Saturday, December 31, 2016

How to Say What I Feel About 2016 and 2017??

I have tried to start this post several times today. I was sitting in my parents' family room, next to my sister, trying to write something that would represent what I feel on the brink between the old and new years. It just wasn't coming then. I feel that it is coming now - kinda like how nausea indicates that something unpleasant is happening - I hope this isn't that unpleasant, but no promises.

2016 was difficult for many of us in the world. I faced big personal and professional challenges and disappointments. Others lost parents, children, loved ones. There were shootings, hateful actions towards others, and a general feeling of disconnection with many different things including government and each other. We lost many icons in the world of entertainment. Things did not seem to go as planned for many of us out here in the world. 2016 is going to be over pretty soon, for all of us.

2017 holds the best gift of all - an uncertain future.

Who knows what the world will be like at this time next year? I certainly don't. Here's what 2016 has taught me about 2017:
  • Things happen. I can either choose to engage or disengage. It is up to me and ONLY to me how much I get involved.
  • There is always a solution. I may not like what others want to do, but there is always a course of action that is available to me.
  • Working hard gets results. At this time last year, I was depressed, lonely, and starting the process of physical therapy. I worked hard on all of those things, and this year, I am ending in a better place than I started. That is good. Most of that is due to the work I put into changing circumstances that I could change, and trying to work through the emotions involved with things that I could not change.
  • Others hurt. I am not alone in my struggles this year. Others have issues, concerns, and situations that are important to be aware of as I go through my interactions with them wherever we are.
  • There is hope. You may have to go out and find it, but there is hope out there. Hope for a better understanding of each other, for a better future, for love, for peace, for the best of humanity to shine brightly.
Happy 2017, music therapy people. Let's make it a wonderful year for our clients, for others around us, and for ourselves!

10...9...8...7...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Upgrading Mom's Music

My mother has FINALLY decided that she would like to have some of her cassette tapes converted to CDs so she could listen to them without having to hunt up a cassette player. Sigh. Alright, then. Mom handed me about 13 tapes yesterday and wants CD copies. I told her not only was it possible, but I could probably get some of them finished before I leave home in the next three days. So, now I get to go on an iTunes hunt.

My mother has a love/hate relationship with technology and always has had that sort of response to "newfangled" things. My Dad is always chasing after the newest stuff, and Mom just shakes her head. Dad got an Amazon Echo and several Dots for the holiday, but Mom can't seem to understand the idea of music on demand and that she can just ask for her cassette music from Alexa. Nope. My mother is firmly stuck in the 1990's for her music listening, and that is just fine with her!

I am trying to find music by Roger Whittaker. Do you know what the most complicated part of this whole process is? Finding the songs in the configuration that Mom is used to. The entire world has moved from cassettes to CDs a long time ago, and the music is just not packaged the same way anymore. So, I buy an album here and there, fill in other songs as needed, and then cobble together playlists to burn to CDs. If I keep the cassettes, she will probably never know, but she'll want those back as well.

I have inherited some of my mother's skepticism about technology, but am willing to try things with a bit more verve than Mom...except for Smart phones. There is an entire saga behind why I do not want a Smart phone - beginning with the beeper I had to carry for one of my jobs and ending with a refusal to tie everything in my life to a device. I am stubbornly resisting the trend. Mom is right there in my corner. She was thinking that it would be nice to play one game and to have her shopping coupons available without printing, but when push came to shove, she didn't bite. She did upgrade from a flip phone, though! She and I will keep our little phones that don't access Google and that are just that - phones - and bask in the idea that we are doing well without the world at our fingertips regardless of what the others out there think we should do.

Just so you know, I only send about 4 texts per month, and they are all to my sister. I don't see that changing all that much with a different phone. I don't want people to be able to contact me whenever and wherever I am. I also cannot stream music at work (bad wi-fi and strange user requirements), so why bother? There you go.

I am going to bring my mother's musical tastes into the late 20th century today. I am SO glad that I insisted on having a CD burner in this new computer. It is still a way to interact with others in a musical format. Off to do some burning!!

Happy Friday, all.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: The End of the Icons

I have always loved both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher and the last couple of days have been a bit rough - not just on me, but on many people who loved their work over the years. I have been a bit disbelieving of news stories and people conversing, but it is obvious that the news of their deaths has not been exaggerated but is true.

I don't know if I had seen any Debbie Reynolds movies before Carrie Fisher burst into my life in her iconic role, but knowing my family, probably. I remember the effect of the entire Star Wars universe on my life when I was 7, and Princess Leia was a big part of that effect. Here was a girl/woman who knew what needed to happen and did it! (I think my disdain for Padme Amidala is that she spent most of the third movie crying, not getting things done like Leia! - I'm kinda slipping into Stars Wars philosophy role here. I'll stop!) Let the men come up with an escape plan? That obviously wasn't working for her! She was the military strategist, so she took over that aspect of the partnership that they formed in that detention block. She was able to quickly assess what was needed and then act upon it with determination. She (and the rest of the universe presented to me) opened up my thoughts about people and how we work together.

The first movies that I remember watching that starred Debbie Reynolds were Tammy and the Bachelor, Singing In the Rain, and My Six Loves. They all satisfied my romantic heart and left me imagining what being in love would be like. I identified with awkward Tammy, being the backwards girl put in a new place that she didn't understand at first. I felt that way going into new situations. I loved that Janice Courtney was someone who threw herself into her work but really needed balance in her life and found that by being a mother to kids who needed her. Kathy Seldon, on the other hand, had a habit of running her mouth and it getting her into trouble - also something I can identify with both in my past and, well, now.

These women continued to be present in my life, outside of those initial encounters through the movie and television screens. I read Carrie Fisher's autobiography (speaking of which, I need to find it again) and eagerly watched everything I could find that included one or both of them. While they both had long careers and many roles to their names, they will always be Kathy/Tammy and Leia to me.

As I am thinking about these two icons, I am thinking about the things that they taught me through their roles. Be confident. Admit when you are wrong. Keep going after your end goal. Support the dreams of others. Never lose hope. Lead a rebellion to get what you know is right.

These are ideas that I think have helped me be a therapist and a strong, independent woman.

Thank you, Carrie and Debbie, for being present to affect the lives of so many of us who never met you in person but who remember the roles you played.

I will take the models that you offered and make them my own.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Website Wednesday: Makey Makey

A couple of years ago, my sister dragged me into the world of computer interfaces by asking my Dad for a Makey Makey for the holiday. When my father saw what she was asking for, he decided that we both needed one, so I received one as well. My sister gave me a Makey Makey Go for Christmas this year with requests to figure out how to rig it to my cat's behavior (in some way - Auntie wants more pictures of the kitty, I guess!). I will be playing with this a bit more in the near future.

I've played with mine a bit, but haven't really delved into the possibilities of what this device can do. I like that it has lots of implications for clients with limited mobility. I can rig just about anything to do something - great cause and effect work opportunities as well as access to communication or composition or many other things as well.

It wasn't cheap, but it also didn't break the bank, especially when compared to switches, Big Macks, and other software programs. Makey Makey is only limited by my lack of imagination.

Is anyone else using this in their music therapy practices? I would LOVE to know what you are doing with the device with your clients...

Let me know in the comments.

(By the way, I get absolutely NOTHING from anyone to write my reviews of products or books or materials or anything! Every opinion posted here is just that - my opinion!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Projects Done and To Do

As I said yesterday, I am at my childhood home, doing some rest and relaxation stuff before slogging home to the world of cold and snow. I am steeped in my family, and I am loving every moment of it (except for the moments when I miss my cat - like now). Anyway, I am also keeping my idea book/bullet journal close to me so I can write down ideas as they arise. I find that my creative instinct is sharper here than anywhere else, so I take advantage of that and use it as much as possible.

Looking around at the things I received this year, I have some new items to introduce into my clinical life. I have a box of safety sign cards - I already have some safety sign songs and singing games to do. I received some beautiful star-shaped bean bags. (They are almost too beautiful to use with clients.) I have a ceramic R2-D2 beer stein that has absolutely NO clinical value with my clients, but I like it anyway! I am starting to think about theme units and TMEs to use with all of the things that are now mine.

This is the power of being home.

Yesterday morning, I awoke at a VERY early time here and a bit earlier than my usual time at home. (Today, I slept in lots more! It will be even later tomorrow!!) I spent the time waiting for the others to wake up changing things up a bit on my website and scheduling a new professional webinar. I think I am ready to jump back into the world of webinars again, so I just made a goal and started one. I wonder if anyone will want to write a philosophy statement...hmmm. (If you do, here's the link to my page.) I rearranged some things, took other things off, and spent some time thinking about what I want to do with this website. It was something that has been on my to-do list for a long time, but I finally just took the time to do the task. There is a certain amount of satisfaction that happens when you accomplish something, isn't there? I felt it.

The only thing that I really asked for this year was a copy of Finale PrintMusic. I installed it yesterday and started writing a random choral piece, inspired by my father who wanted it in E-flat minor and in the form of a limerick. I am currently experimenting a bit with a melody and the four-part harmony expected (Mom is an alto, Dad is a bass, and my sister is a soprano. I guess I'll sing the tenor line). It will be a silly song - on purpose - and it is doubtful that it will ever be known by anyone other than the four of us, but why not? Creation does not have to be staid - it can be silly as well. It is wonderful to have songwriting software, and this version is one that I think I will use often. My old software was 15 years old and barely able to work in the new operating systems, but I loved it dearly. This one will take some getting used to, but it is time to move into the next decade, MJ, it is time.

I am open to other new ideas, and I keep finding them. I love it when this happens, and I hope that this is the start of something that will continue when I get back to my house.

My to-do list is getting longer, but so is my done list. That's really the way things should go, isn't it?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Creative Rest and Relaxation

I am currently in my sister's old room, waiting for my family to wake up and get the day started. There is something about this room that leads to deep sleep and lots of good rest. My sister proclaims that it has to be about the lavender walls (I am HIGHLY skeptical about that one). My mother agrees that there is something about this room that is restful but she cannot figure it out either. If my old room still existed as a guest room, I would prefer to be there, but my mother has turned it into her sewing room (as opposed to this one which is the paper crafting room).

There really is something special about "at home" rest. I think that I cannot truly "rest" when I am at my residence. There is always something that I need to do. Here, though, there isn't much that HAS to be done, just things that COULD be done. That inspires me.

My holiday was pretty quiet (until about 45 seconds after my sister went home). We had a holiday flood in the back bathroom that required an emergency plumber and lots of old towels and rushing about. I think I need to write a poem about it - the Great Flood of 2016. I got lots of R2-D2 stuff to add to my ever growing collection - including a 32-ounce R2-D2 collectible beer stein! I also received lots of things for my creative side including Finale Printmusic and some oil pastels and other arty things. I will spend some time while I'm here learning how to do some of the various arts that my Mom does. Since she's been retired (a whole 5 months now), she has rediscovered the things that she used to do often - cross stitching, painting, reading, making things, and making more things. We had a holiday full of homemade things - washcloths, cat alphabets, cross stitch mottoes, pin cushions, and more ornaments that I can even count (my symbol was stars, my dad's - trains, and my sister's - trees).

As I was looking around at all of the things that we had for each other, I was reminded again of how lucky we are to live where we live and how we live. Our family is an example of abundant living, but living within our means (usually). I think Dad and I spent the most on new things. Mom and my sister are MASTERS of finding thrift shop deals and making them like new. Mom is the undisputed MASTER of MAKING.

When I am here, I have so many ideas that just come flooding out of my brain. Most of them are developed by my family members - we are certainly folks who exemplify my theory of the creative collective - our creative output increases exponentially when we work together. I'll start with an idea, my sister will expand on that idea, Mom will develop it further, and Dad will add the final cap to the entire project. When my brother is home, he participates as well. We are a creative bunch of people who enjoy making things, dreaming things, and figuring out how to do things better.

So far, I have an idea for a song about flooding bathrooms (probably NOT for therapeutic purposes, but you never know). I have my bullet journal next to me at all times to catch the ideas as they arrive...and they will arrive, probably faster than I can keep up.

I hope that you, dear reader, are able to find some relaxation in this busy time of the year. I hope that you can find some creativity in your own familiar environment to promote the maker that you are. Make music, bake baklava, take a walk and enjoy the sunshine - do something to refresh you.
 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Resting...Resting

I'm enjoying this whole "sleep until you wake up" routine. I was able to sleep until about 5am this morning, even with the anxious dog above whining, barking, and howling all night. Poor thing. My heart breaks to hear it, but there isn't anything I can do about it.

Resting is something that is difficult for me to do. I just can't seem to quiet my thoughts or body enough to truly rest. My brain starts clicking into my personal goblins, "I Should," "I Could," and "I Would." 

"I should be cleaning the carpet."
"I could be making something new for the website."
"If I wasn't so silly/stupid/lazy, I would be able to be _____."

It always amazes me how much I get in my own way.

The goblins creep up on me in several ways. They start their whispering when I am getting sick. They sneak up on me when I am sitting in meetings with other music therapists. They lurk behind everything I do, but I've learned how to keep them at bay when I am busy.

When I am scheduled for some rest time, the goblins are more difficult to keep contained. The best thing for me is to leave my home - go somewhere where I can find some creativity but not do much about it. My creative thoughts are free to bloom, and the home-related goblins stay at home. I can't be vacuuming when I am away. It works well for me.

Today is for work. Tomorrow is for rest.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Overly Ambitious - That's Me!

I am on winter break, so of course I have a very long list of things that I want to get finished before taking some time for complete relaxation. I am hoping to run the dishwasher several times, I have to do laundry, and I just came back from finishing my Christmas shopping. I need to pack and cook the holiday ham that I received as my "bonus" from work. (All of the facility employees got money - we school teachers/therapists got $20 worth of ham. I'm not sure which I would prefer...) All of these things are adding up to a very long list of things to do in the next two days.

I tend to be this way. I overload myself when I have time without work to keep me occupied. I have learned, however, that I can only get done what I can get done. Now it is time to start - the laundry is going, I've separated out what I need to pack, and I have to load the dishwasher before I can start cooking the ham. I promise to write more tomorrow. Happy Friday, everyone!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: 1401 Posts and Missing Therapy

It is almost 6am, and I am still at home, sitting in my pajamas, trying my best NOT to get to work too early. I've been at work by 6:30am every day this week, working extra long days, trying to get my room set up and ready for therapy when Winter Break is over. I cancelled therapy services for this week because my room organization depended on others. I had to wait for cabinets to be emptied by others who were moving before I could finish my own moving process. I received those cabinets yesterday afternoon. I can now finish much of my organization and start making spaces for therapy.

It's been a long week. As much as I need occasional breaks from being a therapist and all, I have missed the interaction with my clients that has come from this week of moving. I haven't been singing as much as usual (singing at the Holiday Sing yesterday doesn't really count), and my guitar has sat on its stand, looking lonely. I can't find much of what I have right now - the whole organization thing is confusing at the moment - so projects are in pieces, scattered around the room. I did manage to find my bullet journal and my regular journal, so I can get back into that type of routine.

I've invited my clients to come see the new music therapy space today, and I hope that many of them take advantage of the invitation and come see where we'll be doing music therapy in the future. I think they will like the new room and will enjoy what I've got planned for them. I know I am looking forward to it and to spreading out over all the floor space!

After a week of hurry up and wait moving, I am looking forward to a week of relaxation and then falling back into a schedule and routine of music therapy. I've really missed sharing that part of my interests with my clients. I think they've missed it as well. A couple of students have commented that they missed music this week - I take that as the best compliment that they could ever give to me. Missing music when it is not available.

As I am writing here, an hour later than usual, in my attempt to not get to work before I am scheduled (at 8am due to a 12-hour day schedule today), I am also reminded that yesterday's post was #1400. Today's post is #1401. I have nothing pithy to say about this except "Thanks for reading!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Website Wednesday: Made for Music Teachers

Because I am still knee-deep in organizing and getting my stuff together in my new room, I am very interested in what others do to get their rooms together. I love looking at how others organize, and I often strive for the same type of coordination in my own clinic area. So, when I am stumped, I go to the internet. Made for Music Teachers has a post that really makes me think about what I'm trying to do in my own space.

I like the idea of having all related things together (that makes logical sense to me). I am currently sorting my stuff into four different categories - explore, listen, learn, and therapy. Each corner of the room will have a different focus.

One corner will be for exploration. For me, this includes sensory exploration beyond that of listening. I have a large cabinet that holds my tubs of bells, pom poms, sensory bottles, sound bottles, and lots of other things as well. I'm going to take my electronic instruments for that center/station/area of the room.

Over on the fairy tale wall, I am going to set up a listening station. Right now, I am hoping for a computer that will play music (but not be internet accessible). I have audio splitters so more than one student will be able to listen to the music simultaneously. I may need to find some CD+RW discs, but I should be able to have some listening tasks to go along with my simple themes.

Moving around the room, there is a learn place under the ship picture. That is where the large instruments are located. I expect that clients will complete puzzles, try out different instruments, and put together knowledge-focused tasks and other things in that area.

The last section of the room is my therapy space. All of the stations/centers/areas will have goals and objectives for each client, but I am going to focus on specific therapeutic goals and objectives in the large group area with me. When we do stations, I'll be working on the active musicking while the other stations are less musical in output.

I got some good news yesterday - I will get another storage area for my Orff instruments and my other large drums. I can bring EVERYTHING back to the music therapy space from my house!! I am very excited about this development. It really does make sense since the storage closet is inside my room and anyone else would have to tromp through my music therapy sessions to get to the room. So, I now have plenty of space for storage, but very few surfaces. I think I'll take a tip from some of the resources I've seen and make my own surfaces. I'm going to spend some time in thrift stores looking for small tables and things to paint.

I am loving the idea of having lots of space for music therapy. I am loving the challenge of putting together a new room with storage areas. I am still waiting for storage cabinets to arrive from various locations as well as for folks to move from two areas so I can move into those places, but my imagination is going full speed ahead as I am thinking about what I want and what I can actually do. There is often a world of difference between those two things.

I am off into the world of Holiday Sings and graduation ceremonies today. There will be little to no time spent organizing my room today, but there will be lots of dreaming.


Other Resources:
http://cbutler10.blogspot.com/2013/08/classroom-tour.html 
http://www.musicalaabbott.com/2016/09/music-classroom-tour-2016.html
http://emilyskodalymusic.blogspot.com/2016/09/music-classroom-tour.html
http://caldwellorganizedchaos.blogspot.com/2016/08/classroom-tour-2016-2017.html
https://misswsmusicmaterials.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/classroom-tour/ 
http://harmonymusictherapy.com/music-therapy-room/
 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Today is Tuesday, Right?

Not doing therapy is really messing with my internal calendar. It is amazing how much I depend on my routine to keep myself grounded in time and reality. Right now, I have finished the moving out process but am stalled in the moving in process. So, still no students in the music therapy room.

Many people have stopped by to see the "new music therapy room." Most of them make comments like, "I didn't know how much stuff you have" and other pithy remarks. One person came in (the one displaced by my moving but also one of the ones that directly benefited from my displacement 4 years ago) and said, "I'm going to miss this room." I didn't say anything - personal growth, maybe - and allowed her to own her feelings.

Today's task is to scrounge up a desk surface and then set up the office area. Once that is done, I'll use the two cabinets that I have right now to store some of the materials that I have. After I use those, I will get an idea of how much I will need to order. If the office is done, I will be able to research cabinetry and start the ordering process. If the office is not finished, I will have to re-evaluate my day.

The other thing that I have to finish today is the program for the Holiday Sing. It's on the computer which is currently in pieces in my new music therapy room waiting the arrival of a desk. Hmmm. The Sing is tomorrow. Hmmm. I'm thinking that I have made a good decision to cancel things this week as everything is still a mess, and I don't have anyplace to put things right now.

Happy - what is it? Tuesday? - Tuesday.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday of Moving Week

 I am moving into a magical room. Besides the space, the walls are covered with murals painted by my very talented friend, Tawnya. (If you are interested in her artwork, you can contact her here.) I have inherited the play factory room, so there are some things that are no longer relevant (see the elf), but she's going to change the art to bring in some music-type elements. I am going to try my best to keep the murals as a part of my room.

Mr. Elf - I think I'll name him Bartholomew - will soon say "Welcome to Music Therapy." The expectations will also change a bit. I don't use the same terminology as the play therapists, so "No hurts" is no longer relevant. The rest of the murals can stay as they are. They add such a nice whimsy to the room. I love them and am ready to figure out how to use them.

Here's a run down of the murals that I get to live with from now on. There is a ship high up on the wall above my large instrument jam space. Perpendicular to that wall is the wish making wall. Do you see the puppy? Some of the art that I cannot publish includes pictures that some of my former clients designed and painted. Stretching up from the wish maker is a rainbow which sits over the jam area. 

The wall facing the instrument area is what I call the "fairy tale" wall. Others have called it the "enchanted" wall. This is going to be the listening/composition area. The rest of the pictures are details of the "fairy tale" wall. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Prince Charming, the Lady of the Lake all make appearances. In addition, there are dwarves, fairies, a dragon, and a unicorn.

Stretching off onto the other wall is a bubble maker that both makes the "fairy tale" wall and another outlet that is currently empty. Tawnya thinks that some music notes would look good up there, over my office door. There is another beanstalk with client-drawn bugs climbing. That's where the chairs will be stacked.

I am a bit under 2/3 of the way moved after a long day on Friday. I had help for about 20 minutes, but I moved everything else by myself. I didn't have to move the drum set pieces or the chairs. That was a HUGE help! 

Today's task is to completely move out of the last room, clean it up, and leave keys for the OT department. Then, I am going to focus on ordering cabinetry and organizing my spaces. This will include finding a desk and taking some measurements so I can order some things that I need. I also have to get my computer ready and find another computer for my clients to use during sessions for non internet related composition and video making. Right now, my conundrum is how to store my Orff instruments in a way that protects the instruments and does not take up all of my space.

This will be the first day of not having music therapy sessions. It will also be the first day that the music therapy room is not available during those regularly scheduled times. We will see which teachers read their emails and which do not.

It is amazing how a change of environs can change your attitude about things. I am looking forward to trying some new things and trying some old things as well. I recently bought two linking parachutes from Oriental Trading Company. I am looking forward to making unusual parachute shapes and seeing how they work in the new space. I will be able to bring back my collection of electronic toys for my little kids to use during sessions. I can have a fidget box out and ready for kids to use when they need a fidget. I can make different locations in the room for different things - including my jam area, a listening center, a learning center, and an exploration center. I get to make and STORE sensory boxes. I will be able to more easily use many of the theme ideas that I've created over the past 4 years but haven't been able to implement because of the lack of space to do those things.

Can you tell I am getting excited?
 
I am. I really am excited about this move. Other than the fact that I actually have to move, I am ready for something new to shake up my therapy life.

This post started off talking about the magical environment I now find myself in. It's ending up talking about the magic of new challenges and creativity. It is wonderful how something can morph from one idea and expectation to another through thought.

I am going to get my stuff together today - I need all my grocery shopping reusable bags to tote the books, loose materials, and other things from the old room to the new room - and then head to work a bit early. 

I will walk many steps today from one part of the building to the other. I will take things and put them about where I want them to end up (at this point right now), and then I will get some more. After I have moved everything, I will clean the old room and leave the keys. That will be it for the old room. It will be time to move on.

After all that, I will spend some time sitting on the new carpet in my new room, looking at the mess of stuff that I have, and spending some time thinking about what I want to do with and for clients in that space. Then, I will try to find the things that I need in order to fulfill those things that I want to do with my clients.

I have a vision of music therapy that I hope will support my clients and their desired outcomes. It is time to put that into reality and go! Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Just a Song Sunday: Getting Deeper Into the Music

musictherapyworks.comI am always thinking about how to use music as a therapeutic medium with my clients, especially when I am in transition and trying to figure out how to make things work differently in my music therapy life. As a result, I write things that are always works in progress as I try to write my thoughts out in a way that makes sense to me. This recent Just a Song Sunday series is the result of just such a process. 

For a long time now, I've been interested in how music therapists do their jobs. I want to know what music therapists do in their day-to-day jobs - more how and why they make the clinical decisions they do than anything else. I want to know what is different from the work practices of a music therapist working with preschool aged clients with a variety of diagnoses and another music therapist who works with the same population group. I also always want to know what is different between a therapist who works with one population and someone who works with a different population. My dream research project is to have six music therapists run the exact same session plan with the exact same clients and then analyze the differences between the sessions looking deeply at choices made by the therapists during the sessions themselves. 

I am more interested in how we use any particular song than I am in the song itself. I propose that I would use a specific song differently than the next music therapist (this is usually held up by my experiences with interns - we do things differently) and that both ways of using that specific song are equally therapeutic but may lead to different outcomes. That's pretty obvious, isn't it? I may sing a song in the key of E with a tessitura of middle C# to C#'. The next therapist may sing the same song in the key of D with a tessitura of B below middle C to B'. We might use the same tempi, the same meter, rhythms, melodic contour, harmonic structures, and all the other elements of music. 

Does the difference in pitch lead to different outcomes for the client? I suspect that the answer might be "yes" but it is difficult to remove all of the other variables from the situation. Since music is time-ordered, you cannot run both experiences with the same client simultaneously, so there are different variables - time, attention, environment, amount of sleep, level of hunger, emotion, physiology, and many more - these could change how a client responds at any particular time.

Ever since graduate school, I have made a particular point of getting into my musical presentation choices. I think about the music that I am going to use with my clients before I bring it into a session, and I think about what types of things I can to do to the music to make it work with my particular clients. I try to make purposeful decisions about how I present the music I choose to my clients. I also am able to make decisions about how to support my clients' musicking to come up with desirable clinical outcomes.

By doing this, I feel that I am going deeper into the music that is my tool and my shared experience with my clients. It makes my music so much more than just a song.  
If you are interested in more about the whys that lead me to do this, or if you want to know more about how I do these charts, feel free to contact me through the comments below!

Also, if you have a different philosophical outlook, please feel free to comment. I want to know and firmly believe that we can have a productive, professional discussion about this!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snowbound - Possibly

 It is time for our first, real, big winter storm to come through the area where I live. (The pictures shown today are from winter storms past - not this one, but I feel they exemplify what is possible out here pretty well.) The Children's Christmas Program at church tomorrow has already been cancelled, and I have stated that I will see what the roads are like before trying to get to work tomorrow morning rather than just recklessly flying out of my driveway the way some folks think I drive around here.

There is something sort of serene about the first real snow of the season, especially when you have no place to go or obligations to fulfill. There is no place I have to be today, so I can stay at home while the freezing drizzle starts to "cover the road in a slick undercoat of ice" before the "snow covers the ice, making for difficult travel." Yep. I can live without eggs for the day. No worries.

I will spend the day cleaning and making things. I got some new stickers from Oriental Trading Company a couple of weeks ago and now I have some ideas of how to use them. I'm going to make dice for some movement games and some other ideas.

I am about 2/3 of the way into my new room right now. The promised cabinets, desk, and file cabinets did NOT show up, so everything is sitting out on the floors right now. I am starting to get excited about finding places for everything and using the room for music therapy. The space itself will be wonderful, once it is organized.

For now, I am going to open up the windows so I can see the snowflakes (when they start), get out my stickers, cardstock, and scissors, and get to making things! It's time for some snow!

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Game Plan For the Right Now

My four-rooms ago music therapy room - the one I loved!
I start moving today!
The current music therapy room
More of the current music therapy room


In a facility where I have had eight different rooms, I am ready to find another "forever" home. I am absolutely positive that this will not be the last place that music therapy is placed at the facility, but I would like this to be my last music therapy room move at this place. We shall see.

I had a perfect music therapy room at one point. It had built-in storage, custom designed to accommodate my drums and guitars, and was large enough for movement by entire groups but small enough to feel like things were contained. We could use ribbon sticks without risk of tangling up our neighbors. It was wonderful and taken away from me for the room I'm in now.

In between those two rooms, I had three other rooms, but I eventually was able to move into the gray music therapy room three Novembers ago. Some of the cabinets came with me (not all of them fit in the new room), and I got used to the space "given to" me - (not my words).

Shortly after I moved into the new space, the COTA at work came in with (her words) "a BRILLIANT idea!" She wanted my space and wanted to put me in yet another room (oddly, the room I was in at the beginning of my tenure at the facility). I went to administration and reminded them that I would need my cabinets moved (yet again), carpeting on the floors of the newly tiled room, and the guarantee that I would be able to stay in the room longer than the first time I was assigned to that space - 9 months - before having to move to accommodate another classroom. That's the pattern. Music therapy is the space that has to move when we start to expand. Not art therapy. Not speech or OT, but music therapy has to move.

They didn't want to do all that work last time around. This time around, though, there are other things going on. We are increasing our residential census, so classroom sizes are getting exponentially bigger. My space is finite and not at all adequate. I cannot accommodate one classroom in its entirety - there are eleven clients and six classroom staff - we just cannot fit in the room. Secondly, there are places in the facility that are empty most of the time, used only for occasional training sessions. The new set of administrators decided that my space was too small for what I wanted to do (which the old set of administrators knew VERY clearly during the design process) and looked around at the spaces available. The first room that I was in at the facility forever ago is still available, but it is better suited to a classroom format than a therapy space. So, I get what used to be known as the "Safe Crisis Management Training Room."

I don't have any pictures of the new space, but I will. The room was painted by a very talented friend of mine and has all sorts of murals on the walls. I'm going to try to keep those murals visible while arranging my materials and (squeeee!) center stations.

At this time, this is all potential and possibility. That's such a great way to stimulate creativity. Since I've been told about this move, I've been spending lots of time thinking about music therapy possibilities while doing music therapy in the small room I'm in right now. It's been difficult to concentrate while thinking things like, "In the new room, I could separate them into different center groups and they wouldn't be able to see each other," or "Can't do the parachute, we don't have enough space."

Right now, my focus is on cleaning the new room, moving stuff from the old room, moving more stuff until I can clean the old room (leave every place you go better than how you found it), and then figuring out what needs to go where in the new space. I've been told that I can order some new cabinetry to replace the custom built cabinets that I have to leave behind, so I think I'll be able to figure out a floor plan that will work for me. Maybe the cabinets will arrive before the start of the new year. Probably not, but maybe.

It is time to head out into the cold and get started with this process.

I'll post pictures of the room once it is empty of the stuff of others. Happy Friday!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday and a Website...Well Thursday, Too!

I forgot that yesterday was a Wednesday, so I hustled off to work and didn't remember to find a website to talk about. Forgive me if I combine the two on this Thursday of this very strange week?

I think of this as cheating a bit, but I am going to talk about the website for the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Honestly, this website is one of the ones that I refer to most often during the course of the year. I use it to find specific therapists, I look for approved providers, and I also use it, over and over again, to develop learning objectives for my various presentations. The reason I think of it as cheating is that every music therapist in the United States should know about this website. The best feature of the site? Information on how to talk directly to the folks at CBMT! They are willing to answer any and all questions and are our best resource when it comes to finding answers. Go check it out if you haven't. There is so much that is available to us all on that site.

Thoughtful Thursday time now - 

I've been thinking that my music therapy vision has become much more local these days. I am not really in the loop of things happening in the greater music therapy world, and I am conflicted by that. On the one hand, I feel that I am much more in touch with what I want to do as a therapist for the clients I serve, but the other hand makes me think that I am missing something - I know I am, but what can you do?

In the long range scheme of things, I think all therapists go through these periods of time - don't we? Times when our focus is very much local and other times when our focus is more global. 

I am going to revel in the local glimpse this time around. I am going to focus on the music therapy challenges in front of me in this place and this time.

Challenge #1 - moving all my stuff from a small little place to a significantly bigger and better place!
Challenge #2 - organizing all that stuff into cabinets that are currently not present (and trying to figure out what I need, cabinet-wise, to store what I have and what I want to bring back with me from home).
Challenge #3 - acclimatizing 100+students who do not always appear to understand change to the changes happening around them right now.

Stay tuned for more about what is going on in my little piece of the world. Maybe what I go through will affect what you go through in your place of the world. All things local can also be viewed in a global manner.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Moving Right Along

My fellow board members of the Online Conference for Music Therapy (registration now open - please plan on attending) know that I am not one to pass up an opportunity to use a Muppet song to illustrate an idea. Here's one for today.


Things are moving right along for me. I found out that I am officially moving on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday of next week with Wednesday already an off-day due to a graduation ceremony and the Holiday Sing. I've decided not to offer music therapy services on Thursday (our last day of school for the calendar year), but to offer access to the student store (now conveniently located within my room) along with a mini open house to get students used to the idea that music therapy is now in a different place.

As a result, tomorrow will be my last day of therapy for the rest of the year. I was hoping to have a couple of days doing therapy in the new space, but I think this plan will work well.

I keep switching between excitement and dread about moving. I have so many plans for what I want to try now that I have enough space to actually move kids around. Then, I remember how much stuff I actually have and think about how much work it will be to move. Then, I start to think some more about sensory stations and listening stations, and I get excited again.

Here's another link (it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of this blog post, but you know... - have I ever mentioned how much I love the Muppets?)



And another - this is more related to how I'm feeling right now about moving and the process of moving...


This month is moving right along at a pace that is absolutely tiring, but there is a period of rest and relaxation coming at the end of it all! On Sunday, I was asked if I was looking forward to my rest time at my parent's house. I had to honestly state that I wasn't even thinking about it at this point. There are so many other things happening between now and then that the idea of going someplace doesn't really register. It will on my first day off when I realize that I will be leaving soon and need to clean the house, pack the bag without freaking out the cat, and gather together all of the stuff that I need to take with me. Then I will realize how fast this month has moved.

Off to work to move along. I have to figure out a way to mash up O Christmas Tree and Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer for the Holiday Sing next week... moving right along... 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Can't Afford to Be Sick Right Now, Okay, Body?

It's happening. My annual batch of ick has started, and I am trying to figure out how to tame it long enough to get through this busy season. Yesterday's task was to get the medication started. That always takes a day in bed because the medicine makes me very dizzy and extremely sleepy, so I stayed in my home yesterday rather than venturing out into the world. Today, though, I have to go back to work to get things checked off the to-do list.

This week is shaping up to be a strange week anyway. I have behavior management training this morning (which I am going to watch rather than engage directly in due to a recently sprained MCL that I DON'T want to have to deal with during the next 6 weeks of moving and travel) and the Holiday Dinner on Friday (which I have NOTHING to have to do for - as far as I know!). Also, I should start moving my therapy materials from one room to the other room at some time this week (hence, some of my hesitation at spraining my knee again). I'll be cancelling music therapy services until I am fully moved into the new therapy room, so I am offering music movies for groups to watch in their rooms when I cancel music therapy. I'm also hoping to host an open house for my students on Monday afternoon so they can see where the new music therapy room is located. I think it will be an easier transition if they actually see me and all of the music therapy stuff in the room before they start arriving for therapy than if we just surprise them.

I have changed rooms before. These changes have always been surprises for me, and have rarely been positive changes, but they have happened over and over again. I am hoping that this one will be the last one, but I bet that someone will walk into the large space that I will be occupying, take a look around, and then say, "This will make a good ______ (classroom, set of offices, storage area, etc.)," and I will have to move again. For the moment, however, I am going to revel in a treatment space that is 4 times larger than my current treatment space.

We are going to use that space! I have dreams of an instrument jam area, a group treatment area, a listening center, a sensory/exploration center, and a learning center. I will have enough space to house interns again! I will have a desk area that is separate from the treatment space and that locks up!!

Now, I know that I am spoiled. I have always had some place to keep my stuff. I have not always had a music therapy treatment room. I have spent my time as an itinerant therapist, moving materials from place to place and keeping most of the stuff at home (that will end now that I have more space as well! Hoorah!), but having a music therapy treatment space has always been part of the general plan of the facility. That is something that most music therapists never get as part of their job life. 

All of this, in my fevered brain, means that it is important to get back to work and get things started, so I'll do just that. Enjoy whatever this day brings to you!

 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Just a Song Sunday: What Music Therapy Isn't (In My Opinion, At Least!)

www.musictherapyworks.com
I love talking to interns about various topics in music therapy that I think are important. I run an intern seminar series on an occasional basis that allows us to talk about things like their rights and responsibilities. I offer this series for free to interns and take advantage of the two month schedule to put in two topics that I think are important to talk about and to discuss, but that are completely based on my own opinion. Those two topics are Understanding Music as Our Tool and The Therapeutic Triad.

During these topic presentations, I spend lots of time talking about some of the things I write about in my blog - for example, we talk about the idea of changing musical elements to support client skill development - using the same song to accommodate client preferences, needs, and concerns. Then, I start the discussion about the therapeutic triad.

That discussion is the one that elicits the most challenges from music therapy interns (which I LOVE, by the way!). Comments include, "So, you think that ____ isn't music therapy?" My answer is "That's right. I don't think that ____ is music therapy. I am not uniquely qualified to do ____, so it is not music therapy."

That answer often includes stunned silence from the chat box. Many times this is because of the information that goes into the ____. (It often happens after a discussion about lyric analysis which I do NOT believe is music therapy - anyone can read and talk about song lyrics. There is nothing in my music therapy education or training that would qualify reading lyrics and discussing them as something that only an MT can do.) Now, I think that lyric analysis is an important part of a therapeutic interaction with some clients, but I don't think that doing lyric analysis alone justifies the need for a music therapist to lead the group. Does that make sense? It's what I do further with the client and the music that makes lyric analysis a part of music therapy.

As I stated last week, I feel that music therapy isn't something that a client can do on their own - that's not music THERAPY. Putting headphones on a client so they can hear music is not music therapy - it's wonderful, but not music therapy. Therapy requires interaction between at least two people who are connected through the mutual understanding of the desired outcomes of the interaction. Talking about music does not make an interaction "music therapy." If that were the case, any person who discusses the meter in poetry could say that they are doing "music therapy." Taking the lyric analysis back into the realm of music making, music shaping, and mutual music experience is what makes reading song lyrics a form of music therapy. It's what makes us unique out of all the people out there who read song lyrics - we put those lyrics back inside our medium and work from there.

Is it music therapy when someone walks into a patient's room and starts to sing? Maybe. Maybe it's only entertainment.

There are times when it's important for a client to be entertained. There are times when a client needs to be the performer without interference from the therapist. There are times when the therapist and client need to leave the music experience behind and simply talk to each other. These are all important interactions, but I don't see them as music therapy. Yet, as a music therapist, I have participated in all of these activities and more that I don't consider to be "music therapy." 

This is due to the fact that I think a good "therapist" should offer the client what he or she needs in the moment. I also understand that when my sessions morph into something that isn't what I consider to be music therapy, then there really isn't a reason why a music therapist has to complete the role. I could be replaced by an iPod if all I do in the session is turn on the stereo. Why not? I need to be able to do more than just turn on the stereo to justify my title and education!

I think this is the foundation for most of my frustrations when it comes to requests for "a song to sing with my clients who are ____." Anyone can sing a song to clients. 

Anyone. 

I'm serious! 

It's not the song that matters, it's what the therapist and client are doing within the framework of the song that matters. The song itself is less important than the process that the client and therapist share within the song. The client brings the interest and the need. The therapist brings the expertise in music performance and knowledge of the music elements to shape the music in ways that support the client's interests and needs within the musical piece. Together, they engage in mutual music making towards a therapeutic end.

That's what music therapy is!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Where Are You All Coming From?

One of the things that I did when I started this blog was to use it as a personal journey - a way to process the things that challenged me, energized me, and made me think about music therapy as a vocation and avocation. I started writing in the year 2006 with one post. I became a bit more focused when I wrote 38 posts the second year. In 2012, I started to focus on this blog as a part of my self-care routine. In the past three years, my self-care routine has become an almost daily ritual of sitting down at the computer and writing about the things that make me think - things about music, about therapy, and about me.

This year, I set a goal for this blog.

I wanted to grow from the average of 50 views per day to 100 views per day. In order to do this, I started to use social media to let folks know about this blog. I had (and still have) very little idea what I'm doing, but it seems to have worked. For some reason, my goal of 100 views per day is something well in the past. It has been accomplished.

I want to know some things. How did you all find this blog post? Were you going there purposefully? Did you find this place by accident? Are you music therapists? Are you other people who are interested in music as a therapeutic medium? Why do you read this blog?

I'm going to keep on writing almost every day (I do give myself some time to have a day off), and I am going to keep talking about the things that interest me. I hope you will keep reading.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Finally Friday

This has been a long week, full of differences and changes in schedules. We had an all-school event, Body Venture, on Tuesday. The event, an interactive, walk-through approximation of the body, required cancelling services, setting up the entire thing, and then tearing down the entire thing. It is always interesting to watch my clients interact and experience the event. There is just something a bit disconcerting about walking through the small intestine, isn't there? There's a video of this event at this link.

The trouble with events like Body Venture has nothing to do with my clients. They seem to handle changes the way they always do - it's with me! If my schedule is changed, I seem to get a bit discombobulated - out of sync with my role in the world. I didn't get to see two entire classes of kids this week. I missed the time I usually get with those classes.

In addition to Body Venture, we also had the annual holiday dinner. I usually don't go to those things (mainly because I am a curmudgeon who doesn't think that my social committee dues should go to catered lunches for the committee rather than for employees, especially when they don't run events when those of us who have to work days can actually attend, but that's a long story, so I'll just leave you all there!), but I had to go this time because I was recognized for 20 years of service to the facility. I had to go up front and listen while the principal talked about me. I had to do something that I absolutely hate - stand there and smile. There's been lots of that this year.

This entire month is going to be an exercise in patience - FOR ME! We have a special event of some sort every single week that will require me to cancel music therapy services, and I think I'll be moving to my new, larger, somewhat intimidating room next week. That will mean cancelling everything, even opportunities for groups to use the music therapy space for non-music therapy activities. It will also mean physical exertion and a BRAND NEW SPACE FOR MUSIC THERAPY INCLUDING AN OFFICE OF MY OWN!!! I'll be in the new space by the end of the calendar year and ready to go for the new one.

Today is a gift. I will be going to work for the morning, and then scooting out since everyone else got 4 hours off due to bad weather. I worked my extra time earlier in the week, so I am taking those 4 hours this afternoon. I will spend that time buying songs for clients to use, redoing the iPod, and finishing up the next edition of sing about songs (due tomorrow!). I may also update the website - who knows?!?

Enjoy this day. Make music. Be mindful. Friday.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: Peace Be With You

It's no secret that part of my work life is that of church musician and Director of Music. I work for a small, rural, Methodist church in between two major cities in my state, and I have been there for many years. It is a break from music therapy but is still music-related and offers a place for performance as well as spiritual replenishment for me and others.

One of the traditions that I love comes in several of our rituals that happen during worship.

The pastor greets us with the phrase, "Peace be with you." We respond with, "And also with you."

I love that greeting and find that it has so many different applications, especially outside the walls of the church.

Today, I want to offer that phrase to all of you. Peace be with you.

I've been surrounded by conflict and negativity lately. It's happening on the radio, in social media, in my own brain as things are rapidly changing. People that I know pretty well seem to be wrapped up in continuing the conflict - some are gloating, others are in despair. I cannot escape the pull of both worlds, and it is starting to wear on me.

As a result, I am looking for peace. This is the season that school employees dread - the hype before the holidays. My clients are not excluded from the anticipation, excitement, and dread that can occur during this holiday - and more of my clients experience this season with dread. They haven't always had stable situations in their lives and this holiday season is not always full of joyful memories or hopes for the future. Their responses to things are not always what you expect, and peace is hard to come by these days in the halls of my facility.

Yesterday, I was running a session with my youngest clients. We were listening to jazz music selections and playing games with beanbag frogs (it all worked together, really). One of the selections was a song entitled Common Threads by Bobby McFerrin. (Note, this is just the audio link.) I love this lullaby and thought it was a good example for my jazz listening theme for the week. One of the most active little ones immediately looked at me and said, "I think this is a good song for meditation," and started to engage in meditative practices. The staff members present couldn't believe that this one was able to sit still, breathe deeply, and assume a demeanor of calm for the entire song. This client's ability to find peace in the middle of a group of 13 busy people reminded me of the individual responsibility we all have to ourselves and to others in this world.

I will strive to find my peace. I will strive to help others find some peace with their situations. I will try to navigate the season remembering that peace is something that can be shared just as easily as annoyance or irritation. I will engage in smiling rather than grumbling and will remember that what I say and do can and does have an effect on others. I will strive to be a moment of peace for myself and for those around me.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Website Wednesday: Barcelona Publishers

Happy Wednesday! It's time for our Wednesday Website post, and this week's post is about Barcelona Publishers. Founded in 1989 by Kenneth Bruscia (Hooray! A music therapy hero of mine!!), Barcelona focuses on publishing music therapy specific titles. I like this site and use it when I want or need something new to read.

One of the things that is wonderful about Barcelona is found on the Periodicals page - Free stuff! If you are in any way interested in qualitative research, this page is invaluable, and all the resources are free. FREE! If you haven't taken the time to explore this website, I highly recommend that you do - there is something there for everyone.

(Please note that my opinions are my own - I do not get any financial or product gains from my recommendations. I write about what I find to be useful in my life. All opinions offered are my very own and that's that!)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Some Light Reading

I do hallway duty at my school. I sit in a window, on a cushy window seat, and I watch kids walk to their classes. It's kinda a subterfuge because kids are allowed to walk to their classes without staff members, but there I am, day after day, watching them get to their destinations in an appropriate manner. Because of the subterfuge (which only one student has figured out by the way), I always take things to do when I go to sit in the hallway. Lately, I've been alternating between my bullet journal, my regular journal, and my new copy of Barbara Wheeler's Music Therapy Handbook.

I bought myself a copy of this newly released book when I was at conference in Ohio, and I've been reading it piecemeal since. I usually sit down, open up to a random page and then go to the beginning of the chapter and hunker down to read. I'm using much of the same techniques with this reading that I've developed for my article reading (see anything about being research-informed on this blog for more information how I read articles) - post-it notes and trying to find links to my own music therapy practice - and am finding that I already know many of the things that are mentioned (as it should be!!). There are also other perspectives and theoretical outlooks that challenge my own ideas of what music therapy is and can do with clients.

I have not read the entire book yet, and I doubt that I will in the near future, but I am using it to increase my awareness of music therapy in this country. It interests me that there are so many different ways of being a music therapist, but the thing that unites us is an interest in the effect of music on human beings.

If you are looking for a music therapy book that gives an overview of music therapy in several different worlds, I recommend Barbara's book. Read it. Agree with it. Disagree with it. Use the words of others to strengthen your own advocacy position within your music therapy world.

Enjoy. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Quickly Checking In

It's another 44 hour work week, and bed was just too tempting to get up when my light went on at 4am so I kept my eyes closed until 5am and now I have exactly 18 minutes before I have to leave for my day job to get in the 10 hours I need to work today. (Run on sentence! I would only get 1 point for that in Ms. Stark's English Class.) ANYWAY -

This is Spirit Week at work. Ugh. Today is supposed to be "wear all white" day. I don't have all white, so I am just going to wear my sweat pants (because I can also wear winter clothing). I have three groups, two lesson sessions, and one individual to see in music therapy today as well as an all-school special event to set up this afternoon. Tomorrow is the special event and something else for Spirit Week. This month continues to get busier and busier.

In the middle of the hustle and bustle, I have to remind myself to take time to engage in something for me...and I do. I will spend some time in the afternoon (planning/prep time) sitting and thinking about my tasks for this week and month. I will look around my new music therapy room and envision where I want to put things once I am able to move. I will engage in something just for me - playing the piano or singing hits from Broadway musicals. In this season, self-care is more crucial than ever for me.

What are you going to do for yourself during this month?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Just a Song Sunday: Transforming Music Into Therapy

The Alive Again movie is making the rounds of social media again. If you are a music therapist and have NO idea what I am talking about, CONGRATULATIONS! You may be one of the only therapists who has escaped this interaction.
I just saw this GREAT movie all about how people respond when they hear music on iPods! It was GREAT! I cried all the way through it!
My response? "I know. That is just a little bit of what music can do. I get to see people respond to music every day. That's just what music listening can do. Do you know what music therapists can do with their clients in addition to the iPod program? It is truly amazing!"

This has been my pat answer for some time now. I'm finally starting to figure out what I actually mean when I say those things - the difference between listening to something and music therapy.

I think that this dilemma is one that is shared by many music therapists and non-music therapists alike. 

It looks so simple, doesn't it? Load up some music on a device, place the headphones on a person, and then watch the miracle happen. Anyone can do that. Why do you need a music therapist when you can just use an iPod? 

Our answer (as a profession) usually sounds something like "there is SUCH a difference between music listening and music therapy," but it is hard to really operationalize that difference. It is something that we (as a profession) and I (as simply me) haven't been able to do well. I'm getting better and writing about my thoughts in a forum that invites the thoughts and comments of others so the discussion gets easier, and we can start to really understand how music therapy is different from what happens in the movie, Alive Inside.

Here's my starting place...

Music is something that almost everyone in the world can access and engage in. We know that there are physiological, psychological, and emotional changes when specific music is present in the environment. These changes on the human being can be positive or negative, depending on the perception of the listener.

We know that people respond differently to music that they have made a connection with - an extramusical association or memory or music from a familiar performer. We also know that music is something that pervades the world - it is difficult to shut music and musical elements out of our experience as humans. 

We also know things about therapy and relationships. (This is the area where I am still refining). Music is often a social experience - presented in areas where lots of people gather and celebrate or mourn or simply listen. Music is meant to be shared - by performer, by musician, and by audience. Without sharing the experience between humans, music cannot be considered therapy. The use of the word "therapy" in a description implies a relationship and that sharing. 

This is what I believe to be true.

Simply giving someone an iPod and then standing back is not music therapy. It is a great use of music to enrich the life of that someone but it is not therapy. Singing a song to a person during a holiday caroling trip is a wonderful way to share common feelings and the joy of a festive season, but it is not therapy.

Music becomes therapy when someone else, someone who knows about music and it's effect on humans, engages with that person listening to the holiday carolers, changes the music to assist the person in calming down or remembering or moving. Music becomes therapy when both parts of the therapeutic relationship - music therapist and client - change the different elements of music to express themselves in ways that they cannot when simply listening. There is a continuation of the music through further processing - verbal processing, musical processing, shared experiences.

That, for me, is the difference between iPod listening to music and music therapy.

(At least, that's what I have so far. I'm sure this will develop further as I think about it more. Please share your own ideas in the comments section. I want to know what others think.)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Taking Some Time for Self-Care

It's self-care time again. Time to focus on something for me rather than something for others. I am part of a group on Facebook that is run by a person that I used to babysit (age check) way back when, and she recently asked if self-care was selfish. I don't think of it as selfish but as necessary. I think if feelings of self-care take precedence over any and all client interaction, then it is a selfish endeavor (and indicative of something other than a need for self-care), but most of the time, self-care has a place in the life of any helping professional. 

This month, I am going to spend some time on proactive self-care rather and reactive self-care. What does this mean? It means that I am not really feeling like I MUST engage in something for me, but that I GET to engage in something that cares for me.

I am going to spend 30 minutes of every hour making something - food, visual aids, gifts for family members, etc - and the other 30 minutes of every hour sorting through and either trashing or making donation piles of the stuff that has accumulated since I had to downsize at work. (Much of the stuff will have new places in the new room - still waiting on a timeline, but I am assured that it WILL happen before the new year.) 

This 30 on 30 off routine is the most effective for me when I need to do work. It offers a change in focus when I need it and keeps me going. I am going to vacuum every so often, shred things, and work until I can work no more.

Sometimes the promise of self-care is just as refreshing as the actual caring for self.

Thirty minutes starting now...

Friday, December 02, 2016

Favorite Things Friday: Themes

I am going to be moving to a large music therapy clinic pretty soon - don't know for sure when this is going to happen, but I'm assured that it's going to be soon - and I've been thinking about what types of things I want to do once I have the space to do them. The room I'm moving to has four times the size that I have now, so I can spread things out and use that entire space for therapy things. I will be able to split up large groups of students who should not be near each other into smaller groups. I will be able to take out my brand-new parachute pieces and make large parachutes that we can use to launch balls into the high ceilings without fear of knocking out ceiling tiles. I will be able to have certain areas of the room for certain TMEs - sensory, large instrument, group, listening stations, and other center ideas.

I love using themes to organize my thought processes when I am thinking through sessions plans. My new space will lend itself very well to using themes for everything in the session plan (but themes go out the window when it is time to do therapy, if that is what my clients need!). My love of themes shows in the sing about song series that I've written (if you want more information, check out this link). As a result, I've been starting to think about multi-sensory centers, themes, and TMEs that I can use with some of my younger students.

I have a theme around mittens, and I am starting another about monkeys. For some reason, I am doing things with the letter M. Hmmm. Anyway, I have been collecting ideas and TMEs centered around these ideas. These themes are different from those in my sing about song series. These are specifically designed for a bunch of familiar clients who have specific needs. I want to figure out ways to store stuff for all the centers in small boxes.

So here are my current thoughts about mittens...

Mittens - sorting mittens and gloves; using mittens and gloves to pick up different materials for a sensory experience; The Three Little Kittens (I wrote a song!) with sequencing lyrics and pictures; The Mitten stories with an animal puzzle to go along with the story; listening to music with winter theme to support idea that we wear mittens when it is cold...

I am rapidly turning into my mother who does this type of thing all the time. She has the garage space to store everything as well. (I don't!) By the way, does anyone want a large tote box full of rubber ducks? Mom's got bunches and bunches and bunches of rubber ducks.

I don't know what I will end up doing with all of this, but the creative impulses that are happening are wonderful. If I can't use any of the ideas that I come up with, I am sure that someone will. Anyone want two session plans based around mittens?