Showing posts from January, 2016

Supplemental Sunday: The Perks and Perils of Pinterest

I didn't make anything this weekend. It's a busy time of year around my house, so creativity has to be placed to the side, but I am still thinking about things to make for my clinic space to enhance the music therapy treatment of my clients. So, when I have a few minutes to think, I go to Pinterest and browse.

There are definitely good things about Pinterest, but there are many bad things as well. For me, looking at Pinterest gives me a place to get some inspiration, but it is also a time waster. It is amazing how long you can spend looking at pictures without actually accomplishing anything. I see lots of ideas, but I don't actually finish them - I just look.

I have a change in theme this week. We are no longer studying solids, penguins, months, and snowmen. Now we are studying new things, so there need to be some new visuals. One of the topics is liquids. That's an interesting thing to try to write music therapy experiences about, let me tell you. Another topic is fast…

My Continuing Struggles with iThings

I am notoriously bad with devices made by the Apple company. I know that when I write about things like this, there are devout Apple-ites out there who stop reading what I write for a while, but I just can't seem to figure out how to make iThings work and keep them working. There is something about my chemistry, or my brainwaves, or my logic that just gets in the way of all things Apple.

Just to get this out of the way, please know that I am not AGAINST iThings, but I can't use them. I've tried and tried, but I just can't seem to figure them out. Case in point? I am currently having difficulty with my iTunes and iPod connections.

Somehow, over the holiday break I just had, I managed to delete about 20,000 songs off my iPod. I'm not sure how it happened, but it happened. All of those songs just disappeared.

It started off innocently enough. I needed some space on my hard drives and found that there were two copies of music in my system - one on my external drive (where…

I Forgot to Be Thoughtful! Oh Dear...

I was driving home, heading to physical therapy and the actualization of imagined pain, when I remembered that it was Thursday, and I was writing a series of think pieces on Thursdays. I forgot to be thoughtful yesterday and didn't realize it until Thursday was almost over!! So, I am going to be thoughtful today!

This week's quote from my quote box was from Dale Carnegie. Dale Carnegie was an advocate for change in how we relate to others. One of his foci was workplace relationships, others were just plain old people-to-people relationships. He wrote How To Make Friends and Influence People in 1936, and there are tons of courses, books, articles that you can read if you are interested in learning more about Mr. Carnegie.

I've lived with this quote facing my computer for the past week. I have just one criticism about how the quote is displayed. I think that the change in sentences should be highlighted more than it is, but that's just a visual preference that I have for m…

Running In Circles

There are times when you just have to keep going and going. This is the time of year when I have many different things going on in many different places, and all are doable, they are just all happening right now. So, I go from thought to thought, task to task, and eventually get everything finished.

I have learned to compartmentalize my thoughts and my time. I think this habit used to drive my interns crazy because I had to take time to finish out one train of thought before switching to another. This seemed to be most frustrating for them in the early mornings. That's when I do my clinical documentation and that's when I can think about what my clients did the day before in treatment. My interns would come in during that time and want to chat. I just couldn't do that. It would distract me from what I needed to do and make my documentation time twice as long. I learned how to let my interns know how I needed to work and that I would be able to address them and chat, but it …

Wednesday Woes

Do you ever hear a phrase and think, "that would be a good band name?" No? Okay, moving on...

I am woeful today because my body hurts. This is a physical therapist-induced type of hurt, and I know it is good for me, but it really stinks to be in the middle of it all. I am using my balm and my hot/cold patches, but it still hurts. I have to take this hurting body into music therapy sessions and still manage to be therapeutic for the clients who are waiting. This is where self-care becomes oh so important for the well-being of the clients we serve.

I cannot take time away from my job. It is not possible at this time to indulge my selfish whims for a long hot soak in the tub followed by heat and ice packs all through the day. So, I am going to figure out another way to care for myself at the same time I am doing my job. 

Step One: a hearty breakfast of potato, bacon, and cheese chowder! (Have I ever mentioned that I do NOT like eating breakfast food for breakfast? Never have, neve…

TME Tuesday: Take a Song to TME - The Steps I Take

Here it is, Tuesday again, and I am thinking about therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) to share with you. I have some ideas about things I could share, but I think I will veer off into my "teaching" mode and share the process that I take when I am trying to develop a song into a TME.

**Just for the record - therapeutic music experiences or TMEs are what I call what I do in music therapy sessions with my clients - others call them applications, interventions, or other things - I call them TMEs. That's a personal choice, but it is good to define your terms as you are using them so that others may know what you are talking about. TME. There you go.**

Does this happen to you?

You are driving down the road, listening to the radio, and a song comes on. You start to engage with the song on a nonverbal level first, responding to the rhythm, the melody, the chord structure, and then you start hearing the words. All of a sudden, the music spurs a thought about a particular client! T…

Why Don't People Sing Anymore?

One of my increasingly many part-time jobs is that of church music director. I love the congregation I work for, and I am very appreciative of the pastor that I work for as well. I've been an employee of the church for many years and have watched things change and change and change. One of the things that I've noticed is that not many people sing in church anymore. The most amazing thing for me is that people I have been told sing solos in school and in bands stand there with their mouths firmly shut during hymns. It makes me wonder why.

Now, I am a singer. Except for some time in preschool when I didn't sing in front of strange people (I cried instead), I have been a singer all of my life. I have loved singing in groups, singing solos, singing when no one was around to hear. When I am in a congregation of people singing hymns, I choose a line and sing it in my own octave (except when people start to turn around - then I go back to the Soprano part). I love the opportunity …

Supplemental Sunday: Frogs and Something Simple

This week had a frog-focus for my upper elementary and middle school clients. I don't know why, but I wanted to do some frog-themed things with them. They are the right age for playing and doing some absurd things, so it just seemed to fit well with these clients rather than the others that I see on a weekly basis.

We played a game.

This is a silly little game that really helps me determine whether or not my client is able to remember (skill 1) and complete (skill 2) multi-step directives. In addition, there is some number recognition work (skill 3), symbol recognition development (skill 4), fine motor practice (skill 5), proprioceptive opportunities (skill 6), visual attention (skill 7), social interaction (skill 8), and cooperation with others (skill 9). There are other skills that occur during this silly little game as well. It's amazing how much you can address in one silly little game.

Full disclosure here - this silly little game did not have to be frog-themed, but I have s…

The To-Do List Just Grows and Grows

'Tis the season for MJ to start getting stressed out. It is Online Conference for Music Therapy season. If you haven't heard about this Conference (affectionately known as OCMT), you aren't alone, but I'm going to tell you a bit about this conference.

This is the first, completely online, international conference for music therapy. We've been running these opportunities for 5 years now, and each year gets better and better. 

Now, in the interest of full disclosure... I am a founding member of this conference, and I am the treasurer and Continuing Education Director, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I like this conference because I get to know and hear about music therapy from around the world. I don't like the insane 24 hours of behind the scenes work and stress that comes from being one of the people who runs this conference, but there are downsides to every conference. This one just happens to be electronic in nature...
In the next (shudder) 13 days, my l…

Giving Myself the Gift of Being Late

I am going to be late today (well, not really late, as I will be arriving to work at the time I am supposed to arrive at work, but it will be later than I usually arrive at work). I am going to refrain from leaving my home at 6am to arrive at work at about 6:50am. I am going to leave my house at 6:30 - not a minute earlier. I have to get gas this morning, so I probably won't be leaving my town until after 6:30am. Oooh, the thrill!

I am not a late person. I am a very early person. I made my entrance into this world three weeks after I was expected (much to my mother's dismay!), and my family accuses me of trying to catch up from that very first, very late appointment. Unfortunately, my family members are also early people, so we are often the very first people to arrive for any type of event.

This gift of being late is something that simultaneously is a good thing and something that may make me stressed out. When I can plan it, being later than usual is something that feels like …

Thoughtful Thursday: Lots to Think About

You may have noticed that I missed a day blogging. (In all actuality, you probably didn't notice, but I like to think that someone out there reads this blog daily!! Hi, Janice!) Yesterday was spent at work after staying at work because we had a significant icing of all roads, and I have bad tires right now that don't really grip the road the way they should. So, I spent the night at work, sleeping on the music therapy room floor in my sleeping bags and on my carpet squares. It was a pretty comfortable experience, and I am glad that I stayed since the reports of what was going on outside were pretty scary (lots of people's cars sliding into ditches, others shooting off the shoulders, and still others ramming into those others). I've adopted a "stay put" type of attitude when it comes to snow and ice.


This has been the quotation that I have glanced at over the past couple of weeks. I've not paid much attention to this sentiment over said couple of w…

TME Tuesday: The Snow Is Coming

Our first Winter Weather Advisory is due to start in about 4.5 hours. We're supposed to get 2 inches of snow covered by a nice coating of ice in about 12 hours. I do not like snow, but ice is worse for me.

Anyway, in honor of our blizzard-type weather coming on its way to our locale - here is a TME idea. Do you know those rain storms that we therapists (and others) do with clients? You know, the ones where you use rain instruments like rain sticks and shakers, and then thunder tubes and ocean drums to make it sound like rain? How about making a blizzard instead?

For me and mine, the blizzard idea means changing some of the instruments. I tend to go with the metallic rhythm instruments to get a more frosty sound. Other than that, the TME pretty much stays the same. I tend to use a script so my clients know what's going on in our story, but a script is not necessary with clients who can image on their own.

I tried to do this last week with my clients, but many of them were just int…

More on Arts Based Research

I actually opened the latest edition of the Journal of Music Therapy (if you haven't read the post titled, "My Shameful Secret," catch up on my secret), and I've read most of it now. I haven't found much that really affects my day-to-day interactions with my clients, but I am thinking about self-care and personal processing in a different way.

I have always used arts and crafts to relax and unwind, but I haven't really used either in my processing of music therapy situations. I am learning a bit about how to look at my artistic expressions through a processor's eye.

For me, though, I think I want to keep most of my processes as self-care rather than as processing. I enjoy making things with my hands and do not want to make some things with an eye on viewing them within a clinical context. So, I am in search of another way to create that will allow me to express my feelings about my job without making my relaxation things work-related.

What can I do?

I always …

Supplemental Sunday: Transferring From Paper to Laminate

I love making things for my clients to use during music therapy. Over the years, I have made file folder activities, sentence strips, lyric sheets, schedules, large things, small things, good things, and bad things as well. Over the years, I have developed a system to test my visuals with my clients.

First step - make the visual aids. DO NOT LAMINATE!
Second step - try with clients. Don't fret if the visual aids get destroyed - it's important to see how clients like the concept and the execution of the concept.
Last step - if clients seemed to find the visual aids helpful to the TME, then make a new version and LAMINATE! If they didn't, write the idea down for the files and then don't keep the originals. If you find clients who will be able to use the visuals later on, then you can make them and laminate them now.

Lamination is my way of indicating that an idea is an effective one. Since I pay for my own laminating materials, I tend to get somewhat picky about what I am go…

Working on My Goals

I've done exactly one of my four monthly things so far this month. I went to a free paper crafting class. Now, the reason that I signed up for this was to meet some new people who have similar interests to mine. The issue with this? I was the only one who signed up for the class.

This is a typical thing for me. If I plan a party, it snows too much for anyone to travel. If I sign up for an event, no one else signs up. If I am in charge of a surprise, the guest of honor goes into labor, has a car accident, or something else happens.

So, that didn't go as planned, but that will not thwart me from my plans to do something out of my house every month. It will also not thwart (I like that word - thwart, thwart, thwart) my quest to complete the other three goals that I identified. I still need to make a contact, complete a home improvement, and give away a box or a bag of stuff this month.

I am still a bit hampered by post-surgery restrictions, but I hope that those are lifted a bit at …

Thoughtful Thursday: Writing As My Therapy

Yesterday, I revealed my shameful secret that I didn't really enjoy or even try to read much music therapy research. Now, there is a talk radio show, run by Janice Lindstrom and Meganne Masko, that does talk about the research being done in our field, so I am not the only one who is seeking this research to practice link. That's reassuring as it seems, at times, that I am solitary in my opinions about this profession. Here is proof I am not alone. (By the way, here is the link to the most recent Journal Club podcast. Check it out!)

I went back to work and during my planning time, I delved my way back into the most recent edition of the Journal of Music Therapy (JMT, 52(4)). This is the special focus edition. I read through the thoughts of Carolyn Kenny and Simon Gilbertson (who I have kind of "met" through the Online Conference for Music Therapy - coming soon!!). I am starting to understand what is meant by Arts Based Research and am finding that, while it doesn't…

My Shameful Secret, and How I am Fixing It

Yesterday, I did something I haven't done in a really long time (alert - this is the shameful secret that I don't admit often). I opened the most recent Journal of Music Therapy. Can you believe it? I actually opened it up, but that's not all. I actually started to read it!! I don't read much research and feel that most of it doesn't really do anything for me as a clinician. That's such a center of shame for me as I usually put the unopened journals on the journal shelf without even looking to see what is in them. (Shame!)

Now, before I opened this edition, I had a plan in place. I was going to work on a project that I've been thinking about for a long time, trying to translate the research being done into my clinical practice. This is something that I don't think we do well for our clinical folks - making the research something that is very relevant to each of us who live in the day-to-day trenches of music therapy treatment. There should be a link betw…