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Showing posts from April, 2017

Just a Song Sunday: William W. Sears - The Outline

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I'm still over here, reading the foundation of my education and experience as a music therapist. Today I am going to share the outline that William W. Sears published in Music In Therapy, edited by E. T. Gaston in 1968. This is the information in the second chapter, and I feel that this chapter, more than any other reading I did as a baby music therapist, affected me and my practice - well, maybe Bruscia's Defining Music Therapy was close, but I still think that Sears is my guy when it comes to music therapy writing.

ANYWAY...

For those of you with a familiarity with behavioral psychology and theory, this terminology will not be very shocking. For those of you who are not as immersed in behaviorism, this outline may include language that you do not like or recognize or believe. That's fine. Feel free to agree or disagree with the writings presented in their original form here. Know that we all have different ideas about how music is effective as a therapeutic medium, and we …

Saturday Mornings

I love my Saturday mornings.

Saturday is the only day that I keep to myself (well, mostly). It is the only day that I have no outside work responsibilities, so I have opportunities to do things that I want to do rather than the things that I have to do to be paid. It is my day, and I enjoy having that day to nap or do laundry or make something fun.

In about an hour, I am going to the grocery store to do a week's worth of shopping. I'm going to try buying just enough for one week of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I don't usually do this, so it's a bit of a change for me. I am tired of not using what I purchase, so I am going to try purchasing just what I need. This means a bit more menu planning than usual, but I think I am up for the challenge.

Since I've been awake this morning, I've finished the first round of revisions for my CBMT pre-approved provider application (I'm very close!). I've also caught up with my social media world and have done some th…

Finally, It Is Friday

This has been a strange week for me. Yesterday, over half of the school went on a field trip so my usual pattern was interrupted. I only had two groups - one is one of my most favorite and the other is one of my least favorite. My Creative Arts teammate and I received recognition from the other clinicians for our work on the Super-Secret Special Event that happened last week. I settled my worker's compensation case yesterday - first time I've ever been sworn in - so, that's over. I've had moments of anxiety, joy, and absolute frustration this week. It's really worn my out.

But...

It is FINALLY FRIDAY! (I apologize for the strength of the text, but I am really happy to have made it to the end of this week and this month!)

Today is my plan/preparation day. I have a classroom visit this morning and then the entire school tromps through my room to go shopping in the STARS store, so it is impossible to have therapy sessions while folks are walking in and out. So, I take my…

Thoughtful Thursday: Going Back

I have made a recent decision that is really making a difference in how I am writing and composing therapeutic music experiences.

Are you ready?

I am going back to writing things on actual cards.

Okay, it's not really all that earth-shattering, but it has really sparked my creativity and my ability to compose. I am no longer reliant upon a device of any type (except, I guess, a pencil would count as a device...hmm) - let me restate. I am no longer depending upon an electronic device of any type for my composition process, and the cards are something that I've had around me since the beginning of my music therapy evolution. I have two boxes of them on my desk here at home.

It may seem pretty silly to those of you who have been fully immersed in electronic ways to learn and compose music, but I find that my cards are the best way for me to notate my musical ideas. They are inexpensive and plentiful, so I can rip them if something isn't really working. (There is something VERY sa…

Getting Ready to Launch Some New Things

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This is the week.

I am going to send out the first edition of the brand new musictherapyworks.com newsletter. It is almost finished and includes a brand-new, never before shared therapeutic music experience, a before-seen blog post, and some details about products that I make for music therapists. I hope you'll subscribe for this newsletter (click this link to get to the form...). This is something that I've wanted to do for a very long time, so I am glad that I've finally taken the leap.

I received my first revision letter from the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Inc. regarding my pre-approved provider status to offer continuing music therapy education courses (CMTEs). The requested revisions are very easy to complete and are good questions for me to contemplate. One of them is why offer only 3 and 5 options? Quite frankly, it was easier for me to think about them that way. That's the only reason.

It's time to finish generating content for the CMTEs. I woul…

Session Planning

I started the day yesterday with no idea what I was going to do in my group sessions.

Let me explain a bit about what it is that I do. I provide 60 minutes of music therapy for every classroom per week so "teachers can get their plan time." There are no other guidelines offered by my administration, so I have freedom in what I do with my students when they arrive. I just have to keep them for 60 minutes. I have some basic treatment guidelines, but nothing really very formal. Music therapy is considered an "educational enrichment" service at the school - something offered for the benefit of students, but without requirements to be tied to the IEPs of clients (fortunately - I don't think I could handle attending 110 IEPs every year and the paperwork would be extremely daunting - ugh). My basic treatment guidelines are to address impulse control, social interactions, appropriate communication of wants and needs, and frustration tolerance/coping skill development. U…

Music-Filled Monday

It is Monday, and I am trying to adjust to the facts that I've not been sleeping well and that I have to go to work. It's interesting that I can't sleep on weekdays, but I have no problem sleeping on weekends. Maybe I'm becoming more like my mother than I want to admit - she had anxiety-related issues with going to work.

Anyway, I've been thinking about what the day will have in store for me and for my clients. I have no idea of what I'll do during sessions, but something will come to me. Last week, we played music therapy games and made music using hand-held percussion instruments. Next week is the Musician of the Month reveal, but this week has no real direction - yet.

I always strive to fill my sessions with as much music and making music as possible, but I have lots of adolescents who actively resist making music in front of their peers. I don't push them into making music, but it gets lonely when they don't want to sing, and I do. Some of my groups e…

Just A Song Sunday: William Sears - Part One - Introduction

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I am continuing my quest back into the basics of music therapy (as I was taught about them). My educational foundation is that of E. Thayer Gaston and William W. Sears - their writings in 1968 form the groundwork of what I believe to be true about music therapy. Even after 24 years of professional experience, lots of graduate coursework, and reading many many theories, outlooks, and opinions about music therapy, I still feel that Gaston and (ESPECIALLY) Sears are my bedrock of belief about music as therapeutic medium.

It's funny, but I didn't realize how many of us music therapists out there weren't exposed to these two writers during our educations. My interns have really broadened my own awareness of the differences between educational programs, and I really like to know what introductory texts they were exposed to - the decades of work have led to many more textbooks than were available when I was a student. Even with therapists my own age, many were not exposed to the s…

News, News, Newsletter!

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I am going to do something that I've wanted to do for a long time - start a newsletter! If this is something you might be interested in, please head to this page to sign up.

I am going to start slowly - newsletters every three months. There will be four pages in this first edition (scheduled to be released on April 30, 2017). I want to include information from all of my music therapy interests, including therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) and everything else that I like doing for the greater music therapy community.

If you are interested in hearing a bit more about what I do over here at the website, this is an opportunity for you! I hope that you will sign up for the newsletter.

That's it for now. I'm going to get ready for my Online Conference for Music Therapy Board meeting and a day of picking things up off the floor! Newsletter edition 1:1 is coming soon! Please sign up.

Personality Thoughts

My friend (who happens to be the art therapist at my full-time job) and I have been talking about personality quite a bit lately. She's been speaking to another friend (who I will get to meet in about two weeks at an art/faith retreat run by my friend) about two of the characteristics of the Myers Briggs personality inventory - intuitive/sensing.

I am someone who waffles between two types. My mother feels that the fact that I am not easily typed is just part of my overall experience with life - she says that, even as an infant, I had my emotional cycles that somewhat mystified her, but that we figured out. She states that I am moon child in many different ways. When we had our types analyzed using a full-scale test, the person who scored the test said that I scored exactly in between the thinking/feeling scale, so she felt that she needed to meet me. Once she did, she still couldn't figure out where I landed on the thinking/feeling scale, so she told me that I was both and woul…
Today is the culmination of months of planning - The Luau at the Zoo. We made it through this super-secret planning time with only three students asking questions. One made a statement that the luau was today. I am really looking forward to next year when the super-secret special event (S-SSE) will NOT be a luau. Then, when students say things like, "The luau is tomorrow," I will be able to honestly say, "Nope. There is no luau tomorrow." It won't take our day students long before they figure us all out and change their terminology, but we'll have them snockered for a year or two.

We have two bouncy things. One is an alligator where students will enter through the mouth and exit out of the tail (I find that really funny, for some reason). The other has a couple of slides, a secret pathway, and two basketball-type goals. I don't envy the person who has to be in that thing to provide supervision. (I cannot tolerate constant movement without getting sick wh…

I'm Getting Lazy About Self-Care...and It Shows

This is one of those times when I am slacking on my self-care, and it is starting to take its toll on me. I can tell. Some of this self-care issue is schedule-based. It's been a busy couple of weeks. The complicated schedule continues with special events, lots of appointments, and things that need to be done NOW to accommodate the schedules of others. Most of this will be over by Thursday, but not all of it. I need to take time to do what I know needs to be done, and I will start out on a healthier path of care of self and others.

One of the things that I am striving to do in my quest back to self-care is making music just for me.

That isn't enough, though.

I have a day off on Friday which will include a visit to the car dealer for a recall repair. I'm a bit nervous about that because the lady who scheduled it said that they wouldn't let me just wait in the lobby, but would have to take me somewhere else. I'm not sure why that is, but I guess I will get into the van a…

Music Therapy Mailings - I Really Love This Subscription!

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I received a package in the mail yesterday from Music Therapy Mailings. This is something that I treat myself to - my subscription to this service. It is always fun to see what is included in my envelope from Iowa - it changes every month so it is always new. There's a bit of anticipation involved, and the things included in my envelope usually spark some creativity in my therapeutic music experience (TME) process.

This month, the envelope included rainbow highlighters, an owl-themed storybook with cards to work on number and color recognition (with the story), some Easter egg stickers, a sign, and a convenient file to keep all the cards in. I already have plans for the book and the number/color recognition TME idea. For my groups, I will have to make larger visual aids, but that is easily done. 

I like getting these things and ideas in the mail. As I was driving home yesterday, I thought, "Ooh, I should be getting my envelope soon," and then the letter carrier knocked on …

...and Other Duties as Assigned

This week is one of those weeks where most of my attention is centered on something other than my role as music therapist. At the bottom of the job description that I was given 22 years ago, there was a phrase "and other duties as assigned." That one little phrase leads me into doing things that aren't technically my responsibility, but that are something that I can do.

For example.

This week is the special event that we have every year. When I first arrived, it was a daytime prom for our high school students. As our students became more involved on the psychiatric spectrum, we found that a prom was not something that they could handle well. We changed to a party - less formals, more casual dancing and dress. When we switched principals, she decided that we should have a Luau for the entire school, so we did. We now have a new(ish) principal who prefers to delegate (rather than the last principal who micromanaged everything). This year, the person who had coordinated most …

Just A Song Sunday: Music as Part of Ritual

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I am getting ready to go to church for an early service and an Easter celebration. In my role as church music director, I am aware of the role of music in ritual. As a music therapist, that role is not as obvious, but present just the same.

In the book, Music In Therapy by E. Thayer Gaston, Gaston started the book with a chapter on "Man and Music." During the chapter, Gaston discusses the various roles that music plays in the lives of human beings. Starting on page 19, Gaston starts to identify the different ways humans use music.

The two elements that really make me stop on this day - the ones that make me think deeply about being a musician, a human, and a music therapist - are Music and Religion Are Integrally Related and The Potency of Music Is Greatest in the Group (please note, all italics and capitalization are Gaston's, not my own). Before I go to the early Early Easter Service and the Easter Celebration (at a later time), I am going to think through these two thou…

New Look - New Outlook (Updated)

I was introduced to a bunch of new blogger templates this morning, so I thought I would play around with how the blog looks these days. I enjoy the opportunity to change the backgrounds of how things work - it often shakes me up just enough and gets me looking at things a bit differently. Hope you like the changes.

I am off to the tax preparation company to get some things done for the Online Conference for Music Therapy. I am helpless when it comes to things like taxes, so I am going to the good folks at H&R Block to help me figure out what is going on. I get so much anxiety from this situation, mainly because I have NO idea what I am supposed to do.

I am going to shove that anxiety down deep for the moment and just bring it up again when I am in the appointment. I hope my tax preparation person is someone who knows what to do in this situation. I certainly don't. Okay. Time to shove.

I had no revelations about music therapy this week. I did my job as I usually do. We did a vari…

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to Work I Go!

Today is Friday. 

Is anyone else breathing a sigh of relief over this fact? I know I am. It has been a long, strange week, and I am very glad that it is coming to an end. It started with a headbutt and is ending with a series of sinus headaches and worship services, so it's been an up and down kind of week.

I am close to completing one of my financial goals - that of a good cushion just in case. Today is payday, and I was able to put actual surplus money into my savings - I consider everything that is left over after a month's bills to be surplus money. I have been able to put something away every month for the past several months, but this was the most yet. Once that cushion is firm, I will spend the next bit on a brand new mattress.

Today is going to be a work day. I only have one push-in session on Fridays, and the rest of my time is spent in planning and cleaning. I have an instrument hospital full of things to be sanitized and returned to the general instrument population. I…

Thoughtful Thursday: Roles I Play

I am a dabbler in many things. I am a musician, an occasional poet, an artist, a crafter, a writer, a mentor, a knowledge-seeker, a technician, and other things as the mood strikes me. I am always interested in the roles we all take during music therapy sessions simply as a part of our regular routines.

As a music therapist, there are times when I act as leader. There are other times when I am follower, model, supporter, translator, mediator, focus, magnifying glass, teacher, and learner. Sometimes I flit through all of these roles (and more) within a single session time.

Just as a reminder for me later on, on this day (which happens to be my nephew's second birthday), here are the roles that I am taking, both in my personal life and my various professional lives:
Currently I'm... reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman watching Death in Paradise thinking about CMTE pre-approval and course content fussing about getting everything done that needs to be done during this busy Holy Week crav…

New Challenges

Yesterday was behavior management recertification day. It's a day that happens every four months, and it usually contains a quick review of physical interventions to assist in maintaining safety. Yesterday, it was different.

The folks in charge of our training FINALLY realized that when you only review the physical interventions, that's what people remember and they skip over all of the other stuff - the VERY IMPORTANT non-physical interventions. As a result, our usually quick recertification stretched into a much longer time together.

I really didn't mind at all.

We reviewed lots of terminology contained within the system of behavior management. The problem? We haven't used ANY of that terminology in years. In fact, I haven't ever heard any of those terms before. We were penalized for not knowing these terms which I found to be unfair. I was in a group with four others - most of whom have been in this system from the beginning - and NONE of us were familiar with term…

Has My Nose Always Been This Crooked?

Ugh. Yesterday's sessions started with a headbutt to the nose which caused my nose to bleed off and on for about 45 minutes, led to tenderness, and the start of some bruising. It also led to worker's compensation forms, questioning from my dad, and lots of compulsive looks in mirrors to stare at my nose.

The question that continues to plague me is, "Has my nose ALWAYS curved to the left like that?"

Do we ever really talk about the marks that clients can make on us? I work with kids who have failed in every other education setting that they've been in. They tend to strike with hands, fists, and heads before thinking. They seem to have no awareness of what their actions do to others. Some of them do this out of a need for survival - they were taught that hurting others was the way to get something for you that meant that you didn't have to do something that scared you. Some of them do this because they can - that's the situation with the client yesterday.

I do…

Splurging on Music Stuff

Forgive this self-indulgent post, but I am finally in a place where I can afford to do things like purchase guitar, banjo, and ukulele strings without trading that purchase with food to eat during the month. I just bought all the accoutrements necessary to maintain the various instruments that I have available but haven't been able to get because of medical bills and student loan payments. I am currently unencumbered by such debts, so I have a bit to spend.

It's amazing that it doesn't take much to keep up my instruments, but it is difficult to get nothing from nothing. As a result, I have one clarinet reed left, a banjo with only two strings, a flute without an end cap and missing some springs, and a trombone slide that sticks halfway down. Most of those things only required a couple of dollars to fix, and so I am going to fix it right now (while I have the money!).

I am needing to immerse myself in making music. I want to better my functional skills on my accompanying inst…

Just A Song Sunday: Brushing Up on the Functional Skills

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There is always a moment, on these Sundays, when I sit at the keyboard and just stare. I'm never really sure what to write about, so I simply stare for some time.

Then, my mind starts to wander and something eventually occurs to me. Today is no exception. I'm sitting here, letting my mind wander, and all of a sudden I see the Beginning Guitar Superbook sitting on my bookshelf. What could I do with that? Hmmm.

I am a functional guitarist. I can chord with the best of them, change my strum and style, and transpose almost everything that's put in front of me. I am NOT a lead guitarist at all! I have to concentrate so very hard to play melodies on the guitar that it takes up all of my brain power. It's difficult for me to focus on doing therapy when I am trying so hard to put my fingers in the right places on the fingerboard, so I often use my voice for the melody and use the guitar simply as an accompanying instrument.

I play the piano at the early service where I work on Su…

Presentation Proposal Season

I just finished submitting a slew of presentation ideas to the American Music Therapy Association. It will be interesting to see if any of them are accepted for the conference in St. Louis this year. I went through my ideas and selected several for consideration. One of them is quite off the typical, and I hope that it is selected. I've been trying to get something creative into the conference for many years now - I should realize that it is not something that conference session selectors seem to like. If it's not selected, then I know what to include in my own CMTE stuff (if I am approved as a provider - fingers crossed).

I enjoy creating presentations. I enjoy giving presentations, and I like to explore new things to think about as a music therapist.

I told a group of people that I usually spend most of my proposal energy in thinking about what I wish I could access when I go to conferences, and then I propose those topics. I also spend some time reviewing memorable moments fr…

Choices Make For Others' Breathing Emergencies

One of the WONDERFUL (tongue firmly in cheek, here - lots of sarcasm) characteristics about me is that I am strongly affected by smells. There isn't a real list that I can make of which smells will affect me, but there are many that I know of. Yesterday, I was introduced to a new version of honeysuckle that nearly did me in.

I'm not exactly sure how it came in - I think it was brought into the music therapy room by an observer (who stood and talked, loudly, throughout the entire session she was supposed to be "observing" along with the other three people who came in), but I am not sure. All I know is that I could breathe fine when the session started, but when the "observers" left, there was a cloud of honeysuckle smell that permeated the air.

I started coughing and couldn't stop.

This was the beginning of a process of coughing, gasping, more coughing, more gasping, eventually vomiting, and then collapsing in exhaustion with a tight feeling in my chest and…

Thoughtful Thursday: What is Needed for a Happy Life?

There are lots of things to think about on this early morning. There are tragedies happening all over the world, there are decisions being made about how to respond, there are people with illness, disease, and personal difficulty going on in their part of the world. There are joys as well. There are frisky cats running around at 3am. There are people who are working for change in all areas of life. There are babies being born and friends who are celebrating the lives of loved ones. There are lots of things to think about.

The quotation on my desk is the following:
...very little is needed to make a happy life. - Marcus Aurelius
Wow. That is resonating with me right now. What is actually needed for a happy life?
I have studied Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I have read about attachment and bonding. I have pursued learning in the areas of psychology, cognition, and neurology. I have studied the role of spirituality in the lives of myself and my clients. All of this knowledge hasn't an…

Oh, the Pitfalls and Perils of Professional Dress

There's a long, long post over at Music Therapists Unite about professional dress as pre-internship clinicians. We are all putting our input into the conversation as well. I remember those days as a student - trying to find something that looked remotely neat and professional on my limited budget and with my awkward body shape.

These days, I emphasize the idea (especially with my clients) that bodies need to covered from neck to knee with nothing in between. My workplace went to a uniform, so there is a bit more consistency with my co-workers, but there are still situations where the professionals are not looking all that professional.

This discussion tends to jump up every so often, and it always seems to lead to deep conversations. What is professional dress, anyway?

I've already told you the most important thing, in my estimation. Other than that, I want my professional to be wearing clothing that doesn't distract me from what he or she is saying. I appreciate someone who …