Showing posts from February, 2017

Dreaming of the Future - One Thing at a Time

Lately, I've been spending lots of time thinking about what I want to do and where I want to be later on in my life. This has lots to do with the fact that my parents have recently retired and are starting up trusts and talking about what my siblings and I will do when my parents have died. It also has something to do with a presentation I'm giving in three weeks about getting out of a professional slump.

I've been spending time thinking deeply about what I want from life - both now and in the future (near and far). I'm identifying things that fulfill me and things that cause me unnecessary stress. I am thinking about where I need to be going in order to find the future that I want.

The first step I took was to think about my personal life. Where do I want to be at some point? I want to live in a place where it is difficult to see the neighbors. I want wired internet access (which will make not seeing neighbors more challenging). I want to have space enough to walk over …

Just A Song Sunday: Starting the Idea of Songwriting

I am spending time with some of my adolescents, teaching them about writing songs. We've started in all different places - some already write poems, so songwriting is an easy transfer for those clients. Others are completely intimidated with the idea of writing a song. There are just too many things to think about in the process.

I've learned to break things down into really small steps to help ease folks into the idea of writing music.

For some of my students, the key into writing songs is exploring the keyboard to find beats and tones that they like. For others, it's sitting alone with the recording software, just singing something. For yet others, it's using the cool pencils while writing stories.

We are now getting to the point where everyone has something about ready to be fixed into a set format. We're going to talk about specific ways to fix our music this next week during music therapy sessions. This should make everyone move a bit towards the end goal of offe…

Music Therapy Moments This Week

I had a couple of music therapy moments this week.

You know the ones - those moments when you feel that everything is happening and therapy is going on. You and the client are interacting within and with the music, and things are just going well.

The one that is the strongest for me right now happened yesterday.

We are currently getting a multigenerational choir ready to perform at our annual benefactor event. About 10 of my adolescent students are rehearsing with about 10-15 of the adult consumers that are served by the facility. They all arrive at the music therapy room to rehearse on Friday afternoons (during my preparation/planning time). This year's song is Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones. It's not a song that anyone knew before the first rehearsal, but the words are not really all that comprehensible, so we are kinda doing our own thing.

Over the years of working with these adults and with my kids, I know a couple of things. First of all, it is easier to sing a song that w…

Word Art - Part Two

I did it. I took some time after work yesterday to play with my markers and watercolor pencils. I also did some music listening and paid attention to the lyrics that really spoke to me yesterday afternoon. I ended up choosing Breathe 2 a.m. by Anna Nalick as the basis for my latest attempt at word art.
This song is my mantra some days. Breathe, just breathe. The words and pictures are less dense than in the other art I've shared, but I like that for this song. Who knows, I may find it in me to do some others soon. I wonder if some of my clients would like to do this type of lyric analysis. Hmmm. I know it's not something for everyone, but I could see a couple of my current clients enjoying this type of project.

Thanks for reading!

Thoughtful Thursday: Word Art

I think of myself as a "sorta artist." You know, I can draw things, but not really make them into great works of art - I don't know much about how to shade things to make them look realistic, but I can draw my cat in a way that looks like my cat (I think) so I am a "sorta artist."

One of the things that I do enjoy and think I do well is graphic lettering and word art. I have always been fascinated by words (started reading when I was two), and I enjoy making word art. I have books with font ideas and lots of different types of pens to help me with this art form.

You may be asking, "What does this have to do with music therapy?" Not a whole lot - it has more to do with the "me" part of this blog, and it functions as a self-care strategy for me in my life as therapist. I also find that I am a bit more interested and involved with song lyrics after I have written them out and made them colorful or presented them in a way that is significantly dif…

What Am I Doing on Wednesdays?

I've decided that I've pretty much exhausted the options available to me for my Website Wednesday posts, so it is time to change to something else. The problem?

How about Webinar Wednesdays? I'm not exactly sure that I could sustain that on a weekly basis. Maybe that could be an occasional series - announcing upcoming webinars once or twice a month. Hmmm. That would mean having webinars once or twice a month. I could do that (I'm thinking right now).
Now I just have to figure out some webinar ideas.
Maybe I could do a weekly wrap-up of the articles that I've seen over the week. That might be a good idea. So, this week I saw three music therapy related articles. I could start to save the links and then share them. I'm kinda liking that idea as well.
So, starting next week, Wednesdays will either be Webinar Wednesdays or Weekly Wrap-Up Wednesdays.
Now I'm off to do my two jobs and some brainstorming about webinar topics for the…

Late Day Post - Post-Philosophy Webinar

I spent some time last night talking to other music therapy-type folks about writing a philosophy of music therapy statement. Now, I have, in my years of being a music therapist, taught interns and students about writing these types of statements, and I've ready many of them from professional music therapists as well, so I think I know what I am nattering on about.


I decided to start rewriting my own philosophy of music therapy statement.

I have several pages of notes that are helping me figure out what I want to write, but I'm not finished. I even started a graphic organizer to help me with the process, but it's also a work in progress.

This is only the beginning of my thought process, and I wonder what the random icon at the bottom of this was meant to be...

ANYWAY (repeated word, oh dear - by the way, this is why I don't write my posts in the afternoon - my brain is mush after the entire day) - I firmly believe that delving into the idea of a philosophy statemen…

What Do I Believe? Philosophical Musings

I am getting ready to lead a webinar about writing a philosophy of music therapy statement. It is something that I have done for many years - writing, reading, and evaluating such statements - so I have lots of experience in interpreting the ideas of others, but this is the first time I'm going to talk about my process to others.

I've taken courses on philosophy. I've read some of the greats. I've thought about my own philosophy of music therapy ad nauseum, but I've never really taught a bunch of people how to write something so personal before. 

I am going to spend time today putting together my thoughts, experiences, and powerpoint presentation. I'll talk to all those that arrive this evening, and we'll see if we can start to formulate these personal statements about music therapy.

The one nice thing about philosophy is that it never ends.

My own philosophy has changed over my years as a music therapy student, professional, and mentor. I don't believe exa…

Just a Song Sunday: Random iTunes Song Analysis

Today, I've decided to use a random song from my iPod to demonstrate the process that I go through to analyze the music that I use during sessions. I started my iTunes library and used the first song that showed up on my shuffle function playlist.

The winning song? Celebration, by Kool and the Gang!

Because I am a visual learner, I tend to organize information a bit more easily when I can put it into something I can see. I go over to my favorite graphic organizer program (Inspiration 9), and get started organizing the elements of the music. Unfortunately, I cannot find the original file right now, so I will have to replicate the form for use later. Sigh.

So, since I can't show you how I think about music, I guess I'll have to tell you how I think about music.

For me, it's important to isolate different elements so I can easily make adjustments to the elements in the moments of therapy. If I go through this process before clients enter the room, I can then focus on the elem…

Bathing in Music

For the past couple of days, I've been working on a couple of presentations while I've been driving to and from work, so I've been playing music during my commutes. This is unusual for me as I typically listen to television shows or podcasts rather than music, but it's been good for me.

I'm sure that I'm quite the sight, driving down the highway at 70+ mph, talking to myself, but that's a lot less unusual nowadays than it was 10 years ago. I get involved in practicing what I want to say during my presentations, but then the music interferes.

I have a playlist on my iPod titled "Favorites - Me." It has my preferences in it. I periodically go through my iTunes library and put things on the playlist. To make it on this particular playlist, a song has to have a couple of specific characteristics - specifically, it has to be something I know really well, and there has to be an emotional response elicited by the music.

I haven't updated the playlist fr…

Design Thinking and Design Theory - I'm Just Starting Here

Yesterday, I was driving home from work, listening to a podcast that I enjoy, Hidden Brain. I was initially drawn to the radio stories because of the name of the host - it is like music in my ears, but I've remained for the interesting stories. I'm glad I chose this podcast on this day.

The episode I was listening to was about thinking differently and getting unstuck when you are stuck.

This is the topic I'm going to speak about during next month's Western and Midwestern Super Regional Conference - getting unstuck. The podcast was perfect. It suggested some practical ways to think about slumps and career pivots. I think my presentation is shaping up.

The podcast centered around design thinking and design theory. I haven't really delved into the entire concept at this point, but it intrigues me and seems to be something that I will enjoy knowing more about in the near future.

Basically, the idea is that all problems can be solved in many different ways, but how we appro…

Thoughtful Thursday: The Quotation Box

On my desk, I have a small box that contains cards with quotations on them. (I've written about this box before, and it continues to be a source of inspiration for me, so I'll write about it again!) I rotate through cards when I feel like I need to do so - it used to be once a week, but not lately.

The quotation that is on my desk right now is a good one.

 All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.                                    - St. Francis of AssisiI am accused of "smiling all the time" by my clients. Some of them find it creepy and others seem to find it reassuring. I do tend to smile more than not when I am around other people. I enjoy their company, so I express that through my facial expressions.

This doesn't mean that I don't have my dark times - I just tend to keep those dark moods more to myself in an effort to assist others with theirs.

I like being a candle.

As I've been thinking about St. Francis and his word…

Website Wednesday: Running Out of Resources

It's time to change what happens on Wednesdays again because I am running out of new websites to feature. There aren't many different sites out there, and I've featured many of the ones that I really like.

When I go out looking for blogs, websites, and the like, I start off by typing random things into search engines and see what pops up. (I still get a strange thrill from seeing my own sites show up on the feed.) I then go exploring.

Lately, though, my explorations aren't finding much that's new.

As a result, I'm going to figure out some other series to write about - it probably won't be a Wednesday series since I've pretty much used all the alliteration that I can (and I REALLY like alliteration when it comes to naming my blog series!!), but I'll figure out something.

See you later.

Dear Music Therapy:

This post is inspired by a request by the folks at Music Therapy Clinician who asked for letters that start, "Dear Music Therapy" for this Valentine's Day. So, here goes...

Dear Music Therapy:
Well, it's been almost 24 years since it was official - we were in it together. It took us a couple of years to really figure out how to work together. Remember the days of finding ANY possible job that would allow us to spend just a little bit of time together? Remember the thrill of that first, full-time, official music therapy job? Remember the opportunity to really learn what music therapy meant to the clients we served? Remember what I thought it meant to be in a relationship with you way back then?
Wow, things have changed.
When I was brand new to the relationship, you were in your 40's. Now that you are in your 60's, I've found that you have changed. You are more easily spoken of in these days. When I mention our relationship, most people have some idea of who you …

Getting Ready for Conference

I finally decided to go onto the WRMWAMTA SUPER REGIONAL CONFERENCE PAGE and see when I was going to be presenting a bit over a month from now. I'm glad that I did because I found that both of my presentations are on the same day (I thought they were on different days...). I am ready to go talk to folks about different topics - Research-Informed Clinician stuff and Career Pivot stuff.

The conference is what we call a "super regional conference." The Midwestern region has combined with other regions several times over the past couple of decades. We went in with the Great Lakes region and the Southwestern region. Now, it is the Western region's turn to work with us.

We will spend the weekend in Colorado, talking about music therapy, and making regional plans.

For the next month, I have the joy of going over my older topic (Research-Informed Clinician) and starting up my newer topic (From Slump to Career Pivot). I'll work on outlining the new topic this week and get th…

Just a Song Sunday: Focus on Improvisation

I admit it.

I did it. I spent an entire week improvising things during sessions.

During (almost) every session, I picked up the guitar and sang something new and never to be replicated with the clients sitting in front of me. We sang about things we liked, about moving our bodies, about what we were talking about, and about nothing at all. We incorporated sounds - both silly and functional, went between major and minor modes, and just made music.

I love improvising and don't do it quite enough when I get into times of stress. It's silly, but I actually have to remember to improvise during those times when I start to feel that I am not effective in helping my clients reach their personal goals and objectives. I think it should be a natural response by now, but I tend to get more and more into planning things out rather than using my tool to make music that is based on what is happening right there in the session. When I do remember, I improvise and am reminded of what a powerful e…

Music Therapy Random Thoughts

There are days when the blinking cursor at the top of my blog screen challenges me. What can I write about? What am I thinking about? Will any of this actually make sense? That's where I've been for most of the last week - trying to put together some thoughts to share.

I blame some of my block on being tired. The Online Conference for Music Therapy was last week, and I am still recovering from screen fatigue, but that's not all that is going on. I have officially settled into my room. I have a routine place to park on the north side of the building, and I am getting used to my new office neighbors (all administration staff rather than education staff). I really don't see many of my education staff colleagues any more since I am at the farthest north point of the building and am firmly ensconced in office-land. I have my own office (what a luxury!) that is still messy, but starting to come together. I want to move some bookshelves from home to work, but I have to come up…

Thoughtful Thursday: What Do You Do Where You Are?

I think I'm a bit of an odd duck when it comes to research questions. At least, that's what it seemed like when I was in graduate school. The questions that made me curious often didn't jive with the ideas of my advisors. That both concerned me and made me curious. Why weren't others interested in developing tools for music therapists to use during sessions? Why weren't others interested in how music therapists made decisions about their live music making with and for clients? It was this, more than anything, that led me to leave the world of academia and go back into full-time clinical work.

Most of what I want to know can't be quantified, measured, or researched other than participant reporting. This is why I didn't find that my questions meshed with the ideas of my advisors. How do you really track the inner dialog that goes on inside the head of a music therapist who is making decisions about music presentation in the moment?   

I have always loved t…

Website Wednesdays: Music Therapy Ideas I Which I Had First...

I have found several places with music therapy ideas that I wish I had first. They are varied, but I encourage you to look at these sites and see for yourself what's going on. Some of these you've seen on this blog before. Others may be new to you. See what you think!

Music Therapy Mailings: This is fun. I send in my money, and I get an envelope full of creativity every month. I wish I had had this idea before Rachel Rambach did. Tracy Reif now runs the business and sends lots of interesting things. I enjoy getting something different every month - the materials really spark my own creativity.Music Therapy Activities: This is a site that has an interesting premise, but it never really seemed to get going.The Music Therapy Marketplace: Here's a place where you can find specific therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) for purchase. Briana Priester has a creator's lounge as well. I haven't been part of that, but it sounds intriguing!What music therapy sites do you enjoy?

Therapeutic Music Experience (TME) Thoughts

I came up with a couple of new Therapeutic Music Experiences yesterday. I was sitting in my spot for hallway duty, and I was trying to think of something to write down on my session planning sheet. I didn't have anything in mind, so I just thought a bit about the clients that would be coming to see me later that day. I also wanted to do something different than the things that I usually pull out to do.

I went to my TME database and started browsing through the years and years of songs and TMEs that I've collected over the years.

I have a database. I have the contributions of practicum students, interns, and all the resources that I have ever found in one large database of materials. There are over 2,000 TMEs in that database, and I use it often for session planning and inspiration. I have more ideas than those that are in the database - I've really slacked off on the "writing things down" thing that I do recently - but those ideas form the basis of my resources whe…