Showing posts from June, 2016


In my professional life, I work with many clients who have difficulty with impulsiveness. Some flit from place to place, topic to topic, activity to activity in mere seconds. Some move from positive interactions with others to negative interactions with others in the blink of an eye. My clients often don't have much awareness of the consequences of their behaviors until they have gone through the behaviors. After the fact, they can process through the ramifications of their actions, but they have no future thought when it comes to decisions that they face.

I was impulsive yesterday.

I was driving home after an okay Wednesday (hooray!!), and I became very homesick. I haven't been home in 18 months which is an extremely long time for me. I didn't have a choice about traveling because I had to go to surgery, recover, and find some financial footing after dealing with Worker's Compensation and salary implications. ANYWAY...

The wave of homesickness just plain old took over. S…

There's Always Something...

I am starting to fill up the gaps in my music therapy schedule with individual music therapy treatment times. This is a great feeling. I'll start individual treatment on July 11th when we come back for our second session of our Extended School Year. I'll get things going for three weeks, reevaluate, and then start up again when the regular school session starts.

I am excited about getting back into this type of therapy. I've missed it, but there's something else going on.

I'm a bit scared.

You would think that my 23+ years of being a therapist would make things lots easier for me to jump back into this type of therapy interaction, but I am a bit scared still. I think most of these feelings have to do with forced light duty and almost a year of being out of my comfortable routine. I know that some of these feelings are rooted in fears of being hurt again. I don't want to be hurt again. I know that many of these feelings are somewhat irrational, but they still need …

TME Tuesday: Everybody Loves Saturday Night - A Musical Piece Without TME

I am sitting here, wondering what in the world to write about today, and suddenly I remember that it's Tuesday! Hooray!! It's a TME Tuesday post. No more thinking required!

Here's a song that I just love.

Saturday night. What a wonderful concept!

Now, just in case you are looking at the languages written here with a critical eye, please know that I learned this from my ID who had written these down. This is a card that I wrote down during my time as a Rehabilitation Therapist (Music), but I learned the actual song at my internship. (All of that information is actually included in these pictures...)

So, what could you do with this song during your music therapy session?

I use it (or have used's been some time since this song came up on my music therapy repertoire radar...I should use it in therapy again...hmmm) in lots of different ways. I spend time using the song to structure making music, to reinforce leisure choices, and for entrainment purposes. I change the mus…

I Try to Post Every Day...

...but there are some days when there just isn't anything to say. I'm beginning to believe that this is one of those days.

My only thought is that of dread. I am not dreading the time spent with my clients. I enjoy music therapy with my clients. 

I am dreading the afternoon of sitting in the dark, constricting room that is my music therapy room. Does anyone else not like their space? Mine is small. It is dark. It has only one small window that doesn't let any type of light into the room. It is painted gray. There is barely enough space for the clients that have to come into to the room, and there is no space for line dancing or marching, running, or jumping.

When I start to feel this way about my space, I leave it. Today, however, I need to stay and make some changes.

I am getting ready to start individual sessions again. This has been something that I have sorely missed and have been looking forward to for almost a year. Over the past year, my music therapy space has morphed …

Supplemental Sunday: Unfinished Projects

Just in case you were wondering, I didn't write anything yesterday. I went to the lake instead and enjoyed the early morning out by the water...ah. Self-care.

Anyway, I am currently in the throes of clearing my house. This is always an adventure in history, as I tend to be a piler of things rather than a tosser of things. I found, in my excavation, this visual that I had put together several years ago for a Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) and for a specific client who has since left. Here was the idea.

This is a mountain. It will stand on its own on the carpet, but I also have a way to help make it more sturdy. It is meant to go with the visual aids that I've drawn for a camp song I learned forever ago - Once An Austrian. There are many links to this song on YouTube, but none of them are the version that I learned, so I'm not going to choose one for you. Sorry.

The different parts of the sequence song are available for adding to the mountain. At the time, I think I was th…

Watching Others to Learn More

I admit, I can be the person who just stares at strangers when out in public. I prefer it when I am outside and can watch others from behind my Dollar Tree sunglasses, but I am that person. I observe.

I spent the morning at my local Firestone shop getting the tires rotated and the oil changed in my car. Then, I went to the Dollar Tree and shopped a bit. I had a chance to observe other human beings interacting with each other.

I love the opportunity to watch people interact. Today, in the hour I spent with the folks at the tire store, I saw interactions that ranged from the familiar to the friendly. The front office folks were friendly to all of us, but there were definitely some folks that had more of a relationship formed with customer and staff. Those folks were greeted by name, joshed around with a bit, and greeted with a clap on the shoulder. The rest of us were greeted with a smile, a friendly greeting, and some light conversation about our cars.

After my car was finished, I took my…

How-To Be "Therapist"

I'm writing a bit these days, coordinating several new projects, and that is leading me to think lots about the process of doing music therapy. I'm talking about the "how to" do bits and pieces of our job rather than the "why we do." Somehow, the "how to" helps me figure out the "why I do" part of my role in this world.


I have always been interested in "how" we do the things we do, not just the "what we do" elements that are out there. I want to know why the therapist chooses the music, song, chord progression for improvisation during an interaction with that specific client. I want to know if there is conscious thought about what the therapist is doing or if the therapist goes into the interaction instinctively. I want to know the "whys" behind what we do with the clients in our care.

I suspect that we don't always have the answer to the question "why?" Here's where the "how&q…

The Second to Last Stop on This Injury Journey

If you've been someone who reads this blog every single day, then you know that I was injured at work last year (almost a year ago now). I was involved with a client who left supervision, barged into the music therapy room, tore up my expensive keyboard, and engaged in aggression. During my attempt to assist the client in staying safe, the client pushed me, my knee twisted, and something popped. I went down.

Turns out, I completely tore my left Anterior Cruciate Ligament, and my life has changed since that time. You wouldn't think that something as small as an ACL could affect many things, but I'm here to tell you that this injury has changed lots of things in my life.

Enough dwelling on the past. It's time to look at the future.

Today, I get to take CPR and First Aid. I have been certified in CPR and First Aid since I was 14 years old, and this is the first time in a long time that I haven't been a card carrying member of those who can assist others. I was told that …

TME Tuesday: A Brand New Idea - Still In Development - Improvisation

I was sitting in the hallway yesterday, doing my early morning hallway duty, and staring at my session strategy sheet trying to figure out what I was going to do with my clients this week. I had only one idea, and it certainly wouldn't take up an entire session, so I needed some other ideas.

I understand the situation here - my post from yesterday included a brief tangent into my views of session planning being just a starting point - but yesterday I didn't really even have much of a starting point for my session plans for this week. So, I sat.

While I was sitting there, I had a spark. Why not improvise? It's silly that I have to plan my improvisations sometimes. Many times, I don't plan my improvisations, but yesterday, I felt the need to plan the improvisation. I decided that I was going to pass out a variety of pictures and we were going to make up a song on the spot. I framed it as a "silly song," and it went pretty well.

The clients that I am using this ide…

What To Do Next? A Time Filler TME!!

I have a bunch of Therapeutic Music Experiences (TMEs) that I use as time fillers. You know the kind of TME I'm talking about. The ones that are always available, easily expanded or shortened to fit the time left, and ones that everyone knows or can learn in a very short period of time. These are the TMEs that I pull out when everything in my session plan has been finished and I still have time left. Some are songs, some are games, some are completely improvised, and some include relaxation techniques.

What I've found, over the years, is that session plans never go exactly as planned. Sometimes, one TME lasts much longer than planned. Sometimes, you go through every idea that you have plus some and still have time left over. So, I have time fillers.

(I've learned that session plans aren't really plans at all but more like strategies or possibilities.

No matter what I, the therapist, sit in my office and plan, my clients change what happens during the actual session. Each …

Supplemental Sunday: Update on the Box Idea

I am trying to figure out what to write about today. I haven't used my creativity to make anything this week, so there's nothing new to display. I improvised quite a bit this week, but like all of my improvised songs, the music is fleeting.

Oooh, I could update you on how the boxes are working in my sessions.

If you remember, I spent time at the beginning of this month talking about using color-coded boxes to help with group treatment. The boxes, in four different colors, contain emotion choices, emotion strips, and any other visual aids that I need during sessions. The idea is to give kids lots of choices for communicating their emotions and to help decrease the wasted time taken in passing one option around a group of 12 kids.

We started using them two weeks ago.

There are good things and bad things about the boxes.

First, kids are starting to get used to how to use them. Some of my students don't understand that they only need to finish one sentence and they complete all of…

The Creativity of Others

I love getting ideas for therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) from other therapists. I've always required my interns to share their TME files (one of their assignments) with me when they are finished. After all, I've always shared mine with them, so turn about is fair play, right?


I am a proud subscriber to Music Therapy Mailings, an idea started by Rachel See and continued these days by Tracy Reif. If you haven't tried this out, just know that it's a lot of fun. I subscribe, and then I get stuff! Sometimes the stuff is focused on self-care. There are always materials and things to do with clients, but it's up to me to take those materials and make them therapeutic - to turn them into TMEs.

It's fun getting things in the mail, first off. Second, there are different things every month, so I get new, fresh, and creative ideas from those envelopes.

When I get my stuff, what do I do next?

I first take stock of what's in there. Second, I start to think abou…

I Need Some Music

This has been a strange week in many ways. It's been a week of emotional responses, political rhetoric, high temperatures, more political rhetoric, and therapy. I am thankful that my work week is over right now so I can just take some time and sit back and ponder what's been going on.

So, I am here, sitting and thinking about things. One of the things that I've felt compelled to do is to avoid all news outlets. Each time I turned on my favorite radio news station, I was bombarded with repetitive information and LOTS of misinformation. I had to turn it off. I simply cannot go through tragic situations as many times as the media seems to want me to. I can't go through the same situation over and over again. I don't.

Instead of listening to the radio, I've been listening to sitcoms on my iPod or listening to my favorite songs playlist (12 hours of music and more to come). This has been good for me because I have been able to use my favorite music to help me feel and…

But I Went Anyway

I really didn't want to go to work yesterday, but I did. I was the semi-responsible, cranky therapist yesterday who went to workand did my job. My cranky attitude did have one benefit - I FINALLY got a time to take CPR/First Aid, so I should be able to start individual treatment sessions in July!! Hooray!!

Today has already started off a bit better. I awoke at the same time I did yesterday, but didn't feel the need to stay in bed. I got up, took my shower, and am now my usual time...with lots of time in front of me. I will be getting myself a big glass of ice water here in a couple of seconds - be right back. Ah, better.

The high humidity and heat that's upon us this day affect me in ways that reach all parts of my life. When things are humid, I ache. My legs, especially, ache all up and down. The joints ache which makes the muscles work differently, and then the muscles ache. I stagger and hobble around all during these hot, sticky days. On these days, my asthm…

I Don't Want To Go!

Ugh. I have to go to work today and do music therapy. 

Most of the time, this is a good thing, but I'm just not really feeling it right now. This is probably due to several things. First, no one in my family is having to work right now - they get to hang around the pool, go to the beach, and go do touristy things whenever they want. Second, it is hot and sunny here. I don't do very well on hot, sunny days. The humidity just wears me out and makes me hurt everywhere, so I don't look forward to heat advisories and high humidity. Third, I am tired. Just plain old tired. There is no good reason, but I'm tired.

So, today it is taking an effort to get myself up and out the door. I will be fine once I get started, but I'm not getting started easily.

The day started before my alarm light went off. (I can't use an alarm clock because they startle me too much. Imagine every day starting with a startle reflex. It's not pretty, and the cat hates when I bolt out of bed, sc…

TME Tuesday: I Don't Like

Have you ever noticed how many songs there are about things we like? Here's one where we get to state and celebrate the things we don't like. I have the sheet music, if you'd like it. Just leave me a comment, and I'll send it to you. Otherwise, take the idea and make your own song!!

Therapeutic Music Experience Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC I Don't Like