. Did I mention the cramped space?
  7. How about the humming?
  8. Administrative staff who have no idea how to include therapists into discussions about classrooms. "Everyone will have specially targeted questions to guide their self-study." "Oh, we couldn't think of how YOU would implement this into music therapy." Really? You couldn't make the transfer? Ya think this might be part of the problem with the other things??
  9. The humming!!
I am really hoping that this is pre-AMTA jitters and just regular frustration that will be easily alleviated by some assertive behavior as well as some frank discussion with the hummer. As for the space, I may be trying to stay in my dirty, dusty, and unfinished music room in order to make some room for me.

It's time to stop ranting and start getting ready to go to work. The concept of a seating chart will not be easy to explain to the seven staff members that need to follow the chart. They will resist and probably flirt along the edges of insubordination, so I will take care of that situation as it occurs. There will probably not be much music therapy that happens during the session as I have to take time to tell people what to do in their jobs. Hopefully this will alleviate several of the issues that have been occurring in the session lately. We will see, but to me, I would think that staff members should be sitting with clients instead of chatting with one another. In addition, maybe those same staff members should be interacting through the music??

Gotta get ready for work. Here I go.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TME Tuesday - Oh No!

It's getting close to the AMTA conference, so I'm getting a bit excited and stressed about how much I need to do here before going to the conference. This song is one that I use as a "filler" song. It helps me when I get overly extended (like now) and when I am unable to find even the simplest things on my cart. This way, kids help me figure out where my brain is...

This TME needs some work - it's a bit simplistic, but I can fix that once I have a bit more time. Let me know if there are ways you would use this TME that I haven't thought of yet.

 Therapeutic Music Experience
 Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC
Oh No

Purpose: To increase object recognition; to address directive-following

Source: Original song. © July 8, 2008 by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

Materials: None for song

Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!
Where did it/they go, it/they go, it/they go, it/they go?
Help me find the egg shaker(s). Look in the box.

Replace underlined words with other objects and directives.
  1. Start singing song, using objects in the music room
  2. Using song lyrics, direct clients to objects
  3. Expect clients to move around the room to find and indicate specified objects
  4. Reinforce correct responses through eye contact, facial expressions, and brief verbal reinforcement
  5. Change object and location to repeat the verses
  6. Ask clients to take over the leadership and sing the song
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 until clients show signs/symptoms of disinterest or time runs out

  • Use song for Instrument Hunt TME
  • Use song as alternative to I Spy TME
  • Use song as format for Hot and Cold TME
  • Use as a closing/transition song (see below)

Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!
It’s time to go, to go, to go, to go.
Time to walk to Room One.
Help me get to Room One.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Help From the Cat

Over the past several days, I've been doing lots of my computing from my bedroom. This has occurred simply because I have wanted to be there (rather than being confined to my room). One of the things that always happens when I sit on the bed and attempt to write is the "cat-full" phenomenon.

Now, if you've never lived with a cat, you may not know what I mean, but, if you have lived with a feline before, I am sure that you are familiar with this situation. Anytime you sit down to do work, the cat ensures that your gaze, lap, and direct path to your is full of cat. Apparently, I cannot be trusted to do my work without the direct supervision of one of the feline ilk - in my case, Bella takes the job somewhat reluctantly, but always with gusto. The picture above, taken via webcam demonstrates the lengths that she reluctantly goes to on a regular basis in order to provide me with the level of supervision that I obviously require.

How does this situation work into the topic of this blog you may ask (and probably are at this moment right now)? You know, I don't really know. I know that there are documented studies that show significant links between pet ownership and blood pressure levels. It's my theory that working with my pet (in all her feline contrariness), makes me a better therapist. I can gauge my responses based on her responses to me. Let's face it, cats require behavior management protocols so much more than any other being I have ever interacted with in my entire life! Mainly, I think, because cats just don't really seem to care about behavior management.

Several years ago, my dad asked me to find an album by Garrison Keillor and Frederica Von Stade entitled Songs of the Cat. So, I did. It was a gift for my mother who was really missing our newly departed cat, Martha. The CD arrived from Minnesota Public Radio, and we listened with glee to songs titled The In and Out Song, Alaska Cats, and Cats May Safely Sleep. (Check the album out on Amazon - it's just plain old fun if you like cats at all!) Unfortunately, in my experience, people who are not fond of cats don't really like the music that much, so I find it best not to force my doggy friends to listen to this album - they just don't get it.

The cat has now moved on. I guess my post is enough for her right now. It's time to get the day going and for me to get out of her hair.

17 days until AMTA...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sing A Song Sunday - Djankoye

Whew. This week's song was an interesting step into part of another culture as well as into some confusion for me. This song was located in the Farm & Prairie section of Rise Up Singing (page 50, if you are interested). It is a traditional Soviet-Yiddish folk song and includes some names of Ukrainian cities (Sevastopol and Simfereopol) located on the Crimean peninsula. One of the presentations listed below identifies this song as a Klezmer song.

For me, the song doesn't seem so difficult - the melody is pretty simple and repetitive - but the language would be extremely difficult. I was unable to find an example of the sheet music for this song, but there are recordings on YouTube. Here is a scratchy one that features Pete Seeger, and another one that is completely in Yiddish. Here is the graphic for this song...

 I have to admit that this is a type of music that I am unfamiliar with, other than listening to it occasionally. There aren't too many opportunities for this music therapist, stuck in the Midwestern portion of the United States to listen to, work on, and use this form of music, but it intrigues me.

Time to go and work on my musical dictation skills to see if I can figure out the melody line...

Happy Sunday, all!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Taking A Risk - I'm Going to Do It!

I have an idea, and I think I'm just about ready to make it go. No, I'm ready to go. Yipes! I'm going to put this on my blog so that it is out in the universe, and I can't back out. Here it is (and I'm cringing as I write this because it is a level of commitment that I'm uncomfortable with, but here it goes)...

Internship Handbook

Here's the idea.

Over the past two years, I've been offering internship webinars to interns from around the country. In those years, I've noticed that many interns (and, by extension, Internship Directors and faculty members) don't know some of the things that they are expected to know about being an intern. Also, there are lots of implied skills, techniques, and expectations that just simply don't get taught during coursework or in an internship. These are things that do not necessarily have direct links to the AMTA Professional Competencies, but that do affect job performance and satisfaction. Many of these skills are just common sense type things, but there is no place in the current curriculum to teach them (apparently).

So, I've started to write an internship handbook.

There. It's out in the universe. I've written most of an internship handbook. It is directed towards music therapy students and interns, and takes them through looking for an internship and developing job skills. I wonder if it is something that AMTA would be interested in publishing.

Now, this handbook has gone through several iterations and continues to evolve even as I am writing this down. I'm thinking that I will just have to stop writing at some point to let people look at it and start to make comments. Any takers?

So, here are the topics that I've developed so far...
  1. Welcome to Your Internship
  2. First Contact
  3. Getting Ready
  4. The First Day!
  5. The Stages of Internship
  6. Administrative Tasks
  7. The Personal Aspects of Internship
  8. Ethical Considerations for the Music Therapy Intern
  9. Learning to Lead
  10. Leaving Your Internship for the Professional World
Are there others that I'm missing?

It is time to get the opinions of others. Who out there wants to read and review this document? Please let me know!! You can email me here.

Thanks, all!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - Dare I Say It?? Gulp! The iPod!

The Apple company and I have had a rocky relationship over the years. I'm not sure why this is, and I just plain old can't seem to figure out how to make it a stronger, more meaningful relationship, but we just can't seem to communicate with each other.

The relationship started back in fifth grade. Now, youngsters, I am one of the generation known fondly as "X" (though I'm really not all that sure why... Check out this Wikipedia link for more information, but be careful. It is Wikipedia, after all...). This means that my first real interaction with a desktop computer was in fifth grade when each classroom had the option of one computer. My teacher, a progressive young woman in her first year of teaching, was the only one who accepted a computer in her classroom, so we got to do math programs and the occasional spelling game. I had the advantage of being a patient kid who did her work quickly and accurately, so I got to "tutor" the new kid from an Asian country who did not speak English. My teacher found that he knew about computers, so we spent lots of time "tutoring" at the computer. He taught me about computers, and I taught him about English terms for the educational information that we were learning. This was my first and (until now) ONLY positive interaction with an Apple product. That computer was an Apple II-e.

Now, it is clear that the rest of my Apple interactions and use of iThings has been overshadowed not only by my lack of understanding of such iThings but also by the influence of my father. He is a straight up PC guy and has been ever since we dinosaurs called these types of computers "IBM-compatibles." He brought home our first family computer when I was in junior high (about two years after my only real successful Apple interaction), and we were a computerized family! That was that. It was IBM or nothing in our home.

I have tried to develop a relationship with various and sundry Apple products over the years. There was the Mac during my stint as a graduate teaching assistant - the one the changed the file on my thesis disk so that I couldn't transfer the file onto my computer at home, leading me to completely retyping my Master's thesis. There was the laptop iThing that our misguided presenter tried to hook up to our only-PC network last year. She neglected to bring an adaptor and wasn't able to hook up to any of our technology. She simply assumed that everything we would have would hook up to her Apple stuff. She was VERY wrong (The IT department at my facility has the same opinion about Apple things that I do - eh, no thank you!)

If you are still reading through this thinly veiled rant, let me tell you that I have come around to the Apple way of thinking on one device - and one device only. 

My iPod Classic

 Last year, when I was facing the fact that I was going to be an itinerant therapist and not have a permanent music therapy clinic. I panicked a bit. How was I going to keep using the recorded music that my clientele responded to, craved, and required? Then, I started looking around.

I chose an iPod after much consideration. The first thing that sent me into that direction was the size of the storage on the old iPod Classic - 160 GB! The second thing was that iTunes has given me so many fewer issues on the work server than either Windows Media Player or the utter fiasco that is known as (shudder) Zune. For both of those music storage programs, I couldn't find the music that I needed. I could on iTunes, so I leapt.

I submitted my request and the IT department immediately denied it. They suggested I get an Android instead. I quickly changed their minds when I pointed out that I did not want an iPAd, but an iPOd. Once they knew exactly what I wanted (just something that I could hook up to some external speakers and use to play music, NOT apps), they were fine with ordering the technology.

Since then, that iPod has done most of what I wanted it to do without too many problems. We still tend to have some disagreements from time to time - sometimes the database has been entered wrong, so I have lots of songs that are mislabeled on the little device. Occasionally iPod just stops working, and I have to completely reset it, but for the most part, we have been able to just hum along.

My iPod has the name of my department etched onto it. It holds my ENTIRE music library (currently about 22 thousand songs), and it currently has 80 television episodes (just for me - kids don't use the iPod to watch television - I use the sound to do my documentation rather than music). My stereo has an iPod dock and charges the device very quickly, so all-in-all, this has been the most successful iThing relationship that I have ever had! I hope it will continue for a long, long time.

My favorite thing this Friday? My iPod Classic.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

12-Hour Day Ahead...

One of the worst things about working at my job is the occasional 12-hour day. 

Today is one of those days, and I am trying to get myself geared up for the experience. I have to spend time trying this out since I can't seem to get the hang of so much time at work. It's a good thing that we only do this between 3-5 times per year. The problem is we do this between 3-5 times per year.

Today's agenda includes moving my desk out of the temporary office that I'm in since it is actually someone else's desk. I get a significantly smaller desk that I'll have to share with my current intern. (The hope is that I'll actually be going into my newly built room in 15 days, so I guess I'll be able to share space that long, but I have a large personal space and am not sure that the close proximity will be good for my mental outlook...) Then, I get to sit through 2 hours of talking before starting to spend time trying to get my new desk area organized so we both can fit. Do you think that will take up 10 hours of my day? Doubtful.

The other situation is that my computer monitor is still not working so I cannot even complete my documentation or work on the computer part of my workbox project. Sigh.

Time for some reframing here.

  • Isn't it wonderful that I have a job?
  • I get to work (most days) with a group of eclectic, challenging, and fascinating kids in a music therapy environment - just not today.
  • There are light fixtures in the ceiling of my new room - they aren't yet hooked up to electricity, but considering they weren't even present on Monday, I can see progress! That makes me feel that this renovation ordeal may be over very soon. (Fingers crossed!)
  • I will find some space to sit in with my personal laptop today. Maybe I'll even get some work done?
  • I get to spend lots of time watching television and movies today as other people have to do progress notes - there is a definite advantage to being a non-IEP based service provider! I love being someone who provides psychiatric treatment services as well as educational enrichment services to my students. It's nice to have to write daily notes but not have the headache of quarterly notes - especially since I wouldn't have only 7-10 notes to write, but 95!
I'm starting to feel a bit more positive about what I'm going to be doing today.

Yesterday's post spoke about the minutiae - the little things that happen to you, as a human, that affect your performance and job satisfaction. For me, the trick has always been to find a job where the rewards are greater than the annoyances. If the annoyances outnumber the rewards, it is time to leave the job.

Alright, I'm off to shower, move desks, and attempt to organize my space in the next 15 hours. I'll be thinking about my Favorite Things Friday post, so stay tuned!

See you all soon!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Music Therapy Minutiae

There are good and bad things about being a music therapist, and most of these things are what I consider minutiae - the everyday stuff.

Yesterday was a day of little things. Home stuff took over my commute and started my day off on a stressed note. Came into work and found that my intern was at home sick. Okay, so the bad part of this particular situation was that I then had to figure out what to do with two extra groups - not really a bad thing, since they are still my students and I know how to run music therapy groups, but it took time away from my workbox development time and was a bit unexpected. The next situation was my computer monitor. I've had computer access from my desk for about a week now, and now the monitor has stopped working. So, all of my work tasks - documentation, developing a CD-ROM of workbox tasks (can you tell I am a bit obsessed right now), communicating with teachers about individual music therapy sessions, and keeping up with the general stuff going around, making reports to various folks about behaviors - were all computer related. It ended up being a day when I needed the computer more than any other time, and it was not available. So, I spent lots of time sitting and looking at my dead monitor. I also have to clear off my desk because it was not my desk. I get a crappy old desk that has limited space and will not fit both myself and my intern. You see, minutiae. 

It's the minutiae in every job that either makes or breaks a professional. If you can put up with the hum-drum, non-client related tasks that you have to do day in and day out, you can succeed as a therapist. If those little tasks drive you crazy, you may not be the best match for the profession.

Now, there are days when the minutiae take over your life. There are days when you dwell on the little things - I spend time thinking about the fact that I wasn't able to do any of my documentation since I couldn't see my computer files - and the bigger picture is hard to see. When those days happen, I try to shrug them off and move on. Today's plan? First, I hope that my intern is feeling better and is around the music therapy sessions today. Second, I hope that my monitor is changed out today so I can see my computer. Third, the best thing that will happen (and the best thing that always happens) is that music therapy will happen with my clients. That's always the best thing and the reason I can put up with the minutiae.

Don't sweat the small stuff, folks! In the end, all things are small stuff except for what happens in the music therapy environment.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TME Tuesday - New Ideas for TMEs

There are times when I just plain old don't have any new ideas for TMEs. I sit and look at the computer screen and the TME database and just cannot come up with anything that seems interesting to me. It's a dilemma, but I don't worry. New ideas are all around, you just have to notice them.

One of my favorite things to do is to walk around and just look for things that I could use with my clients. One of the best things about working with children and adolescents is that I have an excuse to play and buy things that I really don't need but I can justify "for the kids..."

So, I spend lots and lots of time wandering the aisles of various and sundry stores looking for new ideas to bring into the music therapy clinic. I also spend lots of time listening to music (of course) and learning different songs to increase my repertoire and expand my use of music as a therapeutic medium. The more time I spend thinking, experimenting, and developing TMEs, the more I find that there are good things and not-so-good things that come out of my exploration!

Some of the most popular and requested TMEs in my clinic are ones that arrived in my head fully formed. My students seem to fall in love with Elimination, Gotta Gonna Go On A Trip, and Gross Nasty. Then there are the ones that I try and just flop and flop and flop. I still keep them and continue to tweak the idea, music, and presentation until something works.

I had an idea, a long, long time ago, during my internship for a sound song. I couldn't seem to flesh out the song during the internship - it took me a full 10 years before the idea just started to flow. Then the song just happened.

But, new ideas?

I'm looking at all the stuff that is crammed into my small office space and am overwhelmed. There is no place for me to spread things out or even look at the things that I have. My creativity is also a bit stifled. So, it's time to look outside myself and my environment in order to find that creative spark. 

So, my trusty idea book and I are going out into the world to see what is out there and to be open to every idea that crosses my mind.

My mantra - "No idea is a bad idea."

Go out there and create your own TMEs, okay? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

An Insomnia Weekend

I've had an insomnia weekend where I've spent more time awake than asleep (at least that's how it seems to me). I have these every once in a while - times when I don't sleep soundly but have conscious thoughts going on all the time I am supposed to be sleeping. The lack of sustained sleep increases my stress levels which also increases my frustration and keeps me from resting.

The best thing about insomnia (for me, and I am TOTALLY being sarcastic here) is that obsession comes right along with it. I can usually compartmentalize my life very well. Work issues and ideas stay mostly at work. Home events and situations stay mostly at home. It is a good system that totally goes by the wayside when I cannot sleep deeply.

This weekend's obsession? Workboxes. That's right, the project that is helping me find my creative side and get motivated to be at work is also contributing to my lack of sleep.

I am not sure if I am having insomnia because I am obsessed with workboxes or whether my obsession with the workboxes is causing the insomnia. Either way, I'm ready for it to stop.

I have actively resisted doing any work on this project at home other than thinking about it lots and lots. I'm concerned that I don't get paid for working here at home, and I need some sort of payment for the amount of work that I'm doing with these projects. I'm also concerned about intellectual property and want to ensure that what I develop for the kids at my facility has no conflict of interest. So, I have been thinking about the types of tasks I can make, but I've been trying to shut that part of my brain off this weekend. I think that may be why my subconscious is taking that topic and using it over and over again while I try to sleep.

I'm going to work on task development today at work in between sessions and observing my intern doing her sessions. If I'm good at managing my resources, I'll have plenty to assemble as I am sitting outside of her sessions listening and observing. If not, I'll be coloring, writing scripts, and trying to figure out what goes next.

One of the problems with this type of task is that it is never-ending. It will never end but keep going as long as I have a creative impulse in my body and my brain. 

Hopefully, being able to work on these tasks today will allow me to sleep tonight. That's the hope, anyway.