Showing posts from November, 2015

Not Quite Ready, But It's Just About Time

Tomorrow is the end of my injury and the beginning of my recuperation and recovery. At this time tomorrow, I will be a mess. No water, no distractions, nothing to keep me from my anxiety except for my own mantras and breathing. Today, however, is another story. Today, I can have water, I can find distractions, and I can continue to clean to counteract my anxiety.

My home is looking pretty good, but it is not ready to be declared "clean-ish" yet. Long story short, I have lots of stuff and limited space to put the stuff in. My to-do list is shrinking a bit as well. I have finished all of my Christmas shopping and, by the end of today, it will be on it's way to California and North Carolina. I still have lots of work to do in the living room, but much of that is towels, so it will be cleaner when the towels are washed and dried. The rest is paper stuff that I should have organized and thrown away many months ago. By today, it will be neater.

Tomorrow I can spend some of the l…

Supplemental Sunday: File Folders - Not Just for Filing

I love file folders.

I am such a space miser that I look for things that I can store using a minimum of surface area and that I can use over and over again with different clients doing different things and working towards different goals and objectives. File folders help me do just that - store a multitude of things within limited space.

For me, however, file folders are more than just storage. They are container, visual aid, and sometimes an entire TME. 

File folder activities are not for large groups. It's important that the person who is using the file folder be able to see and interact with all parts of the folder itself. (Having said that, I think that anything you can put on a file folder you can also make large enough for an entire group to use - just think bigger and bigger!) 

I make and manipulate file folders often. I cut them apart, make flaps and pockets, smoosh several of them together to make larger pockets and areas. I Velcro them back together, laminate them, and then …

Yesterday...Today...Tomorrow...The Next Day

Yesterday, I spent most of the morning working alternately on my sing about winter project and my kitchen. As a result, the winter compilation is getting larger and larger and the kitchen is pretty well clean. This is good since there are only three days left until I am into recuperation post-surgery and will have some movement and lots of lifting restrictions for a bit. I have to get things under control in the next three days so that I don't trip over things for the next two weeks.

Today, I am going to do more of the same. I am going to work on the sing about winter theme book of therapeutic music experiences and clean up the hallways in my house. There are three short hallways, so I should be able to check them off my list pretty quickly. I was inspired by a post on the blog for Bear Paw Creek, written by guest poster, Kathy Schumacher, about her instrument closet. I've been thinking about converting my front hall closet into an instrument storage system for a while now, and…

Working Hard at Music Making

I have a time-directed deadline coming up. It is one I imposed upon myself, but it is coming, nevertheless. For this deadline, I am writing a bunch of original songs based on a winter (not holiday) theme.

For me, the writing of music comes easily, but the transcription takes significantly more time. I have a rhythm notation problem that is greatly assisted by notation software. I can hear when a rhythm isn't exactly right, but I can't really see it. So, my lifesaver over the years has been a program called Cakewalk.

Cakewalk Home Studio (2002! Can you believe it? 2002!!) has always been my go-to program. I've never tried the others that people have used and continue to use. I got the Cakewalk program and have been able to use it ever since. It is familiar to me, so I am able to do every and anything that I need to do...except guitar tabulature...I had another program that did that, but it stopped working three computers ago.

Anyway, it is time to sit down and knock out some s…

Thoughtful Thursday: Success

It is time for another Thoughtful Thursday, and this week's quotation comes from Al Capp.

"Success is following the pattern of life one enjoys most." - Al Capp

I often think about what would have happened in my life if my family hadn't moved from all the places that we had moved from in my elementary school years. Where would I be if we had never moved from Dallas? Temple, TX? Hacienda Heights, CA? Denville, NJ? Would I have ever heard of music therapy or would I be working as a special educator or a mom or something completely different? One of the things that I do know is that I would be working with children and adolescents and I would still be doing music in some form - performing or teaching of some sort.

The patterns of life that brought me to music therapy are the same ones that would take me into other paths - a love for music, helping, and people.

I was lucky and found one road that allowed me to combine my passions into one job, one profession, one career.


Things to Do - Places to Go

It is the beginning of Thanksgiving break for me, and the beginning of my preparations for my upcoming medical procedure. I have (gulp) six days before I finally get my ACL repaired. I am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the upcoming weeks. I am ready to get my knee fixed to a point where I can bend it, walk normally, and even jog a bit. Before next Tuesday, however, there are things to do.

Some of these things are easy to accomplish. For example, I need to get the car service finished. That's happening in about an hour. I have the easy role to play in that scenario - I just take the car in. They are going to tell me that my tires are shot, but I refuse to pay for tires from the dealer, so I will need to get tires very soon. The rest of the to-do list is on me.

It is necessary that I spend some time cleaning my home so I can navigate with crutches next week. I also have some cooking on tap so all I will have to do is reheat instead of cook from scratch. Cooking and cle…

TME Tuesday: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Caution! This is not my typical Tuesday post! I hope it will give you some ideas for therapeutic music experiences (TMEs), but I'm not giving you an idea to use with your clients today. I'm thinking about things a bit differently right now.

Someone posted something about having difficulty with organizing materials and stuff in between sessions as a busy itinerant music therapist. This started me thinking about how I organize myself in this same situation. (On a side note, I've done several webinars about this topic for both MT-BCs and interns). My mantra, in this type of situation is to always strive to "Work Smarter, NOT Harder!"

To that end, I have managed to come up with a system that really works for me. It contains session planning, TME development, organization, and my four "C"s - Corral, Categorize, Conserve, and Consider.

This system may not work for you, but I hope that it may spark some ideas on how to give yourself the gift of working smarter wh…

Two More Days...Two Days More!

It is almost time for Thanksgiving break, and therefore, the beginning of my foray into new medical adventures. I have been spending time trying to anticipate needs post-surgery. I have a portable ice maker, 10 new movies, updated my Roku situation, have ordered two ethernet cables so I can do things with the computer from my room, and a slew of new books to read (most of them continuations of other series, so I get to re-read the series as well! I bought the ingredients of many freezable meals so I can make them this weekend, freeze them up, and then re-heat when I am hobbling around.

I've been working on my music therapy room as well. There are things for students to do without me - books to read, games to play, the parachute, dance routines, individual projects to work on, videos to watch, and card games of all sorts. I need to move the drum set from its usual place to my desk area (to discourage fingers from "fixing" the set while I'm gone). The rest of the room j…

Supplemental Sunday: My Turkey Ideas

One of the goodies that I received this month from Music Therapy Mailings was a turkey kit. Here is a picture of the pieces in their original package. I saw this and started to think about the things I could do with more than one of these kits. Instead of searching for another kit, I traced the pieces of the kit onto the cardboard inset in the kit, and now I have the makings of my own file folder activity!

I am always on the lookout for things that I can use in many different ways. I am working on a folder activity that includes Todd and Tammy Turkey, dressing for Thanksgiving. Right now, the therapeutic purposes for this song/TME are kinda vague as I haven't completely fleshed it out, but most of the composition is finished, so the rest will come along as I use it with kids.

That's the really nice thing about visual aids (or supplementals, as some call them). One visual aid can prompt many different therapeutic music experiences - there should never be a time when you only hav…

A Non-Conventional Holiday

Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite food holidays. There may be many different reasons for this - lots of pressure around the holiday celebration, getting the stomach flu in a spectacular manner at Thanksgiving time, my grandmother's need to parade us around in her birthday celebration/Thanksgiving open house every year, the insistence upon formal portraits taken every year, and my own inherent stubbornness when it came to anything she asked me to do (I inherited my stubbornness from her, and she didn't really like it when I refused to do what she told me to do!). Long story short, the things that most people love about Thanksgiving literally turn my stomach.

I cannot stand the smells, the food, the hoop-la, so I opt to have Thanksgiving in my own way.

I make a delectable dish called Crepes Ensenadas. It is a gooey, cheesy concoction of ham, green chiles, monterey jack cheese, tortillas, and cheddar cheese roux that makes me feel very thankful. It takes me about 2 hours to …

Absurdity Day

One of my favorite authors, Sandra Boynton, states that today, November 20th, is Absurdity Day! This makes me very, very happy!

My life is a festival of absurdity. It stems from my job and my personality, I think. What else would you call an existence that leads a person from deep discussions about the future of music therapy and then goes into a rousing chorus of On Top of Spaghetti complete with ukulele chorus?

I love both of these lives. I love the ability to go from one role to another in the blink of an eye. It is the nature of the job. While I am singing On Top of Spaghetti and being silly with my clients, I am also spending time in the other side of the job - the analytical side. I am looking to see which of my clients is engaging in the song and which are not. I am adjusting my music to accommodate differences in client interaction. I am slowing down to encourage clients to coordinate their oral-motor mechanisms and to be able to sing. I am overemphasizing the absurdity of the …

Thoughtful Thursday: Brian Tracy

I have been at a loss lately since I stopped doing Favorite Thing Fridays. I enjoy writing with some structure on some days. I also enjoy alliteration (can you tell?), so I've been looking for something to inspire me to write on a regular basis. I found it last Saturday when my first Music Therapy Mailing arrived at home.

In my mailing, there was a small box that contained a variety of inspirational quotations. A-ha! Something to write about on a regular basis. Direction. Structure. Something else to do!

Be forewarned - there are 230 quotes and ideas in this little box, so there is lots of fodder for these days. I am thrilled. I start by living with this quotation for a week before writing about it. I spend time thinking about the ideas and how they affect or are defined by this place... at this time in my life.

This week's quote is from Brian Tracy.

I wrote yesterday about my dread of the day Wednesday. This quote was really true for me yesterday. Do you know what the wor…

Unhealthy Practices

It's Wednesday.

I know why this day is such a difficult day for me. There are lots of reasons that basically add up to this is always a long day. I know that my attitude has lots to do with what happens during the day, but my attitude is constantly tested by this day.

I am going to try something different.

Today, I am going to try to relax and enjoy what happens with students. I am going to enjoy the kids who are actively engaging. I am going to revel in the fact that my students feel comfortable enough to act out in music therapy and express their negativity in authentic ways. I am going to try my best to stay in charge of what is going on in all four of my sessions.

How am I going to do this?

I am going to eat lots of chocolate. I am going to get breakfast from McDonalds and then eat lots of chocolate. I am going to stay hydrated. I am going to make some music for myself, and I am going to finish a prayer shawl for my church group.

This is my last Wednesday (probably) for the calenda…

TME Tuesday: Improvisation


This word was the bane of my existence for many years. It started in junior high jazz band. My band director was a jazz fiend and had a reputation for turning out good jazz musicians, even at age 12. I was supposed to be one of those good jazz musicians, but improvising got in my way. We were taught the "rules" of improvisation and were expected to stay within those guidelines. I would step up to improvise and everything we had been told about "rules" would rush out of my head. I would choke. I'd get yelled at, and the clutch would happen again and again.

It happened all through high school as well.

When I went to college for a degree in music therapy, we talked a bit about improvisation, but the skill wasn't really encouraged in my practica. We were expected to write songs and then use them in sessions. It wasn't until my internship that I started to find my improvisation style, skill, and chops.

My internship supervisors, Sheryl Kelly, Angi…

Starting the Freak Out Process Now

The one big thing on my calendar that has made everything else shift and move is now over. The AMTA Conference in Kansas City was wonderful and profession-affirming, but I missed all of the socializing that I usually do when I am in the hotel. It is now over. So, now I have to do all of the things I was putting off until after AMTA.

I have two weeks to get myself organized for Christmas. You may be thinking, there are five weeks before Christmas, but I have surgery on my ACL on December 1, so I have to get all of the things that need to be mailed to various places in the world out before then. After December 1, all gifts will be sent directly from the retailers to the recipients. I still have some questions about how the entire thing will happen including how I will get money for living and the like, but I am confident that everything will come together.

Before then, I need to crochet four pairs of slippers, clean my entire house, send packages, talk to the medical folks, stop listening…

Supplemental Sunday: Look What I Got!!

I am home from AMTA 2015, and I am feeling exhausted, full of thought, and contemplative. Yesterday, I bought myself two ukuleles. I've never really had a good uke before and I figured it was time to plunge into the world of ukuleles. I trudged around the conference with my big West bag containing my two new instruments, and, when the day was over, I brought them home to find my first Music Therapy Mailing waiting for me by the door! This is the first time that I've signed up for something like this, and I can tell you that I a)wish I had had this idea because I've loved the thought since the beginning and b)loved the things that arrived. They started a inspiration cycle just before I fell asleep last night.

Here's one of my ukuleles, sitting on top of my Music Therapy Mailings envelope. The uke is a Kala Waterman - it is made out of plastic but is surprisingly good sounding. It is also waterproof and easily cleaned. This is an essential in my world.

It is green! One of …

Saturday Slump

I can tell you, morning comes awfully early during conference. I have been driving in every morning and driving home every evening to 1) save money and 2) sleep in my own bed and 3) rest my injured body so I can avoid getting overtired and pneumonia again and 4) cruise into surgery in two and a half weeks without another issue, so my conference experience this year hasn't been the same as in year's past, but I am finding that this just doesn't matter.

Conference is exhausting!

My conference experience these days is to be in meetings and to present information to others. I don't often get to go to concurrent sessions, or CMTE courses, or institutes. Yesterday, I went to two concurrent sessions (my only ones of the entire conference since I won't be at conference on Sunday morning - my choice). I went to one presentation about developmental theories of supervision (very detailed). I felt bad leaving at the time the session was over, but the presenter was still going st…

Check That Off the To-Do List

I write lots about how I love working with interns. I enjoy being a part of their internship experience (even when it's just through a computer screen), and I feel that there are lots of opportunities for interns to network, learn, and grow during that very intense educational capstone. One of the things I don't write about very often is how much I also love to work with internship directors and supervisors. Yesterday, I got to do just that.

The AMTA Association Internship Approval Committee (otherwise known as the AIAC) ran their FREE CMTE course called "Supervising the National Roster Intern." The room was not full, but it is rarely full when there are 300 seats present. There were many, MANY attendees, though. I think there were more people in that room than we have had in many years. There were 80 people preregistered and we sent out information to more people who just arrived and attended.

We talked about topics that are near and dear to our hearts, about things t…

It's Finally Here!

I'm sitting in the conference hotel, on the Mezzanine level, plugged into a charging station, thinking about what I should be doing instead of just enjoying this moment. So, I'm going to take a bit of time to just be mindful of what I am doing and where I am in this moment - begone, Shoulda Monster!!!

I am here, surrounded by music therapists arriving from all around the world. There is a professor of music therapy sitting across from me right now, reading the Board Book for her position on the Assembly of Delegates. I've seen several friends walking by, and many, many others who are not friends yet, but who have a distinctive "music therapy" look. If you are one of us, you know what I mean. If you are not, then, just trust me, we have a look. As it is the morning before the opening session, people are either in courses or just wandering around, getting organized. It is a wonderful thing to be surrounded by people that love doing the same things that you love to d…

The Pre-Dawn of AMTA 2015

Happy Almost-Start-of-Conference Day! For many folks, conference doesn't start until tomorrow, but for some us poor volunteers, most of the conference actually happens before the official start of the event. Of course, for me, this means that I'm up at 2:33am, trying to get myself so organized that I actually have everything that I need for today. I think I'm pretty well set, but that means that I'm forgetting something.

Both my father and my sister have been harping on the fact that I need to remember that I am hurt and not functioning the way I usually do. Dad has tried to impose a curfew on me (for cripe's sake, Dad, I am no longer 15!), but I am not going to stress about it. After all, what's he going to do? Ground me?? HA! (Now, if it were Mom, that would be an entirely different matter!!)

So, here I am, trying to keep myself calm and in the house until a reasonable hour before heading out to see many of you music therapists (at least, I hope so!!). My day w…

TME Tuesday: Kansas City