Showing posts from August, 2015


I've been thinking about creativity lots lately. That's not really unusual - I think about creativity most of the time that I sit down to write on this blog. Blame the Creativity Challenge sponsored by the MTMarketplace and Briana Reichgott Priester, if you want, but that challenge just made me approach things a bit differently. It is interesting to actively engage in thinking about creativity and its many forms. It was also nice to be in a community of therapists who were all approaching the creative process. My verdict? We are all creative, but in vastly different ways.

Those differences are what make us valuable to each other and to this profession.

I sometimes get bogged down in my "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" goblins. "I should be creative in this way." "If I would only get this, then I could be creative like ____." The goblins take over my brain. What I am learning (over and over and over again) is that what I can create is valuable, but I do NOT…

Supplemental Sunday: Anger Monsters

One of my rules is that I can only keep visual aids in my music therapy clinic area when I can think of six distinct things to do with those supplementals. It helps me to preserve the limited storage space I have for things that are relevant to many of my clients. Keeping that in mind, I often make things that don't yet fit the bill. I think I have justified the storage of these monsters - we'll see when I start writing about their therapeutic use here in a bit!
These are my "Anger Monsters." I made them two years ago when I had a bunch of angry, demonstrative clients. They were angry at everything and everyone. None of them wanted to engage in music therapy sessions. They were just plain old angry. One day, I made these.

It was around Halloween, so we started with The Monster Mash. We scattered these monsters around the room, started listening to the song by Bobby Pickett, and stomped on the monsters when we heard the words, "the Monster Mash." We got some r…

Progress - One Step Forward

I broke my Anterior Cruciate Ligament six weeks ago. I was pushed, twisted, and my knee popped. I haven't been able to walk without my immobilizer since July 16th, and I am tired. As the claim is through Worker's Compensation, I don't have to pay for any of my treatment, but I do have to wait for them to coordinate treatment, authorize treatment, and tell me when I can access treatment. It's a bit frustrating.

Last week, I got a call that the doctor would be able to see me on September 11th. I was happy to have an appointment, but I wasn't really thrilled about another 3 weeks in the immobilizer (AKA Arnold). On Monday, I called the doctor to see if I needed to assist in getting my medical records to them. They had the process well in hand. Later, they called me to ask if I could see the doctor on this Friday (yesterday!) instead of the 11th. I jumped (well, not literally) at the chance. I went to the doctor yesterday.

There were many people there. I waited almost an…

Favorite Things Friday: Community

Do you know how lucky we music therapists are?

We have a wonderful, giving, challenging community of other music therapists out there who are giving of their time, their talent, and their treasure to help others of us.

I'm enjoying a bit of music therapy community these days. In one of the groups, I'm the leader, so I get to foster a bit of community. In the other group, I am one of the masses, so I get to participate in the community. I am finding that participation in both of these groups is stimulating my deep passion for this profession and reinforcing the choices that I made for myself in my choice of profession. I really hope that you have these types of moments as well.

So, what is so stimulating these days?

Let me start with the community that I've joined - that of creativity. (My posts for the past two days have referenced this creativity challenge - check them out!). As part of this creativity challenge, we are posting specific thoughts about how we are intentional i…

Wednesday is Finished...On to Thursday!

Do you know what? Yesterday was a pretty good day.

My last session of the day actually went pretty well. The class is understaffed, but we were able to handle the situations that happened. Only one student had to leave, and he left BEFORE he got angry or aggressive or stirred up anyone else. One good session in 10 weeks. Finally - one good session!

I solved a mystery yesterday. Many of us have not been receiving emails sent out on a distribution list. Everyone has been blaming the elusive "server" for this issue, but it wasn't. I looked at the distribution list and found that all of the education staff with first names starting with Kev-Z were not on the list. Hmm. NOT a server issue - human error caused this. Someone deleted the rest of us off the distribution list... an easy fix for our IT guy, when he gets around to it. I think I deserve at least a candy bar for my mystery solving acumen. We shall see if it appears!

I got home last night to find that a cicada has taken u…

Find An Affirmation

I started yesterday's post talking about the creativity challenge hosted by the Music Therapy Marketplace. We're on day three, and today we are tasked to find an affirmation for ourselves to use before we are intentionally creative. If you are interested in joining us in this challenge, check out the MTM website for more information.

Now I am searching for an affirmation. I've realized that most of my daily creativity comes in these blog posts. There are days when the words just flow, make sense, and are creative in how they view music, therapy, and me. There are other days when things just get stuck. I try and try to create something that makes sense to me, but things just don't work. That doesn't usually affect my therapy day, but it does indicate to me how much I need to work with my creativity - nurturing it and allowing it to happen rather than trying to force it.

Getting ready to get into this Wednesday where anything can happen, I was drawn to a picture on Fac…

TME Tuesday: Fostering Creativity

I love a good music therapy challenge. I like the community and the camaraderie of getting to be part of a group of fellow therapists doing something together. Right now, I'm part of a seven-day creativity challenge sponsored by Briana Reichgott Priester over at the Music Therapy Marketplace. If you're interested in something to help you actively think about creativity and its role in your life, join us. We're only on day two!

Anyway, beginning this challenge has made me think a bit about how I approach creativity with my clients. Many times I find that my clients have never been encouraged to be creative with filling up their leisure time or trying new things to do. They seem to find that the only thing that they can do during their leisure time is to play video games or watch television. When that gets boring, they fall into past patterns of entertainment - often the things that get them into 24/7 active treatment to begin with. There are other options, but those options …

For A Brief Moment...

...I forgot that I tore my ACL. I tried getting out of bed like I used to do, swing both legs over the side of the bed, and pop up out of bed (I know, I am one of those annoying morning people who love the morning and spring out of bed before the alarm goes off... don't hate me!). I was halfway through the swinging move when my lower leg fell, went into spasm, and wouldn't release. I couldn't unbend the leg. I couldn't sit up. I couldn't move. All I could do was cry.

Great way to start the day, right? I eventually got my knee straightened out and hobbled off into the shower. While I was trying to figure out how wash everything that needed it while babying my knee, I decided that it would probably be better to stay home today. I didn't think that using the knee to drive to and from work would be a good thing especially after grocery shopping yesterday (for the first time in 5 weeks). Now I can take a pain pill and watch for swelling without having to worry about …

Supplemental Sunday: A Schedule Board

I guess it's no secret that I enjoy a bit of organization, but that it is something that I struggle with in my own life. I understand the struggles of some of my clients and their need for structure and organization because I struggle in the same ways.

I have some clients who want to know what is coming in the music therapy session. They seem unable to just go with improvisation. They have to know what to expect. When I'm working with a client that is schedule-dependent, I try to introduce the idea of flexibility, using this type of board.

This is a simple visual aid that is primarily a music therapy tool. It doesn't do anything within a Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) but it does support the client within the session. I use this tool to assist the client in living within a schedule and still introducing the idea of flexibility.

This visual aid has several features. First, there are TME and instrument choices on long paper strips. When the board is in use, those long paper…

A Rare Saturday Indeed

I have an agenda that has nothing to do with anyone other than myself today. Sounds pretty selfish, doesn't it? I have no obligations to interact with anyone outside of my home on this Saturday. It is a glorious thought. 

In order to celebrate, I am going to flit around my home doing chores that I've not been getting to as much as I should lately. I am currently doing laundry (it REALLY needs to be done), including sheets, comforter, and mattress cover. Laundry will continue throughout the day in an effort to get things organized and clean. I am watching various things on Netflix. I will be going to the recycling receptacle on my way to the Dollar Tree for organization stuff and potato chips. I get to do some composition, some writing, and some making things. I have the goal of organizing two of my office shelves today before I crash. I also want to start brainstorming about Christmas gifts for my family members - I'm a bit behind right now...

The best thing about a day with…

Favorite Things Friday: Friday

FRIDAY(need I say more?)Recently, I've waxed rhapsodical about things like Post-Its and other mundane little things that are very important to my sense of doing things. Today, I am going to talk about the fact that it is Friday.
Friday is my favorite day of the work week for several reasons. At my job, Friday has always been a day where the responsibility and requirements of group therapy have been non-existent. We provide therapy treatment, Mondays through Thursdays, for the simple reason that we try to sustain a schedule during the summer months when we do not work on Fridays. It is difficult to cram all of the Friday treatment sessions into a 4-day workweek when those 4 days are already full. So, we plan all of our treatment into the Monday-Thursday week. Fridays have always been a day for additional support or treatment, but not related to group coverage and teacher preparation time.
Right now, Fridays are long and boring for me. With the prohibition of doing things like walking…


Yesterday, I screamed in the middle of a music therapy session.

This wasn't a rant or bearing instructions, it was just a horror movie type scream.

I typically save those types of emotional outbursts for after difficult sessions, but I went with my gut during said difficult session when almost all of my students were screaming at each other, flinging obscenities, and trying to beat the snot out of people on the other side of the way-too-small room. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and let it rip!

I opened my eyes and saw a bunch of confused, but silent faces looking at me.

My next words probably weren't the best, but they just slipped out.

"Now you are listening."
Okay. My best moment as a therapist? NOT AT ALL! I am not encouraging you to use the primal scream as a therapeutic tool, but there are times when it works.
Luckily for me, this time it worked.
We all practiced using our coping skills of breathing, ignoring, and counting numbers by every iteration we could - 2…

Wednesday Comes Once a Week

It is Wednesday again.

I have this one group on Wednesday afternoons who constantly challenges me. Honestly, they constantly challenge the art therapist, the transition teacher, and their own teacher and staff members as well. That simple fact makes the fact that they challenge me a bit easier to handle.

In all of my down time at work due to being on light duty, I have been spending time thinking about group treatment. We spend lots of time talking about things like assessing individuals, developing individual goals and objectives, and about how to develop music therapy experiences for individuals, but we don't often think about what to do when those individuals are part of a group.

I've come to the conclusion that groups are entities unto themselves. Each group member acts as part of the whole, but is not the whole. Similar to a body, the group learns to function when all group members are present and do not function the same way when a group member is absent or is not behaving …

TME Tuesday - Ta-ti Instrument Game

In my current music therapy iteration as school-based music therapist, I have a bit of a responsibility to my clients. This may be the only time they get any type of music education taught to them by someone who understands their unique ways of learning, so I teach some basic music concepts. One of the concepts that my clients figure out quickly is that of reading rhythms. We use rhythm wheels, instrument play, and sheet music to decode rhythms. Today's Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) is centered around reading rhythm in a game format. It's always good to see if skills have generalized from one format to another. Games are good for generalization!

Here you go! As always, comments are welcome!

Supplemental Sunday: On Top of Spaghetti

So, it's Sunday again, and it's time to show you another Supplemental/Visual Aid something or other. Here is one - my version of On Top of Spaghetti - file folder style!!

Simple idea, isn't it? Take a song that you know (preferably one in the public domain, if you are interested in selling your product), and turn it into a lyric fill-in-the-blank. Draw some pictures, use some fancy scrapbooking tools (I use them to make the square shapes so I don't have to cut out all of those boxes over and over), and laminate everything. You're good to go!

If you are interested in making your own version of this file folder activity, head to the website to download the pictures. Enjoy!!

Simple, right?

Yep. Yet it works on several different things. When I use this folder with clients, we are working on symbol to sound correlation, sustained attention to task, fine motor coordination, executive function (especially if we get the cards in the wrong order - we have to figure out what nee…

"I informed you thusly."

There are times when The Big Bang Theory perfectly encapsulates things that are going on in my own life.

"I informed you thusly!"

I've got nothing else to say as I now need to go do some work for AMTA and OCMT and for the website (new sing about song theme coming soon!)

See you all soon!!