Sunday, May 31, 2015

7 Movie Clips to Demonstrate the Use of Music for Non-musical Purposes

One of the things that I did quite a bit ago was teach an Introduction to Music Therapy course for non-majors. To introduce the concept of using music to convey specific emotions, tasks, use of music for non-musical outcomes, I compiled a bunch of clips from various movies from my own movie library. Here they are...
  1. Get Over It  - The use of music to convey emotion - I enjoy the juxtaposition of this upbeat song that describes how love is stronger than any other force on earth, used to illustrate the despair of losing a love that you think is your destiny.
  2. Evolution - The use of music to attract attention - Okay, so it's a prehistoric-type mutant, but he uses his singing to direct attention to him in order to save the girl.
  3. The Muppet Movie (the original one) - The use of music to convey emotion, again. Gonzo sings about his origins.
  4. Gigi - The use of music to spur memories - I love this song and love that they remember things very differently.
  5. Stop, Look, and Listen - The use of music to teach a concept, also music to prompt memories - This version of the song is credited to the performer. I couldn't find the original Disney cartoon.
  6. Mary Poppins - The use of music for relaxation - Again, I think most of my enjoyment of this song is the contrary nature of the lyric to the rest of the music, but this is a good example of how to use music for relaxation. I dare you not to yawn during this song.
  7. Follow Me - The use of music to stimulate movement and specific purpose (marching, camaraderie) - sorry that this doesn't have the movie clip, but you can certainly hear the marching in the music.
These are just some of the ways that the movies in my library demonstrate the use of music for non-musical purposes. 

What other clips do you know? Please let me know so I can include them in future posts and courses. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sleeping In

I have finally settled into vacation mode, and the result is I slept in until 6 am this morning! Now, for many of those night owls out there, sleeping in until 6 am is not sleeping in, but for me, the congenitally early-to-rise, 6 am is an extra three hours of sleep that I don't usually get.

This is one of the benefits of vacation. There really isn't much that I have to do - limited demands into my time - so I am able to really rest. No waking up thinking about things that I need to do... there's nothing out there that I MUST do. What a nice respite, but not the way I want to live my life from here on out.

So what am I doing during this vacation? I am working on a new product for the website (I'm hoping it's finished by June 4th - for a launch on "Theme Thursday!!). It's coming along quite well and will be good (I'm tooting my own horn here!!). I finished up a series of intern webinars last night (which always make me simultaneously happy and sad). I have finished conquering the great laundry mountain, and I have been reading all sorts of things - music therapy thoughts by Mercedes Pavlicevic and novels by Heather Graham, Phillipa Gregory, and Nora Roberts. I'm learning how to use QuickBooks and met with an accountant for that purpose. I've gone shopping and started my Christmas list already. I painted two baby gifts that are now waiting two sunny days so they can be varnished. I've been blogging daily, writing therapeutic music experiences, and spending time thinking about music therapy from different angles. I even wrote a letter to my Grandma. Wow - no wonder I'm sleeping a bit more. I've been busy!

It's time to start this new day of vacation. I didn't make my daily goal of getting out of my house yesterday. Today I will. I need to buy some hamburger meat and have room in the freezer, so that will be a good reason to leave my home and venture out into the world. I will spend some time eating food, talking to my family (who now call at any time since they ALL know that I'm home!!), and thinking about things. 

Deep things about music, therapy, and me!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Rain, Rain, Rain

It is raining... again...

This May has been full of rain - here and in many other places as well. I know that many of my Texas Music Therapist Group of Friends are being deluged by rain waters. We're currently in the middle of some storms after an entire day without rain. Our forecast calls for storms for the next 18 hours, at least.


I am thinking about all of my friends, waiting for the waters to recede, and making music to help them pass the time. If you are interested in seeing what they've been doing, check out #‎musictherapyshenanigans‬ to see what's been happening down there.

It's amazing how much rain can change our lives.

My farmer friends spend much of their time hoping for and then lamenting the rain. Lately the rain never seems to come as it is needed. There is either too much or not enough or both happening. Right now, fields that are just starting to sprout are being flooded out. Those crops won't survive. The amount of standing water in the fields right now will affect corn prices next fall. Too much water now changes what we eat later on. It's amazing.

The rain affects so much more than the crops. It also triggers memories and ideas.

One of my family friends, a person in the late stage of Dementia, once had a moment of lucidity when it came to my home and the flood waters. There was a news story about my town and some flooding that was pretty intense there. He looked at his wife and said, "I sure hope that Mary Jane is okay." His wife was surprised that he remembered that I lived in my town - it was a relatively new development. When she emailed me about the situation, I asked her to tell him not to worry. I was far away from any body of water that would directly affect me.

For me, the memories that are triggered most in the midst of a rainstorm are mostly good ones. Playing outside in the raindrops as a very young child. Singing in the church at a late night rehearsal - singing about the magnificence of creation and stopping the music just as a thunderclap shakes the entire building (and, in CA, thunder those days was a rarity). Running from tent to tent in the midst of thunderstorms in the Missouri Ozarks during Girl Scout Camp. Watching the lightning strike over the valley from my high-up dorm room as an undergraduate. Singing to an entire group of clients during a "tornado drill" that turned out to be a microburst that led to our evacuation. I got to lead an impromptu sing-along in the middle of the gym while our school building filled up with gas from a torn natural gas line on the ceiling caused by the winds pushing a 12-ton air conditioning unit across the roof. (That one's not really all that pleasant - I'm VERY scared of tornadoes - but I was able to keep my cool while encouraging others to sing loudly and strongly in a safer location.) I have (mostly) good memories when it comes to rain.

I am hoping, and sending these thoughts into the universe in my own way, that the rain stops soon. I am hoping that the flood waters recede. I am hoping that those affected will be able to pick up, start cleaning up the mess, and move on into brighter futures. I am ready for the rain to stop for a while, and I know that others are feeling the same way.

Stay safe, friends. Stay dry. Let us know what you need those of us who are not as affected to do for you. We're here for you.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It's Been Six Days Now...

...since I started my vacation and since I've been in my music therapy clinical space. My house is starting to be a bit cleaner (still have LOTS to go until it's somewhat clean), and I'm finding my way into a vacation state of mind.

The importance of self-care rings true to me, especially in vacation times. I need the time to be by myself, to be quiet, and to be away from the responsibilities of being a caregiver. It is important to do so, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have time off from my job. The other side of things is important for me as well.

I need time to get bored with my own company. I have a need to feel like there is more I want to do with my clients and with other people. As an introvert (who is told she's really good at masking her introversion in social settings), I have a need to be away from others to refresh and renew my energy. I need to spend time in the company of my cat and only my cat in order to restore my desire to be around other people. Vacation does that for me. I'm not quite to the point of craving my job, but it will happen. Check back in about a week...

Back to the concept of self-care. In my case, the most effective self-care is to be in my own company for a length of time. I am going out into the world every day - to shop, to go to my church job, yesterday I went to a movie - but I am spending most of the time in my space, gaining some control over what has lapsed since I have been feeling overwhelmed, too busy, and sick. It is important to me that I gain control. Until I have the feeling that I have conquered the mess, I will not start to get bored. I will be quiet. I will spend time staring at the cat. I will try to accomplish one cleaning/clearing task today. I'm thinking the file cabinets will be the place to start today. 

When I talk to others about self-care, I try to stress the importance of finding something that is meaningful. I cannot offer self-care prescriptions to others - I can only find my own way. It is amazing how the people I talk to most often do not have a self-care plan. They do not know how to refresh their compassion and ability to care for others. I wonder if this is why our profession is so young. Are we sending entry-level therapists into the world without an idea of how to replenish their care levels? Does their caring well run dry? Is that why they leave the profession? I know I had to find my own way into self-care. I didn't learn much about self-care as a new therapist, either. I had to figure it out. Fortunately, we did talk about being caregivers and we spoke lots about burnout, so I had some tools at my fingertips to help me with the transition into the role of caregiver. Others do not seem to have those same tools.

Where would self-care go into a curriculum? We really don't have a place where self-care fits naturally. Would it be appropriate to talk about it during pre-internship clinical experiences? Better during senior year music therapy theory courses? Better during the first year of entry-level experience? Should it be something that is enfolded into the curriculum from the first day of music therapy education? So many questions.

Can you tell that I've had some time to myself?

As I go through this journey of self-care, discovery, and refreshment, I may have moments when I am ready to go to work. I may have moments when I don't want to ever work again. These are typical of my process but still manage to surprise me each time.

Today? File cabinets, church, and watching Sherlock on my Roku box. Tomorrow? Who knows?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

TME Tuesday - Beep!

Today's TME offers an opportunity to assess memory and sequencing skills, determine response latency, and address impulse control. It is based on a game called "Beep." The game idea is not mine, but the music adaptation is my own idea.

The premise is simple, sing a familiar song with one different word. Ask clients to "beep" when they hear the word that is different. Continue to sing until a client says, "beeps." When the client "beeps," ask them to identify the wrong word and then to sing the correct lyric. Reinforce responses - correct response if client does not identify the correct word. Repeat, changing words. To increase difficulty and to assess client's understanding of game theory, ask them to be the next singer - replacing one word in a familiar song lyric.


Kuffner, T. (1998). The Preschooler's Busy Book. New York: Meadowbrook Press, p. 105.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Tasks for the Day

It's time to get organized for the day. As it is my Summer Break, I am striving for a balance between getting things done and relaxing. To that end, I have devised a system that I think will work - two tasks a day. The first task involves something outside in the world, and the second is something here within the house that needs to be done. As a result, I get an opportunity to go out into the world to socialize as well as to get some sunshine (when it's present - that hasn't really happened during this break yet...), and I do something to make my house a bit more presentable.

Today's tasks?

Go to the bank and the post office - I know that they are not open today as it is a national holiday, but I need to go both places anyway.

Clear my desk and organize the shelves - books that I've had but not used need to be placed someplace else - ebay maybe? An opportunity to clear off my desk so I have some space to create something new.

Maybe I'll even do some laundry.

Now I have a plan to fill up the day. Anything else that happens is just gravy. Time to get breakfast and get started on the inside task.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Synthesis Sunday - New Text, New Ideas

It's time for a new book, and I found one that I've been wanting to dive into for a long time. Here it is. Ta-da!!

So far, and I am into the first chapter, this book is not disappointing. I have been interested in Mercedes Pavlicevic for quite some time, but have not had much exposure to what she has written before now. I am finding much of this book to be poetic as well as thought-provoking. 

In the acknowledgement page, she writes, "cleverness without imagination is barren egoism."

I'm letting that thought sink in for some time.

The preface, written by Colwyn Trevarthen, reads like poetry about the movement of life. He describes clients as "people who have lost musicality and fallen out of tune with others and their behaviours" (p.x). One of the symptoms of diagnosis is an inability to synch movement through life with the musical movement of society. It's an interesting viewpoint on ability and societal expectations. More grist for the philosophy mill.

Trevarthen continues to describe and define "mimesis" - "the ability to act, dance and sing out a narrative of experiences and feelings by moving the body, any part of it, with expressive rhythm, depicting absent events and imaginary transformations" (p. xi-xii). 

Pavlicevic herself starts her first chapter with a quotation that seems to resonate with me on a deeper level.

Although music therapists from diverse theoretical and practical backgrounds define distinctive priorities, music is at the heart of all music therapy.
- Mercedes Pavlicevic, p. 1

Music is (or at least, should be) at the heart of all music therapy. Without music, we are not doing music therapy. This supports my philosophy of music therapy, and it's nice to know that other therapists feel the same way about music therapy.

Chapter One speaks about language and about defining ourselves as music therapists. Chapter Two looks at how we interpret music and assign it meaning within our lives and our profession. I don't think that I am much of an absolutist - I am much more of a referentialist when it comes to music as a tool for therapy. I also saw some parallels between Pavlicevic's discussion about ethnomusicology and the themes presented by Jennifer Adrienne in a chapter about feminist music therapy.

Can you separate music from the culture or societal influences present when the music was created? Personally, I think yes, but there are others that do not. It's an interesting perspective on music and interpretation. I am still puzzling that out for myself.

The thing that I like about my music therapy reading time and the weekly synthesis element is that I have the opportunity to think more deeply about what I am doing in my work life. I read something this week that stated that if you dedicated an hour a day to reading about a specific topic, you could become an expert on that topic in seven years. Off I go! I'm thinking I'll focus on music therapy theory and philosophy. Whee!! 

Adrienne, J. (2006). A feminist sociology of professional issues in music therapy. In S. Hadley (Ed.), Feminist perspectives in music therapy (pp. 41-62). Gilsum, NH: Barcelona

Pavlicevic, M. (1997). Music therapy in context: Music, meaning, and relationship. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishing.