Showing posts from 2017


I am going to spend some time today making something. I have some birdhouses halfway painted for my sister's new home. I got some new file folders for making file folder activities for my clients and for my friends. I have some slippers to crochet (as long as my sprained finger holds out). I also want to bake something to splurge on. At some point, I need to do laundry so I have clothing to wear next week, but that can be done tomorrow.

It is Saturday, and I had my "I just want to stay in bed all day" day yesterday on my day off! I'm a day ahead of my self-care routine, so I get to have some play time.

Several years ago, I won a basket full of paints in the American Music Therapy Association's National Conference silent auction. It was a large basket full of paints, and I am just now finding things to do with the contents. My art therapist friend, Tawnya, has taught me to make mixed media backgrounds for various projects, and I want to make some today with those pa…

Fun Friday: Music Therapy Mailings

I admit it.

I like getting things in the mail, and I love my subscription to Music Therapy Mailings. I took a brief break from my subscription, but recently splurged on an annual commitment. I received my first envelope of the new subscription in the mail on Wednesday.

This time around, I decided to get the adult version of the mailings. Since I work with children and adolescents, I found that many of the things in the Kid subscription was not really all that applicable to my adolescents, so I decided to go to the Adult version (just to see if I can find more things for my clients). Here's what I got...

(Cat tail NOT included in the envelope.)
Before I go any further, I feel the need to indicate that I do not get anything from anyone when I talk about products or services. I do not have any affiliate links, so every thing I write is 100% my own opinion and is not motivated by any thing other than me!

This month's envelope included 18 hanging jack-o-lanterns, some Halloween clings, …

Thoughtful Thursday: An Empty Cup

I found a meme yesterday that sums up everything I think about self-care in one image. I do not know who is responsible for the meme, but I got it from the Introverts are Awesome Facebook group.
Some people seem to think that self-care is self-indulgent and selfish, but I think of self-care as essential. I think that is why this particular picture speaks to me.

(I also like analogies, so this has everything in one simple little picture.)

As I am sitting here, I have released my finger from its current confines (got a splint yesterday and have to go back to the Doctor on my day off to confirm that it isn't broken, simply sprained), and my head is pounding. I have two hours before I head to work for a really long day. 

As a result, self-care is something that I am thinking about right now.

An empty cup.

At the moment, my cup has a bunch of holes in it - there are leaks happening everywhere - but I am patching those holes to refill myself.

First step - medication to address the sinus and th…

I'm Having a Rough Week

I think I sprained a finger in my left hand yesterday. I know I slammed my left thumb in the filing cabinet at work (in front of clients - I managed NOT to color the air with obscenities, but it was CLOSE). I now have a bloody nose and am just sitting here wondering about why I am so klutzy at the moment.

Now, I am almost always prone to accidents - sensory integration issues from birth, etc. - but these things seem to cluster.

I am not graceful. I tend to break, sprain, and injure things more than the usual person. I also cannot coordinate many movements without extreme task analysis and practicing the small elements of each movement. Dancing a routine is something that takes LOTS of intense work for me. Add in some gravitational insecurity and a balance disorder, and you start to see what life is like for me.

Over the years, I've learned to compensate. This is the only way of being that I know, so this is the way I move through life. (Sometimes I need a uniform of bubble wrap to go…

TME Tuesday: Starting My Halloween Planning

I am not a big fan of Halloween.

There, I've said it. I don't like the dressing up (never have liked people in costumes, even...make that ESPECIALLY Santa Claus), I don't like running around, I don't like having to give people things for interrupting my routine, I just don't like the way we celebrate the holiday.

As a result, I don't do lots and lots in my music therapy sessions about the holiday. I figure that my clients get enough hoopla, and I try not to go overboard about all of it. Also, some of my clients have real difficulty distinguishing between real and pretend, so I try not to confuse them.

Having said all that, I am taking out my Halloween resources to see what I can do with them next week.

I have Pumpkin carols (Google it to find lots of sites that offer these carols), I have a Pumpkin carol choice board, I have pumpkin visual aids, I have Halloween books, and I have ghost stories.

The best thing that I do, for me at least, is that I change the modes of…

A Strange Week

I am sitting here, after deleting two separate blog posts that weren't really go anywhere, thinking about my work week this week.

For some reason, my students have three days off this week. They don't come to school today or Thursday or Friday. I, on the other hand, have to come to work on Monday and Thursday - Thursday is a 12 hour day. I do get Friday off, which is really nice, but 20 hours of inservice and professional development time is just not something I look forward all.

For me, the change in structure and routine makes for lots of difficult encounters and uncomfortable situations.

For example, one of the things that we are going to do on Thursday is decorate pumpkins - team-building activity! Last year, we had to split up based on our working teams. The other teams complained because those of us who are not classroom teachers grouped together. There were "too many" of us for the others, so we had to split up.

Now, I have a setting event when it comes to…

Synthesis Sunday: With Rigour and Imagination and Mercedes Pavlicevic

Chapter four of Music Therapy in Context: Music, Meaning and Relationship by Mercedes Pavlicevic is my focus for this Sunday's post. The chapter is titled, "With rigour and imagination: Music therapy and music psychology." (p. 48-54)

This short chapter discusses the way we think about music within the worlds of scientific inquiry and art appreciation. There is a brief history lesson about why we think the way we think about art and science, and some discussion about what this means to music therapy and music psychology. The next several chapters promise to delve into music psychology more deeply, but this chapter did a good job of priming my thoughts about this topic.

Right off the bat, I had to use my dictionary to find out the difference between the words, "nomothetic" and "idiographic." I love when reading leads me into new vocabulary. According to Pavlicevic, "nomothetic" means finding a "more general and abstract drawing up of 'r…

Music at My Fingertips

I am currently listening to music from Ellis Paul (one of my favorite artists at the moment), streamed through electricity and the invisible signals from my wi-fi setup. I got this music through a service that my Dad pays for and has invited me to use as part of his "family" plan (makes sense, since I am part of his family). All I had to do was say, "Alexa, play Ellis Paul," and she did!

Now, if you are not my age, then this idea of specific music whenever and wherever you are is not something to marvel at, but if you are my age, it truly is a miracle.

Music is now at the fingertips of everyone who can link up to this thing we call the world-wide web. You can stream it, purchase it, sample it, record it, upload it, share it, and link it to others without much in the way of electricity or effort. It is amazing how much we use this, and how much we take it for granted.

I matured, as a music therapist, in the beginning of the time of CDs. If you wanted a specific playlis…

Fun Friday Work...

For the first time ever, I am allowed to decorate my door at work. In fact, I am encouraged to do so this year. So, I am going to.

My doors are currently covered in green paper. This is because we only have four types of butcher paper in the school right now - red, yellow, green, and purple. I decided that green would be the best as I could then transition the same background into a winter holiday theme without having to re-wrap my doors.

I need to go buy some paper plates and some packing tape to finish things up.

Here's my idea.

I am going to make a skeleton band for my music room double doors. I'm thinking rock band for some reason. I saw a way to make skeletons from paper plates (things can't be too scary for my students), and I know how to make instruments out of cardboard. So, I am going to cover myself in [shudder] glitter and glitter glue while I try to make my vision a reality. Thinking about this, I may seriously reconsider the whole glitter idea... I HATE glitter.


Thoughtful Thursday: What is Your Superpower?

A couple of days ago, one of my friends asked her friends, 
"What is your superpower?"That question made me stop and really think for a moment. See, I believe that everyone in the world has something positive to contribute to the greater good, so I do think that we all have specific talents, gifts, and jobs to do as a part of our small lives that will affect the lives of others outside our small circles. So, I totally believe in superpowers. It was a good thing to think about during this week of working long hours and feeling like I am falling behind on every task I have to do.

I had to stop and think about her question. What is my superpower? What do I bring to the world that no one else can contribute?

Of course, I can always use the idea of being "unique," and "one of a kind," but that seemed to be a cop-out to avoid the thought process and the questions. So, I thought.

...and thought.

...and thought.

This was a good question for this week because it got me …

Retired Songs

There was an article on NPR the other day about songs we should retire. The article basically was a discussion about preferences - those of the show's hosts - and the point where we saturate on a particular song. I'm not sure that I agree with the premise - that these folks should be in charge of what the rest of us listen to (or not listen to, as the case may be) - but I can see their point from a personal point of view.

I have only retired one song from my repertoire during my time as a music therapist. That song was the favorite song of one of my clients. He died in a train accident several years ago (this month), and I still haven't been able to sing "his" song with other clients.

Now, having said that, I do have songs that go into temporary hiatus when they have been used or sung or listened to WAY too much. The familiar adage "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" really seems to apply in the case of music. After hearing any of the songs mentioned in…

TME Tuesday: Survival Signs

One of the things that I enjoy is writing music to support educational goals and objectives. Now, I don't call this music therapy, because I design the music to be included in education without the need for a music therapist. Instead, I call this music-enhanced education (or, M-EE, for short!). I've written songs for special educators, for my sister's students, for just about anyone who asks, really. This is one of those songs.

Many of my clients have "survival sign recognition" IEP goals. This fact led me to write a song - of course! 

To run the song, it's a good idea to have visual aids of the targeted survival signs so students can indicate the sung about sign. I've been able to find the 100+ signs that my students have to identify on Google images. I have both large versions (no larger than a file folder to help with storage), small cards, and sheets with multiple options on them.

If you are ever looking for a song that directly addresses survival signs,…

My Super-Secret (But Not Really That Impressive) Organization Tool

I have a secret code that I use to organize things.

Are you ready?

(Prepare to be pretty disappointed at this point, because it isn't all that thrilling, but here it goes...)


(See, I told you it was not all that thrilling, but it has really saved me lots of time and lots of energy when looking for different things.)

I use color to organize everything music therapy around me. 

I have four emotion binders that I use with my clients who do not speak. Each one is a different color. This allows me to keep them organized. When there is a red emotion card in the green folder, even my youngest clients know that isn't right and fix it!

When I was an itinerant therapist. moving between two storage places and five buildings daily, I used color-coded boxes to organize my session materials. The blue boxes were for my young students. The purple boxes were for the middle schoolers, and the red boxes were for my high schoolers. I could grab the right colored box and have all the materials th…

Synthesis Sunday: Mercedes Pavlicevic and "Music Therapy and Universals"

It is time for Chapter Three of Music Therapy in Context: Music, Meaning and Relationship by Mercedes Pavlicevic.

Before we get started, however, a cautionary tale about a music therapist who did not carefully check her resources and now is apologizing to her readers. 

You know how people are always telling you to double check your sources? I know I've told people that a time or two, myself, but I was a poor example of this a couple of weeks ago. Over the past two weeks, I've been using some notes that I took about this text several years ago. At that time, I must not have looked all that carefully at the text, because I wrongly attributed the publisher as Barcelona. When I went back to the text for Chapter three, I happened to look at the copyright information and found that the book was not published by Barcelona but by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

I didn't check my sources carefully enough, but I have now. I have gone back and changed the posts and also admitted my mistake…

Back to the To-Do List and the Bullet Journal

It is time to get serious about my home care, that is, care for my home. I've been neglecting that lots lately, and it shows. To my immediate left, there is a pile of papers, colored pencils, books, notepads, sheet protectors, and much more that just needs to be addressed.

I have a day to do this, and I'm going to try my best to get some semblance of order back into my home life.

How am I going to accomplish this? 
R2-D2, of course.

This is my handy helper. My timer. R2 keeps me working on tasks for short bursts of time. I set him to alert me when 30 minutes has passed at a particular task before I go do something else. For me, the opportunity to do things for short periods of time makes chores pass more quickly. Cleaning the kitchen for 30 minutes and then taking 30 minutes to make file folder activities is a process that allows me to keep going.

So, the to-do list starts to form.
Here's the start of today's to-do. There are more things on the "really need to" sid…

Gross Motor Movement Stations - AKA, Yesterday's Triumph!!

Yesterday was a day of cranky students. We had a combination of rainy weather and the full moon and October, and it led us all to being cranky. I decided to try something that I haven't tried in a long time.

I put up different gross motor cues - wall push-ups, sit-ups, twist, march - you know the kinds. I put on some familiar, preferred music for the specific clients that I had in front of me, and we started off. Everyone found a movement to start on. The music started, and they were asked to try the movement. We lasted about 30 seconds on each movement. I used a hotel bell to signal moving around the circle to the next movement. There were 9 stations total, and it took about a song and a half to get through all of the stations. We jumped and hopped and jumping jacked our way into better moods.

It was amazing. 100% of the kids who participated started off grumpy and disgruntled and ended up tired but in a more pleasant mood. The kids who didn't participate remained cranky and ha…

Thoughtful Thursday: Tension and Relaxation

I've changed my quotation box this morning. It felt like it was time, so I did. When I change things, I usually just feel where the cards split and use that as my way to select a new card. Today's card has the following quotation:
"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."     ~ Chinese ProverbIt's amazing, isn't it, how much we put upon ourselves by thinking what we should be? Perfect woman, perfect mother, perfect therapist. The list can go on and on, but the reality is that most of our concepts of perfection are those that we place upon ourselves.

All of my music therapy entry-level education, I compared myself to my co-students. As an entry-level clinician, I compared myself to my co-workers. As a music therapist, I still compare myself to other music therapists, and I often find myself lacking.

No one forces me to see these things in this manner. I just naturally go there - to self-criticism and doubt.

When I feel myself sliding int…

Self-Care - It's Time

I write about self-care lots and lots. Mainly this is because I struggle with self-care and self-awareness and find that writing about it helps me identify what and when I need to engage. This is one of those days.

I always get sick during the fall months. I spend some time sniffling, with sinus headaches, sneezing, and wheezing. This is usually due to the corn harvest. It kicks up lots of dust, and I stop breathing well. Over the years, I've learned that taking a day off when I am starting the process is beneficial to my health in the longer term. Today is that day.

I woke up this morning with a sinus headache and wheezing. My daily medications and my inhaler didn't help, so it is time to start the heavy-duty stuff. My heavy-duty medications knock me out for the first 24 hours of taking them, so today is a day off from work. I can't drive on the first day due to dizziness and drowsiness (I've learned that lesson!), so I am home as I get used to the medication in my syst…

TME Tuesday: sing about Winter

I've decided to do something today that I have never done before. If you've read this blog for a while, you know that one of the things that I do is write books of therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) based on themes. I call them sing about songs, and they are collections of TMEs for clients with needs for all types of goal skill development. I don't usually write for a specific population, but I try to come up with ideas that will work for lots of different types of clients.

Today, I am releasing one of these books for you, dear reader. 

sing about Winter is a collection of TMEs that I wrote with the upcoming season in mind. There are 18 TMEs and a list of related compositions that you may like to see.

If you do want this free resource, send me an email so I can send you the file. You can find my email address here

Happy Winter session strategizing!!

Make It Monday: Fun with Paper

Making things is something that I do to keep myself moving forward. I make lots of things - crocheted things, painted things, music things, and paper things. Some of the things that I make are just for me, but others are for my clients. This is a post about making paper things for my clients.

My fun with paper often starts with an idea for a therapeutic music experience. I have a rule that I have to come up with six different things to do with a material or instrument or visual aid before I can store it in my cabinets in my music therapy room. This rule keeps me from jamming things into every single corner of my workspace (because I would DEFINITELY be doing that if I didn't have my rule...). So, in order to keep something, I have to figure out ways to use the something with my clients.

I like making things with paper because the end result is not very expensive to produce. The time that I take to make something is time for self-care - I find paper crafting to be very relaxing. I ca…

Synthesis Sunday: Music Therapy in Context and Mercedes Pavlicevic, again

As I continue to spend some time in the book, Music therapy in context: Music, meaning and relationship by Mercedes Pavlicevic, I find myself moving into times where I am focused on one sentence for a spell. Just one sentence, repeating over and over in my head as I contemplate what the words actually mean to me, in my part of the world, and in my life as a music therapist.

I like that.

I enjoy thinking through concepts that are unfamiliar to me and trying to figure out what the thoughts of the author mean to me in my place in this world. The more I read, the more I think, and the more I have to write about my process. Writing really makes me think through concepts on a different level than just reading.

Chapter two of the book challenged me to think deeply about how I interpret music, both inside a music therapy session and outside the music therapy environment. Did you know that there are some folks out there who do not consider music as a form of emotional expression? There are others…