Showing posts from November, 2016

Website Wednesday: EducateAutism

It is Wednesday again - a time for looking around the internet for something that I use as a music therapist. 

I enjoy looking for materials, and I especially enjoy talking about the thing that I find. Today's site is

I was looking for some simple emotion cards that went farther than just the regular "happy, sad, and angry" for my students who are unable to communicate using verbal language. I was also looking for the same cards to represent very different emotions and some nuanced emotional states. The last criterion that I had was that I wanted the visual aids to represent a variety of people - not just the pink people on the basic PECs that I had found at other sites. I wanted some brown folks as well. I found them all at this website...for free! (That's very important to a music therapist working for school pay!!)

Now, I'm pretty picky when it comes to visual aids. I usually start off with a vision in my head, and I either keep searching for …

I Wonder...

Yesterday, a bunch of high school seniors from a high school class came to visit my facility. I have no clue what class they were taking, but they were brought around the facility and then three of them came to one of my music therapy sessions. I was kind of taken by surprise when the first group came around and the tour leader asked me to explain how to become a music therapist. When the second group came around, I was a bit more prepared.

"How many of you have heard of music therapy?" I asked. No hands were raised, no recognition of the title, very little interest conveyed. "That's not a big surprise. My goal as music therapist is not only to teach my clients how to make music, but to use music for the completion of non-musical goals. For example..."

I wonder how many high school students out there know about music therapy as a career.

Now, this was not a class of musicians. Like I said, I'm not sure what the title of the class is, but it wasn't my usual…

Juggling All the Balls in the Air

****CAUTION FOR ALL YOU NON-MUSICIANS OUT THERE***** This is NOT the month to be telling the musicians in your life that they really need to slow down and enjoy the season. It's just NOT the time!

It's getting busy around the music therapy room these days.
I have to find out if the new principal wants a holiday sing along at the end of the semester (exactly 24 days away from today). She probably will because that's the type of person she is, so I'll be coordinating that program. We were contacted last week about a surprise graduation ceremony occurring on that day as well, so I'll be cancelling services in order to coordinate the sound and music for that ceremony.  We have an all-school special event next Tuesday that will take over most of next Monday afternoon (one of my prep/planning times) and all of Tuesday, so no services that day. I will be at the doctor this Wednesday for my final post-surgery check and am hoping to be released from care at that time, so no …

Just A Song Sunday: Further Refining the Thought Process

I awoke this morning thinking about what I wanted to write about today. That in itself is not an unusual occurrence - I tend to think about this blog when I am trying to deny the fact that I am awake and ready to start the day. I knew that I wanted to continue the discussion that I started with you and with myself last week (see the Just a Song Sunday label to the left for more of these posts), specifically the difference between intervention plans and therapy.

I have always been interested in what my Occupational Therapist mother calls "therapeutic use of self." Apparently this is something that OTs study, and I think it is something that music therapy students (and ALL therapy students) should study as well. I'm not sure that we offer this type of discussion in a formal way (at least, they didn't when I was in school...any of the times I was in school).

Ann Cronin Mosey states that conscious use of self is: "the use of oneself in such a way that one becomes an e…

Music, Music, and More Music

My trials with iThings continue, and I am being proactive this weekend by replacing all of my music files by ripping my CDs back onto my computer, but in a more local folder this time. Translation? I'm spending lots of time ripping CDs. I'm also NOT hooking up the iPod to the computer until after I am finished with most of my music files.

I find this to be an interesting trip down memory lane. I can remember details of clients who requested specific songs which led me to purchase the CDs in the first place. I can remember when I first heard specific songs and the extramusical associations come flooding back. I remember how powerful music is in my life and in the life of others when I go through my CD collection.

My music collection is eclectic. Now, I don't use that word lightly. It is not something that I just toss around, but in this case, I think it is apropos. I suspect that most music therapists have a collection of music that includes fugues and fingerplays, soundtrack…

The Day After Thanksgiving

Today is the infamous Black Friday celebration here in the States. In case you've never heard of this day, it is the first official day of the Christmas shopping season and people tend to go shopping on this day. Stores open early and offer "deals" to encourage people to go in and spend money.

I don't participate.

I am much more of a Cyber Monday type of person. Going to a store doesn't really appeal to me all that much when it isn't the holiday season, but stores at this time of year? No thank you AT ALL!

It amazes me how quickly we, as a culture, go from "I'm thankful for" to "let me get as much as I can!"

I'm going to find a way to extend my feelings of gratitude from the holiday of Thanksgiving into this season of shopping and accumulation. 

The first thing I'm going to do is to avoid all stores today. The best way for me to find the spirit of the season is to not be part of the maddening rush to get more and more things. I am a…

Thoughtful Thursday: Thanks

Okay, I'm warning you, it's Thanksgiving, and I'm feeling a bit sick, so be prepared for sloppy writing... You've been warned.

For some reason, Thanksgiving mornings tend to be the ones where my neighbors decide to have their domestic quarrels out where all of us can participate. Four years ago, it was a father throwing out a mother for her drug use with her four teenagers screaming just outside my door at 4 am. I called the police. This morning's altercation was significantly calmer than that one, but it woke me up none the less. One of the couples from upstairs was out on the lawn, fighting. I think they were fighting quietly - I couldn't really tell with the fans on - but something woke me, so I think there was some door slamming going on at one point. The situation ended when the woman walked off and the man left in his truck. I didn't have to call the police.

Long story short, I think that this day has the potential to bring out the best and the worst in…

Website Wednesday: West Music

***Please remember that I do NOT get any compensation for my discussions about these websites as you go further into my personal experiences with West Music Company. Nada. Nothing. All opinions stated are my own and all opinions are simply that - opinions. Thank you.***

It is Wednesday, and time for yet another Website Wednesday post. This time around, I picked a company website, West Music.

If you are therapist in the States who hasn't ordered instruments, materials, or books from West Music, you are really missing out on a good experience. My facility recently ordered some instruments from them. The administrative assistant came to the music therapy room about two weeks later to state that the folks at West had sent her "a HANDWRITTEN thank you note for the order!" She was thrilled that the company cared enough about our business to thank us for it! She told me that it was the best way of ordering materials that she had ever experienced!! She asked if I needed anything e…

It's Been Almost a Year Now

I am getting ready to go to my surgeon for my (hopefully) last post-surgery check on the knee that had to be operated on last December. It has been a long, LONG year of questions, realizations, and therapy.

I have come to the conclusion that every therapist should have to go through therapy for something that they didn't want to happen to them in the first place. Having little to no choice is something that makes for interesting revelations about yourself during the process. It's one thing to say something like, "Well, I think that being in therapy is a professional responsibility," and a completely different thing to say, "I have to go to therapy to get better." I've done both, and I can tell you, the second statement is the one that led me into greater insights into myself as a person, a patient, and a therapist.

I have one more test to go through before I can be released from care. It will be with my physical therapist, a great guy who pushed me into a…

Thanksgiving - Giving Thanks

In the past several sessions, I've been improvising a song entitled I Am Thankful For. This is a therapeutic music experience (TME) that I have used before and will use again. It's main goal (primary goal) is to encourage thankful thinking - something that can be very difficult for my clients as being grateful is an abstract concept.

The concept itself is simple - write down or draw things you are thankful for and then craft them into a song.

Some of my clients have really gotten into this TME - they've written or drawn things and then have sung them for their classroom groups. Others have used the concept of being thankful as an excuse to have a behavior so they could escape from the concept. Yet others have written things and then asked me to set it to music.

Giving thanks for something that you have when you think that everything has been taken away is difficult. My clients are often taken away from family, family often relinquishes parental rights, and my clients often re…

Just A Song Sunday: Eureka! I Found It!!

For weeks now, I've been struggling with the idea of these posts. I've been torn between the idea of putting up "how-to" scripts on how to run therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) and trying to figure out how to maintain the integrity of the education, training, and experience of all of us music therapists out there. I never want someone using my ideas to state that they "do music therapy because of this blog post I read once."

So, I went to a presentation at National Conference which reinforced an idea that I had found but hadn't really been able to articulate. The presentation was Curriculum-Based Music Therapy: A Guide to Writing Structured Interventions and was led by Ryan Carroll, MS, MT-BC and Kate Stanley, MT-BC. This is a topic that I feel I know quite a bit about, and I attended to see if others were thinking the way I think. Turns out, they do!!

Anyway, I was sitting in the presentation, taking notes when Ryan Carroll said something that simply …

The Ups and Downs of Life

Today has been a busy day and it is only 10:30-ish in the morning. I awoke at 3am (still trying to get used to the time change) and immediately started to work on tasks for the Online Conference for Music Therapy, Inc. It's almost time to open up registration, and I need to finish several things before we can do that. I was able to get almost everything finished, now I wait for others to do their parts. Then, I took my car to be serviced - I got a message that I needed a "B 123" service - $256 dollars later (after a $50 discount), I then went to the post office. I received a Bonus mailing from one of my favorite music therapy resources, Music Therapy Mailings.  I am currently in between mailings, but I will subscribe again pretty soon.

I'm home now, blogging, cooking, and making plans. There is chicken in the crock pot and an almost empty freezer to start filling again. Before I can make too much more for my freezer, I need to grocery shop, so lists are being made for…

Conference is Over - Moving On

The 2016 AMTA National Conference is over and a memory now. It is time to look towards the next things happening. I'm going to be presenting at the 2017 Online Conference for Music Therapy and at the 2017 Super Regional Conference between the Western Region and the Midwestern Region of AMTA. I'm enjoying presenting to others again, and I am looking forward to a trip to Denver before my Spring Break officially starts in March!

I haven't yet unpacked. I've been spending lots of time sleeping lately, getting re-accustomed to allergy medications (which should be no longer needed come Sunday and a hard freeze!!), trying to recover from travel last week, and due to exhaustion caused by a lack of oxygenated blood circulating around my body - gotta love my allergies! I am anticipating some fun rediscoveries when I finally do unpack my bag.

Here's a picture of the loot I got while at conference. Some of them are things I received. Others are things that I bought. I didn't…

Thoughtful Thursday: So Much to Think About

I am stuck in a thought loop these days. The thoughts are not always positive and have lots to do with the happenings of last week here in the States. I think I have a handle on what is going on, and then I see or hear something that just sends me back into a tizzy.

Many of my thoughts are based on the just past election, but I don't discuss my politics with other people, so this will NOT be a political blog post. There are many other things going on in my small world - are you ready for a glimpse?

My family is currently going through a situation that we had to live through about 20 years ago. I know this experience will make us a stronger nuclear family unit, but we have to live through it first. This all started on election day and has taken over most of my family interactions over the past week. This experience covers everything like a haze, coloring all other things.

I was offered a new space for music therapy yesterday. The space is four times the space that I have now. The ceil…

Website Wednesday: Affirmation Sites

It's been a week, hasn't it? No matter how you voted or who you rooted for, there are many things that have happened this week that need some extra thought and consideration. This country is due for some changes, and whether you think they are good changes or bad changes, we are all going to have to figure out how to work together in ways that we haven't had to consider for many many years.

In situations like these, I really need some reminders about the value of a small gesture from a small person and how that can change the attitude and viewpoint of others, so I reach for websites that promote those ideas and values. Here are some of my favorite affirmation sites (please note, these are primarily meant to have some humor associated with them - not just serious thoughts).

Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley - Here are some transcripts from Saturday Night Live simply because, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!"

The Only 100…

Be Prepared for Something Light and Fluffy

I am feeling things way too deeply these days. Facebook and National Public Radio aren't helping me avoid the emotions going on, but I am trying my best to figure out what I think and what I want to see in this new climate. So, in order to do that, I am just going to focus on something else until I can make some sense of how I am going to write about what is going on.

There are so many thoughts, feelings, and problems going on these days that I am trying to avoid in this moment that my only respite is cuddle time with my cat. Bella has welcomed me home from my travels in the usual manner - cuddles, loud rumbling purrs, a couple of nips on the arm, and the obligatory vomit episode. We spent most of our day yesterday in each other's company. She will probably be glad to see me go off to work, but will also be glad to see me when I come home again.

I am getting ready to go back to work after a week away. In that week, lots has happened in the greater world. I wonder what the climat…

Post-Conference Synthesis and Goal-Setting

Conference is over, and I am back at home, getting my arm licked by the cat and trying to figure out what to do next. I have one more day to rest before heading back to work and into the world of a music therapy clinician. Today is a day for planning, reflection, and setting new goals for myself and for my profession.

Ah. Just got the first "welcome home" bite on the arm. I am truly home.


The trip to and from Sandusky, Ohio was uneventful as far as driving was concerned. I drive there and back - a total of 25 hours in the car, listening to movies and music, talking to myself, working out problems, trying my best to pay attention to what was going on around me, and just generally contemplating what was happening in the bigger world. I wasn't able to solve anything, but I did get some insight into things happening with my family and with my ideas about my role in the greater world.

So, after five days at conference, what did I learn?

I learned that people are interest…

The End - AMTA16 is Over For Me

I am getting ready to take stuff out of my home away from home and start the process of driving back to my permanent home right now. I decided to wait until after sunrise to leave so I could drive unfamiliar roads in the light and familiar roads in the dark. I have a couple of hours to pack things up and prepare myself for the time in the car.

I bought an iPod charging cord, so I will have tunes and videos to listen to as I go across this country. I also have CDs, including a brand new one from the Athens County Community Choir (one of the presentations I went to yesterday) that has (shudder) holiday music on it. I'll probably NOT crack that one since I refuse to do the holiday music thing until AFTER Thanksgiving, but I have something new to listen to, if I need to do so.

I am glad to be on the end of this conference time. I enjoyed being able to attend presentations (something my former roles with AMTA did not really allow me to do). I was happy to agree to four different presenta…

Presentations - Things I've Been Talking and Talking About

Yesterday, I presented on a topic that I've been writing about for quite a time now - becoming more research-informed in my life and clinical advocacy. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you've been through this process with me. If you are reading for the first time, you can search the label research-informed to find my pathway through this process.

The session wasn't packed (but I never really expected it to be) and it was one of 6 presentations on how to use research in clinical practice, so I think that the number of folks who came was quite respectable. I had about 18 (I think) who came to hear me natter on an on about how I try to keep research in my clinical life.

The one comment that came up over and over again was "Thanks for being so honest about your guilt and process. That was very helpful."

I'm glad that honesty was something that was valued.

I try to be as honest as possible when I write, when I talk, and when I interact with others. I try. I …

Today is Friday...Right?

Conference time is something surreal for me. Getting out of my regular routine makes me a bit disoriented and unsure of what is happening in the outside world. 

Wow - I got distracted and didn't finish this post, yet I left it up (and an unsecure internet connection up almost all day!


See what I mean about disorientation and being unsure? It happens during this time we all like to call conference.

I am almost finished with my day - only one more thing to do, and that is a presentation about becoming a more research-informed clinician in about an hour and a half.

I went to three concurrent sessions today. I've really missed being able to hear what others are doing and thinking in and about music therapy. In addition, I facilitated a discussion in the Special Populations forum centered around trauma-informed care. I'm hoping a couple more folks will find our Trauma Centered Music Therapy group and will start to talk on that Facebook forum.

Today, I decided to go with my plans…


Yesterday, I finished my day with a discussion about ethics, music therapy, and spirituality. It was the second continuing music therapy education course (CMTE) I attended yesterday, and, as all ethics conversations tend to do, it raised more questions than solutions.

I actually enjoy these types of conversations, but I can never see only one path. I consider myself an ethical therapist as well as a spiritual person. I think I've done a pretty good job of navigating my role as a therapist over the years, but I know that ethics is in the eye of the beholder.

The thing I appreciated the most was the reminder that most ethical decisions have to be taken within the context of the situation. Something that is ethical in one setting may be completely unethical if one small element changes. These things are rarely black and white - they are always found in shades of gray.

I am glad that I was able to attend the two CMTEs that I chose this year. (The fact that they were both free was an adde…

Bonus Post: From the Other Side of My First CMTE

Can I get all fan-girly for a moment?

I just finished my first CMTE course as a participant in a very long time, and I have to rave about the presenter, Cathy Knoll. Cathy embodies who I want to be when I grow up - passionate, caring, and cogent. While I wish I had more things to take back with me after the time spent in the course, I did remember some very important things about working with my students that I needed to hear again.

It has been a long time since I was able to take advantage of the free continuing music therapy education courses (CMTEs) offered during the AMTA conference. I signed up for two of them - Music Therapy Interventions with Children with Autism and Ethics, Music Therapy, and Spirituality. They are separated by 8 hours of napping, watching television, developing new ideas for the website and business, and working on my own presentations. I may spring for a room service pizza later - who knows! After dinner, I'll go down to talk ethical thought. It will be pa…

Website Wednesday: Bear Paw Creek

On Wednesdays, I'm starting to highlight a website that I like for a number of reasons. Today's website, Bear Paw Creek, is for a product-based company that offers interesting materials for music therapists (and others, of course!). Just so you know, I get nothing from websites or companies for talking about their websites - I do it because I want others to know about them! In the interest of full disclosure, however, I did win a giveaway from Bear Paw Creek and got one of their t-shirts! That's not why I'm doing this post, though. Keep reading!!

The owners, Janet and Christopher Stevens, make things like bean bags, movement streamers, body bands, bags, and scarves. Janet's sister is a music therapist, so she has an inside glimpse into how music therapists work and function. The products are well-made and just plain old visually appealing.

I like their mission statement:
"Bear Paw Creek is here to serve you as you enrich people’s lives through music and movement


Making My Lists - Checking Them...Over and Over and Over Again

I admire Santa Claus only having to check the Naughty and Nice List twice in his preparations for Christmas Eve. 

I can't do that.

I'm making lists right now to get ready for conference. There are packing lists, presentation lists, toiletry lists, food lists, direction lists... the master list for all of the other lists. The lists go on an on and on. In the midst of all of these lists, I know that I will forget something, but I figure that there will be someplace to shop pretty near by, so I am not stressing so much about shampoo or that sort of stuff. I worry more about forgetting something like the cat's water or food than things for me.

In the midst of all of these lists, I also have to go to work and run some music therapy sessions. We are getting ready for significant classroom assignment changes (10 out of 11 classes are changing in some way) this morning. Students and teachers will be in a state of confusion and adjustment for the next couple of weeks. Music therapy pl…

Just A Song Sunday: If I Could Turn Back Time

In honor of the end of Daylight Savings Time, I am going to talk about using the song If I Could Turn Back Time as the foundation for a therapeutic music experience (TME). If you are interested, here are the links to the youtube video and the lyrics. Here's the process that I go through when I am getting a foundation piece ready.

Just so you know, "foundation piece" is the term that I've just coined for a piece of music that is the basis for a specific therapeutic experience. In this case, this song provides the focus of the TME. There may be other songs that would also exemplify this theme and idea, but this is my foundation. This is the one that makes the most sense to me at this time. (I will add any other ideas to the official TME as they occur to me.)

When I think about this song as a foundation piece for a TME, I immediately get to the idea of regret (straight from the lyrics), to the idea of changes, to the idea of making amends, and changing the lyrics to refle…

Being Away - From the Computer, From Routine, From My Regular Life

It is almost time to go be surrounded by over a thousand music therapists from around the world. I think I have my computer stuff ready (I need to check about my documents and such - I have two presentations that may need serious work in the next 48 hours due to computer trading, upgrades, and re-trading - more on that later in this post), and I know that I am ready for the shift from my regular life into the surreal life that is the American Music Therapy Association National Conference.

This past week has been interesting in that I finally got my new new computer set up with all the apps, programs, and settings that I wanted and then the old new computer came back. I now have my original computer - the one I bought 11 weeks ago, and we will see if it is no longer corrupt (their term, not mine!). I should be getting a full refund for the new new computer in a couple of days. Hooray!!

As a result of having to reset the new new computer, I haven't really been as faithful of a blogger…

Thoughtful Thursday: Meh

I am tired.

I had a long day yesterday that was followed by a night where I didn't go to sleep until lots later than usual. My wake up time came really early this morning and I'm physically tired out. My eyes still feel like sleeping, but it's time to get up and start the day, so here I am.

These days, my brain is full of all sorts of things (which may have contributed to my lack of sleep last night). I'm glad the Cubs won simply because it means an end to the posts about the team on social media. I'm glad that this indeterminably long campaign is almost finished because that will mean that the political posts will change significantly. I will be glad to be able to hear NPR again without all the talk about this person and that person. I am very happy that we fall back this weekend. I am ready for some extra time in the mornings.

I am thinking about presentations, about being with people I haven't seen for a time, and about situations that have happened recently. W…

Website Wednesday: The General Google Search

Today I did something that I suggest people try every so often - a general search on Google to find out what's out there. I started with the term "music therapy websites" and found the usual - AMTA, university training programs, and some familiar bloggers and business owners. I looked at several of the sites to see what they put on their websites. It is always interesting to see what's out there.

The second search I did was a vanity search. Yes, I typed my name into Google. I recommend that people do that every so often just to see what's out on social media - ESPECIALLY when you are job-hunting. It's important to know what others can see about you. My results were to be expected - blog posts, things I've written or recorded, links to my pages, websites, and therapeutic music experiences. I kept going until the links were unrelated to me - only a couple of pages of results. Nothing really surprised me.

The last search I did was a topic that I find interesti…

I am Thankful

I feel sorry for the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. It comes in the increasingly commercial period of time between Halloween (the candy holiday) and Christmas (the "spend all your money on those you love" holiday). Hidden in the middle is small little Thanksgiving - a day dedicated to remembering the gifts we have because we live where we live.

I am NOT a fan of traditional Thanksgiving foods, but I am a fan of the thoughts and ideas behind the holiday itself. There will be no turkey, cranberry sauce, or (shudder) stuffing at my Thanksgiving meal, but there will be thoughts for those near to me and far away. 

I am usually far away from my loved ones on the holiday, so I can spend it however I want. Most of the time, I just cook a special meal for me and then spend the rest of the time doing my usual routines. I don't go shopping at all (unless I REALLY have to), and I talk to everyone in my near family. There will be dishes to do and laundry to wash. There will be…