Showing posts from March, 2015

TME Tuesday - Idea Development - How do you do it?

Where do you get your ideas? How do you progress through a music therapy session? Are you a therapist who wants to script out everything, or are you someone who prefers to improvise the entire session? Are you a therapist who does both depending on the situation? How do you come up with ideas for your client treatment?

For me, I do a bit of everything, and I want to know if others do as well.

How do you come up with ideas? Are you a person who spends time reading books of other people? Are you someone who writes your own music and therapeutic music experiences (TMEs)? Are you a person who is comfortable with musical form and structure? Do you play around with music?


Sorry for the yelling, but I am really wondering what other people do in their music therapy settings.

Have you ever really thought about what you do when you are planning sessions? 

I write down some ideas, but those ideas are extremely flexible once the clients walk into the music therapy room. I wri…

Church Musician + Holy Week = Lots of Stuff Happening Here

One of my current roles is that of Director of Music at a small church in a small town about 20 minutes from my home. I love the people and the job, and have been there forever! This is the time of year when that role takes over most of my attention, energy, and thought process. It's Holy Week.

If you are not someone who is interested in organized religion or spirituality, you may want to skip over this post. I will not be offended. I'm not going to go into what people "should" believe - my thought is that you have to find your own way into what you believe, so if you don't believe what I believe, go in peace and understanding onto your path! There will be some discussion, however, of what goes on during this week in the life of a church musician. Fair warning.

Our Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday. Yesterday, we marched around the sanctuary waving palm branches and singing "Hosanna." I don't get to march anymore since I have to either play the piano …

Synthesis Sunday: Feminist Music Therapy and Community Music Therapy

My current music therapy reading is centered around different perspectives and ideas than I have ever encountered before. Isn't it interesting how you can think you are a well-rounded, informed, and sophisticated music therapist, and then, BAM, there is a book or a comment that just rips that idea all to shreds?


I'm trying to figure out what I think about these new perspectives. Every time I delve into new theories, I have a period of time that I take to filter through ideas until things settle into my practice. There are things that I agree with and things that I do not agree with in all of my exploration through music therapy.

Lately, I am reading about feminist sociological theory and how it pertains to music therapy.

I haven't spent lots or loads of time thinking about the global feminist perspective. I don't identify myself as a "feminist" other than some vague ideas about equal pay for equal work, so my recent reading has been interesting and challengi…

Move to Learn and Learn to Move

I saw a post on Facebook today that really struck a note with me. Here's the link to "Why Kids Need to Move, Touch and Experience to Learn" by Katrina Schwartz. I love how all good teaching ideas come around again and again, and I really like that this article remembered that Maria Montessori found movement to be an essential part of learning and wrote about it in 1966. I find it a bit odd that there was no mention of some of the other learning theorists, but the focus of the article was "embodied learning," so Montessori was the theorist used to illustrate the concept.

I've been part of Montessori educational programs, and I enjoy the way these programs teach students based on what the student wants to learn. Materials are based on the developmental level and knowledge structure of the students, and learning activities are changed when students demonstrate mastery of learning styles. The focus is on Discovery Learning. The focus of this educational philosop…

Favorite Things Friday - Turning the Tide

There was a moment yesterday, at about 10:38 am, when I thought, "You know? I actually feel better." That moment was a moment of celebration and led me to thinking about those moments when something definitely ends. There can be relief in an ending.

An ending may be something cathartic. You may be able to release something that was bothering you into the atmosphere or into the blogosphere and just let it go. The ending may be a whimper. Just something that finishes and lets go. The ending may be a storm - something tumultuous that leads into a major upheaval, but an ending is an ending.

I received news of two very different endings this morning when I woke up. My Aunt passed away overnight after a rough bout with cancer, and a job search I was on officially ended. Both of these endings were expected, so I had time to process them before they actually occurred. The news of both situations was not startling, and now things move forward.

I can move into a period of celebration wit…

Regional Conference Season is Upon Us

It's that time of year again in the world of music therapy - regional conference time! Music therapists from all over various regions are converging upon hapless citizens who have little to no idea what is going on, mayors are making proclamations about music therapy days and weeks, and music therapy concepts are bubbling out of the conference hotels and in the stairwells (where some of our compatriots spent part of their conference last night).

I am a big fan of getting music therapists together in ways that allow for the creative thought process to bloom. One music therapist is a creative person. Two music therapists increase the creativity - creativity squared. Put a couple hundred music therapists in one room and our creative power is limitless!

I am wondering what types of conversations are going on right now. (Since it's early, probably "Where's Starbucks?") I hope people are giving some serious consideration to the trends in our profession right now. I hope …

Wallowing in Self-Pity

My morning started very early and with horrible acid reflux that did not respond to my typical treatments. This seems to be more of the symptoms from the stomach/intestinal bug that swept through my facility all winter. I'm checking with my friend who had this not once, but twice this year, to see if my symptoms are the same as hers. If so, it will be a bit of a relief to know where this particular bug came from.

I debated long and hard with myself today about taking the sick day or going into work. I haven't been to work for a long time since this illness has coincided with my Spring Break and has extended that time. I was looking forward to getting back to work and getting into my routine. I miss my clients and my co-workers. I miss the opportunity to be engaged in music therapy and am increasingly frustrated with the fact that I can't seem to spend more than 2 minutes without having to belch - singing is DEFINITELY out of the question! My middle schoolers would love to h…

TME Tuesday - Who's Afraid of Thunder?

It's time for some nostalgia. I am a big fan of children's programming - Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and Captain Kangaroo. I grew up with this type of programming, so it seems that my propensity towards music therapy was shaped at a very early age by these very shows. The use of music to teach nonmusical concepts is one that I know down deep in my bones. How did we get from TME Tuesday to this discussion, you may ask?

It is raining outside. Not only is it raining, it is thundering.

My mother has, for years and years, sung bits and pieces of a song that she first heard on Captain Kangaroo. She couldn't remember the entire thing, and those phrases have stuck in my head for those same years and years. Today just seemed to be a good day to go on a search. I am still sitting at home, unable to be around people, so what else do I have to do?

I was not able to find the Captain Kangaroo version of the song, but here is a YouTube link to Experiment Songs - Who's Afraid of Thunder?


I am sick. It's the first day back from Spring Break, and I can't breathe, have a fever, several intestinal complaints, and an aversion to food. I've been through this with a friend of mine and know that the virus has to go its course - if I don't take time to rest and get over this, it will be back with a vengeance.

This is one of the most difficult things that I have to do - not going to work when I'm not feeling well.

There are times, however, when self-care coincides with other-care. This is one of those times. Not going to work will help my clients be healthier in the long-run.

I still feel guilty about not going. 

Is that the mark of a good therapist? Guilt? I don't think so. I think a good therapist realizes that self-care is important and is something that needs to be done, but it is difficult to remember that the first day after Break. 

I need to have priorities, and priority #1 is breaking the fever. The second priority is to eat something more than one pa…

Synthesis Sunday - Getting New Perspectives

Professional interaction is something that is tricky for many people. There is a fine line between being a considerate and conscientious dissenter and a bully. However, it is extremely important that opinions of all members of the profession be heard and considered in every conversation. Here is what I've learned over this past week.

There is a small, yet very vocal community of people who feel that the way we currently do our internships is illegal. AMTA and the Association Internship Approval Committee disagree. Our internship design, as well as the internships of many of our fellow allied health professionals, is legal and covered under the guidelines developed by the US Department of Labor. There are probably folks out there who do not know anything about Fact Sheet #71 and the expectations stated within that cover for-profit agencies and facilities, but it is not for lack of trying. AMTA sends out email blasts several times per year updating internship personnel about what is …

Hunh. Favorite Things Friday??

There are times when things just plain old spiral out of control. I don't know if it has anything to do with the new moon or what but things started off in a smooth manner and then just exploded.

Anyway, yesterday is over and it is time for Favorite Things Friday!

Today's topic is self-care, music therapy, and triple chocolate cake!

For me, self-care has lots to do with finding my center and staying as close to that center as possible. This often means finding something that helps me to focus on what is important in life - thinking about music therapy and my role in this profession.

After a long day, I decided to make my favorite treat from childhood - triple chocolate cake. Interestingly enough (I find this interesting, if you don't, then just leave the blog now), this treat has survived a really bad bout of the flu and being the focus of that flu (I cannot stress how much I hate vomiting) and is still my favorite dessert! In the interest of full disclosure, I did plan on mak…

5 Things Internship Directors Need to Remember About Interns

UPDATE: For the record, this post is written from the viewpoint of an INTERNSHIP DIRECTOR to fellow INTERNSHIP DIRECTORS, not from an intern's point of view. I am not an intern, nor have I been an intern (as was pointed out in another conversation) since "the last century." I do, however, make an effort to talk to interns from around the country and try to keep in touch with their concerns. 

For the record, I am also part of the section of AMTA that is actively seeking ways to provide internship experiences to interns in ways that are not part of "the way we always do things." We are trying to make internships more accessible, affordable, and more what people would like them to be. Please do not hesitate to contact the Association Internship Approval Committee through the AMTA website if you have comments, suggestions, constructive criticisms, and questions about how internships are provided in our current educational setting.

If you are still interested, please …

Blogs I Like

My post for this day includes the blogs that I like... some are music therapy, some are not. As I am moving through this staycation of exploration and examination of all things music therapy, I am finding lots of things that I like and other things that I do not about how we present ourselves in the world. Here are some of the things that I like about blogs out there in the world...

Heartbeat Music Therapy - Have you read this blog? Have you listened to the Music Therapy Show? If you haven't, you should! Janice Lindstrom's site offers information on music therapy in general and music therapy with persons with autism in specific. There's an opportunity for an e-book, clinical supervision, and an attorney (if you need one). This site is chock-full of information and thought-provoking resources for music therapists.

Calming Manatee - This site has NOTHING to do with Music Therapy, yet I love it and use it often. Click on the link and you'll get a picture of a manatee with a…

TME Tuesday - Spring Break Edition - #800!!

Today's post is the 800th post on this blog.

(I'm going to take a bit of time to reflect that I have actually managed to write about things 800 times over the past 8 years...)

Okay, that's over. It's time for the TME Tuesday part of this post. Since I am on Spring Break, I am taking an electronic tour of music therapy sites on the web. Today's theme is, of course, therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) and the sites that are out there to give some good ideas.
Wholesome Harmonies - Amy Kalas Busar heads up the team at Wholesome Harmonies and offers lots of ideas and resources to help therapists find new ideas. The blog is updated about every week, and there are lots of ideas. Here's a link for the most recent blog post - about St. Patrick's Day.Music Therapy Activity Ideas - This is a good idea that really hasn't taken off. The last posts were in 2010. There are some interesting therapeutic music experiences on the site. All of the TMEs were designed for adul…

Where to Start?!?

It is Spring Break day 1 of my staycation, so here I am, sitting in front of the computer, trying to figure out what to do next. I've decided that my staycation will be music therapy-themed...specifically, I am going to go to music therapy websites to see what's going on out there in cyberspace. I think I will start right now...

My first search string was "music therapy clinic" and I took the first four that popped up - not Facebook pages since not everyone has access to Facebook...

ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Queens University of Charlotte
CSUN Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication
University of Louisville School of Music

One of the things all of these sites have in common is a dearth of visuals. The CSUN site has the most pictures to pull in viewers (there are three). As all of these sites are university-based, using a recruitment setting to encourage clients to sign up for services, there is appropriate information about who will be pr…

Synthesis Sunday - Return to Wigram et. al.

The last little bit of Wigram et. al. that I have read to this point is the portion about the Nordoff-Robbins Model also known as Creative Music Therapy. Of all of the models presented, this is the one that intrigues me the most, probably because it fits with my preferred clientele and with my own ideas about improvisation, interaction, and engagement.

Page 126 states that Nordoff and Robbins were influenced by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner and the "anthroposophic movement in humanistic psychology." Looking at these ideas a bit more, I can see why this model has struck a chord (pun intended) with me. Some of the additional quotes from pages 126-126 that I like include:
"within every human being there is an innate responsiveness to music, and within every personality one can 'reach' a 'music child' or 'music person.'"non-directive approach...the therapist the role of following and facilitating""involves placing music at the centre of th…

I Want/Need Something To Do!

Now, just in case you are a regular reader of this blog, you may know that I actually have LOTS to do already - themed blog posts, readings, synthesis, and other things that I write about on a regular basis - but I am looking for something new to do this next week.

I've been looking at Pinterest again (Aargh, Sarah!!) and have been trying to find inspiration for something new for my music therapy practice. I didn't find anything there that really sparked my creative impulse, but I have some ideas. Some of those ideas involve cutting up books (which bothers me on a visceral level, but which I can do with several of the books that I already own many copies of, thanks to my sister and mother) to make visual aids for some stories. I could make the Old Lady that I've been thinking about for many years - involving my sewing machine, some clear acetate, and some felt. It is also possible that I will spend some time making new file folder visuals for my adolescents.

This next week i…

5 Things an Internship Director Wishes That Music Therapy Students Knew Before Starting Internship

I spent some time with some music therapy students just recently, and it started me thinking about the challenges that our academicians face on a daily basis of teaching all the things students need to know about being a music therapist. All of this deep thinking led me to pondering what I expect students to be able to do when they walk into my internship. I am not making any claims about what other Internship Directors expect, but this is my thought process and hope for my interns...
Functional Music Skills - this is the biggie. I want my interns to be able to play their guitars in the keys of C,D,E,A, and G. I want them to be able to play in the keys of e, d, and a minor. I want them to already know a couple of different strums and fingerpicking patterns. I want them to know how to play many different chord progressions on both the guitar and the keyboard. Period. Now, all of those skills will be strengthened during their internship, but interns need to have the basic skills as part …

Having To Think More Deeply About Music Therapy

The past 60 hours have been a whirlwind and have encouraged me to continue to think more deeply about music, therapy, music therapy, and me. There is something about being deeply immersed in a new environment with a bunch of other music therapy-minded people to shake up how you perceive yourself and your role in the larger picture of the future of the profession. 

Of course, I usually spend some time thinking about what it is we music therapists do and how we do it on a daily basis, but being around people who know what happens in a music therapy session but who are unfamiliar with me and how I do those sessions forces me to think about music therapy from a wider perspective. Being the focus of a series of question and answer periods forces me to keep on my toes. It is also mentally exhausting.

I love participating in situations where I have to think about what I do and then try to explain that to others. It is fascinating to see how our profession is perceived by fellow musicians who d…

TME Tuesday - Musical Mad-Libs

I enjoy enfolding music into educational experiences and would spend much of my time developing TMEs for teachers attempting to teach kids who are musical learners in educational settings (special and typical). One of the fun ways that I use is not my own idea, but is adapted from a children's game, Mad-Libs. This is a great way to review parts of speech as well as to just be silly.

Basically, what you do is take any familiar song, take out key words, and then ask students to replace the words using the parts of speech categories. Sing the new words and listen to the absurdity.

Here is an example: Sing to the tune of Home on the Range