Showing posts from July, 2015

Favorite Things Friday - Nothing To Do

This is Day 2 of my 11 day Fall Break. I have nothing that I have to do outside of my house. There are no phone calls to make, no tasks that HAVE to be done, and no trips scheduled for today. It is an unusual event, but does happen to me occasionally.

Since there is nothing that I HAVE to do, my to-do list is sparse. I like it that way. I can get other things finished. Right now, I have three things on the list - none of which MUST be done today, but that won't keep me from doing other things as well.

I spoke to a bunch of music therapy folks about self-care last night. I always talk about the importance of finding your own pattern of self-care activities and awareness in order to help stave off things like compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, and burnout. It is important to be pro-active when it comes to self-care so you don't have to be as reactive if something happens.

For me, at least two days of "nothing to do," plays a big part in my self-care pattern. There is s…

Currently, I am...

Reading: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - I read these books about once a year, and I am in the 5th book right now. I enjoy these books, even though I have read them over and over again. I like the stories.

Playing: On my computer - Windows 10 is here, and, so far, so good. I am trying to figure out where things like my game tiles have gone, but everything is working pretty well. My screen goes black occasionally, but it does come back. We'll see about all of this...

Thinking: About the to-do list that I have to accomplish during this Fall Break. I get to check some things off which is nice!

Feeling: Tired, nervous, ready for a break

Watching: NCIS Season 11. Not-so-Secret: I am a binge-watcher. I've been watching one of my favorites, Mark Harmon, for the past several weeks. I am now in Season 11 and am mourning the fact that I will have seen all of the episodes in about 14 more views. What will I watch next? Maybe I'll start over!!

Listening: Squeaky fan in the back…

The Last Day of Summer...School

This is it. The last day of summer school has finally arrived, and it is time to finish up the school year. One more day of group treatment and then it's time to focus on some self-care.

My vacation plan has changed. I was hoping to go camping for a bit or spend some time at the lake just spending time in nature and enjoying the sound of water, but my plan has changed. Now I'll be spending time at the Worker's Compensation clinic, trying to figure out what will happen with my knee. Navigating the sand at the lake is out of the picture, and the camping thing is complicated when you cannot tote or fetch things from one place to another. My self-care will have to take another path this time around.

Today's plan is to run four group sessions, figure out the Master Schedule for 12 days from now, and generally clear up the clinic space. I need to remember to bring the guitar back home for this break. I have some songs to compose for the next round of sing about songs due to be…

TME Tuesday - Nana Hannah's Piano

Today's Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) is centered around a book, Nana Hannah's Piano, written by B. Bottner.

I don't use books very often. My clients don't really sit and listen well, but there are some books that work. This book works best with my middle schoolers. If you don't use books in your therapeutic process (for either TMEs with clients or for inspiration for TME development), you are missing out on a great resource for clients of all ages. Books can often address difficult topics in ways that clients will accept rather than the discussion from a therapist...

Nana Hannah's Piano TME Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

The Aftermath of Accidents

I was injured by a client 10 days ago. I am currently steeped in the process of getting diagnoses and treatment through Worker's Compensation (an interesting thing here in the States that means that the insurance of employers pay for injuries to employees that happen on the job). I've been seen by two doctor-types and have had an MRI of my knee. I've been told that my ACL is completely ripped, so Arnold the Immobilizer and I are going to continue to be in a relationship for quite some time.

My father is angry. He is angry with the client who caused me to be hurt. He is angry with my supervisor. He is angry with the Worker's Compensation people in general, even though they haven't done anything to me yet. I suspect that some of his anger is directed towards me and my situation, but he would never actually confront me about his anger. There is a bit of helplessness in there as well - he can't fix this for me. I will always be his little girl, you know.

Me? I have m…

Synthesis Sunday - Transformation Into Supplemental Sunday

I spend a bit of time every day thinking about what I want to write on this blog and what to send out into the universe. It's always an interesting experience to sit down and write something. Sometimes what I write makes it to this blog, but often, I go through several iterations of topics, paragraphs, visuals, and organization before I have something that I settle on.

These Sunday posts are often the most challenging for me, especially with the current title, Synthesis Sunday. At first, the title was meant to spur me into reading music therapy things - texts and articles. It worked for a bit, but now I am not really into reading about music therapy (the urge comes and goes - right now, it's gone!). I've had other Sunday themes - Song Synthesis Sunday and Song Switch Sunday - as well as this one, but I think I'm in the need for another theme for these Sunday posts.

Here are my rules - There must be alliteration! Whatever I do, I think post themes need alliteration. That&…

Camp Starts in 3 Hours!!

I am just on the edge of my seat excited about Creativity Camp 2015! It starts in three hours and will be something...

I am heading into this webinar for music therapists and MT students/interns the way I head into many of my sessions - I have an idea of what I am going to do, but am viewing that idea as a possibility rather than an actuality. I've sent out "get ready for camp" letters to participants with the activities to choose from, and we'll see what participants actually want to do once we get started. 

I am hoping that this will be a time for collaboration, creativity, and networking for all of us at Camp. I've got my mini M&Ms for sustenance and my "helper," Bella, who will probably insist on sitting in the middle of all of the things that I need to do during this webinar!

Aah, Cat.

Before I start Camp, however, I have a meeting for the Online Conference for Music Therapy. Things are hopping along with this part of my music therapy professional …

Favorite Things Friday: MRIs

This may seem strange to you, since I have spoken about my medical related anxiety disorder, but I really enjoy Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI tests). I have one today, but I'm not anxious about it all. I am actually looking forward to this test, believe it or not.

I had my first MRI when I was 16. It was a horrible situation that ended up completely different than the initial diagnosis (thank goodness) but I became fascinated with the entire process once I was in the device. 

Way back in those days, MRI machines were brand spanking new and extremely expensive! The hospital where I went for my test was part of a group of hospitals who had pooled together their monies so they could buy an MRI suite that traveled from hospital to hospital. When my doctor thought I had a brain tumor (long story, but I didn't), my hospital had the suite, so we went from appointment to hospital pretty much immediately.

When we got there, I checked in and asked the lady at reception if my mom could co…

Favorite Thing...Rats, It's Not Friday!

This has been a week out of time. You know the ones - the weeks where you aren't quite sure which day it actually is because things get scrambled in your schedule, so you don't actually do what you usually do on each day??? This week has been all scrambled and mixed up. What a mess...

I was almost ready for a Favorite Things Friday post today. I was looking around for something that is one of my favorite things (by the way, I'm running out of things to talk about on Fridays, so the theme may be changing pretty soon). I knew it wasn't Friday. After all, I'm getting dressed into my uniform for work, but my brain was thinking "Friday, Friday, Friday." If it actually was Friday today, I would be getting ready for a trip to my least favorite city (when it comes to navigating) for an MRI. So, here I am, on a THURSDAY, trying to come up with something to talk about.

One of the things that I try to do in this blog is to give a glimpse into the everyday life of a mu…


My apologies to the person who took this photograph. It is from National Wildlife, August/September 1999 edition, and from an article entitled "Okefenokee Swamp." I do not have the credit for either the author or the photographer, so this is all the information that I have. 

I keep a book of images. It's just magazine pictures that I've collected over the years. The images have to intrigue me in some way. Sometimes it's humor that draws me in, sometimes not. This was an image that isn't humorous, but it's fascinating to me for some reason.

What do I do with these images? I use them as inspiration for writing. Today's blog post is brought to you via this image because I am a visual person who uses pictures to think through things. These are often the inspiration for songs that I write for no reason other than needing to write a song. Those types of songs don't often make it into therapy, but they act as a therapeutic outlet for me, so they are therap…

TME Tuesday - My Favorite Chord Progressions

I'm taking the easy way out today. Rather than giving you a Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) like I usually do, here is a list of the chord progressions that I use during most of my improvisations. Please use them to write your own music - there are some good ones in there...

I, vi, IV, V7 (of course!)
I, I7, IV, I, V7, IV7, I (again, of course!)
I, IV, I, IV, ii, V7, ii, V7, I
i, iv, v (yep, I REALLY mean the minor v - good modal sound)
I, V, IV

Sorry for the brevity, but I'm trying to go back to work today after an injury, so am going to try driving the distance with a ruined knee. I need enough time to try it, see if I can do it, and then hobble into the music therapy room which is destructed after the incident where I got injured...

Ah, the life of me...

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty

I'm a big fan of the Big Bang Theory. I love Sheldon's sick song, Soft Kitty, and I sing it to others when it's called for. My favorite use of the song in the show is when Penny is injured and makes Sheldon sing the song to her because "injured and drugged is a kind of sick" (or something like that). Not only does she make him sing his song to her, but she makes him change it. It becomes a round and demands participation from both parties to make it work. From then on, Sheldon uses the round idea when he is with his friends, but not with his mother. He wants his mother to sing it to him the way he always has heard it - just her singing to him when he doesn't feel well.

It amazes me how songs become inexorably linked to situations, people, and memories. I am fascinated with how we can remember obscure jingles for products long gone, even when we don't intend to remember that information. The music seeps in and stays.

What is it about music that makes it stic…

It's Almost Time For Creativity Camp!

Next week is Creativity Camp 2015. We're going to make some things next Saturday - things that any music therapist can use with someone in their caseload. We're going to compose, write therapeutic music experiences (TMEs), and make some visuals and materials for use in music therapy sessions. I'm developing my camp schedule right now for my campers.

For me, making things is part of the fun. I like drawing (I'm not a professional artist, by any means, but I like to draw things), and I like writing songs and TMEs for my clients. I enjoy being creative in the company of others. There is something inspiring about seeing what others do when given a starting point for creativity. The best thing is that their starting point is often my ending point, so I get more ideas when others take mine and adapt them.

If you are interested in signing up for Creativity Camp, there is still time. Details are at this link on my website. See you then?

The Best-Laid Plans - A Not-So-Favorite-Thing-Friday

You know how you go through a day with a certain plan?

You start off thinking that things are going to progress in a specific manner. You're going to drive to work, get kids of their buses, do some music therapy, put kids back on their buses, and then go home again to start your weekend? Yep. That was the plan for yesterday. Then there were plans for today, tomorrow, and Sunday. Good plans.

The plan didn't work out as planned at all. First of all, it ended kind of abruptly when I got pushed during a safety assist with a client and something in my knee just popped. Second, I never plan on spending time in an emergency room, but there wasn't really any other choice. Third, I never planned on almost forgetting the interns who were waiting for me to start a webinar about Time Management and Organization that completely slipped my mind as I was hobbling about on my non-operational knee feeling sorry for myself. Once I finally remembered that it was Thursday night, I had to hobble…

Session Contour - One of Those "Important, But Difficult to Learn" Things

I hopped over to Music Sparks, JoAnn Jordan's very engaging website, this morning to read about her ideas for developing session plans for challenging times. I was heartened to read that her ideas are very similar to my own when it comes to planning sessions - check it out - and her post started me thinking about what I do when it comes to session implementation. What do you after you have designed the plan?

So, this is kind of a continuation of the ideas that JoAnn shared.

What do you do after you've designed the plan, the session has started, and the client is sitting in front of you, waiting for the next thing to do?

One of the things that I like about music therapy is that the therapeutic medium itself, music, is easily adapted to fit many different situations, responses, and needs within the moment. Many music therapists instinctively alter musical elements in order to assist their clients in engaging with the medium during each session. We often play our music at tempi that…

Care of Self - Important

Self-care. It's a thing that I spend quite a bit of time thinking about, especially on days like this when I am really looking for an excuse to stay home and chill out in front of the Air Conditioning rather than going to work and have a session with a group of kids that don't like music therapy and an Air Conditioning System that can't keep up with the demand. Part of my hesitation comes from the one group that I have today that challenges me over and over again, and the rest comes from the temperature of the past two days.

It's been hot. It's been humid. It's been miserable, and add onto all of that the inability of any of us to go outside and get rid of our energy, and it's been a rough week. It is now halfway over (one of the best tools for self-care during the summer is the four-day work week!), and the heat has broken a bit. The humidity hasn't, but at least the heat is going to diminish.

So, what am I going to do for some self-care today? First of …

TME Tuesday - Perfect Day

Today I need some pep. I need it from somewhere, so I'm going to use one of my favorite pep-inducing artists, Hoku, to manufacture some much-needed energy. If you don't know about Hoku, don't feel bad. She was a flash in the days of Britney and N*Sync, but she had some catchy tunes that just resonate with me. My favorite? Another Dumb Blonde, but today's therapeutic music experience (TME) is based on another song of hers that you have probably heard, Perfect Day.

Here's the TME.