Sunday, July 31, 2016

Davi the Cat - Adventures in Starting a Relationship

My sister is sitting here, and I decided to pick her brain about my blog post for this morning (sorry it's late, Janice, my friend!). It's not going to be a Supplemental Sunday post as I haven't made anything this week, but it is music therapy post.

This is Davi. She's a scaredy-cat in all sense of the word. She's skittish, frightened, jumpy, difficult to lure, and somewhat distrustful. We usually talk on the phone, Miss Davi and I, but this the only the second time that we've ever met each other in person. The first time, she allowed me to stroke her while her person was holding her tightly. This time, I am making progress on building our relationship.

Meeting Davi and trying to get her to know me is very similar to building a relationship with clients at times.

Often, my clients arrive at my facility after being shuttled from place to place for a time. They've been in different schools, treatment programs, foster homes, and detention situations. They often arrive to our place with many of the same "scaredy-cat" traits that Davi has right now. They are difficult to get to know. Sometimes they run away from new people, sometimes they try the "I'm tough" attitude. They don't initiate interaction with others because they have had interactions in the past that have not encouraged feelings of safety or security. (Davi was found in a dumpster when she was barely new - she was taken from that environment and went to a shelter where my sister found her and fell in love.)

It is important to find a way into relationship with clients (and kitties) in a manner that allows the client to make the primary decisions and moves.

With Davi, I am finding a slow, quiet approach is working best. I go into a room and sit still when she approaches. I talk to her with a low, slow voice, and I wait for her to approach me. It's working. She's not running to hide under the pillows in the farthest corner of my sister's room anymore. She is starting to approach me for sniffing and let me stroke her FOUR TIMES THIS MORNING! She even ate a treat out of my hand! (My mom is going to be SOOO annoyed with me! Davi won't approach her at all yet!)

My relationship process with my clients is often similar. I do what I do and offer opportunities to clients, but I never push someone into a situation where they may feel trapped. I have met clients who are extremely skittish whenever the word music is mentioned. (My heart breaks when that happens because it probably means an interaction with a music educator who simply doesn't know how to approach someone with markedly different needs and learning processes.) Those clients do everything possible to avoid music therapy, but I can usually get them to understand that music therapy is not the same as anything they've ever experienced at school before. Once I can find their "in," music therapy is something that they look forward to and one place that they fully engage.

The difficulty often comes in finding the "in."

With Davi, slow, quiet, and still is starting to work. With some of my clients that is the strategy that they respond to as well. With others, not so much.

Sometimes the "in" is asking about a favorite song. Sometimes it's cultivating your own knowledge about German Death Metal (my current homework assignment). Sometimes it is standing up to bullying behavior and not backing down. Sometimes it's putting the music therapy process aside and just spending time with a client in other places in order to generate some familiarity. Each person has a relationship entry point (sometimes it's for a negative relationship, but that's an entirely different blog post all together), and it is important for the therapist to find that entry point and build around it. 

I am going to spend some more time with Davi. She and I are building that relationship and will continue (mainly because I want to snuggle with her - she's SO fluffy), but at her pace and timing.

She has the control.

I will wait.

Happy Sunday!!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Basking at Home

After a full day of get ready, get set, and go, I am now on vacation. This is the first real vacation that I've had in about 2 years due to lots of other things that have happened in the past 2 years, but it is happening right now. I am currently on vacation time and have a bit of difficulty remembering that it is Saturday. 

But, part of the basking and the vacation is that I have no excuses for not completing some of my tasks. sing about the Olympics is getting ready for publication! I think all you MTs out there will enjoy it!

Posts may be a bit sporadic and off schedule this week, but that's part of the fun of vacation (and now that I have the wi-fi password, there are no limitations to what I can do!!).

Time to vacate. Thanks for being here!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Life Interferes

Last night, I had the plan of going to bed early and trying to catch up on some of the sleep I've lost this week. Then, life happened. My sister called in hysterics after a break-in at her house. The alarm worked the way it needed to, but the thief got away with her computer and some rings - one from my grandmother who recently passed away and another that I bought her about 21 years ago when I went to visit our brother in England. She was fine when the police officer was there, but went to pieces as soon as he left. So, she called me.

We fill that function for each other. When I called her on Sunday, full of hurt feelings and very upset, she listened and calmed me down. So, when she called me last night, I listened and calmed her down. That's what we do. My sister is that person in my life.

I've been listening to a newish podcast called Invisibilia. It's from NPR, in its second season, and utterly fascinating. It seems to be primarily focused on social psychology and human behavior, and it is right up my alley when it comes to things that engage my attention. Many of the topics in the podcasts I've heard have been very relevant to my current life and the others have deepened my thinking about other things - mental health treatment, humanistic philosophy, behaviorism, and lots of other things.

Yesterday, I had to yell at a bunch of paraeducators who have spent the last two sessions yelling at kids. I hit my tolerance level and yelled back. I was sitting there, trying to use music for mood vectoring purposes, getting kids engaged for a few moments, and then! Wham! Yelling from staff members. They yelled about EVERYTHING! Looks across the room, holding instruments the "WRONG WAY," being "LOUD SO MS. MARY JANE CAN'T DO MUSIC!" It didn't stop. One would say something to a kid, and then all the others HAD to chime in.

I made them stop.

I told them that there would be no more talking to kids and that I would be in charge of correcting behaviors that were inappropriate for my area. They all pouted and then refused to engage. That was fine with me. Amazingly enough (but not really to us as music therapists), the music worked. The kids who had "attitude" started to engage and change their moods. The kids who tend to become very violent when redirected to sit in their places accepted one verbal prompt and returned to their places WITHOUT aggression. I was able to calm the group down and get them into a more relaxed state of being.

I try to be that person for my clients.

I think that it is the job of a therapist to assist clients in working through their emotions - whether it is understanding why they feel the way they feel or helping them resolve an emotion in a moment. 

On Tuesday, I was interviewed for a class on Developmental Music Therapy. One of the questions that Janice (the professor for the class) asked me made me think more deeply about why it is necessary for me to intervene when paraeducators try to take over my sessions through yelling at students.

The question was this: "What is the treatment philosophy at your facility?"

My facility tends towards loose behavioral principles. We do not focus in on any one type of behavioral method, but we also bring in things like trauma-focused social work, EMDR (look it up - it's the current trend), and anything and everything that someone suggests.

Janice asked a follow-up question: "How does your treatment philosophy differ from that of your facility?"

This question came from something I said during the interview and led me into a discussion about my own philosophy. I tend to be less of a behaviorist than most of the education folks at my facility. I tend to identify more with the humanists these days.

In my role as a humanistic therapist, I feel very strongly that I have to be "that person" for each client that walks into my room. The role of "that person" changes with the arrival of each client and may change from session to session for the same client. It is part of my job to offer my clients what they need from a therapist and from the music - whatever that may be. 

Last night, my role was as sister, listener, and calmer. Today, at work, my role will be therapist, listener, facilitator, and structure. I will strive to be what I can be for the people around me. Whatever life brings.

Blogging may be spotty for the next several days - don't worry, I'm doing fun stuff...

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Becoming a More Researched-Informed Clinician: Update

I am going to be presenting about my process of becoming a researched-informed clinician at the national conference of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) this year. I hope you'll be there on Friday afternoon, ready to try out this process of reading and assimilating music therapy research into your own clinical practice.

I started this process when I sat down and looked at the journals that I have sitting on my research journal shelf (yep, I have one of those). I realized that I haven't even cracked several of those journals. I find that strange and sad. SARCASM AHEAD - After all, I SHOULD be reading all of my journals in the midst of working my four jobs and doing the other things that are part of life. Snark!

So, I made this into my professional focus for this year - intentionally using research to bolster my music therapy advocacy and practice.

Right now, I'm spending time getting my presentation outline pulled together (that's right, I'm one of those presenters that doesn't put together the presentation until AFTER it has been accepted for a conference).

If you are interested, we are going to go through the basic process that I am using to help myself condense the information in research articles into information that not only increases my knowledge of music and humans, but also helps me become a better music therapy advocate for the clients I serve.

Mark your calendars for Friday at 5pm.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TME Tuesday: Shameless Plug for an Upcoming Product Release

I am currently deep in the middle of making a special theme packet in the midst of a week full of special events at work, existential crises of my own, planning for a vacation, learning more about being a highly sensitive person, and three other product development processes. Because of all of this, I am going to use this post to plug the special theme packet.

I am making a theme packet with eight new therapeutic music experience (TME) plans that are all based on the Olympics. Here are the titles so far...
  • Music Therapy Minute to Win It Olympics
  • Rhythm Relay
  • World National Anthems
  • Welcome to Rio
  • Movement Stations
  • National Anthem Marathon
  • The Olympic Rings
  • One more... as yet to be determined...
The packet includes resources, references, and brand-new ideas for use with clients of all ages!

This will be released on August 1, 2016 for a price of less than $2.00 USD per TME. Check out details here

Thanks for indulging me here. If you are interested in one of the bonus TMEs offered, check out the website here for an Opening Ceremony TME! 


Monday, July 25, 2016

Just When Things Were Going So Well... intervened.

I had a very productive weekend, full of cleaning, making things, and feeling good about myself and what was going to happen. And then, in one short message, my feelings got hurt and everything changed.

I'm going to spare you the details because, basically, they are just too difficult to recount at this point, but it led to the impulsive decision to unfriend someone who I thought was a close friend but turned out not to be after all. 

Several years ago, my mother read a book by Elaine Aron, Ph.D. entitled The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them. I remember her saying that she felt that the book described my childhood. I haven't read the book, but I am thinking that I need to read the version of the book written for adults...done - it's on my Kindle and ready for reading this afternoon.

There are many things that are good about being highly sensitive. I think it makes me more attuned to what other people are feeling. It makes me want to help others solve their problems. It also makes me value my relationships with people a bit more than they do. I think these are things that make me a therapist rather than just a person.

I was always the person who was left with the "undesirable" member of a group. My friends would get tired of being with someone who they felt were "tagging along" and would want to ditch that person at the first opportunity. They included me in the ditching plan, so I guess I wasn't one of the tagalongs (a nickname I've had before). I couldn't do it. I couldn't hurt the feelings of that person, so I would stick with that person while my friends would go off. I always had a good time with the other person and probably enjoyed my day much more than if I had stayed with my so-called friends.

Indication of how I get sucked into the types of situations I'm in now? Probably. I've got to read a bit more before I know for sure...

Know this.

If you are a person who I interact with on a daily, weekly, or even sporadic basis, you make up a significant part of my life. I am the type of person who reads all your Facebook posts, who is concerned with what happens to you, and who considers you a friend. You are important to me.

Thank you for sharing a small part of your life with me.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Supplemental Sunday: Picture Diary

I had a very productive day yesterday which led to completion of lots of products for my music therapy clinic and for TMEs I've developed. Because of this day, I've almost caught up with all of my laminating (of course, I did find more as soon as I put everything away), and I have a bunch of new visuals to show off. Some of these will be available for purchase on my website, some are just for inspiration. As always, comments are welcome!!

The process of getting ready to laminate - none of these pictures actually were laminated. Sigh.

Olympic medals and Tom - did you know that googly eyes can fit through a laminator? I didn't, but I do now!

Colored in and ready to go.

Frame for Orff block compositions.

Ukulele Chord Charts

We're learning how to write music - here's the outside of the rhythm folder.

The inside of the rhythm folder/

The other two folders - melody and lyrics. These will work in stations.

It's almost the Olympics, so these world maps will get some work. Graphic from

Penguins!! (Need I say more?)

Sound production cards for a large group.

Therapist reference sheets for the Olympics TMEs being composed RIGHT NOW!

Weather conditions.

Small generic cards for games.

Emotion sets - three different sets - for emotion TMEs

Songwriting Blank

My "helper/supervisor/critic"
I have plans for each and every one of these visual aids. What types of visuals do you use in your music therapy space? Comment below!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I'm Procrastinating...Cue the Timer

I have lots to do this weekend. So, what have I done already? Absolutely nothing. I took yesterday completely off from responsibility and productivity. Today, that has to change.

The tasks that I have to do include dishes (always), laundry (always), and cleaning (always). I need to clean bathrooms. I've made progress on the bedrooms, the kitchen, and the front room (until I got distracted by projects and happily spent some time puttering with laminating sheets and file folders). Things were a bit complicated by some surprise maintenance work this week, but I'm determined to get back on track.

My best and most valuable tool in this journey is my timer. I use Google Timer and set it for 30 minutes. Then, I start working. I spend 30 minutes on bathroom cleaning and then 30 minutes on something else. The next 30 minutes on cleaning and so forth. (I am currently 18 minutes into my 30 minute time frame here.) This allows me to focus on a task and accomplish quite a bit during my morning hours when I am most energetic.

I will be watching television shows while I am doing these tasks - Psych is my current show of choice. I've watched this show enough times that I don't have to watch every second of the show to know what is going on. That makes it a perfect 30/30 show.

If I was able to work more productively with music on, my playlist would include the following songs (chosen because I know them really well and they make me feel happy, even when I have to clean toilets...):
  1. The World Ain't Slowing Down - Ellis Paul
  2. Love Potion No. 9 - The Clovers
  3. Rodeo - Hoe-Down - Aaron Copland
  4. If I Had $1000000 - Barenaked Ladies
  5. Wild Montana Skies - John Denver
  6. California Girls - Beach Boys
  7. Objection (Tango) - Shakira
Ooh, I have an idea for a new Saturday post series - 7 Song Saturdays! I wonder if I could make something like that interesting...hmmm. I'll have to ponder that for a bit.

My "fun" time is almost up, so I'll sign off now. Have a wonderful Saturday where you are, doing what you do on Saturdays. It's time to move to another task - I think I'll go to the craft explosion that happened yesterday when I got distracted and start there.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The End of the Week

It's the end of my work week, and I am reflecting on what happened in music therapy sessions this week. I am two weeks into the return of individual sessions and am pleased with how things have progressed. For the most part, students have transitioned with me willingly and have engaged in music making. We don't have any mutual goals or objectives at this point, but my goals have been to encourage interaction and exploration of the musical environment. I'm starting to identify the clients that I think will be best served through goal-oriented music therapy sessions and those that will be best served through crisis management music therapy sessions.

In the Fall session, I will have 26 individual spots. Some of those will be taken by adaptive lessons (my title for these sessions? Play the instruments MJ won't let us play during group MT very loudly for 30 minutes!!) and by choir, but most will be able to be filled by individuals. I will try to have one crisis management session for each classroom group, and then I can fill the remaining session spots with the students who respond the most to music as a therapeutic medium.

I had one session this week where the client didn't need me at all. He arrived, identified the keyboard on the choice board, moved the instrument to the floor, and then started playing. Now, he is one of the students who has been with me a long time, so he already knew what individual music therapy was all about, but he was able to figure out what he needed from the session without me. (Fade to Function.) Other clients were not as independent.

One young man engaged in playing the piano and singing with me. I was playing the guitar with him, adding some harmonic structure to his improvisations. He used the music to convey several different emotions and switched between emotional states several times during his improvisation. Then, he was finished making music on the piano. I moved to the instrument and then started working a bit on his preferences. He walked around the room, and I played. He chose music from one of my songbooks, and we sang them together. His musical repertoire is AMAZING! He knows songs that he would not have come across without family members who also love music.

Another client opted to listen to music and to draw related pictures. His music choice was Disney music, so all of his pictures were related to the movie music, but it was fascinating to watch his drawing style. He appeared to break down each image into small components and drew small shapes that then added up to the whole image at the end.

Others have come in, tried out something, and then decided to leave early. Others have wanted more time. I love this form of therapy. It allows me to find more things that work with my clients in other locations as well as reinforcing the therapeutic relationship already somewhat established through group therapy.

I left my job this week feeling like I was finally getting back to what I think of as music therapy. I enjoy group therapy - it offers challenges that individual therapy does not - but I really feel that individual therapy allows the client and the therapist with opportunities that are not present in group treatment.

Now, it is the last three-day weekend of the summer session. Next week is Fall Break, and then we go back into our regular five day schedule again. With the return of Fridays, I will have more time to serve more individuals. I cannot wait!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Next Chapter in the OMTF Journey

Yesterday, I finished my blog post - er, rant - and got into my car to drive to work. I am currently avoiding all things political or news radio due to the emotions those things raise in me, so I am listening to lots of podcasts in the car lately. I was out of new episodes on one podcast, so I flipped over to one that makes me think a bit more than the comedy ones I prefer for my commute. If you haven't heard Hidden Brain, I highly recommend it for pieces that make you think about human behavior and development. Shankar Vedantam (I love the musicality contained in his name) is very good at taking complex neurological and social constructs and explaining them in ways that make total sense to me.

The episode at the top of my podcast list was entitled, "Me, me, me." It was broadcast on July 12, 2016, and it just made the rest of my journey into Old Music Therapy Fogey (OMTF) complete. The premise of the broadcast was that our society is becoming more and more narcissistic and more focused on "me" rather than on "you" or on "we/us." We like instant gratification. We want to know answers immediately. We want everyone to know what we are doing because "of course everyone would be fascinated by the fact that I am going to have a breakfast sandwich" this morning. (I think I'm gonna, by the way, but I will refrain from posting about it!)

I am only about halfway through the broadcast, but I am looking forward to finishing it.

I totally agree that our society is becoming more narcissistic. Sometimes that is not a bad thing. Other times, that is a really bad thing. When we are all out for ourselves, we don't have easy answers to the types of questions we are having to ask ourselves these days. 

There seems to be a lack of understanding the "other side" when involved in situations. I recently watched a "how to survive being pulled over by the police" video which did an excellent job of explaining what to do in a situation to help defuse the recent responses that we are seeing more and more lately. The person hosting the video did a wonderful job of explaining why you should put and keep your hands on the dashboard as a police officer approaches. The perspective of what is happening and what is being perceived from the other side is important to consider in any type of situation, but definitely is something to consider when the emotional brain takes over the rational brain. We seem to be losing that skill.

Now, I am just as guilty as anyone else of posting things about me, me, me, but I do strive to understand the point of view of other people when involved in different situations. Sometimes it is easy to understand how someone else is feeling based on their reactions. Sometimes it is not, but I continue to strive.

It is time to go back out into the world to attempt to understand and to be "other-focused." I am going to listen to the rest of the podcast and try to stuff the OMTF persona back into the corner of my brain where it can shriek in frustration but not break out!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rant Ahead: I'm Turning Into an Old Music Therapy Fogey

Alright, alright. I'm already there. I am declaring myself an OMTF - an Old Music Therapy Fogey - right now!

Are you an OMTF? Here are some tell-tale signs.

  • a growing feeling that "people today just don't know how to ____."
  • statements like "when I was in school, I had to..." start to bubble up and out of your mouth when you are trying to interact with others
  • a growing nostalgia for the "good old days"
I'm telling you, I'm there!
As I read through posts on my various social media accounts, I find myself doing the following things more and more:
  • yelling "What do you think Google is for?" at the screen when looking at yet another request for the chords to a song that is readily available to me via Google...
  • yelling "Didn't you go through dictation and ear training in your education?" at the same posts! Why else did we take all of those classes? Are there music therapy programs out there that do not require music theory classes in order to get your music therapy degree? If so, WHY?
  • (the biggie and most frequent rant of mine!) SPELL-CHECK!
I am a member of several different groups and some of them are now exploding with laments about people out there who have a marked lack of professional skills. I've read posts by people who are expecting potential employers to contact them with job details rather than heading into the work world and finding their own job! I've read posts that include bad grammar, horrible misspelled words, and a distinct lack of writing style.

Now, I know that Facebook and Instagram are not formal forms of communication, but when you are interacting with people that you want to employ you, it behooves you to actually read what you are typing. If you want someone to give you a job, you have to earn it! 

There is lots of speculation about why we see so many people who simply do not know how to engage in job hunting protocol. Employers blame the internship directors and academicians. Internship directors blame the academicians. Academicians state that there is not enough time to teach these behaviors. Who do I blame? Everyone, including parents and teachers from the first school experience to the last one. Don't forget society, either. 

I also think that the bad examples themselves are also to blame. If you aren't getting a job, then it's time to do some meta-analysis - what are YOU doing wrong? It is not the job of the employers to tell you what to do. It is YOUR job to figure out how to improve YOURSELF!

One of the intern webinars that I offer is Marketing Yourself. In that webinar, we talk about how to find a job. I'm seriously considering adding another webinar/course for students on the job hunt. It seems necessary in this particular climate.

My last comment for today, as I wallow and rejoice in my OMTF status, is a video that I enjoy. It really speaks to me about what I think the underlying reason for all of these changes and difficulties happening right now. Feel free to agree or disagree with my opinions here. Comments are welcome!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TME Tuesday: Starting with the Olympics

I recently received some inspiration for some new Therapeutic Music Experiences (TMEs) in the form of a simple sheet of paper with some medals printed on it. My brain went straight into creative mode, and I came up with some new TME ideas centered around the Olympics. I am working on a theme packet that will include eight original TMEs to help promote clinical goals and objectives.

I've decided to make this into a mini-sing about song packet. I'll release it on August 1, 2016 for purchase on the website (the Olympics start on the 5th). Details here. In the meantime, here is another TME based on the Olympics (also on the website - here). Just so you know - this is a bonus TME - it will not be one of the eight included in the mini theme packet.

As with all of the sing about song theme packets that I develop, this one will include ideas that should be applicable to clients in all stages of life (you might have to adapt things a bit). The ideas will be completely unique and never-before-published. I hope that you will find them helpful in structuring your own Olympic-themed sessions and that my ideas will spark some of your own!

I'm going to spend some time this week pulling together the packet while listening to John Williams and Bugler's Dream.

Happy TME Tuesday!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tomorrow is the Full Moon

I had a very productive day yesterday. I washed dishes, organized all of the papers in my desk sorter, and cleaned the bedroom. I also rearranged some of the bookshelves, wrote a blog post, made chicken teriyaki in the crock pot, watched lots of Psych and Star Wars, finished one book and started another, and vacuumed. I split up hours into 30 minutes for me and 30 minutes for my home. It really worked wonders for me and my environment.

As I was getting ready for sleep yesterday, I happened to see the moon and found that it was getting close to full. This explained quite a bit for me - I tend to cycle with the moon. I looked it up, and the moon will be full tomorrow. This should help me figure out how to cram more stuff to do into my afternoon and early evening.

I have worked with those who swear that there is no full moon effect on others. I have to scoff because I am a person who has ups and downs associated with the phases of the moon. My poor mother had to wait an extra three weeks for me to be born, at almost 10 months of pregnancy. I waited for the full moon to be born. My mom swears that I started cycling from that day forward. So, I am a believer in the full moon.

What this usually means with my clients is that students are more impulsive than other times. They are also more emotionally labile - sometimes happy, sometimes not. I think many of the staff are the same way - we've just learned to mask it a bit more.

My session plans will be as they always are - flexible to meet the needs of my clients - but I think I will offer more opportunities for movement than I usually do. We will focus on impulse control this week. Start/Stop games, freeze dancing, Hot Potato, Doggie, Doggie, Where's Your Bone, and other games to play, move, wait, and wiggle.

My non-work time will be flexible as well, but I think some form of structure is needed just for me. I'm going to keep going with my "30 on point-30 for me" plan. It seems to work well at focusing my attention on the things that need to get done. 

Whatever the reason, I know that I am feeling some creative urges and lots of energy lately. If it is the full moon, then GREAT. If not, I want to know what it is so I can replicate this feeling whenever I need it!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Supplemental Sunday: It's Almost Time for the Olympics!

Yesterday was Music Therapy Mailings day! I heard a knock on my door, went to find the postal worker with an envelope with some goodies inside, and then I started to brainstorm based on the things inside the envelope!
My July Music Therapy Mailings Loot!
I received a CD - We Are Different, by Pat McManus. I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm enjoying some of the song titles - we are different, anger management, do that, chasing what you love. I have the lyrics to some of the songs as well, so I can see the themes that are being conveyed. I will listen to the songs tomorrow during my preparation time.

In the packet was a sheet with Olympic medals on it. Ping! That was the spark for my brainstorming process! What could I do with my students that would incorporate the spirit of the Olympics and still work on their therapeutic group goals? Hmmm.

I started my planning process. Now, to be fair, I had an idea for small cards that I wanted to use as part of my therapy, so I tried to find things that would let me use the cards. I still haven't finished them, because I am trying to find a way to make the cards so I can do more than just the Olympics idea with them. Eventually I will figure out what I want to do with the cards.

The ideas started to form pretty quickly. I decided to use the Olympics as a theme for the first three weeks of our fall semester. Here's what I've got so far...

Week One
Choose a Country for Class Team
Torch March - one step per beat
World Globe - How Do I Get There from Here?
Rhythm Bingo - Anthems

Week Two
Bach - Musician of the Month reveal (there you go, Janice, you know before ANYONE else!!)
Rhythm Reading Relay
Notation Marathon - around the school

Week Three
Olympics Rondo - Rhythm Instrument Composition
Closing Ceremony - STARS/Olympics Medals and World Anthems

Olympics plans and Cards-in-progress
The small cards that I've created could be what we use during the notation marathon or during the rhythm relay. I'm thinking the marathon would be better. I could write different types of notes on each card and then send them off on a hunt for each card. Ooh - the order of the notes could be a musical phrase that they have to play on the piano or Orff instrument when they find them all! They have to go to each of the locations in order to find the next note in the sequence. We could use the Star Spangled Banner to bring in the Olympics idea. If I put staves on each of the card and then laminate them, I could change the music indications for other songs for other themes...hmmmm. 

The cards pictured here were made with a 1 inch square punch and a 1 1/2 inch scalloped square punch. I used white cardstock for the squares and scrapbooking paper for the scalloped squares. There are two different colors for backgrounds - having two sets will allow me to have two teams going at the same time, if I want! Next time I make these, I will print out music staff lines on the cardstock before I punch the cards. Then I don't have to draw lines on all of the cards that I make. Maybe I'll make another set of cards with the lines and use these for words rather than notation. Hmmm... Now I have a plan!

I love it when one idea leads to another that leads to another. I find inspiration in all kinds of places and am thankful to Tracy at Music Therapy Mailings for my monthly envelope of things to think about. Check out her website and consider a subscription!

Are you going to do an Olympics theme this year? Are you looking for some ideas? I've got lots of winter Olympics ideas in my sing about winter theme packet. (Check out the link here.) I'll also be releasing a mini theme packet in early August for the Summer Olympics. Let me know if you're interested in purchasing the mini theme packet - cost will be $15.00 for three session plans, eight therapeutic music experiences, and suggested musical resources.

Happy Sunday, all. Have a wonderful week! 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Presentation Proposals - I'm batting .500

I have now heard about all of the presentation proposals that I submitted for consideration for the annual American Music Therapy Association's national conference. Two were accepted and two were denied. I am pleased that some of them were accepted and am feeling defensive about the ones that weren't accepted. (I always feel this way when I face rejection - I get defensive.) Now, however, it is time to focus on the information that I have to share with others and get it out there.

Presentations are something that I enjoy. I have always liked being the center of attention when it comes to speeches (I don't feel as comfortable in smaller social situations, but put me in front of a microphone with an audience, and I am ready to go!), and presentations are just plain old fun! 

This year, I get to talk to others about becoming a more research-informed clinician and about things to do with music therapy and young adults with intellectual disabilities. In addition, I get to talk to folks about the Online Conference for Music Therapy, Inc. in two separate forums. I won't be as busy as I have been in the past several years, but now I get to attend other presentations and see what other people are doing out there. I will have a couple of new products to share with others and will be able to spend some time sharing those products with interested parties (I am NOT good at marketing at all, but I will be trying to get better in the next several months - by the way, check out my website here!) I am starting to look forward to this conference in a way that I haven't looked forward to something AMTA-related for a long time.

Now I get the thrill of organizing my presentations. I'm one of those people who submits an idea but doesn't flesh it out until after it has been accepted. I've done lots of work with age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate therapeutic music experiences for young adults, so that organization will just be compiling information and setting up a presentation format that will encourage others to brainstorm and experience. The second topic, research-informed clinician, is one that I've been working on (updates on the process through this blog - different posts) off and on for about a year. The challenge with that topic is making my process be something that others can understand and use. I'm anticipating about 7 people at that presentation. We will see.

I am also going to submit something to the Online Conference for Music Therapy, Inc.'s conference for this year. It's been a long time since I've presented at OCMT, but this year I'll try. We'll see if it gets through the blind review (I don't choose any of the presentations, but I do get to the be the one who sees all of the information!). I'm thinking about something about one of my passions - using music as a therapeutic modality and using the musical elements to enhance therapeutic gains and treatment...hmmm.

It's time to move away from anticipation into reality - I'll be working on my presentations off and on for the next several months. Got to pay my registration fees now, but I'm ready. It's time to get ready for the exotic locale of Sandusky, Ohio!

Will I see you there? If so, are you presenting? If yes, then what is your topic? If not, are you interested in becoming a more research-informed clinician? Will you come to my presentation??

Friday, July 15, 2016

Remembering Why

Yesterday I got to natter on about one of my favorite topics - the way we use music in music therapy sessions as our tool for helping. I am firmly in the music therapy philosophy camp that believes that music is a tool for our clients to use to move from one state of being to another. I also believe that music is an art form and experience, but in the context of music therapy, the therapist has to be able to view music as a tool to be used and shaped. 

I was talking about being more conscious when it comes to making musical decisions. I think many of us adapt our music and our interactions to our clients intuitively, but my view is that we, as professionals, must become more direct when we speak about why music therapy is an important treatment modality. We cannot do this if we constantly speak about the benefit of music in terms that just make it seem like we have no plan but just go with the flow. We have to be able to describe what we are doing with the music in order to explain to others about our jobs. Is it any mystery why other folks think that a bedside musician is the same as a music therapist if we cannot differentiate in ways that people understand?

Here is the entire point of all of this.

The reason that I am a music therapist is that I can see how my clients change in the course of a session. I can see the effect of music on their outlook, their skill development, their relationships. I know that subtle changes in the music can make significant differences in effectiveness. I know that I often go with my gut when it comes to musical decisions, but I also know the science behind my modality. I have studied the literature about how music affects change in the human body. I know that changing the tempo of any musical stimulus that I present will change aspects of my client...or audience...or anyone within earshot. Because I know the science behind my modality, I can make predictions and decisions. Without that foundation, I am just shooting blindly and hoping that I find the right music to help someone do something that they want to do.

I could natter on and on about this, but I will stop here.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday, at this time, I was debating to myself about whether or not I should go to work. I opted not to do so since I had a massive headache. So, I kept myself at home to stay quiet and still. It was well worth it.

Today is another day.

I've got a full day of music therapy sessions ahead. In addition, I have to finish my documentation before I leave and figure out what I'm going to use as my session outlines for next week. I will also put the Orff instruments back into the closet and rearrange my room to accommodate whatever I select for my session outlines.

The day-to-day routine of any music therapist fascinates me. I like knowing how each therapist plans his or her day. I like seeing ways that tools can simplify routines and help out with things like planning, scheduling, and organization. I often wonder if what I find efficient is something that will transfer to another therapist's daily routine.

To that end, I recently put together a format for a web-based form that will make my reporting duties as a CBMT provider easier. This simplifies one part of my professional life. I think I can transfer this form into other parts of clinical life as well - intern evaluation, client documentation, surveys. It's something small, but it will be helpful for me when it comes to compiling reporting information to CBMT next year.

How do you structure your environment to make things work for you? Is there an area in your professional life that needs something else to make it more efficient? I welcome any and all comments.

I hope that this day is a good one for you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Headache #2 - Need to Stay Home

Today I awoke in the throes of a migraine headache. I had one last Saturday as well, but I was awake for the beginning of that one. This one was there, full-blast, as I awoke from an anxiety dream about clients who were missing, stealing things from the community, and just generally stomping over my very last nerve.

So, I am taking the day off.

I started my day the way I always start my day, getting up and getting into the shower. The shower just reinforced the need to stay away from all things that make sounds today. Then, the self-talk started. "Can you afford not to be at work?" Yes, it may hurt financially, but I can afford a day off. "Can you desert your clients like this? Ah, welcome, Guilt. I've been missing you. My clients would probably enjoy getting some time in the music therapy room without me telling them what they cannot do. "Can I get back into bed before this headache simply takes over my life?" Yes, I can, and I will!

The problem with my migraine pattern is that it happens without warning, without known trigger, and without treatment options. Migraine medicine contains caffeine which exacerbates several of my other issues, so all I can do is try to sleep it off. I will probably have at least one more in this series because they are cluster migraines. Then, I will be migraine free for a period of months before another cluster starts. After that, there will be years between clusters.

My clients will be fine without me. I leave session ideas and things to do in my classroom that are easily accessible. In addition, the Orff instruments are out (I wasn't planning on being gone today), so there are some novel instruments to try out as well.

The plan for today is to finish up this blog, find something to eat, and then go back to bed.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

TME Tuesday: Go With the Flow

Yesterday, I returned to the world of individual treatment sessions. I saw two clients and was able to get through the two sessions with just a bit of angst and trepidation. Now, for the first session, I chose a young man who shows lots of interest in music therapy and who I thought would be open to trying a new experience. He was open.

We spent the session moving the drum set.

It wasn't what I thought we would end up doing, but he was determined to move that set from one place in the room back to where it was most of the times he was in the music therapy room. (I moved things around so that I could keep the set organized and able to be used at any time.) I provided some physical assistance and lots of musical support to help him accomplish his goal. I did explain that the drum set would be back in its new spot the next time that he arrived in the music therapy room, and he seemed fine with that statement. 

The best thing about that session was that I was able to use music to reflect and support him in his activity and goal. This is the thing that I like about individual treatment - the opportunity to focus all of the music on one person.

Yesterday the music changed as he changed. Moved as he moved. Filled up the space and pulled us into a relationship. For a short moment, he and I were contributing to a musical interaction that linked us together.

I have five other individual sessions today. Each one will start the same way. I will ask the client what he or she wants to do and will introduce the concept of individual music therapy (something most of my current clients haven't experienced at this time). As the purpose of these sessions is to introduce the idea of individual therapy to a variety of clients, we will not delve too much into treatment - these sessions are more about exploration than treatment at this point - I will be using these sessions to assess and evaluate to allow me to select clients who will get more direct treatment in August.

In the meantime, the music that happens will be a collaboration between what the client does and expresses and what I will do with the piano, guitar, drums, and my voice. I will use elements of music to reflect what the client is doing so the music will change as he or she changes. This will give me an opportunity to relate to each client individually through my medium - music.

So, what is the TME to be shared for this Tuesday? 

Use the elements of music to illustrate what a client is doing. Incorporate each person's music into your own music making it a collaboration. Change your tempo to accommodate his or her tempo. Make your volume express what you want others to do in terms of volume. Accommodate preferences for timbre, rhythms, melodies, harmonic progressions, and lyrics into the music that you make to accept the client and his or her contributions to the shared experience.

(In other words, get away from the song and simply create music - there is no wrong way to do it!)

This makes me happy - five more clients today. I am so ready!

Monday, July 11, 2016

So, I did something that I don't usually do when it comes to blogging - I skipped two days in a row! I try to blog every day, but there are times when I just cannot sit down and write. I had two of those days in a row this weekend. Strange. I did try to write something, but it didn't happen. I was a bit angsty because I hadn't heard anything about my AMTA presentation proposals, but that's since passed. Now, I am getting back into the routine of writing about something therapy-like on a daily basis.

Today, I return to work after a week away. I have three group sessions and (I think) three individual sessions as well. That's right. I have some individual sessions to do today. Finally. 361 days after being injured, I get to go back to what I consider an adequate music therapy schedule. Individual sessions!

To be completely honest, I am a bit scared of moving on. I know that I can do this - after all, I've been doing this for 23 years - but it's going to be the first time that I get to take clients to the music therapy room without support from another staff member for almost a year. It is past time to do this, so I am going forward, even through the apprehension and the negative thoughts that flit through my mind every so often. It will be great to get back into individual therapy - where I think I can have the most effect in the lives of my clients.

I've decided to start off slowly with this entire individual session thing. Most of this is due to the greater school session - swimming always puts a cramp in my schedule - but some of it is due to my own feelings. I am trying to get back into my groove. I will get there, but I will be there changed.

Before my injury, I didn't really think about how an event could significantly change your life. I mean, I had read the research and knew it on an intellectual level, but until I went through something, I really had no idea about how fast life could change on many different levels. Now I know.

There is nothing else to do except to go into the world and do this again.

So, I'm off. I'm going into the world to do what I love best - music therapy with my clients. Everything will be exactly what it should be - whatever it is.

Friday, July 08, 2016

I Simply Cannot and Do Not Understand

I like to think of myself as a compassionate person who loves more people than she doesn't. I like to think that I don't have difficulties with those who are different from me in any way at all (now, I do know that I have biases, but I try to acknowledge them and work with them). I like to think that I have an empathetic nature that tries very hard to treat all people the way that I want to be treated.

I never think that violence is the answer to any situation.

I get very sad when I see things happening in the world, in our country, in my state, in my town that cause hurt to others. I grieve for those who are hurt through the actions of others who make choices to harm others. I despair when I hear stories about police officers hurting and/or killing people, when I hear stories about people hurting and/or killing police officers, when I hear about suicide bombers or gunmen/women who shoot strangers, when I hear about care givers hurting and/or killing those in their care.

I cannot and will not respond to violence with violence.

I find that many of the people who are involved seem to think that one violent act deserves another.

Now, I've been in situations where I was concerned about being hurt by another person. I've been hurt by others through my work with my clients. I've had to put my own responses and feelings aside so I could continue to treat the same clients who hurt me. It is not easy, but it is something that has to happen in order to break the cycle of violence. A conscious choice.

It is very easy to blame groups of people - "It's the fault of gun companies/laws/legislation/terrorists/black people/white people/police officers/etc." - but the simple (and difficult) reality is that it is the choice of each person involved how to respond to each situation.

Every act, whether violent or peaceful, begins with a choice.

It took conscious choices of police officers to engage recent victims in confrontational episodes which led to death. It took conscious choices of snipers to plan attacks on police officers which also led to death. It took conscious choices of the care giver who recently beat a former client of mine. These choices led to behavior that hurt others. 

It takes conscious choices of each and every one of us to go into the world in a way that will bring conflict resolution rather than conflict perpetuation. 

Every time I decide to interact with someone else, I make a choice about how I will interact. I continue to make choices about how my interactions will happen. The other person in the interaction also makes those same choices. 

Last night, I hosted a webinar about conflict resolution. We talked about active listening, finding solutions, and engaging others in discussion. The concept of using rational thought rather than emotion during resolution sessions seemed simple enough. We also talked about having to walk away from situations that are untenable. These are conscious choices that (in my opinion) should be the goal of all human beings.

I cannot live with constant reminders, discussion, rehashes, and the 24-hour news cycle. I do not want to see news segments from every single outlet who can access a video/twitter feed/facebook discussion/etc. I will not listen to my talk radio shows because all they will discuss will be variations on a theme. "Why do these things happen?"

Well, duh. These things happen because we seem to have forgotten that on the other side of any conflict there is a human being as well; one who thinks, reacts, and makes choices on how to interact. It seems easier to make assumptions and move forward in violence than to acknowledge our own responsibility to treat others well.

I cannot do this any more. In my own little corner of the world, I will continue to seek to be a conflict resolver rather than a conflict perpetuator. I will not feed the media preoccupation with violence by patronizing their broadcasts. I will not be silent about the need for non-violent responses to the behavior of others. I will not make excuses for any person who responds in a violent manner to someone else. There simply is no excuse for any violence directed towards another person.

Take responsibility for actions. If I do something, then I will own up to it. I will state that I am angry about something, but I will NEVER have the right to harm another person. My rights end where your body begins. As soon as I do something to you, my rights are just gone. I made a choice and should have to acknowledge that choice and live with the consequences. 

Being an adult means using that rational mind when involved in emotional situations. I wish more of us could do that.

Rant is just beginning, but this post is over.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Introducing Music Therapy Morsels

For the past several weeks, I've been working on a project. It turned out to be a bit more than I thought it would be at the beginning of the project, but most of projects are that way. In this case, I've been scripting things, coming up with presentations, and trying to figure out how to make things into YouTube videos.

I've done it.

Introducing the first ever Music Therapy Morsel.

I chose assessments for the first morsel. When I was a practicum student and later, a supervisor, this seemed to be one of the things that confused me and my students the most. How do you figure out how to assess a client? Here's a tidbit of information about what to think about as you go into an assessment process.

There will be more information offered in a short course pretty soon. That's the next step in this process - offering a morsel first and then a full course on the same topic. 

(Do you think I could put in any more cheesy food metaphors??). 

Thanks for reading and watching!


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Shhhh...I'm Trying to Figure Something Out

My brain is contemplating some things these days; things that I know are possible, but I haven't figured out how to do them yet. So, I am spending lots of time with my mind maps and with e-How to figure out if I can do what I want to do. Turns out, I can't do what I want to do with Excel, but I should be able to do it with Google Forms!

I'm going off to start these projects, so I'll write more either later or tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

TME Tuesday: The Reasons Behind

This will not be my traditional TME Tuesday post - I am currently enjoying the early morning hours of World Music Therapy Day as well as the aftermath of Independence Day here in the states - so just be prepared.

Today's post is called, "The Reasons Behind." This is a brand-new idea that is floating in the back of my head. I intend this to be a song that addresses the reasons that I have for doing what I do - music therapy. This is not really a song intended for therapeutic purposes at this point, but I think it will be readily adaptable to some clientele. (My kids, probably not so much, but I could see this type of song being the TME for a group of people exploring their own patterns...hmmm).

I go into songwriting through different paths.

Sometimes I start with lyrics. Other times, a melody line floats into my head. Today, I feel compelled to start with a chord progression.

I've been obsessed with a specific chord progression lately. It comes into my fingers in those moments when I am sitting by myself in the music therapy room, warming up my voice and my guitar fingers. I don't have any songs with this pattern in them, so the progression just stays in my head. I've promised myself that I will figure out a song to go with the progression, and I think today is the day.

The progression is as follows:

Lyrics are coming to me. (This is a first draft, of course.)

It's important to think about the reasons behind choices.
It's important to explore the whys.
The reasons behind my becauses show me the path I choose to take.
The reasons behind. (Maybe repeat this phrase??)

My life is one full of music, rhythms, and melodies.
I get to play music all day.
I have the privilege of watching others change in the course of a song.
These are some of the reasons behind.

This is a start.

What are your reasons behind being a music therapist? Why do you do this job? Why did it choose you to begin with? Share in the comments!

Happy World Music Therapy Day!

July 5, 2016

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Supplemental Sunday: The "Six Things" Rule

One of my forever quests is to make things that have multiple purposes and uses so that I can squeeze every possible value out of the space that is around me. This quest is really evident to me right now as I am making some progress towards maximizing the use of my space and wishing that I had more and more and more space to use. My solution? Trying to make things more and more effective all of the time...

I try really hard to stay in a mind frame of "six things."

Before I can keep any type of material or visual aid, I have to think of six different things to do with the material/visual aid; six things with different therapeutic goals; six distinct ways to use the thing in order to justify keeping it in my clinic area. If I can't think of those six things, I can't keep the material in the clinic. It goes home (part of why I am currently trying to maximize my living space right now).

So, how is this done?

I am a big fan of stream of consciousness brainstorming. I sit down with the material in front of me and with a piece of paper. (I like forms, so here is the one that I use most often...) The form is pretty simple, but it works for me. I start off with the name of the material at the top. After that, I start to think about what I can do with the material.

The best thing about stream of consciousness brainstorming is that there is never a wrong answer. Whatever you think goes into the boxes and stays there because whatever is thought of becomes part of the exploration. The more I can think of, the more I can figure out how to use the material. Here's an example of a brainstorming form in process...
Brainstorming in Process Here...

In addition, one of the things that I try to do is to brainstorm specific songs, TME ideas, or situations where using whatever I am thinking about will enhance the material/visual aid. I usually reserve the last box on the form (here it is empty) for that type of brainstorming.

This process is never fully finished. There are always more and more things to do with materials when you bring the client into the experience, so I make revisions to this form whenever concepts occur to me.

Sometimes, I go into the creation process with a number of uses already in mind. When that happens, I can find my six purposes really easily. When it doesn't happen that way, it makes me struggle to find my justification, but struggle I do. I've found that, if I really like what I have made, it is easy to brainstorm things to do with the material or visual aid.

Until I can figure out the six things, I don't take things to my clinic to stay. Once I do, I can justify using some of my space to store the material or visual aid in my everyday environment.
 Now, if I could only do that at home...

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Excavating Through the Year

It's that time of year. It's time to clear up and clean out. I'm doing this because first, it HAS to be done and second, I have someone coming over and that means cleaning pressure!

The desk at this moment...
I started yesterday in my office area. I took things off of shelves, moved them into donation, trash, and keep piles, and then got sick, so things are still piled up here, there, and everywhere. I'm currently in the "it will get even worse before it gets better" mode, and that mode will continue for the rest of the week, I am sure.

The best thing about this chore is that I am finding things that I haven't seen for some time. I really should keep track of things better than I do, but I haven't kept up recently. For the moment, I am enjoying finding these things and finding a place for them as well. Right now, I have two new sheet music shelves, a music therapy text shelving unit, and a non-music therapy text shelf. I've also established a new place for my CD books and containers.

Not the desk - just lots of stuff!

I found my mother's camp songbook from the 80's. When I am finished with all of this moving and cleaning and clearing out, I am going to sit down and sing through that songbook. We'll see what TMEs come from that process. 

(Blog posts for the next week may be sporadic and not in my usual pattern - I'm going with the flow this week rather than sticking to a pattern. There may be times when I don't post at all - don't worry, there will be more eventually!)

Before I can sit down and read through songbooks and the like, I must make some semblance of organization happen!

For me, part of organization is finding a place for everything and then putting everything in its place. I have visions of rows and rows of labeled drawers and white shelving units. If I ever had a chance to design a space just for me, there would be bookshelves on almost every wall as well as drawers and lots of windows to let in natural light as well as things that can be put in their places with a limit of muss and fuss.

I'll keep going on my organization quest. I will uncover things and resources that I've forgotten. I will try to find ways to put things in their places. I may have to go get more boxes and fabric drawers and the such, but that is part of the fun!

Gotta go. I haven't been sick yet, so I think this will be a good time to get started. I'm going to get my cleaning materials and get started on this rainy day. See you on the organized side!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Where to Start?

This post is late because my co-author, Bella-cat, refused to leave me alone until we cuddled a bit. (Sorry, Janice.) We've had our cuddle, she's left me for the peace of the comforter, and now I can spend some time thinking about what I want to write about today.

I see some blog posts about the type of blog posts you SHOULD write to drive more traffic to your site. I read them and don't really feel that things work for what I want to write about, so I ignore them all.

The title of this post comes from the lofty goals that I have for myself this week. I need to clear out and clean up my home. It's been a long time since I've been able to do what I need to do for housework, so things really need to be done. I also have a need to get things organized and cleared out so I can have a pet sitter come and sit for the cat. I am often spurred on by people coming to visit, and no one has for the past year, so things have piled up.

So, now I am sitting here, trying to frantically write something that is relevant to music, therapy, and/or me before the cat finishes her drink and decides that she needs to "supervise" everything I am writing, and simultaneously trying to figure out where I am going to start on my cleaning odyssey. The options are pretty overwhelming.

I could start in the bedroom, or the living room, or the office, or (shudder) the craft room. Wherever I start, I will have to move things from one place to another until the first place is clean, so things will be in a bit of disarray for the next week. That's part of the journey.

Lately, I've been thinking about how to be a therapist. Not really the why we're therapists, but the nuts and bolts about being a therapist. I'm working on a project that I'll be revealing soon that is targeted towards music therapy students and interns.

What does this current conversation and journey have to do with music therapy?

Here's my idea - it may be a bit of a stretch, but...

There are times when starting a client relationship is lots like my current situation. You have to make a decision about where to start your treatment protocol. Some of my students come to me with difficulties in academic areas, issues with relationships, post-traumatic responses, and a slew of other things. I, as the therapist, have to decide where to start and then work through the process of helping the client clear out in order to focus on his or her goals. Sometimes the client and I go on a path which is not the most effective. Sometimes we have to prioritize what we address in order to find some sort of amelioration. The first, and most important part is to start.

(There you go - a segue into music therapy...)

Not only does she try to sit between me and the screen every chance she can get, she also takes my chair when I leave it! Maybe she should start her own blog??