Showing posts from October, 2015

It's Been A Strange Saturday

I am all out-of-whack and significantly off-schedule as I sit down to write this blog post at almost 10am my time! 10am!!! (Just in case you don't know, 10am is VERY late for me - I am an early bird and am usually writing these posts between 4 and 6am, not at 10am.) I've already done lots of things this morning, but none of my regular Saturday morning-type things.

There is something quite liberating in breaking away from expectations (especially your own expectations). 

I am now sitting down to write about music, therapy, and me.

Music? My clients spent the week singing with me. Some new songs, some old, some spookified by changing the mode, some games, some just to sing. We listened to music by Muddy Waters, sang our own Cloudy Day Blues (written by Blythe LaGasse when she was a mere practicum student many moons ago), and spent some time working on learning more about music. There was even a karaoke session.

Therapy? I continue to feel the lack of opportunity to interact with my …

Friday: Sending Subliminal Messages

I was talking to my friend yesterday while she was working on nametags for one of her groups. She had an entire stack of puppy nametags and one monster nametag. She wrote the name of one of the most difficult to like clients on the monster nametag and the names of all of the others on the puppy nametags. She handed me the stack and asked me if I noticed anything amiss. I immediately picked up on the not-so-subtle message included with the theme. 

I think we often send such messages to our clients - sometimes purposefully, sometimes less so. I talk to folks all the time about sending out "I Don't Trust You" messages and how those types of interactions can really harm relationships. How can a person really sink into an interaction when the message from the other person includes conflicting messages of "do something, but only the way I want you to do something, not your own way, but my way" - how can a person feel trusted?

Okay, I'm projecting quite a bit here, …


This has been a busy type week. Yesterday's sessions went pretty well. Only two major meltdowns during the "difficult" group yesterday. The rest of the groups went well. Clients seemed to enjoy the session plans and worked together well on assembling the drum set and then waiting patiently for their turns to play. (The paraeducators that I work with HATE drum set week!!) I've been a bit disappointed with other situations that have occurred this week - like being told I cannot be CPR certified since I cannot kneel on my left knee due to my work-related injury and having to rearrange my schedule in order to accommodate changed plans (of course, no one bothered to check my status until the day before the training, so I wasn't really ready for my sessions yesterday, but that's just my own grumble).

Anyway, today is starting off to be an emotional upheaval type of day. Everything I read right now makes me either cry or rage. Innocuous posts about the World Series (…

Music Therapy Mistakes, and How to Make Them

First of all, let me set this up from the very beginning that I am not encouraging you to make mistakes, but am encouraging you to acknowledge that you will make mistakes in your music therapy life and resolve to learn from them. 

A friend of mine indicated that she had some less than stellar moments as a music therapist yesterday. She also stated that she took those moments as a reminder of humility and constant growth. Her friends responded with empathetic comments. One stated, "We don't really talk about our music therapy mistakes that often. We should" (or something like that - I may have misquoted the friend...). I completely agree with the sentiment of that discussion.

Mistakes are going to happen. 

I've made them. You've made them. We will both make more mistakes. That's what happens when you are a human being. What we do once the mistakes occur is what defines us as therapists. 

Whatever the mistake, you have to acknowledge it, own up to it, and follow ex…

TME Tuesday: Organization

It is Tuesday again, and here I sit. I've written several songs already this week, but they are not in Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) format yet - just on super-sticky post-it notes within reach of my hands during sessions - when I need it. One of the themes for this month is "Stranger Danger." It's REALLY difficult for me to turn that concept into effective TMEs without scaring my clients. They are often extremely literal. I'm focusing on the aspect of staying with people you know for my stranger danger songs.

I'm veering from my intended post today. Since I don't have my newest TME finished, I thought I would show you a bit of my TME database. I organize my ideas (and the ideas from others that I have learned over the years) into a large database. It is formulated in Excel, and contains the columns you see below - Title of TME, Keywords, Author, and Source (if not Author). Titles with blue printing have hyperlinks to other files in my TME file. Title…

There's A Cat Between Me and the Keyboard This Morning

I honestly think that she is trying to keep me from blogging in order to spread her purr and her nuzzles and head boops with me. I love it. While she is sitting in my way - between me and the computer - I have a chance to just bury my nose in her fur and revel in her cattiness.

I am trying to be a bit more mindful in how I approach my days. Now, I am not an expert in mindfulness, but I am learning. I am learning to slow down and observe myself - again. 

According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is defined as "a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience."

Another definition of mindfulness, from Berkeley, is "Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing,…

Supplemental Sunday: The "Make-Your-Own" Kit

Sundays are the day to post about the visual aids (AKA supplementals) that I make to enhance my therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) to assist my clients in understanding what we are doing (especially the visual learners). 

Now, I have always been of the mindset that there is nothing that we can't do, so I am always interested in showing others how to do things instead of just displaying them. So here we go - a bunch of stuff that is useful when you are making visual aids.

Paper - cardstock and regular weight paper in a variety of colors is important to have at hand. Creativity comes in strange ways, so it's best to have lots of paper around for when those creative urges start up. In addition to cardstock and solid color paper, scrapbooking and patterning paper is something really useful to make things sparkle!

File Folders - I make everything to fit into a file folder so that I can easily store them and transport them around. Did you know that they make all kinds of patterned fi…

Life Interfering

I did something this week that I absolutely hate! I skipped two days of writing, and I really hate that. I try to write daily so that it is a habit. This week, my other lives interfered with my self-care and business blogging routine. Thursday was full of emotional angst, long thoughts and attempts to write an email that would completely illustrate my view while still emphasizing what was wrong, and on Friday, blogging just went completely out of my head. I remembered blogging halfway to work and felt deeply that something was missing from my life. It's amazing how a simple routine can enrich your life.

Anyway, here I am, back again.

This was a good music therapy week. All of my sessions included students doing things they have never done before (in any setting, and all positive). I improvised several songs that had great response - and then I forgot all of those songs - typical. I was approached by several teachers about IEP goals. I spent quite a bit of time just sitting. I finish…


I've been watching lots of superhero television lately. You know, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, Arrow are all part of my watching regimen. I've always been attracted to this type of entertainment, both movies and television, but I've never really spent the time with the comic books - the lexicon and the center of all of these mythologies. I feel myself more and more drawn to these stories as more and more of them arrive, but I want to know the backstories and how to understand what is going on with the characters a bit more.

My fascination with superhero stories (especially the ones about "normal" people doing extraordinary things) may stem from my tendency to help others. I am not a superhero by any means, but I think that any person who chooses to focus on the benefit of others is a hero to many.

You, music therapist, are a superhero.

You spend your day thinking about others. You spend free time and money getting things and making things for others. You share…

TME Tuesday: Gonna Carve a Pumpkin

'Tis the season for pumpkin-type things. Personally, I don't like anything about pumpkins except for their shape, but many others love pumpkins, so here is a pumpkin-themed Therapeutic Music Experience (TME). Enjoy!!

Therapeutic Music Experience Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC Gonna Carve a Pumpkin

5:09 On A Monday Morning

There are lots of things that go through a person's mind when they are up early on a Monday morning. Things like, "what am I going to do with my students today?" to "ice cream CAN be part of a well-balanced breakfast." I need to ponder that last thought for a moment...

...and done.

There are times when my mind becomes so busy that sleep is not possible (that didn't happen last night). There are times when my mind flits from topic to topic very quickly (that is happening this morning, for some reason). When this happens, I try to channel some of the thoughts into productive tasks and outcomes. Right now, I am attempting to fix some of these thoughts sliding through my mind onto this blog.
I have several time-framed things to do in the next 3 days - finish up a form for AMTA (I'm donating several books and visual aids to the Take A Chance Drawing this year - ooh, and a subscription); a CMTE proposal for the Midwestern Regional Conference; helping out with a …

Supplemental Sunday: Do Your Ears Hang Low?

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to make things. I make all sorts of things, but my music therapy-related passion is making visual aids (or supplementals) for therapeutic music experiences (TMEs). Here's a simple one that has had a great response from my clients - it's the dog!

On a side note, all of my visual aids are original artwork - I draw them all, often over and over again until I like the way things look. Sometimes they are completely scrapped several times before I come up with a design that I actually like. 

I don't have a picture of the back of this folder, but there is a copy of the song on the back of this folder so the therapist can read the music while displaying the picture to clients.

The dog's ears move.

I use this while singing Do Your Ears Hang Low? Since the ears move, we can sing all of the verses while demonstrating and practicing our direction words - up, down, sideways, etc. 

What this dog doesn't have is a name. Hmmm. I'll have to ask …

Finally Friday

This has been a long week; a week full of grief, intestines, pain, and 12 hour work day challenges. It is over. 

I have a day off today.

There are things I need to do. I need to do chores around the house, get my medications from the pharmacy, do some Christmas shopping, and work on a bucket of materials for the AMTA conference - I put my stuff out there - yay, me! There may be some new music to listen to. I need to buy a new shredder to keep up with the shredding that needs to be done. Lots of need to dos today. Not many want to dos today, but that's the way life balances out at times.

I started the day off right, in my opinion! I slept in. I woke up at the normal time, but was able to convince myself that staying in bed was better than getting up. Fortunately, the cat agreed, so we snoozed for another TWO hours! I had some disturbing work-related dreams with lots of schedule disruptions (gives me a shiver just to think about it right now), but arose to get this day started with a s…