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Showing posts from 2016

How to Say What I Feel About 2016 and 2017??

I have tried to start this post several times today. I was sitting in my parents' family room, next to my sister, trying to write something that would represent what I feel on the brink between the old and new years. It just wasn't coming then. I feel that it is coming now - kinda like how nausea indicates that something unpleasant is happening - I hope this isn't that unpleasant, but no promises.

2016 was difficult for many of us in the world. I faced big personal and professional challenges and disappointments. Others lost parents, children, loved ones. There were shootings, hateful actions towards others, and a general feeling of disconnection with many different things including government and each other. We lost many icons in the world of entertainment. Things did not seem to go as planned for many of us out here in the world. 2016 is going to be over pretty soon, for all of us.

2017 holds the best gift of all - an uncertain future.

Who knows what the world will be like …

Upgrading Mom's Music

My mother has FINALLY decided that she would like to have some of her cassette tapes converted to CDs so she could listen to them without having to hunt up a cassette player. Sigh. Alright, then. Mom handed me about 13 tapes yesterday and wants CD copies. I told her not only was it possible, but I could probably get some of them finished before I leave home in the next three days. So, now I get to go on an iTunes hunt.

My mother has a love/hate relationship with technology and always has had that sort of response to "newfangled" things. My Dad is always chasing after the newest stuff, and Mom just shakes her head. Dad got an Amazon Echo and several Dots for the holiday, but Mom can't seem to understand the idea of music on demand and that she can just ask for her cassette music from Alexa. Nope. My mother is firmly stuck in the 1990's for her music listening, and that is just fine with her!

I am trying to find music by Roger Whittaker. Do you know what the most complic…

Thoughtful Thursday: The End of the Icons

I have always loved both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher and the last couple of days have been a bit rough - not just on me, but on many people who loved their work over the years. I have been a bit disbelieving of news stories and people conversing, but it is obvious that the news of their deaths has not been exaggerated but is true.

I don't know if I had seen any Debbie Reynolds movies before Carrie Fisher burst into my life in her iconic role, but knowing my family, probably. I remember the effect of the entire Star Wars universe on my life when I was 7, and Princess Leia was a big part of that effect. Here was a girl/woman who knew what needed to happen and did it! (I think my disdain for Padme Amidala is that she spent most of the third movie crying, not getting things done like Leia! - I'm kinda slipping into Stars Wars philosophy role here. I'll stop!) Let the men come up with an escape plan? That obviously wasn't working for her! She was the military strategis…

Website Wednesday: Makey Makey

A couple of years ago, my sister dragged me into the world of computer interfaces by asking my Dad for a Makey Makey for the holiday. When my father saw what she was asking for, he decided that we both needed one, so I received one as well. My sister gave me a Makey Makey Go for Christmas this year with requests to figure out how to rig it to my cat's behavior (in some way - Auntie wants more pictures of the kitty, I guess!). I will be playing with this a bit more in the near future.

I've played with mine a bit, but haven't really delved into the possibilities of what this device can do. I like that it has lots of implications for clients with limited mobility. I can rig just about anything to do something - great cause and effect work opportunities as well as access to communication or composition or many other things as well.

It wasn't cheap, but it also didn't break the bank, especially when compared to switches, Big Macks, and other software programs. Makey Makey

Projects Done and To Do

As I said yesterday, I am at my childhood home, doing some rest and relaxation stuff before slogging home to the world of cold and snow. I am steeped in my family, and I am loving every moment of it (except for the moments when I miss my cat - like now). Anyway, I am also keeping my idea book/bullet journal close to me so I can write down ideas as they arise. I find that my creative instinct is sharper here than anywhere else, so I take advantage of that and use it as much as possible.

Looking around at the things I received this year, I have some new items to introduce into my clinical life. I have a box of safety sign cards - I already have some safety sign songs and singing games to do. I received some beautiful star-shaped bean bags. (They are almost too beautiful to use with clients.) I have a ceramic R2-D2 beer stein that has absolutely NO clinical value with my clients, but I like it anyway! I am starting to think about theme units and TMEs to use with all of the things that are…

Creative Rest and Relaxation

I am currently in my sister's old room, waiting for my family to wake up and get the day started. There is something about this room that leads to deep sleep and lots of good rest. My sister proclaims that it has to be about the lavender walls (I am HIGHLY skeptical about that one). My mother agrees that there is something about this room that is restful but she cannot figure it out either. If my old room still existed as a guest room, I would prefer to be there, but my mother has turned it into her sewing room (as opposed to this one which is the paper crafting room).

There really is something special about "at home" rest. I think that I cannot truly "rest" when I am at my residence. There is always something that I need to do. Here, though, there isn't much that HAS to be done, just things that COULD be done. That inspires me.

My holiday was pretty quiet (until about 45 seconds after my sister went home). We had a holiday flood in the back bathroom that req…

Resting...Resting

I'm enjoying this whole "sleep until you wake up" routine. I was able to sleep until about 5am this morning, even with the anxious dog above whining, barking, and howling all night. Poor thing. My heart breaks to hear it, but there isn't anything I can do about it.

Resting is something that is difficult for me to do. I just can't seem to quiet my thoughts or body enough to truly rest. My brain starts clicking into my personal goblins, "I Should," "I Could," and "I Would." 

"I should be cleaning the carpet." "I could be making something new for the website." "If I wasn't so silly/stupid/lazy, I would be able to be _____."
It always amazes me how much I get in my own way.
The goblins creep up on me in several ways. They start their whispering when I am getting sick. They sneak up on me when I am sitting in meetings with other music therapists. They lurk behind everything I do, but I've learned how to kee…

Overly Ambitious - That's Me!

I am on winter break, so of course I have a very long list of things that I want to get finished before taking some time for complete relaxation. I am hoping to run the dishwasher several times, I have to do laundry, and I just came back from finishing my Christmas shopping. I need to pack and cook the holiday ham that I received as my "bonus" from work. (All of the facility employees got money - we school teachers/therapists got $20 worth of ham. I'm not sure which I would prefer...) All of these things are adding up to a very long list of things to do in the next two days.

I tend to be this way. I overload myself when I have time without work to keep me occupied. I have learned, however, that I can only get done what I can get done. Now it is time to start - the laundry is going, I've separated out what I need to pack, and I have to load the dishwasher before I can start cooking the ham. I promise to write more tomorrow. Happy Friday, everyone!!

Thoughtful Thursday: 1401 Posts and Missing Therapy

It is almost 6am, and I am still at home, sitting in my pajamas, trying my best NOT to get to work too early. I've been at work by 6:30am every day this week, working extra long days, trying to get my room set up and ready for therapy when Winter Break is over. I cancelled therapy services for this week because my room organization depended on others. I had to wait for cabinets to be emptied by others who were moving before I could finish my own moving process. I received those cabinets yesterday afternoon. I can now finish much of my organization and start making spaces for therapy.

It's been a long week. As much as I need occasional breaks from being a therapist and all, I have missed the interaction with my clients that has come from this week of moving. I haven't been singing as much as usual (singing at the Holiday Sing yesterday doesn't really count), and my guitar has sat on its stand, looking lonely. I can't find much of what I have right now - the whole org…

Website Wednesday: Made for Music Teachers

Because I am still knee-deep in organizing and getting my stuff together in my new room, I am very interested in what others do to get their rooms together. I love looking at how others organize, and I often strive for the same type of coordination in my own clinic area. So, when I am stumped, I go to the internet. Made for Music Teachers has a post that really makes me think about what I'm trying to do in my own space.

I like the idea of having all related things together (that makes logical sense to me). I am currently sorting my stuff into four different categories - explore, listen, learn, and therapy. Each corner of the room will have a different focus.

One corner will be for exploration. For me, this includes sensory exploration beyond that of listening. I have a large cabinet that holds my tubs of bells, pom poms, sensory bottles, sound bottles, and lots of other things as well. I'm going to take my electronic instruments for that center/station/area of the room.

Over on t…

Today is Tuesday, Right?

Not doing therapy is really messing with my internal calendar. It is amazing how much I depend on my routine to keep myself grounded in time and reality. Right now, I have finished the moving out process but am stalled in the moving in process. So, still no students in the music therapy room.

Many people have stopped by to see the "new music therapy room." Most of them make comments like, "I didn't know how much stuff you have" and other pithy remarks. One person came in (the one displaced by my moving but also one of the ones that directly benefited from my displacement 4 years ago) and said, "I'm going to miss this room." I didn't say anything - personal growth, maybe - and allowed her to own her feelings.

Today's task is to scrounge up a desk surface and then set up the office area. Once that is done, I'll use the two cabinets that I have right now to store some of the materials that I have. After I use those, I will get an idea of ho…

Monday of Moving Week

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I am moving into a magical room. Besides the space, the walls are covered with murals painted by my very talented friend, Tawnya. (If you are interested in her artwork, you can contact her here.) I have inherited the play factory room, so there are some things that are no longer relevant (see the elf), but she's going to change the art to bring in some music-type elements. I am going to try my best to keep the murals as a part of my room.

Mr. Elf - I think I'll name him Bartholomew - will soon say "Welcome to Music Therapy." The expectations will also change a bit. I don't use the same terminology as the play therapists, so "No hurts" is no longer relevant. The rest of the murals can stay as they are. They add such a nice whimsy to the room. I love them and am ready to figure out how to use them.

Here's a run down of the murals that I get to live with from now on. There is a ship high up on the wall above my large instrument jam space. Perpendicular t…

Just a Song Sunday: Getting Deeper Into the Music

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I am always thinking about how to use music as a therapeutic medium with my clients, especially when I am in transition and trying to figure out how to make things work differently in my music therapy life. As a result, I write things that are always works in progress as I try to write my thoughts out in a way that makes sense to me. This recent Just a Song Sunday series is the result of just such a process. 

For a long time now, I've been interested in how music therapists do their jobs. I want to know what music therapists do in their day-to-day jobs - more how and why they make the clinical decisions they do than anything else. I want to know what is different from the work practices of a music therapist working with preschool aged clients with a variety of diagnoses and another music therapist who works with the same population group. I also always want to know what is different between a therapist who works with one population and someone who works with a different population.…

Snowbound - Possibly

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It is time for our first, real, big winter storm to come through the area where I live. (The pictures shown today are from winter storms past - not this one, but I feel they exemplify what is possible out here pretty well.) The Children's Christmas Program at church tomorrow has already been cancelled, and I have stated that I will see what the roads are like before trying to get to work tomorrow morning rather than just recklessly flying out of my driveway the way some folks think I drive around here.

There is something sort of serene about the first real snow of the season, especially when you have no place to go or obligations to fulfill. There is no place I have to be today, so I can stay at home while the freezing drizzle starts to "cover the road in a slick undercoat of ice" before the "snow covers the ice, making for difficult travel." Yep. I can live without eggs for the day. No worries.

I will spend the day cleaning and making things. I got some new stic…

A Game Plan For the Right Now

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I start moving today!


In a facility where I have had eight different rooms, I am ready to find another "forever" home. I am absolutely positive that this will not be the last place that music therapy is placed at the facility, but I would like this to be my last music therapy room move at this place. We shall see.

I had a perfect music therapy room at one point. It had built-in storage, custom designed to accommodate my drums and guitars, and was large enough for movement by entire groups but small enough to feel like things were contained. We could use ribbon sticks without risk of tangling up our neighbors. It was wonderful and taken away from me for the room I'm in now.

In between those two rooms, I had three other rooms, but I eventually was able to move into the gray music therapy room three Novembers ago. Some of the cabinets came with me (not all of them fit in the new room), and I got used to the space "given to" me - (not my words).

Shortly after I moved i…

Thoughtful Thursday and a Website...Well Thursday, Too!

I forgot that yesterday was a Wednesday, so I hustled off to work and didn't remember to find a website to talk about. Forgive me if I combine the two on this Thursday of this very strange week?

I think of this as cheating a bit, but I am going to talk about the website for the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Honestly, this website is one of the ones that I refer to most often during the course of the year. I use it to find specific therapists, I look for approved providers, and I also use it, over and over again, to develop learning objectives for my various presentations. The reason I think of it as cheating is that every music therapist in the United States should know about this website. The best feature of the site? Information on how to talk directly to the folks at CBMT! They are willing to answer any and all questions and are our best resource when it comes to finding answers. Go check it out if you haven't. There is so much that is available to us all on that…

Moving Right Along

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My fellow board members of the Online Conference for Music Therapy (registration now open - please plan on attending) know that I am not one to pass up an opportunity to use a Muppet song to illustrate an idea. Here's one for today.


Things are moving right along for me. I found out that I am officially moving on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday of next week with Wednesday already an off-day due to a graduation ceremony and the Holiday Sing. I've decided not to offer music therapy services on Thursday (our last day of school for the calendar year), but to offer access to the student store (now conveniently located within my room) along with a mini open house to get students used to the idea that music therapy is now in a different place.

As a result, tomorrow will be my last day of therapy for the rest of the year. I was hoping to have a couple of days doing therapy in the new space, but I think this plan will work well.

I keep switching between excitement and dread about moving. I hav…

I Can't Afford to Be Sick Right Now, Okay, Body?

It's happening. My annual batch of ick has started, and I am trying to figure out how to tame it long enough to get through this busy season. Yesterday's task was to get the medication started. That always takes a day in bed because the medicine makes me very dizzy and extremely sleepy, so I stayed in my home yesterday rather than venturing out into the world. Today, though, I have to go back to work to get things checked off the to-do list.

This week is shaping up to be a strange week anyway. I have behavior management training this morning (which I am going to watch rather than engage directly in due to a recently sprained MCL that I DON'T want to have to deal with during the next 6 weeks of moving and travel) and the Holiday Dinner on Friday (which I have NOTHING to have to do for - as far as I know!). Also, I should start moving my therapy materials from one room to the other room at some time this week (hence, some of my hesitation at spraining my knee again). I'll…

Just a Song Sunday: What Music Therapy Isn't (In My Opinion, At Least!)

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I love talking to interns about various topics in music therapy that I think are important. I run an intern seminar series on an occasional basis that allows us to talk about things like their rights and responsibilities. I offer this series for free to interns and take advantage of the two month schedule to put in two topics that I think are important to talk about and to discuss, but that are completely based on my own opinion. Those two topics are Understanding Music as Our Tool and The Therapeutic Triad.

During these topic presentations, I spend lots of time talking about some of the things I write about in my blog - for example, we talk about the idea of changing musical elements to support client skill development - using the same song to accommodate client preferences, needs, and concerns. Then, I start the discussion about the therapeutic triad.

That discussion is the one that elicits the most challenges from music therapy interns (which I LOVE, by the way!). Comments include, &…

Where Are You All Coming From?

One of the things that I did when I started this blog was to use it as a personal journey - a way to process the things that challenged me, energized me, and made me think about music therapy as a vocation and avocation. I started writing in the year 2006 with one post. I became a bit more focused when I wrote 38 posts the second year. In 2012, I started to focus on this blog as a part of my self-care routine. In the past three years, my self-care routine has become an almost daily ritual of sitting down at the computer and writing about the things that make me think - things about music, about therapy, and about me.

This year, I set a goal for this blog.

I wanted to grow from the average of 50 views per day to 100 views per day. In order to do this, I started to use social media to let folks know about this blog. I had (and still have) very little idea what I'm doing, but it seems to have worked. For some reason, my goal of 100 views per day is something well in the past. It has be…

Finally Friday

This has been a long week, full of differences and changes in schedules. We had an all-school event, Body Venture, on Tuesday. The event, an interactive, walk-through approximation of the body, required cancelling services, setting up the entire thing, and then tearing down the entire thing. It is always interesting to watch my clients interact and experience the event. There is just something a bit disconcerting about walking through the small intestine, isn't there? There's a video of this event at this link.

The trouble with events like Body Venture has nothing to do with my clients. They seem to handle changes the way they always do - it's with me! If my schedule is changed, I seem to get a bit discombobulated - out of sync with my role in the world. I didn't get to see two entire classes of kids this week. I missed the time I usually get with those classes.

In addition to Body Venture, we also had the annual holiday dinner. I usually don't go to those things (ma…

Thoughtful Thursday: Peace Be With You

It's no secret that part of my work life is that of church musician and Director of Music. I work for a small, rural, Methodist church in between two major cities in my state, and I have been there for many years. It is a break from music therapy but is still music-related and offers a place for performance as well as spiritual replenishment for me and others.

One of the traditions that I love comes in several of our rituals that happen during worship.

The pastor greets us with the phrase, "Peace be with you." We respond with, "And also with you."

I love that greeting and find that it has so many different applications, especially outside the walls of the church.

Today, I want to offer that phrase to all of you. Peace be with you.

I've been surrounded by conflict and negativity lately. It's happening on the radio, in social media, in my own brain as things are rapidly changing. People that I know pretty well seem to be wrapped up in continuing the conflict -…

Website Wednesday: Barcelona Publishers

Happy Wednesday! It's time for our Wednesday Website post, and this week's post is about Barcelona Publishers. Founded in 1989 by Kenneth Bruscia (Hooray! A music therapy hero of mine!!), Barcelona focuses on publishing music therapy specific titles. I like this site and use it when I want or need something new to read.

One of the things that is wonderful about Barcelona is found on the Periodicals page - Free stuff! If you are in any way interested in qualitative research, this page is invaluable, and all the resources are free. FREE! If you haven't taken the time to explore this website, I highly recommend that you do - there is something there for everyone.

(Please note that my opinions are my own - I do not get any financial or product gains from my recommendations. I write about what I find to be useful in my life. All opinions offered are my very own and that's that!)

Some Light Reading

I do hallway duty at my school. I sit in a window, on a cushy window seat, and I watch kids walk to their classes. It's kinda a subterfuge because kids are allowed to walk to their classes without staff members, but there I am, day after day, watching them get to their destinations in an appropriate manner. Because of the subterfuge (which only one student has figured out by the way), I always take things to do when I go to sit in the hallway. Lately, I've been alternating between my bullet journal, my regular journal, and my new copy of Barbara Wheeler's Music Therapy Handbook.

I bought myself a copy of this newly released book when I was at conference in Ohio, and I've been reading it piecemeal since. I usually sit down, open up to a random page and then go to the beginning of the chapter and hunker down to read. I'm using much of the same techniques with this reading that I've developed for my article reading (see anything about being research-informed on thi…

Quickly Checking In

It's another 44 hour work week, and bed was just too tempting to get up when my light went on at 4am so I kept my eyes closed until 5am and now I have exactly 18 minutes before I have to leave for my day job to get in the 10 hours I need to work today. (Run on sentence! I would only get 1 point for that in Ms. Stark's English Class.) ANYWAY -

This is Spirit Week at work. Ugh. Today is supposed to be "wear all white" day. I don't have all white, so I am just going to wear my sweat pants (because I can also wear winter clothing). I have three groups, two lesson sessions, and one individual to see in music therapy today as well as an all-school special event to set up this afternoon. Tomorrow is the special event and something else for Spirit Week. This month continues to get busier and busier.

In the middle of the hustle and bustle, I have to remind myself to take time to engage in something for me...and I do. I will spend some time in the afternoon (planning/prep ti…

Just a Song Sunday: Transforming Music Into Therapy

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The Alive Again movie is making the rounds of social media again. If you are a music therapist and have NO idea what I am talking about, CONGRATULATIONS! You may be one of the only therapists who has escaped this interaction.
I just saw this GREAT movie all about how people respond when they hear music on iPods! It was GREAT! I cried all the way through it!My response? "I know. That is just a little bit of what music can do. I get to see people respond to music every day. That's just what music listening can do. Do you know what music therapists can do with their clients in addition to the iPod program? It is truly amazing!"

This has been my pat answer for some time now. I'm finally starting to figure out what I actually mean when I say those things - the difference between listening to something and music therapy.

I think that this dilemma is one that is shared by many music therapists and non-music therapists alike. 

It looks so simple, doesn't it? Load up some mus…

Taking Some Time for Self-Care

It's self-care time again. Time to focus on something for me rather than something for others. I am part of a group on Facebook that is run by a person that I used to babysit (age check) way back when, and she recently asked if self-care was selfish. I don't think of it as selfish but as necessary. I think if feelings of self-care take precedence over any and all client interaction, then it is a selfish endeavor (and indicative of something other than a need for self-care), but most of the time, self-care has a place in the life of any helping professional. 

This month, I am going to spend some time on proactive self-care rather and reactive self-care. What does this mean? It means that I am not really feeling like I MUST engage in something for me, but that I GET to engage in something that cares for me.

I am going to spend 30 minutes of every hour making something - food, visual aids, gifts for family members, etc - and the other 30 minutes of every hour sorting through and ei…

Favorite Things Friday: Themes

I am going to be moving to a large music therapy clinic pretty soon - don't know for sure when this is going to happen, but I'm assured that it's going to be soon - and I've been thinking about what types of things I want to do once I have the space to do them. The room I'm moving to has four times the size that I have now, so I can spread things out and use that entire space for therapy things. I will be able to split up large groups of students who should not be near each other into smaller groups. I will be able to take out my brand-new parachute pieces and make large parachutes that we can use to launch balls into the high ceilings without fear of knocking out ceiling tiles. I will be able to have certain areas of the room for certain TMEs - sensory, large instrument, group, listening stations, and other center ideas.

I love using themes to organize my thought processes when I am thinking through sessions plans. My new space will lend itself very well to using t…