Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of 2014

It's time for some nostalgia. After all, it is the end of the year, a time when most of us reflect on what has happened and what may happen in the next year.

This year has been an interesting one.

My year started with two interns - one familiar and one brand new. We spent most of the year crammed into a couple of closets for storage doing cart-based music therapy for students spread out in three different buildings. We weren't really able to do lots of individual treatment since the only treatment space we had was the hallway. It's difficult to focus when people are walking through your treatment area constantly. The year progressed into FINALLY moving into a really small treatment space, but it is dedicated to music therapy and music therapy only (for the moment, at least!). It is nice to be able to state that I have a treatment area. My colleague, the art therapist, still cannot make those statements.

The year ended with my last (for at least a time) intern, Intern #23. She had the joy of moving all of my stuff several times into several different locations. She had the opportunity to do both itinerant and clinic-based music therapy treatment. That was a good thing. She is the last one that I'll have for some time as I am going to place my internship program on inactive status next week.

I've been reasonably healthy this year - what a significant change over 2013! I did have one more episode of my infection - turns out that most of my health issues over the past several years were linked to the water I drank at work. Strange, hunh? I no longer drink the water, and the problem has not returned. It's amazing how something so small can loom so large in a person's existence.

Professionally, I feel that I have settled into a pattern that is comfortable but not challenging. That is one reason why the internship is going on inactive status. I need to be "therapist" for a time rather than "supervisor." My plan for 2015 is to shake myself up professionally.

It's time to practice what I preach to interns during my Marketing Yourself webinar. Update the resume. Start spreadsheets for different types of job applications. Put yourself out there. Be open to different ideas and experiences. Feel comfortable pushing your own limits. Look past boundaries. There you go. Challenges for the new year coming.

What will challenge you this year? What do you think will be in store for you in 2015?

Happy New Year, world!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TME Tuesday - Lyric Analysis Light

Lyric Analysis is not something I do with my clients very often. It doesn't seem to have much therapeutic benefit with many of my kids - they just don't seem to move from the concrete to the abstract, so I don't try very often. It is something that works with about 3 kids at any given time. (Those kids are never in the same classroom group, but now can be pulled out for a small group treatment situation, now that I have a clinic space!!!). So, I'm thinking about starting a lyric group - I need a catchy name for it...


Here is one of the lyric analysis lists that I've made over the years. This one is from 2006. The music is a bit dated, but I think many of these songs have messages that my kids could understand or have experienced. I've since developed this into a specific protocol/procedure to use with persons with developmental diagnoses as well as psychiatric concerns, and I'll send it to you personally, if you are interested. Just leave a comment or email me through my website if you want to see the procedure. Here is a first step into thinking about lyric analysis, especially with the types of clients I serve...

Lyric Analysis
Music Therapy Application
Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

Purpose:  To assess receptive language; to assess expressive language; to assess comprehension of vocal language; to address emotional issues expressed in songs.

Source:  unknown – generic MT application.

Materials:  lyric sheets for each participant; CD player; CD; guitar; sheet music (if needed).

  1. Annie’s Song – John Denver
  2. Blowin’ in the Wind – Joan Baez and others
  3. Both Sides Now – Judy Collins
  4. Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Simon and Garfunkel
  5. California Dreamin’ – Mamas and the Papas
  6. Country Roads – John Denver
  7. Climb Ev’ry Mountain – Sound of Music Soundtrack
  8. Day By Day – Godspell Soundtrack
  9. Desperado –
  10. Dona – folk song
  11. Dreams – Camp Oakledge Song
  12. Eagle and the Hawk – John Denver
  13. Five Hundred Miles –
  14. Friendship – Camp Oakledge Song
  15. For Baby (For Bobby) – John Denver
  16. Grandma’s Feather Bed – John Denver
  17. Happiness Is – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown Soundtrack
  18. I’m Proud to Be Me – Camp Oakledge Song
  19. I Know A Place – Girl Scout Camp Song
  20. Jamaica Farewell – folk song
  21. Leavin’ on a Jet Plane – John Denver/Mamas and the Papas
  22. Let There Be Peace on Earth –
  23. M.T.A. – Kingston Trio
  24. Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys –
  25. My Favorite Things – Sound of Music Soundtrack
  26. One Tin Soldier –
  27. Pass It On – Church Camp Song
  28. Peace – Girl Scout Camp Song
  29. Rocky Mountain High – John Denver
  30. Scarlet Ribbons – folk song
  31. Shenandoah – folk song
  32. Snowbird – Helen Reddy/Anne Murray
  33. Sound of Music – Sound of Music Soundtrack
  34. They Call the Wind Maria – Paint Your Wagons Soundtrack
  35. Today –
  36. Tom Dooley – Kingston Trio
  37. Tonight – West Side Story Soundtrack
  38. Top of the World – The Carpenters
  39. Twenty-six Miles –
  40. Walk, Shepardess, Walk – folk song
  41. Wedding Song –
  42. Where Have All the Flowers Gone – Mamas and the Papas
  43. Wouldn’t It Be Loverly – My Fair Lady Soundtrack

  1. Produce lyric sheets for each group participant.
  2. Pass out lyric sheets to each participant.
  3. Start the CD or play the song, singing along.
  4. Encourage participants to sing or read along with the music.
  5. When the song is over, start asking the following questions as appropriate for the song.
·        What is the song about?
·        Who is singing?
·        How do you think they feel?
·        What is the most important part of the song for you?
·        What do you remember about the song?
·        If you could change words in the lyrics, which ones would you change.  What would you change them to?
·        How does the musical accompaniment support or distract from the words of the song?
·        Do you like the song?
·        Can you understand how the singer(s) feel or why he is singing the song?
  1. Encourage clients to participate in the discussion through reinforcing any responses and opinions.
  2. If clients do not appear to pay attention, invite them to sing along with the song a second time.

  1. After completing the discussion element, move into a songwriting/piggybacking exercise using the melody and rhyme scheme of the song.  Shape the song into a reflection of the group.
  2. If participants are unable to complete questions for the discussion, dissect the song into smaller portions, parsing each verse into smaller phrases.
  3. If participants are unable to complete questions during the discussion, redirect them to the music and sing the song again.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Challenge Accepted!

I tend to flourish best when I have a challenging project to complete. I don't often get challenges at my place of employment, so I have to create my own challenges. I have done so.

I am currently working on an intuitive evaluation program for use in my internship. I can hear you now...


"What is an intuitive evaluation program? How would it work in an internship? Have you lost your mind out there??"

I have this grand idea of a competency-based evaluation program that would be user-friendly, accommodate multiple grades over a period of time (determined by the primary user), and indicate areas that needed to be addressed in a timely manner in ways that make it obvious where improvement is needed. 


So, I am starting to play around with the AMTA Professional Competencies a bit. 

Now, I'm already a competency-geek! I think that they are a great starting point for teaching and learning the basic skills that all entry-level therapists should know and demonstrate, but I have some issues with how they are put together. (Don't worry, I've expressed these concerns with the people who are involved in revising the competencies... I believe in going directly to the source!) Anyway, there are several competencies that attempt to measure more than one thing - a big No-No in my book. Recognizing and responding are two very different things, in my experience. Many of the competencies are vague - how do you demonstrate awareness of psychological functioning in another human being? Others are matter-of-fact, easily observed in another, and to the point.

If you have never seen my competency-based evaluation, you would probably be in for quite a shock. It's more than just the AMTA Professional Competencies - I've defined each of the competencies into operational definitions - what I think these competencies actually mean in terms of skills, techniques, abilities, and demonstration elements. For example, the first competency, 1.1 states "Recognize standard works in the literature." This is in the area for Music History and Music Theory. My question is "What is a standard work?" That is quickly followed by "What is the literature? All music from all times from here to eternity?" I don't have the patience, ability, or interest to test whether my interns know about Gregorian chant patterns or how to analyze 12-tone music. That is irrelevant to the internship process (in my opinion - and this is my blog, so I get to express my opinion wherever and however I like!!). So, how do I evaluate whether an intern is competent in this area?

I expand on the idea presented in the competency this way.

The intern will:
  • Use popular music (Top 40, Country, Rap/Hip-Hop) in music therapy sessions
  • Use music from different genres, cultures, time periods, and styles during music therapy sessions
  • Develop TMEs that incorporate music from different genres, cultures, time periods, and styles for inclusion in the TME File
There may be a couple more that I haven't really defined yet, but you get the gist of what I am trying to do... right?

I am trying to delineate each of these competencies into easily identified or observed behaviors that I can evaluate with a "Yes/No" answer and then use in the course of everyday life to evaluate the intern's progress. 

"Did the intern use popular music in the music therapy session?" "Yes." 

Next question: "Which type of popular music?" "Country, rock, hip-hop." 


"Did the intern use music from different time periods?" "No - all music from 21st century."  ALERT to INTERN to VARY TIME PERIODS OF MUSIC SELECTIONS (after several sessions, of course)

I have most of the competencies defined operationally (by the way, this has been the way I've evaluated all of my students since about 2000 when the competencies arrived! I even have a way to evaluate practicum students in each of their levels of experience! I'm not kidding when I say that this is a bit of an obsession with me!!), so that portion of the evaluation is ready to go. I am not satisfied with how it is reported yet, and therein lies the challenge.

Here's what I want to be able to do.

First, I want to sell this to other people, so there have to be places where things can be changed or adapted to accommodate those other people in their other internship programs...

Second, I want to link my feedback forms directly to the evaluation so I can keep real-time data in the evaluation all the time (I actually know how to do this, but am finding the reality of all of these links a bit daunting).

Third, I want to be able to see where an intern is having difficulty so we can easily address these areas of focus.

Fourth, I want it to look pretty. This is a kind of superficial idea, but it's important. Things need to look simple and easy to use. The background of how things work can be a bit more messy, but the actual user interface has to be neat, clean, and easy!

Fifth, I have to print these evaluations for signatures, so the file cannot be too bulky. Professors don't like getting 30 page evaluations to fill out (I've been told - I usually counter with a comment like "Well, then you should have your own competency-based evaluation ready to send out with each intern so you don't have to do mine! They don't like that a whole lot, either!), so the first version needs to be short, sweet, and still packed with the information that I need to know about an incoming intern. After that, I can use as much paper as I need to evaluate my interns!

I think that's all that I want right now. That's really more than enough!!!

I've toyed with the idea of Google Docs, purchasing a Learning Management System, and Excel. Right now, I am most comfortable with Excel, but I don't think that will fly outside of my own little internship program. I am finding this project one to keep on challenging me until I get a finished product.

Well, off to go updating my current form into the new AMTA Professional Competencies so I can keep going on all of this!!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Song Switch Sunday - Not My Work!! Thanks, Kyle!!

I am away from my usual place and all of my instruments, so I am going to be lazy today and post a YouTube link to a playlist made by a music therapy friend of mine - Kyle J. Fleming, MT-BC!!

Kyle's playlist demonstrates one of the therapeutic elements of music that I like to play with - harmony, and more specifically, mode!

So, what Kyle did was to switch familiar Christmas songs from their original modes to opposite modes. A major mode turned into a minor mode and vice versa. He sings the songs as well as plays excellent piano accompaniments. The effect is quite interesting and illustrates the importance of mode and harmony on our perception of familiar songs.

Thanks, Kyle, for such a great example of how a simple change in one of the elements of music can affect everything else!

If you leave a comment, tell Kyle I say "Hello!"

Saturday, December 27, 2014

What to Do Today? Why Not Take on the AMTA Professional competencies?

I am thinking about what to do today as I sit in a pretty, purple bedroom waiting for my mother to awaken and signal that the day has officially started. There are several things that I know will happen. My father will want to go out to eat breakfast (I'm already full from dinner last night), we will grocery shop, go to the 99.99 cent store, and then come home. After that, my mother and sister will leave for their day of shopping, and I'll stay home with Dad. Usually my Dad calls me on the phone to share the experience of shopping and stuff while my Mom goes into the 99.99 cent store, but he won't do that today. Not with me in the backseat of the car...that would be ridiculous. On the other hand...

While Mom and Sister go out shopping (they go wherever the wind takes them, and I get REALLY cranky after going to three stores so they leave me, happily, behind), I am going to pick my Dad's brain about how to set up a new form for the AMTA Professional Competencies. I have a set of operational definitions that I use for evaluating my interns' progress towards competence as an entry-level clinician, and it is time to update that into something a bit more user-friendly. I am wondering if I could make an app or something that could be used in the moment with an intern. Hmmm. I have little to no experience making an app, so some research and consultation are in order here.

Here is what I am thinking about...

I want to have a database that links all the competencies to my operational definitions. I want to be able to give feedback about the competencies addressed during sessions as well as those that are addressed in other areas of professional interactions as well. I want to be able to finish specific competencies when certain projects and assignments are completed, and I want to be able to print out a product when it's mid-term and final times. I also want to be able to write comments and track progress across time. Does that sound like a lot? Probably is, but you might as well dream BIG if you are going to dream at all!

So, how do I get there?

I have no clue right now, but I will start to figure this process out. There have to be ways to make this into something that I can use on a daily basis and then, maybe, share with others? Wouldn't it be neat to have an outline of what a student should (GOBLIN) be able to do at the end of each of his or her pre-internship clinical experiences (AKA practica) as well as in each part of the internship clinical experience? I can only dream!!

I have the operational definitions. I have the new AMTA Professional Competencies. I have the idea. Now it's time to start putting it together in a way that makes sense to me and to others.

Oh, add to the list of things I want to be able to do - change the required definitions to match each individual student's personal goals as well as goals established by the clinical team.

Eeergh! This may be a bigger project than I can accomplish, but I won't know until I try.

At least I'll be entertained while everyone else goes about their regular routines!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - Home

There truly is no place like home.

Sound corny? It is, but I don't get to go to the place that I consider "home" that often, so when I am here, I really try to savor every moment. This is one of those moments that I want to savor. I am sitting on the couch, watching Monuments Men with my father sitting about six feet away from me. (I really love wireless wi-fi!). Dad often chooses to channel surf incessantly, but this movie has captured his attention, so I am actually able to watch the movie from where we started it (somewhere in the middle) and will probably end up watching it until the end. There are Spritz cookies on the table, Mom is upstairs using Pinterest, and we're all going to my sister's house and then out for dinner later this evening.

I may live in one state, but my home is not where I live. It's where my heart lives. It is easy to abide in a place that is geographically far away when I know that home is there waiting for me - wherever I am. I don't get to go home very often - most of the time it's once a year - but when I do, I enjoy just being.

There are times when needing to be home takes over. I have homesick moments - twinges that make me think about the people and places that I absolutely love. When I get mired in those feelings, I listen to my homesick music... The Beach Boys... John Denver... folk music that my parents loved from back in the day... the music helps me celebrate my feelings and attitudes about home without becoming too mired in sadness. When I'm here, however, I simply get to revel in the fact that I am at home - no responsibilities for work, no pressing needs to accommodate, and the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the company of people I love.

It is wonderful.

Chicken Chimichanga with rice and beans - tonight's meal!
My next several days will be filled with sleeping in, eating way too much, trying out my new gadgets, toys, and stuff, missing the cat, reading new books, attempting to pack as much stuff into two bags as possible, and packing the rest for shipping back to the place where I spend the rest of my days.

Okay. I think I'm ready to put this out into the universe now. It's not an easy thing to do, since it is something that I'm not all that comfortable sending out into the world, but I think it is time. This new year is going to include a serious job hunt for my next music therapy position. I am ready to move on from my current position to something new. I will do what it takes to make it happen. 

No matter where I go, I know that my heart will stay at home.

For the moment, however, I am going to relish the fact that I am at home. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The List is Getting Longer, Not Shorter

I've been home on Winter Break now for two days, and my to-do list is getting longer rather than shorter.

Now, I don't mean that I haven't done anything on the list - I have, but the problem with organizing is that the more you do it, the more there is to do. I've cleaned and cleared the bedroom, the front room, and the kitchen. I've tucked things into corners, I've shredded, recycled, and Cloroxed surfaces, and I can see most of the carpet again. This is a good thing and one that makes me feel a sense of accomplishment.

What does this mean to my day-to-day existence?

It means the cat knows something is up. She is hiccuping - a sign of separation anxiety. She is also spending time cuddling - she's currently sitting on my hands as I write this post.

It means that I can see what I don't need to have around me.

It means that things will be a bit more organized during the new year. Thank goodness.

So, what is still on this to-do list? Clean the entry way. Febreze the shoes. Eat homemade pizza for breakfast. Vacuum everything. Cuddle the cat. Clean the sheets and remake the bed. Monitor various email addresses to address any tasks and panics. Casually move a suitcase to the car without the cat's awareness. Christmas Eve service at 7pm. Back home. Sleep.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

TME Tuesday - Looking Back Over 2014

It is Winter Break, so I am kinda flaking when it comes to writing this week. I'll get better next week, I'm sure. Wait, who am I kidding?? I tried several times to write yesterday, but I think I'll get going today. We shall see.

Where do you get your ideas for how to engage your clients in music therapy experiences? I get mine from a variety of sources, including interns, clients, shopping, my family, Pinterest, blog posts, and books. Lots of books. The best source that I have, however, is you. Each and every music therapist out there sparks my creativity.

Sometimes, my creative response is sparked by thinking, "My students would like to do this in this way." Sometimes it's spurred on by "I don't have a kokiriko, but I do have three guiros." Other times, my creative impulse is started by a specific client - one who sits in front of me and needs something that I've never had to address before. Here is a list of the Therapeutic Music Experiences (TMEs) that I've posted this year. I hope they spark something for you!

Song Switch -
The Future -
Do What I Do -
I Have An Apple -
On A Roll -
Passing Game -
Cooperative Music Course -
Waiting Is Hard to Do -

The Locomotion -
We're On Our Way -
Elimination -
Mystery Song -

I have many more, but these are the ones that showed up on the feed for Therapeutic Music Experiences. If you want more ideas, check out the label, TME Tuesday. Anyway, if you are looking for ideas, use these to spark your creativity with your clients. Let me know what kinds of things you do with these ideas - your ideas will spark my own new ideas, and on it goes...

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Song Switch Sunday - I Resolve - Tempo

Disclaimer - I wasn't able to do a video today since it was either blindingly bright or twilight dark in my home (Happy Solstice, Everyone!), so I am trying to figure out how to add an audio link to this blog platform. It may have to be a link to my least this is getting me to learn more about blog platforms and Windows...

Anyway, Tuesday's TME was called I Resolve. You can find the sheet music here. It's a simple little song that addresses planning, responsibility for one's actions, the practice of making personal goals, and social interaction through sharing one's goals with others.

(UPDATE: I finally figured out how to convert an m4a file into an mp3 file. Let's see if this will work...I think it is the link to the page Ideas and Experiences)

The therapeutic element for today is tempo. This has a story associated with it and it all starts with a client with a diagnosis of advanced dementia. This client was showing my practicum student very uneven responses. One song would elicit full engagement, smiling, eye contact, changes in posture, full sentences, and the next song would find the client slumped over, no eye contact, little to no response to interaction. We were stumped.

One day, my student had a background beat going on the keyboard so she could use an instrument with the client. The beat was going, the therapeutic music experience (TME) was going well, and the client was engaging at an optimal level. The student completed the TME, set the instrument down, and changed the tempo on the keyboard. With the changes, the client slumped down and stopped engaging. I sat and watched this transformation and had a brainstorm.

Maybe it wasn't anything more complex than the tempo of the stimulus.

So, I asked the student if I could set the tempo of the background beat, changing it between verses of her song. She agreed, and we started off the beat at 85 beats per minute. No response from the client. I slowed the tempo to 80 bpm. The client sat up, looked at the practicum student, reached for the instrument, and engaged in singing. I slowed the tempo to 75 bpm. Complete withdrawal again. I sped it up to 80 bpm, full engagement. I tried 160 bpm, 40 bpm - both had some engagement, but not the full engagement that we observed at 80 bpm.

Needless to say, we spent the rest of the semester working with the client at 80 bpm!

I left that client and went back to work with my primary population - persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities including those with diagnoses on the Autism Spectrum. I started observing when students would engage with me most readily. It, again, seemed related to the tempo of the musical presentation. One client would respond at 130 bpm, another at 88 bpm, and yet another at 90 bpm. My students still do this which makes large group treatment difficult, but doable as long as you provide everyone with some interventions and TMEs at "their golden tempo."

Watch your clients when you are also thinking about the tempo of the music that you are presenting or sharing. You may find some hints about what your client's "golden tempo" is in how they respond to the music.

I'll write more about this later this week. The concept of a "golden tempo" is not mine, but it is something that I wish I could prove... 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saying Goodbye - A Completely Different Meaning Today

My post yesterday concerned a song that I enjoy from the Muppets, Saying Goodbye. Today, I am thinking about that song in a completely different context from yesterday's theme of saying goodbye to an intern. I cannot get into many details, but I found out yesterday that one of my clients is in the hospital in a medically-induced coma. The reality is that this client may not survive the illness taking over. The song is now meaningful on a completely different level.

I still like the last verse the best but the bridge has significant meaning to me right now as well.

Saying goodbye, going away
Seems like goodbye's such a hard thing to say.
Touching a hand, wondering why
It's time for saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had.
Much more to say, foolish to try
It's time for saying goodbye.

Don't want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes it's better to go.

Somehow I know we'll meet again
Not sure quite where, and I don't know just when.
You're in my heart, so until then
Wanna smile, wanna cry
Saying goodbye

La la la la la la la la
It's time for saying goodbye.

Jeff Moss wrote this song. His music often makes an impact on me that other composers don't even approach. For me, these words are definitely resonating on a new level as we are unsure what will happen in the next several days.

Would you please send out positive thoughts, or prayers, or other intentions for this client and the family members involved? I am a firm believer in the idea that thoughts affect the physical world - I've seen mere collective thoughts alter the world in ways that nobody could predict or explain.

We need some positive thoughts these days.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Favorite Things Friday - Muppets Music - Saying Goodbye

It's no secret that I love the Muppets - especially the music that comes from the Muppets. So, for today's Friday post, I'm going to post my second favorite Muppet song, Saying Goodbye. Check out the YouTube video at this link.

Yesterday was a day for saying goodbye.

My intern finished up and graduated. She finished up her projects, sessions, and evaluations and then drove off into her future. So, this song popped into my head as I watched her head for some time at home before returning to school. It is always a bittersweet moment when someone I've spent so much time with has to go, but that's the job of an intern. They show up, spend time, and then leave. I know that they will have to leave when they start, but there is always the urge to keep them around, but that urge fades pretty quickly - not because they are difficult to be around, but because they outgrow me.

Anyway, this song comes from The Muppets Take Manhattan. The Muppets have found themselves in a situation where they don't have any money and have to go out into the world to find jobs. Some of them head home, others go out and join traveling circuses, and yet others stay behind. The song contains lots of emotions and sentiments, but emphasizes that goodbyes are not easy to say.

Here are the lyrics (as I hear them...)
Saying goodbye, going away
Seems like goodbye's such a hard thing to say
Touching a hand, wondering why
It's time for saying goodbye

Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had
Much more to say, foolish to try
It's time for saying goodbye

Don't want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes it's better to go

Somehow I know we'll meet again
Not sure quite where, and I don't know just when
You're in my heart, so until then

Wanna smile, wanna cry
Saying goodbye
La la la la la la la la
It's time for saying goodbye  

My favorite part of the song is the last verse - starting with "Somehow I know we'll meet again." This is how I feel about most of the goodbyes that happen in my life - we will meet again, and in this era of social media and connectiveness, it is very easy to keep in touch.

I said goodbye to Intern #23 yesterday. She gets to go off into the world to do good music therapy things so it was a good goodbye, but was difficult even so.

Go into the world, #23, and fly!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Give Up...

My last group session yesterday was a mess.

It was such a mess that I gave up. I gave the only two kids who were sitting without screaming the iPod, a headphone splitter, and two sets of headphones. They sat, enveloped in their musical choices, while everyone around them engaged in full-blown tantrums, screaming, throwing themselves into drums, the walls, and each other. It was a mess.

There was no way I could compete.

The sheer volume in the room alone was ridiculous. Now, these students are students who have some impulse control, functional communication, and who have a bit more control of their actions and reactions to things than some of my kids who are more involved with their diagnoses. Again, it was a mess!

The only thing that went well with the session was that I managed to calm almost every client before they left the music therapy room.

We didn't do much music at all. But, when I looked around the room, I figured that any type of music would just add to the melee and the chaos. So, I put the guitar down, scrapped my session plans (which would have been lots of fun), and focused on one kid at a time.

We survived.

There are many possible reasons why this particular class of students had a massive meltdown at this time, but anything I would state here would be just plain old speculation, so why bother trying to figure it all out? Suffice it to say that it was a mess, but we survived.

I am hoping that today, the last day of group therapy sessions for the week, will be significantly better than yesterday afternoon! When I need to, I will make music. When I need to, I will put the music down and follow my clients' needs and indications.

Winter Break is coming.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Perils of Pinterest

I woke up extra early this morning - I tend to do that before a break from work. Anyway, with an extra couple of hours, I finished up most of my morning routine before I usually wake up, so I headed over to Pinterest. NEVER A GOOD IDEA FOR ME!

I was introduced to Pinterest by one of my interns who loved it! She found lots of ideas for things to do in sessions and recommended it to me. At the same time, both my mother and my sister started using the site, so I reluctantly started to look around.

Earlier this year, I started my own account. I now have several different boards that I don't use really well yet, but I am learning.

(My personal favorite boards are the ones for Fandom and for Inspiration.)

My major problem with Pinterest is that I tend to get sucked into the old goblins of "I should/could/would..." You know the ones? "I should be doing nifty infograms." "I should be posting on this board every single day." "I should be better at using this platform for something other than collecting things about my favorite television shows."

These thoughts often lead my emotional brain to think to things like, "I'm such a bad therapist since I'm not doing the same things that other music therapists are doing." I have to practice cognitive behavioral therapy on myself. My rational brain is able to tell my emotional brain to knock it off! There is no reason why I "should" be like anyone else. I am the best "ME" I can be. That's what is important! 

So, I'm going out into the world today to be the best "me" for my clients, myself, and for the others that I interact with during my day. Please do the same!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TME Tuesday - I Resolve

Today's Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) is an idea that I've used now several times. It's interesting how some of my students can complete this and others just simply do not understand what I am asking them to do.

I'll sing the song for Song Switch Sunday, and I'll put the sheet music on the website today so you can see it. (The hyperlink here leads to the Ideas and Experiences page on my website!)

Purpose: To engage group members in personal goal setting; executive function; creative expression; emotional awareness; fine motor (if writing) skill development; social interaction

Source: Words, music, and therapeutic procedure © August 11, 2014, by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC.

Materials: OPTIONAL: dry erase board and marker or prepared lyric sheets and writing utensils for group members to use to write their responses

Environment: All group members within hearing distance of the leader; provide writing surfaces if needed.

Song/Chant/Words: I Resolve.pdf
I resolve to eat my vegetables.

I resolve to make my be-ed.

I resolve to make new fri-ends.

I resolve to listen to others in this brand new year.

Procedure: R = Reinforcement opportunities; C = Redirection/Cue opportunities; A = Assessment
1.      C=start accompaniment pattern of repetitive bass line – D T L S, moving when the melody moves.
2.      A=assess if clients start to show entrainment behaviors (such as moving body parts to the beat or speaking in rhythm)
3.      R=reinforce group members who start to entrain through embedding their names into sung patterns
4.      C= start to talk or sing about resolutions. Ask group members the following questions:
a.       “what is a resolution?”
b.      “why do people make resolutions?”
c.       “what are your goals for yourself this (year/month/week/day/music therapy session)?”
5.      A=assess whether group members are able to answer the questions without additional explanation
6.      R=reinforce correct responses and redirect incorrect responses to the first two questions. Reinforce all responses to the third question
7.      C= while continuing the musical stimulus, ask a group member to either sing or write down his/her resolutions for the year
8.      A=assess whether group member is able to complete the task
9.      R=reinforce all attempts to complete the task
10.  C=provide additional assistance if group member appears unable to complete the task
11.  C=sing sentence completion of group member for entire group to hear
12.  R=reinforce group member’s lyrics
13.  Repeat steps 7-12 until all group members have had a turn, group members appear to be bored, or until time runs out

Therapeutic Function of Music:
The repetitive nature of the music emphasizes the lyrics as the dynamic part of the TME. The predictable melody allows for persons with limited musicality to engage in a simple melodic line. The rhythmic figure focuses on the macrobeat as the primary rhythmic pulse, but the rhythm of the pattern may be shifted to accommodate different lyric patterns as appropriate for client responses. The pitch, tempo, dynamics, and timbre are all variable to accommodate the preferences or instrumentation available for the group.

Downward melody with limited skips
Variable to accommodate client needs or preferences
Set pattern on macrobeat. Predictable motion
Variable to accommodate client needs or preferences
Limited harmony – this TME can be accompanied by a bass line doubling the melody line

Variable to accommodate client needs or preferences
Variable to accommodate client needs or preferences
Variable to accommodate client needs or responses
Chart adapted from Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2010). A Closer Look at the Therapeutic Function of Music. Presentation at 2010 American Music Therapy Association National Conference: Cleveland, OH.

·         Make one resolution per person/group. Track progress towards goal.

Give specific parameters to the resolutions – e.g., first one – personal hygiene skill; second one – relationship with family member; third one – relationship with peer in group; fourth one – personal academic goal