Thursday, April 30, 2015


There used to be an old commercial for Heinz Ketchup that has stuck with me. Two small boys discuss how slow the ketchup comes out of the bottle. The point is that all good things are worth waiting for.

Yesterday, in my blog crawls, I found a post by Janice Lindstrom about a couple of challenges that she is going to be doing. I decided to join her in the challenge offered by Julie Palmieri over at Serenade Designs. Julie, a music therapist with a passion for web design, is challenging us to blog about some common topics over the next month. She will assign us a topic each Friday, and we (the participants) will all blog about that topic. Then, we'll share our posts with the #MusicTherapyBlogger community.

I am looking forward to this challenge with anticipation. I am always interested in what other people have to say, but I don't always have the time or the resources to sit and access all the blogs that are out there. It will be interesting to see what others think about common topics and to be able to read those posts. I am anticipating some conversations, discussions, debates, and creative sparks.

I am eager to get started, and very thankful to Julie and Janice for sharing this information.

Now, off to wonder what the first writing assignment will be...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time for Another Great Adventure!

Do you ever just go away for a time to find an adventure? I do not. I am mainly a homebody who just sits at home and enjoys structure and routine. Lately, however, I've been craving something new, so I've been moving into adventurous situations (at least, for me!).

My adventures this year have included expanding my reading and writing about music therapy, traveling to different music therapy programs, thinking about internships a bit differently, trying to come up with creative ideas, starting up a non-profit organization for music therapists (look up the Online Conference for Music Therapy), and working on my role in the greater music therapy world. This year has been an adventure, to say the least.

I am not finished with the adventuring.

I am stepping outside my comfort zone yet again. One of my fortune cookies from my latest Chinese food order stated, "Courage is the mastery of fear - not the absence of fear." So, it is time to take another leap into the void of the future. 

Today's adventure includes a well-stuffed envelope. Who knows if anything will come of it, but it may.

Take an adventure today. Try something new with a client. Figure out how to publish your music. Write something that makes you feel something. Get in your car and drive someplace new. Send an envelope off into the world. Ask someone to do something with you. Speak up in a group setting. Make something. 



1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises:
the spirit of adventure.
3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.
4. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.
5. Obsolete. 
peril; danger; risk. chance; fortune; luck.
verb (used with object), adventured, adventuring.
6. to risk or hazard.
7. to take the chance of; dare.
8. to venture to say or utter:
to adventure an opinion.
verb (used without object), adventured, adventuring.
9. to take the risk involved.
10. to venture; hazard.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

TME Tuesday - Borrowing Ideas from Others

In my Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) file, I have a space for SOURCE. This is one of the most important parts of my TME plan for reasons I will explain in a bit. In this section, I write as much information about composers, authors, recording artists, textbooks, and any thing and every thing else about the music, experience, or idea that I can find.

I am not the author, composer, developer, or arranger of all I do in my music therapy sessions. I only publish things that are my original ideas and my own work because that's all I can publish under the legal restraints of copyright and intellectual property guidelines, but I use lots of things that others have written and composed. I am careful to give credit where credit is due. This is because of an incident that occurred to me during a music therapy conference many years ago.

I attended a concurrent presentation on organizing sessions for preschoolers. The presenter, unknown to me, introduced herself and stated that she was a recent graduate of the internship that I had attended. She started the week after I graduated, so she was the person who shared my junior intern - the link between us.

As the presentation progressed, she showed several videotaped examples of preschoolers singing and engaging in many different parts of the session. She showed one example of a group of kids singing and moving to Wake Up Body, a song I composed during my internship. I had taught it to my supervisors, and they had added the song to their repertoires.

I was thrilled that the song had moved into other formats and locations. It was something that I felt honored to know that my little song had survived my internship past my presence there.

The incident didn't occur until after the presentation. As good attendees, we all lined up to get our books signed. The therapist in front of me mentioned to the presenter that she really liked the Wake Up Body song. The presenter said (and I can quote this because it is still indelibly marked in my brain), "Thanks. I wrote that song during my internship. Everybody loved it there. It's one of the best songs I ever wrote."

My jaw dropped.

Only one of those statements were true. She hadn't written the song. She had learned the song from our mutual supervisors. It was true that everyone loved the song there - it was requested during almost every group session, but IT WAS NOT HER SONG!

I was flabbergasted. I wasn't brave enough to confront her about stealing credit for my song. I was horribly embarrassed and couldn't even think that someone would be so petty as to steal a small little song from someone else. The presenter had no idea that I was the composer or the intern right before her. She still doesn't know.

I don't remember her name, but I definitely remember the feelings that I had when she took credit for my work.

Long story short (yeah, right!!), I am very careful and extremely vigilant when it comes to making sure that I know where my Therapeutic Music Experiences (TMEs) come from. If I don't know an original composer or author, I start with listing the name of the person who teaches me the music or TME. Then, when I figure out who actually wrote the music, I update my TME file to indicate that knowledge and to give credit where credit is due. It is important to do so every place, every time, and in front of every audience. You never know when the composer/developer may be next in line to talk to you.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Plan for Laryngitis

I have laryngitis. It's a wonderful effect of the asthma medication that I'm on, and it is not getting any better, it's getting worse since the medication has increased significantly in the last three days. Wonderful, hunh? It's time to break out the laryngitis plans and do music therapy without singing or speaking.

Easy to do?

Of course not!


You betcha!

What am I going to do this week? First of all, stay as silent as possible. I will play the guitar, I will start and stop the graduation songs, but I will not be able to sing along. I will do a saxophone and clarinet demonstration - playing what I cannot sing or speak about. If I really get in a bad way, I'll play my clients one of my favorite music-based Disney DVDs. I can also break out the card games, Jeopardy, mini-Uno, rhythm BINGO, the instrument memory game, Instrument Go Fish, or any of the other non-verbal TMEs that I have in my TME file. We could also have a dance party or do karaoke (yet again - I do NOT like karaoke days!).

It's essential to have plans for those times when you are not performing at your best but are not sick enough or contagious enough to stay at home. There is nothing other than my laryngitis and my asthma to keep me from being at work. I cannot fulfill my main job responsibility of singing, but music therapy is not just singing. It's so much more than that - fortunately.

I went to my church Director of Music job yesterday to play hymns and lead the choir. I usually lead the singing during worship as well, but I couldn't sing much yesterday. I mouthed the words and did not announce the hymns so I could save some of my voice for the anthem. It was a week where my sopranos were absent, the altos were doing other things, and the tenor was injured, so we needed every voice we could get! I was able to hit half of the notes in the alto part - the melody line, of course - so I was glad that I saved my voice. That was more than I would have been able to do if I had pushed my voice during the entire morning.

Until my voice starts to get back to normal, I will be as quiet as possible. I will save my voice until I really need it. I will hydrate. I will use my favorite remedies, and I will be quiet. Silence is the most difficult part for me.

So, the plan for music therapy this week?

Some groups will dance. Some groups will sing the graduation songs and then play games. Other groups will get to experience my less-than-stellar woodwind skills. Some groups will do all of these things. I will communicate with hand gestures, American Sign Language, and writing on my dry-erase board.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Synthesis Sunday - The Quest for Understanding, Part One

I am trying really hard to understand something that has eluded me throughout my extensive education - why we do specific statistical tests with particular research questions. I've been in about 12 different research courses in my life, and NONE of them have answered my questions about how to determine which test to do. Believe me, I've asked. The statistics folks tell me to talk to the research methodology folks and the methodology folks tell me to talk to the statisticians. It's a run-around that seems to confuse just about everyone. So, I am going to dedicate my reading time and some of these Sundays to trying to understand why specific statistical tests go with research questions.

I started with some old research. I'm currently reading Standley and Prickett's Research in music therapy: A tradition of excellence which was published in 1994. These articles come from the library of research from 1964-1993 and are described as "outstanding reprints." Might as well start with things that are "outstanding," right?

I've been flipping around the book, looking at various articles and trying to figure out what the research questions are and what statistical tests are used in each case. I'm starting a list.

Here's what I want to know. I want to know if there are specific types of research questions where specific statistical tests are indicated...

I am a chart person, so I'm going to start a chart... I've posted it on my website on the Ideas and Experiences tab. Look at the bottom of the page. It's not complete by any means, but it will grow as my knowledge grows.

Author --- Article Title --- Research Question --- Statistical Test --- Reference Information

So, I will write the name of the author, state the title, figure out the research questions and match (possibly) the tests run to the research questions. Then, I will finish up with the rest of the reference information so others can find the articles, if they would like.

What have I found so far?

There aren't any clear indications yet of why folks do what they do. I can understand some of the reasons, but then others seem to need the same level of statistical investigation and do not. Blech. This will continue to be my quest.

Please feel free to check out the pdf that's on the website and see if you have any insights into the process. I would love to know if there is a magic formula or secret code that I've missed over all of these years...


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Early Morning Routines

I was reading Janice Lindstrom's blog the other day (She's doing an A-Z blog challenge) and found "R is for Routines." In her discussion, she wrote about getting inspiration from, and I went over to the website to see what it was all about. I am now a subscriber. I started thinking about my own routines.

My early morning routine is my most consistent routine at this time. I wake up about 4:45 (if it's a late day and I get all the sleep I want!!), use the bathroom, take a shower, and then go to the computer. That's right, I start my day with hygiene and then the computer. I go to all of my email accounts and answer emails or place them on the to-do list for later. I then move to my blogger account. I blog for a bit, and then I play my three games. I fix breakfast and lunch in there somewhere. After that, I leave for work.

I don't have a consistent after work routine.

I have lots of work routines. My first step is to turn on the computer and look at emails. I then start my documentation from the day before. I have never been the type of person who can debrief immediately after a session. I can talk about some of the details, but I often have to move right into the next session, so I don't often have time to do my documentation immediately after each session. I do my documentation the next morning. I can concentrate on what happened more easily with some thinking space. I then finish my preparation for the day, and then I go out to greet our bus students in bus duty. Then, my daily therapy session schedule starts.

I like routine. I like knowing what should happen at different times of the day, but I can handle some variation in routine - just not lots of changes in what I do every day. 

My routine at work has been interrupted lately. I've been giving presentations in the middle of sessions, and I've had to attend interviews and meetings in the middle of other sessions. Add to that an increase in my asthma and allergies, and most of my routines have changed in the past three weeks. This is probably why I am so out-of-sorts. I don't have my structure through my routine. Hmmm.

Time to take back my structure and my routine.

My first task, according to, is to clean my sink.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Favorite Things Friday - The Library

My favorite Friday afternoon activity is a quick crawl around the small library in the town where I work. I completely skip the non-fiction section (I know that I should probably be finding things about factual things, but I can firmly suppress this goblin - I LOVE FICTION!). I can usually get in and out in 15 minutes. I enter, take my bag, and roam the fiction section. I have some authors that I go to first right now. I am enjoying Janet Evanovitch and Dave Berry right now, so I go there first to see if the next books in the series are available, and then I just go on impulse.

There is nothing more comforting to me than rooms and rooms full of books.

Library books are there for the taking - albeit temporarily - but, there for the taking! I can get any book that I want. I can also get movies, CDs, ideas, and inspiration at the library.

(And, it's free as long as I do what I am supposed to do. I admit, I have had to pay fines occasionally, but, in my defense, the last time, I had the flu and couldn't drive the hour to the town where I work in order to get the one book that I couldn't renew online back to the library. I did return it as soon as I could. so I cheerfully paid the fine...)

There are many libraries in the town where I work, but they are not as convenient for me as the one in the small town.

I have my library bag, my card, my KS state library card (that's a thrill!!), and a quest for some specific books! Cannot wait!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Remember Why I Do This

Yesterday was Wednesday, the day that I dread more than the others because of one group of kids. They are not a cohesive bunch and just plain old need individual services instead of group services, but our service model does not include two music therapists, only one, and group services instead of individual services, so we're kinda stuck the way things are (run-on sentence, Ms. Stark would NOT be proud of me AT ALL!). Anyway, that group ran GREAT for the second week in a row, and the student who screams when no sounds are present laughed during the cacophony of "Big Instrument Exploration" with nary a complaint.

I was singing and playing during one of my sessions (I can't remember which), when I had to cough. This is a persistent problem right now with the blooming and blossoming that's going on out here. I stopped playing and singing in order to cover my cough (which is just going on and on and on). One of my students said, "Why'd you stop playing?" I responded, "Well, I'm constantly telling you to cover your cough, so I had to do the same thing, didn't I?" He thought for a moment, and then said, "Oh, that's okay then." I giggled a bit.

There are times when my job is difficult. There are times when it is joyful. There are times when the administrative duties overwhelm me and make my job as a therapist intolerable, but my clients make me realize that I still love my profession, even with all the frustrations that come along with it. 

My kids are concerned when I can't breathe. They notice when my singing voice is not quite right. They spend time looking for me during music therapy time, and they give me what for when I miss a session! 

They follow me through singing, dancing, lip-syncing, silly games, deep conversations, relaxation exercises, and every place I lead them. The willingness they show to be in a therapeutic relationship with me both humbles and frightens me. It is a great honor to be a therapist. 

My job, even with all of the administrative nonsense and rigamarole, demonstrates to me each and every day that I am meant to do this. I am meant to be a MUSIC therapist. I am so lucky. I found this profession when I was 14 and am still as enthusiastic about it as I was at that time many years ago.

I get to go to work now, run four large groups, see three individuals, teach a songwriting lesson, and then get to come home to talk to interns about being an effective leader. This is the life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Plate Is Too Full - Time to Go On a Diet

Do you ever have one of those days where you realize that your plate (either real or metaphorical, like mine) is simply too full?

This morning, I awoke earlier than usual and my brain started working and working and working. It would not quit, and it just kept churning over and over again. So, I got up and started my day.

I started answering emails, planning my day, thinking about committee work, trying to figure out what was the priority, and then getting to the list. The list got longer and longer, but I did get some of the items off my (metaphorical) plate.

This time of year is always a bit too busy. There are reports to file, sessions to plan, people to talk to, other duties as assigned, talent shows and graduation ceremonies to arrange, meetings to sit through, training to complete, housework, documentation, and the list goes on. When we have snow days, I get to take another week off during this time of year to escape some of the tasks that continue to appear. Alas, no snow days this year, so I can't simplify as I usually do.

It is time to go on a diet - literally as well as metaphorically.

I'll not go into the literal diet plans, but here are the metaphorical diet plans.

  • I will not accept any additional responsibilities in the next three months.
  • I will complete only my responsibilities and not do the job of others (especially in OCMT and AMTA)
  • I will make a master list of things I need to do in order to keep track of what I have done as well as what I still need to do
  • I will take time for self-care during these times of increased responsibility
So, what will I prune out of my current diet? I don't know, but I will. I will figure it out. Find the excess and don't sweat the small stuff.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

TME Tuesday - Changes In Matter

One of the things that I really enjoy is writing music for education curriculum. My dream job is to write music for Sesame Workshop. Anyway, I had a theme here that included changes in matter as a topic for science for kids with severe intellectual involvement. The idea was to give kids a chance to identify different states of matter. It was pretty successful - I spent time finding pictures of water in liquid, gas, and solid form. I laminated them, but still don't have five other things to do with them, so they are in a file folder here at home. I have to figure out five other things to do...

Here's my logo for products that take educational concepts and make them into musical offerings.

Changes in Matter TME
Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC 

Purpose: To reinforce science topic of changes in matter (specifically water as liquid, solid, and gas); symbol/icon representation;

Source: Original chant. © February 9, 2015 by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC.

Materials: Pictures of water in three states (attached); external beat (from keyboard or beat track)

Environment: Group members in arrangement that allows everyone to see the therapist and the pictures

Song/Chant/Words: Chant
Things change. Some change more than others. Water can change into three different things. Water – as a liquid is wet, wet, wet. Ice – water as a solid, brrr, cold. Steam – Water as a gas, hot, hot, hot.

Water – leave it alone, it stays a liquid – wet, wet, wet. Add cold, water turns into a solid, ice, ice, ice. Add heat, water turns into a gas, steam, steam, steam.

Which one is a liquid? Show it to everyone. Which one is a solid? Show it to everyone. Which one is a gas? Show it to everyone. Some things change.

Procedure: R = Reinforcement opportunities; C = Redirection/Cue opportunities; A = Assessment
1.      C= start the chant, displaying the pictures as indicated in the song.
2.      A= assess which group members are watching the pictures
3.      R= reinforce group members who are attending to the song and the pictures. Redirect group members who are not attending.
4.      C= continue the chant, offering opportunities for group members to answer and fill in the lyrics.
5.      R= reinforce group members who answer questions correctly.
6.      Repeat steps 1-4 until group members have completed all identification and can identify the appropriate matter state or until time runs out or group members show s/s of boredom or disengagement.

Therapeutic Function of Music:
The rhythmic foundation of the beat track offers opportunities for entrainment. The rhythmic format and meter can be changed in order to assist group members in paying attention, coordinating movements and responses, and in singing the lyrics.

None - chant
Verbal pitch varies
Variable – requires steady beat pattern to encourage entrainment to external stimulus
Variable in order to accommodate client preferences and needs
None - chant

Variable in order to accommodate client preferences and needs
Variable in order to accommodate client preferences and needs – may add instruments
Variable in order to accommodate client preferences and needs
Chart adapted from Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2010). A Closer Look at the Therapeutic Function of Music. Presentation at 2010 American Music Therapy Association National Conference: Cleveland, OH.

·         Focus on one state of matter at a time. Separate into three different raps/chants.
·         Change the tempo and rhythm in order to assist group members in entrainment to the external stimulus.
·         Leave out words and wait for clients to fill-in.

·         Adapt the song to include other things that change their matter states.
·         Layer the chant to include all three matter states simultaneously.
·         Invite group members to mix-up the words in order to lead peers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Other Duties As Assigned

There is a phrase in my job description that gives me fits. It is the last thing on the description and states, "other duties as assigned." It is this phrase that has led me to be a presenter for PBIS last week and is leading me into teacher interviews this week. Teacher interviews are not arranged around my schedule, so I am having to figure out what to do with three groups today (my only groups today - I actually get some planning time today for the first time in four weeks) without me. (It would have been nice to have the planning time BEFORE having to go into interviews, but this isn't a perfect world!)

As I have aged (and aged and aged), I have realized that I need to know what the other duties could be before I commit to something. I also have to contemplate taking anything on that is more than I can handle at any given time. This is difficult for me to do. I want to be superwoman and do it all, but I have learned that I cannot do it all.

My vision board (started on Saturday) indicated to me that I have goals for my own business as well as goals for internships affiliated with AMTA. Those seem to be the areas where I am heading at this moment. It was easy to fill out those places on my vision board, but other aspects of my life were not as easy to fill out. Maybe it's time to prune some things out of my life.

Time to look at my time, the type of time that each task takes up in my life, the level of interest and commitment required by everything, and see if there is anything else I want to do with my life. Right now, there are lots of things that I have to work at and not much that I get to play at - that's one thing to change. I want to play a bit more. The vision board I created on Saturday isn't complete. It's my work vision board, but I haven't put too much of the personal into it yet. Interesting.

Synthesis time - There isn't much going on in the personal side of things in my existence right now. I didn't even think about that part of my life when I sat down to create a vision board. Time to think about why that occurred and how to change the situation. Hmmm.

Anyway, I am going to work to participate in some interviews, make up sub plans for the groups that I'll be missing, and think about what I want on a personal level for my vision of myself.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Synthesis Sunday: The Reading I Did This Week

I tried to start my hour of reading every night habit this week. I got two nights finished before my schedule intruded. So, this week's goal is three nights of reading (or more, if I can fit it in, but no pressure on me).
This week, I finished reading the book I started quite a bit of time ago. A Comprehensive Guide to Music Therapy was an interesting read. It's a wonderful overview book and opened my eyes to many of the music therapy domains and realms that I have not explored. There are still many, many more that were not described in this book, but there was enough information in this text to make it valuable in my continuing journey to find my way in this vast and complex music therapy world. There were lists of names of music therapists who have developed theories, methods, and supported their ideas through research. There was a discussion about Evidence Based Practice in a format that allowed me to understand what it was we are constantly talking about. I spent lots of time in contemplation after completing my reading of the text.

The next night, I started reading Research in Music Therapy: A Tradition of Excellence by Standley and Prickett. This text is a compilation of research articles from the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives from the past. I enjoy reading what we used to think was true about music therapy. Some things are still true. Others are no longer widely accepted. It is interesting to track how someone like Michael Thaut was writing about population-specific music therapy back in 1989 and to compare that to what he writes about today. It is interesting to watch thoughts evolve.

The article that I read was entitled, "The influence of music therapy interventions on self-rated changes in relaxation, affect, and thought in psychiatric prisoner-patients" by Michael H. Thaut. It was originally published in 1989 in the Journal of Music Therapy. There are glimmers of Neurological Music Therapy in this discussion, but the ideas are not fully present in the research with persons with psychiatric diagnoses. It was interesting to read from a historical perspective.

One of the major things that my synthesis reinforces each and every time is the continuing disconnect that I have between statistics and research questions. This has been a major challenge for me forever. I have taken many courses on both statistics and research methods, but there has never been one that told me what test to do to answer my questions. It's not been for lack of trying to figure this out, but the concept still eludes me. Solution? More reading research and analyzing the questions as well as the types of statistics used in the research to answer those questions. I will decipher this mystery!

By the way, here is a link to a website that I've looked at several times before that starts to cast a shimmer of understanding on the dim part of my brain. It comes from the Institute for Digital Research and Education at UCLA. I hope it will help to reinforce my exploration of this world of research questions and corresponding statistics. (Here's the confusing part - I certainly understand the chart, but I still don't understand how the chart matches up to the research questions that people have in their research - I told you, there is some sort of block in my brain...)  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Visioning - Planning for a Future

I am involved in many, MANY organizations and committees and boards that are concerned with planning for the future. We've been slinging around the term "Visioning" lately. I know what "Visioning" means, but it was worth a bit of time sitting down and doing a bit of exploration to see what others vision and how they do it.

Start with a question. Something along the lines of "Where do you see yourself/music therapy/this organization in __ years?" I've found that, lately, I need to start with "Why do you want/need to be in this organization?" And, "What do you want to be doing?"

After you decide what you want to do, it's time to start thinking about the future. "What will I be doing in this role __ years from now?" "What do I want to be doing with myself __ years from now?"

I am going to get some visioning started today. I have to think about things in several places, but I have to also vision for myself. What do I want to do in my future? There are some things I know I want for myself in the future. I want to continue to blog, work within AMTA, be involved with OCMT, and run webinars. I want to continue to be an internship director. I want to spend time contributing to the profession of music therapy in ways that fit my personality, talents, and interests. I also want to spend time working with clients that challenge me within an environment that is supportive of both music therapy as a profession and of me, as the music therapist. 

It is important to get what you need out of your profession. If you are unhappy, it is your right and responsibility to find your bliss. Cliche comment, I know, but it is true. Life is too short to be completely unhappy, so find ways to be happy.

I am going to spend some time in an active visioning process today. I am sure that the process will seep into all of my music therapy and life roles - my roles often overlap, so it will be somewhat natural to have each part of my life on the same vision board. I hope that the process will help me focus on what I want out of my life.

So, here I go. I'll post my board when I get it finished...

Some resources to help you get started on your own vision path:,%20Anderson%20and%20Wedum%202011%20Strategic%20Visioning

UPDATE: Here is the vision board that I have started for myself. I already know which areas I am ready to start developing and which ones I can coast in at the moment...

Vision Board - 2015