Wednesday, November 30, 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 what I want until I find it or I go off and make my own. I knew that there had to be some sort of visual out there that would give me the variety of emotions that I needed as well as the convenience of not having to draw all of the emotions myself, so I searched and searched until this site came up. I managed to find everything I wanted and more on this one page.

The site developers are from Ireland (as evidenced by the spelling of some of the words), but the folks who designed the visuals offer both the British English spelling and the US English spelling of any word that is different. (If you are not sure why this is important, believe me, it is VERY important to present words using the correct spelling for the person who learned the words. Just believe me!) The visuals are not too complex, but they aren't babyish either (another important thing to consider when working with clients). There are lots of free materials available that I haven't started to use - I'm thinking about getting the puzzle files and starting to develop different TMEs with those files - but the ones that I have used have been very effective in increasing the communication of emotion with my clients.

I use my sets of emotion face cards in the beginning of the session. Everyone gets a full set of faces to help them choose how they feel. There are 28 different emotions. It is interesting to see what each client chooses. One client always chooses a picture that had the darkest skin tone. Just so you know, all of the sets of emotion cards have the same words, but the skin tones are all mixed up. So, one folder has a light pink person with a happy facial expression and another folder has the same facial expression, but the person's skin tone is brown. Other clients always choose the card that expresses love. Others appear to choose any card in a random manner, but since I try to always presume competence, what they choose is acknowledged and reinforced through our greeting. How can I know that the selection of furious is random? It may very well be true.

I went in search of this site again (I won't make that mistake again - it's back to being bookmarked on my browser) because I need some new cards. Mine are ending their usefulness stage and moving into the "too many uses" stage. It's time to re-do some of the cards. Now that I'm back on the site, I'm seeing some more things that I could be making to use in my upcoming music therapy room. Hmmmm.

I hope that some of you check out this website and are able to find something that will assist you in making your music therapy life a bit easier. That, after all, is the purpose behind this series of posts!

Happy Wednesday, all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

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 audience - I've found that musicians have a vague awareness of music therapy. I hope that most musicians have at least heard of music therapy, but I was definitely hoping that at least one of the 30+ students that toured yesterday had heard of this profession. No such luck.

I wonder if there will be a time when I say, "I'm a music therapist" and the other half of the conversation will always say, "Oh. I know what that is." I hope that it happens someday.

Now, I do have to note that there is much greater recognition of this profession at this point right now than there was when I started out as a music therapist. Many of my friends have an idea about what it is I do. They can kind of describe what I do and some of them have even experienced music therapy sessions (these are my non-music therapy friends, by the way, not those of you who are also music therapists!). At least all of my friends and many of my relatives recognize that I am a music therapist and will send me things - articles and links - about music therapy or related things.

It is much more common to see some recognition in the faces of strangers when we get into our talk about what it is we do. It is getting better, and I have to remind myself of that on a regular basis. We are moving in a forward motion.

I wonder if there will ever be a day where all students in special education programs have the option of not being in music therapy (rather than having to fight to get the service onto IEPs to begin with).

I wonder...

Monday, November 28, 2016

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 services offered on Wednesday. I think I'm going to take an entire day off since I cannot predict how long the appointment is going to take. I may need x-rays - if I don't take the whole day off, I'll have to be there for hours. If I do take the whole day off, it'll be merely minutes. I think I'll take the entire day off.
  • I will have to do behavior management recertification at some point, so no services on that day - hopefully I'll know which day I'm assigned to by the end of today. Also, I hope I don't sprain anything again.
Then, there is the entire thing about moving from the extra small space that I have right now to an overly large (but I'm not complaining, mind you) space that will become the new music therapy room. That will happen at some point during this month, but there is no clear timeline. (NOTE: if you ever want to stress out an INT/FJ personality, make plans with no clear timeline - not knowing when things will happen makes life so much more difficult for me!)

These are just the things that are happening in my professional role as music therapist. I could also list all of the church responsibilities of this busy Advent season, but I'm getting tired...and the day hasn't happened yet.

In the past year and a half, I haven't had much of a creative spirit or motivation. I've had short times when I finished projects, but not many new ideas for TMEs or visuals. I think I am moving out of that time into a more creative time. The problem? Not enough time in the day to get things finished. I'm going to have to rearrange my day in order to find more time to do what I want to do. I have ideas for sensory boxes, file folder activities, centers, and so much more going through my head right now.

I am going to use my home time this busy season to make things. I am going to finish a project with Janice!! I am going to go through my storage and see what I want to take back to work now that I have the space to keep more things in the music therapy clinic. I am going to work my knee by moving more during my times off. I am going to resist going to bed early and try to stay up and out of bed until 9pm. I am going to use my scrapbook paper, and stickers, and laminator until I can use them no more. I think I'm going to start with a theme unit (for my new centers - whenever I actually move into the new space) about mittens. It's time for some music composition and some planning - here are some of the ideas: mitten sorting, Three Little Kittens, mitten sensory box - what sticks to the mittens, The Mitten books, new songs! So many ideas - now I need to see them through to completion and then use them with my clients.

It is time to get started. I think my "job" today during hallway duty will be cutting mittens out of bulletin board border for the mitten sorting center that I have in mind.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Just A Song Sunday: Further Refining the Thought Process

www.musictherapyworks.comI 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 effective tool in the evaluation and intervention process" (Mosey, 1986, p. 199). It "involves a planned interaction with another person in order to alleviate fear or anxiety, provide reassurance, obtain necessary information, provide information, give advice, and assist the other individual to gain more appreciation of, more expression of, and more functional use of his or her latent inner resources." (Source: Mosey, A. (1986). Psychosocial components of occupational therapy. New Psychosocial components of occupational therapy. New York: Raven Press.) For me, this means that I not only provide music, but I provide my full attention, thought processes, and engagement to both the client in front of me and the musical product we create together. To that end, I have to focus on more than just a song.

My assertion and way of thinking when it comes to these Sunday posts is that I, in my role as a music therapist, can use any song to move my clients towards any clinical or personal goal using the therapeutic triad of music, therapist, and client. I believe that it truly doesn't matter what song I sing to my client as long as the client and I are involved in the music, shaping it and making it work towards the accomplishment of our common goal.

Example? When I am in a session with 14 clients and 3 staff members, I may feel that it is time to apply elements of the iso-priniciple to assist us in relaxing and calming. I may start with a preferred song of the group as a whole and then start to shape various elements of music to lead the group into relaxation. I might start with that preferred song at a tempo and volume that encourages my clients to participate in the active music making process. Once I have their attention, I will change different elements of the music to help my clients move towards a desired state of being. The ending repetition of the song may be significantly different than the first repetition, or it may lead to a completely different piece of music - this depends on my perception of the music and the clients in the group as well as my own feelings about what is happening in the session.

So. I continue in my quest to figure out what I mean here. I think it is becoming a bit more clear to me what I want to do on Sundays. Please feel free to comment on this or any blog post. I want to know if others agree or disagree with what I'm thinking...

Occupational Therapy Otago:  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

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, soundtracks and singles, and every type of genre imaginable. I love putting my device on shuffle and then listening to songs from Sesame Street followed by songs by Nirvana and then followed by world music from the Congo. While music listening is not always part of my self-care routine, when I do listen to music, I am not often satisfied by listening to only one thing. I like the variety of music that I have available to me.

I have had different songs running through my head this weekend. I think some of that is due to a lack of stimulation and the rest is because I am mentally revisiting some of the CDs that I am ripping. My mind is full of music, even though I am not really listening to any of it right now. Unfortunately, the songs that my brain chooses to revisit over and over again are not ones that I enjoy, but they eventually go away to be replaced by some other piece of music.

I would like to know what music you enjoy. Let me know in the comments about your favorite song, or composer, or performer, or group.

I'll start:
  • favorite song - really varies based on my mood, but I keep going back to What Do You Hear In These Sounds by Dar Williams, and The World Ain't Slowing Down by Ellis Paul. Right now, both of those songs give me things to think about.
  • favorite composer - Sibelius. No question. I love the music of Sibelius and seem to have some sort of innate recognition for his music. I can be listening to something that I've never heard before and just have a gut feeling that it was written by Sibelius. (I've never been wrong. It's the same type of feeling that I get with the modes...)
  • favorite performer - That's hard to choose. I really don't like watching people perform, mainly due to the ways that people move when singing. I cannot stand people who have to flutter their hands around in order to sing. If I have to choose, I choose Kristin Chenowith. There.
  • favorite group - Straight No Chaser - especially during the holiday season. Check them out!
What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, November 25, 2016

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 also going to try giving something back to others. I'm still working on that plan, but I will figure it out.

Today, I am thankful for the fact that I have a choice not to be in the middle of this brouhaha. I am also thankful for those who do not have a choice and have to work these hours. Thank you for putting up with the madness and trying your best to keep your attitude happy and calm, even when those around you do not.

Be thankful.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

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 all of us, but I feel so very fortunate to be in a place where I can disagree with others and not worry about persecution. So, in that spirit, I am going to offer my thankful things.

First of all, I am thankful that I can live in a place where my friends and I can vehemently disagree about anything and everything without fear of being sent to jail or disappeared.

Second, I am thankful that I have friends that will engage me in discussion and debate about anything and everything out there. My Facebook feed is something that is very interesting to read. The differences between my friends' opinions keeps me thinking.

Third, I am thankful for the availability of things in this place. I try not to take it for granted that I can get what I want and need when I can afford it.

Fourth, I am thankful for my profession. I am thankful for the pioneers, for the founders, for the educators, but I am especially glad for those of you who go out, day after day, to the homes, clinics, schools, hospitals, and other places where music therapy happens.

Have you ever really thought about our profession? We could have all the researchers researching the effect of music on human behavior in the world, but without a clinician to put that research into practice with an actual human, where would the profession actually be? The answer? It wouldn't be anywhere. There have to be practitioners in order for something to grow, so I am thankful for you.

I am finally thankful for the clients who decide that music therapy is something that they want or need to engage in to accomplish their goals. Without them taking a chance on us as therapists and on music as a therapeutic modality, there wouldn't be a place for our profession at all.

I wonder who the first client was....

Happy Thanksgiving, friends in the States. Happy Thoughtful Thursday, everyone else!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

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 else because she wanted to order from them again.

I passed her comments on to the folks at the West Music booth at AMTA. They were pleased to hear about it. That's just who these folks are - people who value their customers and who offer special consideration for those same customers.

I also like supporting West Music because of their commitment to music therapy. One of my former interns is a music therapist for West Music. The company offers music therapy services all over the state of Iowa, offering treatment for people who would not be able to access those services otherwise. They are committed to the growth of music therapy and were recognized by AMTA at the most recent conference.

How could you not like such a company? I do, and I always go to them first when thinking about purchasing something new for my music therapy life.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

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 all sorts of things that I did not like, but also one who knew that I needed that pushing. He coddled when I needed coddling, he reflected on the progress made when needed. and he pushed me into doing things that I was uncomfortable doing - over and over again.

I was able to hear the "therapist" patter coming out of his mouth when it was about time to terminate my physical therapy sessions. I recognized the speech and could understand it as well as appreciate it. I had the opportunity to be on the other side of things for a change, and I found it fascinating.

Being a therapist means being someone who cares, but can we truly care if we don't experience what it is to be in the situation our clients find themselves in? Can you really assure someone that their pain is something to cope with when you haven't had to cope with something similar? I know that I work with kids who have had situations that I have never had to experience. I don't think I can truly understand their lives. So, can I truly be their therapist? Yes, I think I can, but I cannot project an air of understanding what they are going through. I cannot completely understand it.

It's been almost a year since my knee was fixed. It's been 18 months since my knee was broken. I am still dealing with it - with the experience of being broken, with the experience of being physically fixed, and with the experience of continuing to be emotionally fixed. As you can read above, I am a work in progress.

This work in progress is going to go to work for the last day of this week. Tomorrow's plan? Grocery shopping and cooking.

Almost a year. Wow. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

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 remain in the foster care or state system until they turn 22 years of age. They feel abandoned, and rightly so in many cases. For those that struggle, I think that this is the motivation behind that struggle. Their lives have changed from family to staff - 24 hour line of sight oversight and lots of rules. Those that have been with us for some time tend to find the structure something to be thankful for, but others do not.

I cannot imagine what their experiences are like. My life does not resemble theirs at all, so I try to help them negotiate the situations that are in front of them without complete understanding. Most of the time, I am a listener, not a fixer. I cannot fix the situations that they face, but I can listen. So, I do.

There are parallels between my clients and the greater society at large these days. I have a relatively easy life. I do not have people following me around different places. I don't face discrimination - overt or implied - when I go out into the world. I cannot completely understand or experience what others feel in the world, but I can listen. 

While I cannot fix all that is wrong in this world, I can regulate myself and my interactions with others. I cannot fix the family situations of my clients, but I can teach them how to cope with their emotions. I cannot fix the world, but I can make sure that my interactions with others are based in love, not fear.

Happy Thanksgiving week, all. I have two work days and then I get five luxurious days off. I'm already giving thanks for time off!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

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 struck a chord with me. The conversation was about using conditional design during music therapy sessions - what I consider "flexibility" and "being in the moment" during sessions. Who knew that there was an official name for that?? Not me. Not until that presentation two Fridays ago. Now I do. That wasn't the revelation.

The revelation came from a comment that either Ryan or Kate made towards the end of the presentation. It came along with the statement that they weren't trying to tell others what to do when it came to using the curriculum they had developed. The statement went along like this "there is a difference between intervention and therapy."


There is a difference between following an intervention plan and making it therapy. I think this is a fundamental difference between music therapists and those who state that they use music with people for specific goals. (There are lots of them out there who state that they use music but the therapy part of the interaction is missing.)

I can give out ideas, and others can use them, but music therapists know that an idea is only as good as the therapeutic relationship.

There you go. This is going to be the foundation of my thoughts for Sundays. There is a difference between intervention and therapy.

Thank you, Ryan and Kate, for the presentation and for the clarity. I was listening.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

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 my trip tomorrow. I'll shop for things to make during the Thanksgiving celebration and my long weekend next week.

In between chores and tasks, I am thinking.

I will be moving to a new space for music therapy in two weeks. The space is 4 times bigger than the space I have now. It is abysmal when it comes to soundproofing, but there is SPACE! I've spent the past two days contemplating what this change will mean to me as a therapist and to my clients. I vacillate between giddiness and hesitation - I've been "given" space before and it has been taken away - over and over again.

My custom-built cabinets are not coming with me, but I will have an office with a locked door that will be able to store some of my things. I could start up my internship again. The room is at the north end of the building - very much away from the noises that I have been experiencing, but also part of a completely new soundscape.

This change is unexpected, but VERY welcome. I am moving from a very close space (especially when you cram 11 students, 4 staff members, and me into the room) to an almost too large room. I will make it work.

There are implications for the types of therapy I will be able to do pretty soon. The first is that movement will be possible again. The second is splitting up contentious clients through moving them to different parts of the room. The third is that I can have a separate area for lessons and individual treatment that can remain ready for those types of sessions rather than having to be hauled out of closets three times a day. I could also do centers as part of my treatment including sensory stations, listening stations, instrument stations, and other types of stations as well.

Now, I just have to live through the next couple of weeks until things start to change...

Friday, November 18, 2016

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 get as many pens as I usually do - they were in short supply, and I wasn't in any meetings where pens are more prevalent - but I did get my obligatory CBMT pin, pen, and post-it pad!! I found three koosh balls and lots of canary sticks and duck sticks! I also picked up a copy of Barbara Wheeler's Music Therapy Handbook to enjoy.

My sister always laughs when I get excited about getting a bag from someone at conference. She is a second-grade teacher and the loot offered at her conferences is AMAZING! She comes home with lots of t-shirts, electronic devices, sample dry erase boards, motivational posters, every sort of pen you can imagine, and lots of other stuff! She finds our meager loot a bit sad, but I am always excited to see a new tote bag or a fancy type pen in my registration packet! 

My next step is to put my upcoming presentations on my calendar and then get them ready to go. I also want to use some of the creative momentum I've got going to do some more webinars for music therapy professionals. It's time.

Happiest of Fridays, all!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

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 ceilings are high, there is good light, and I would get an attached storage/office area. The downside? There is NO soundproofing to the classroom on the other side of the wall. I can hear everything that goes on next door which means that they will hear EVERYTHING that I do - no matter how quietly I attempt to do therapy. There are some confidentiality issues as well as the significant noise issues. Also, people would be accessing the room to get to the store located inside the new room at times when I couldn't be there to provide oversight.

I am both excited about and dreading the possibility of this change. There are lots of things that can go well with this type of move, but there are just as many things that can go poorly. I've been through this before (about 8 times as a matter of fact) and am asking for some guarantees from the administration. 

I want to have some assurances that I will not have to be moving again when someone looks around and thinks that the space would make some wonderful offices (that happened 3 rooms ago). I want to have my custom-made cabinets moved to the new space. They fit my instruments perfectly (they should, I designed them to do so!), and I need the storage. I also want some carpeting in the room to assist me in keeping my hearing. The space is large, and it is acoustically live! I could potentially have three different session areas set up for use. I could have a large group space, a smaller lesson space, and a studio space set up all the time! I could split up my large groups to do different centers with lots of personal space and the ability to be in the room without having to be near peers.

It is amazing that being given an opportunity like this can cause lots of stress. It is both good stress and bad stress when things like this happen. There are many dominoes that will be knocked over if this move actually occurs. The first is mine - moving from the small room that I currently occupy. Then, the vocational department will have to move to a new place so the student store can move to their old place. After that, the other dominoes won't really matter as much to me.

I am trying very hard NOT to get very VERY excited about the possibility of a new place to do music therapy because I have been promised many things by administrators who have reneged on their side of things. It is very probable, based on past history, that this move will not actually happen. Someone somewhere will have some difficulty with the idea that I should get space to do my job, and it will fall through. What is actually worse is that I do get the space, get settled and make the space work well for me, and then someone takes it away. (That's happened three times since I've worked at this facility. For some reason, everyone seems to like my rooms after I've figured out how to make them work. There is some of that behind this offer - the OT department has been angling for my room since I moved in, but the only way I can get out is if I get more space, not less. My therapy is significantly different than the OT department's therapy. I do almost all groups - they don't. Rant ahead...nope, stop...ANYWAY!)

To bring this all back to my original point - there are many things going on in the lives of all of us. Some of us are focusing on what is happening in front of us - not because we don't care about the larger picture, but because our gaze is full of other things closer to us. 

For me, the things right here are taking precedence. This doesn't mean that I don't care about the bigger issues happening, it simply means that I need to work on what is in front of me before I can get through to the other things.

Sorry for such a rambling post - I've got lots to think about.

Have a productive Thursday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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 Positive Affirmations You Will Ever Need - I really resonated with the following affirmations today: 12, 23, 30, 43, 50, 61, 74, and 99. Which ones made you stop and think?

Calming Manatee - Just because...

Now, simply looking at these websites isn't enough for me. The next step in my affirmation journey is to use these affirmations to make changes in how I view the world around me. So, I choose something to focus on during the day. At those times when I feel down or blah, I think about my affirmation. If I am really in a creative mood, I will draw or do word art with the affirmation at the center.
This is an example of word art centered around song lyrics, but the idea of an affirmation remains the same. This song is one that affirms what I challenge myself to do. By making this creative effort, I place the words into my brain in a new way, and I have a visual reminder of what I feel is important. This works for me.

In these times, find a positive affirmation that you can keep close to your heart. Something that challenges you to think. Something that can help you remember your place in the bigger world around, and something that will lead you towards a better path.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

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.

Bella-cat approves of this post.
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 climate will be when I get to school. I hope that things will not have changed, but I know that some people will be happy and others will be unhappy. I hope that it doesn't really affect our day-to-day operation, but I bet things will seep into the way things happen.

I'm trying very hard to process what I feel about what is happening in the bigger world out there. It may take some time, so here are cat pictures to keep me occupied in the meantime.

Tomorrow is Website Wednesday! I'm off to find my next website!! 


Monday, November 14, 2016

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 interested in what I have to say - whether it be about being a research-informed clinician or about creativity. I have to get more organized in my home life. I am not always using the resources that I have available to me. I want to step up my sharing of those resources with others. To that end, I am going to need to organize my life in a way that makes things a bit more accessible to me as I need them. I also want to get out there more often - in person as well as through social media. I am working on that aspect of my life and business.

I also was reminded of things that I've known for many years but needed to be reminded of at this point in my career. Music is powerful.

It is time to bask in this supermoon and use the energy to arrange different aspects of my life. Have a wonderful day, all. I'm going back to sleep!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

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 presentations this time around because I love talking to other music therapists about things. I think both of my solo presentations were well-received by the attendees. Both of the duet presentations went well as well, but we didn't have many people who heard about what we were talking about. I did meet someone that I knew - neither of us were sure how I knew her name, but I did - and she seemed REALLY interested in the Online Conference for Music Therapy. We have a new volunteer, everyone!!

I have about an hour before I want to leave the room I've been in since Tuesday. I have everything corralled and awaiting the last additions (like my nightshirt and water bottles) before I take everything down to the car and then check out. I have a new outfit to wear (I realized I really didn't pack a really comfy travel outfit, so I found a store and bought something) and my map is in the car. It is almost time to leave.

I missed friends who weren't here. I spoke to everyone who spoke to me. I was pleasant even when my emotional mind was screaming at me. I escaped to my room when I needed to, but found that I really didn't need to very often. I went to some concurrent sessions and CMTE courses that reminded me of things that I already knew, but had forgotten. My creativity was sparked over and over again, and I found that I had lots in common with other people sitting around me - and more than just our common professional title, music therapist.

I am glad that I have tomorrow completely off and at home. I am also glad that there are only six work days before Thanksgiving break. At that time, I will be able to completely synthesize the events of this past week and move forward on everything I've experienced and created here.

AMTA16 is over for me. See you in St. Louis next year!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

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 think society as a whole prefers to hear happy things and not always the honest things that happen to us, but this is my blog, so I use it to work out problems, thoughts, and conundrums. In that process, honesty happens.

There are times, however, when my honesty is not appropriate. I usually don't post those contributions.

Anyway, I am getting ready to present on another something that I talk about lots and lots - therapeutic music experience (TME) development. In this case, we are going to talk about developing TMEs specifically for young adults with developmental disabilities - a forgotten population, in my opinion. We often provide many services for children and adolescents, but those services stop abruptly when individuals age out of education. Young adults don't stop needing our services though, but the resources available change significantly.

I am hoping that folks in that session help me come up with some new ideas for things to do with our mutual clients. I think they will because they really won't have much choice. The presentation is a workshop and is something where I want people to talk to each other. I hope they will.

After that, I think I have time to get one more presentation in before I go to on to the rest of the presentations I am helping with today. After all of that, I plan on coming back to my room, compiling the contributions of others into a document and then uploading it to the website.

Thanks for reading, all!

Friday, November 11, 2016

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 rather than just choosing something to see randomly. I started the day with a presentation about Curriculum-Based Music Therapy - let me get my notes so I can give you the full right back...

Here we go - Curriculum-Based Music Therapy: A Guide to Writing Structured Interventions presented by Ryan Carroll, MS, MT-BC and Kate Stanley, MT-BC. It was what I thought it would be - a description of a multi-session format centered around a common therapeutic outcome. The presenters offered a model and their own curriculum and encouraged us to write our own. I would recommend seeing their presentations - they spoke well and acknowledged that our profession is diverse and amazing.

The second presentation I attended was Learning Opportunities: Examining Strategies for Learning to Work with a New Population. This presentation was offered by Alaine E. Reschke-Hernandez, MA, MT-BC and Meghan Ross, MT-BC. They are both graduate students at the University of Iowa and led us through a journey of self-examination and assessment.

The last session I attended was titled, Contemporary Social Movements in the Autistic Community: Implications for Music Therapy Research. Dr. Ken Aigen (one of the keynote speakers for the Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT) 2017. (I actually got up enough nerve to go over and introduce myself to him - thought it would be a good opportunity seeing as how I had never met him before but wanted to do so for years.) The most interesting part of the session was the review of the history of the neurodiversity movement. 

In my opinion, the best thing about attending concurrent sessions is the opportunity to see my profession from another person's viewpoint. I strongly believe that our strength is in our diversity, but I need to be reminded of that on a regular basis.

In a bit, I'll go down to be one of the six presenters who are talking about music therapy research and music therapy clinicians (all at different times so we don't conflict with one another - good planning AMTA!). I am going to talk about what I do as a guilt-ridden clinician who only reads research when she has her own research project to do for a class or something. I'm trying to change that about my professional habits and focus on my own personal enrichment. Hopefully others will find the information interesting and helpful. We'll see. I have brought some of my journals so we can go through the exercise that I've gone through. I also have links to my website (that reminds me, I need to upload some stuff!) for the supplemental information. I hope I'm not forgetting anything, but you never do know on conference days.

I am going to wrap this up, brush my teeth, and go stalk the presentation room so I can get in as soon as I possibly can. (I do SO much better when I present first rather than last in the presentation day!) Then I am coming back here and eating cookies (maybe I'll get something more healthy to eat before I eat cookies - maybe not!).

Goodbye for now, music therapy friends. See you soon!!

Thursday, November 10, 2016


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 added bonus!!) I didn't really learn anything new (which I am glad about), but I did get some reminders of things that I had forgotten. I will take back some attitudes that I had left behind me.

The conference officially starts tonight, and I have to do some things that I don't want to do. I have to sit up front for the opening (NOT my place of comfort AT ALL!), and I will probably be hugged by people I don't know that well but who insist on hugging. After that meeting, I'll go spend some time in the Exhibit Hall and leave my tickets in the Take-A-Chance Drawing. I have space to take some stuff home in the car, so the sky's the limit when it comes to bidding! The last time I had space in the car, I won a huge basket full of paints! I wonder what there will be tonight. I always put one ticket into the iPad drawing (but NEVER win that). I tend to win things when I go purely on impulse - and I've won two different things over the years. Maybe this will be another year for winning. Maybe not.

The rest of the week will be spent out of meetings and in concurrent sessions. I am going to go by impulse, looking for things that interest me in the moment. We'll see what I actually attend. I'm not sure that I will find much that will actually relate to my life as a music therapist, but I am good at finding connections.

I am going to learn something this week, by hook or by crook! Happy (what day is it? Thursday??) whatever!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

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 past my bedtime, but I think I'll be able to stay awake (especially if I get that nap that I really want right now!).

I'm dealing with small anxiety moments - mainly associated with specific people - in a variety of ways. Some of the ways are mature - others, not so much. I am looking forward to having time to be alone. The "Privacy Please" tag is in the door lock, so I am going to try my best to do some relaxing in a place where I know I won't run into anyone. I have some snacks, too!

Cathy Knoll gave me some things to think about and some inspiration as well - things to offer other music therapists. I have all the materials I need to work on those projects, so I know what I'll be doing (after I review my presentations) - creative stuff! I love it!!

Time to nap - keep an eye out here. I'll write more occasionally. Here are some pictures of some of the things I've seen so far...

I'm also keeping an eye out for SMU students who need selfies... Haven't met any yet, but the conference hasn't started yet.

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


Thanks for the support, the materials, and the constant creativity that you all show over there at Bear Paw Creek!

Monday, November 07, 2016

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 plans will include things like a music therapy room scavenger hunt - one of the things they have to find is my last name! Once the hunt is finished, the groups will get to spend some time using some of the materials. I'm hoping that they will put things back where they find things...

That reminds me, I need to take pictures of what the music therapy room should look like when the arrive and when they leave.

Ah, the listing goes on and on.

Tomorrow is a travel day - no blog post until later in the day.

Hope to see many of you this week.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

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 reflect something silly that we want to change.

The music is repetitive. It is easy to sing and is in an alto range. The form is verse and chorus - AB. (I would be charting this in one of my song charts, but the computer is still installing things and my original file is not easy to find at this point - I'll get there.) The original lyrics talk about wanting someone back after a breakup. It acknowledges that words can hurt feelings. The lyrics also refer to responsibility for the situation and being able to take ownership for  events that occurred. The tempo is in the moderate range (my estimate? About 100 bpm). The meter is common, and there is some syncopation but not lots. I could easily learn this song on the guitar to change different musical elements and aspects.

What I can do now is start figuring out my rationale for using this song in a session with hypothetical clients. This process starts with brainstorming - I love brainstorming!!

So, by looking at the original lyrics, I can see potential for lyric analysis, word substitution to personalize the lyrics, and parody writing.

Listening to Cher perform this song, I can feel a strong, steady beat, hear a repetitive melody for both verse and chorus, and experience the rock band timbre.

When playing this song for myself, I can match the tempo to outside influences and my own preferences for pitches, tempi, and timbres. It has a simple chord progression - uses I, IV, V7, and ii chords.

Now the therapeutic music experience (TME) starts to take place.

Potential goal areas:
  • Acknowledging responsibility for relationship issues
  • Discussion of relationship responsibilities
  • Entrainment to strong beat for motor processes - upper extremity or lower extremity
  • Word substitution - Mad-Libs or personal experience word substitution
  • Discussion about time changes
  • Pattern awareness (indicating changes between verse structure and chorus structure)
  • Group discussion or individual processing of theme
  • Discussion about time changes 
After this process starts, the TME also begins to take shape into a plan (or several plans). The foundation piece becomes a recommended song for several of my TMEs. I add it to my lists of songs for movement or lyric analysis or discussion or Mad-Libs or just about anything. I can also focus on this song and only this song for my TME plan.

I'm not going to share the entire plan at this point (primarily because I haven't finished it), but I think you can start to see what I am talking about when I state that I shape music around my clients. I can find a foundation piece and then shape that piece to the client that I have in the session at that very moment.

Happy Sunday - enjoy the extra hour of sleep time, US friends!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

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 as I like over the past few weeks. As I've been hobbled by lack of ability to engage in this manner, I've found that I really miss not being able to write. This routine has become something that I truly enjoy - thinking about music therapy and my roles in the greater world of music therapy and writing about me.

It is time to shift into pre-conference mode and get ready to be around other music therapists. Music therapy conferences are both relaxing and stressful simultaneously. It is wonderful to be around so many other people who understand what I do, but it is stressful because of the social expectations and requirements. This conference, I have to sit up front at several of the large meetings. That's not where I usually hang out. I am most comfortable when I am towards the back, on the far left side, using two seats for me and my stuff. If I can, I head for the end of the row so I can get out if I need to. If you are ever looking for me in a business meeting or opening ceremony, look towards the fringes. I'll be there! Except for this year, I'll be in the front - hopefully at the end!

Conference invigorates me and challenges me. It also stresses me out and makes me very tired. All of the hugs and small talk and thinking wears me out. All of the thinking and listening and conversation opens my mind to new ways of understanding this thing we all do - music therapy.

This year, I'm kinda at a loss for what to do. I no longer have to go to meetings so I guess I'll be spending lots of time in concurrent sessions. I'll leave my laptop in my room so I can focus on presentations by taking notes. I'll take one of my AMTA notebooks to write my notes in - then I can doodle, make mind maps, and synthesize what I'm hearing into my own life. I also have four presentations of my own to lead, so I'll have my own things to do and prepare for during the conference. I start my own presentations on Friday prevening (Big Bang Theory reference) and will have three presentations the next day. One of them is an eight minute blast, so it's not taking up too much of my time for preparation. One is my own and the other is for the Online Conference for Music Therapy. By Saturday afternoon, my role as presenter will be done. Then I can completely relax. I may spend late Saturday afternoon in the lagoon.

Anyway, I am now back to the computer and to writing. I'll blog during the conference - possibly at odd hours, but I'll keep writing. It's time to get back to my regular writing routine.

See you next week? If so, please stop me and say hi.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

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. When I am having a bit of insomnia, those situations come back to haunt me over and over again.

All of these things simply lead to one thing. Ambivalence. I'm going into my workplace with a feeling that today will happen, but I'm not going to stress about how it will happen. Meanwhile, my brain just won't stop. It goes on and on and on about things related and things unrelated.

Hope you are rested and well, friends! See you tomorrow!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

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 interesting and underdeveloped in our field - music therapy philosophy. There were four sites above my first philosophy post (I ranked #5! Personal goal achieved!!). Most of the results were for programs that offer Doctor of Philosophy degrees in related studies, not philosophy statements or discussions. I did find a pdf of a paper that Barbara Crowe wrote in 2004 for Music Therapy Today entitled, "A complexity science-based theory and philosophy for music therapy practice and research." This is something to digest in my early mornings in hallway duty.

I love it when a general search ends up giving you something that you didn't know you needed.

I'm off to read about complexity science-based theory and philosophy!

Crowe, B. (2004) A Complexity Science-Based Theory and Philosophy for Music Therapy Practice and Research. Music Therapy Today (Online) Vol. V (3) May 2004 available at

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

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 songs to sing and television to watch.

I try to spend some extra time during this month thinking about the things that I have in my life. I try to be mindful about the privileges that I have simply because of my country-of-origin. I try to remember those who do not have as many opportunities, and I try to do something about it.

There are some times that I am better at outward thinking than others.

One of my students asked me about traditional Thanksgiving songs the other day. I could only identify Over the River and Through the Woods and several Christian hymns to be included on the list. I'm going to be spending some time using Google to see if I can find others. (I've also written several of my own, but those aren't traditional songs.)

For today, I am thankful that there were a bunch of people out there a long time ago who realized that music could do so much more than just fill up quiet space. Those people kept fighting for music therapy as a science, as a profession, and as a treatment modality for those who can benefit. 

During the Online Conference for Music Therapy, I am often reminded of the fact that we, as music therapists, have come a long way. During that conference, I get to hear from people who are music therapists in places where music therapy is not even an idea. They are practicing what I take for granted in places where the thought of music being a science is a novel idea. Their music therapy advocacy journey is where ours (in the States) was back in the 1940's and 1950's - a constant quest for recognition.

I am thankful for the work of those music therapy pioneers who established a foundation for the future. I am hopeful for those of us right now who are the current foundation that we will continue to build up the foundation and keep it solid through changes in our education, clinical training, research, and professional interactions with clients.

It's almost time for Thanksgiving.