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Showing posts from August, 2017

Just a Song Sunday: Music for the Sake of Music

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This past week, I've left my iPod at work rather than taking it home with me. As a result, I don't have my usual commuting accompaniment to go with my 52 mile drive. I have had to rely on the one thing that is always somewhere in my car - my CD case.

I always have CDs in my car. I like making CDs in the tradition of the mix tape. I put my favorites on a CD and then enjoy those musical preferences when I need them. Some folks criticize my playlists. There are times when the music changes abruptly and listeners are startled by the change in music elements. It is not uncommon to go from Fanfare for the Common Man to The Locomotion to something from the Muppets in one of my playlists. I choose music based on how I feel about it rather than on whether it makes musical sense to have this song follow that one.

I am a bit more intentional when it comes to making playlists for my clients, by the way. I do spend more time arranging the music for specific purposes with an eye towards the e…

Ramblings - Things that are Helping Me Center Myself Today

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I've got nothing interesting to talk about today, so I am just going to ramble until I feel like I am finished. Sorry for the rambling nature of what is going to happen, but this is the way it will be today...

I want to finish my center signs for the music therapy room today. I am running out of menu laminating pouches, but I have enough for the projects that are stacking up. It is time to re-order pouches, so that's on the to-do list for today.

I tried something new this week with my clients. I used a chip/dip tray to sort note cards (I got the idea from Mrs. King's Music Class - check out her blog for lots of interesting music education workstation ideas). I organized my trays so that I had two different notes on the chip part of the trays. I also organized the trays so that there are Velcro pieces on the edge of each of the chip parts. I only covered two of the six Velcro pieces. Here's what I found about using chip/dip trays with my clients in the music therapy sessi…

Too Much Happening? Perhaps.

I had to take a sick day today.

It is Day FIVE of the new school year, and I am already needing to be at home, dealing with my health, rather than being at work, where I belong! I am absolutely disgusted with myself and with my body right now, sitting here, four hours later than I usually blog because of my body. I am feeling guilty and sick - never a good combination.

Yesterday was a bad day. It started with complete exhaustion and ended up with four out of my six group sessions requiring behavior management assistance that kept clients and others safe. Kids were screaming, staff were stressed, I felt ineffectual - it all added up to a loud, nonproductive day in the music therapy room. It took all the effort I had to go to work yesterday, but I went.

I came home yesterday feeling completely wiped out. I was dwelling a bit more than usual on the bad sessions that I had led, and I was just exhausted. I tried to stay awake until the bedtime that I want to have, but I think I feel asleep be…

What I Do When My Client Says, "No."

There was a question about working with persons with the diagnosis of Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) on one of my social media links, and a friend of mine tagged me to respond. I started to think about the folks that I know who have come in with this label, and how I worked with them. In my years of working with children and adolescents with a variety of concerns, I have found that the way I work with those with the initials ODD as part of their mental and developmental health diagnoses is not that different from how I work with those without those particular letters.

When I start to sit down and think deeply about what I want the therapeutic relationship to look like, I want my clients to make decisions about their own treatment. I want my clients to know that they have a say in what we do, and how we do it. I want to foster a mutual respect for the clients who come to music therapy with me. To that end, I find that there are times when my clients don't want to do what I hav…

TME Tuesday: A TME in Process

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It was the first day of school yesterday, and I had a TME that did not include any music. In my book, a TME that doesn't have any music (but was music-related) is not something that a music therapist is uniquely qualified to do with clients, so I really wanted and needed some music to go with the idea.

I came up with a little song to go with the idea. It was an explanation song - an attempt to let my clients learn about the concept we were working on while supporting their engagement and participation. It's not a bad little song (I usually write songs that fit a specific pattern), and it worked the way I wanted it to during sessions yesterday. I think it will work today as well.

So, the way I do most of my composing is not your regular run of the mill composing practice. I use an index card. Always have, and probably always will use a 4X6 inch index card. I always have them nearby (they are part of my "always" bag necessities), and they are inexpensive so I can use the…

Small Steps

Today is the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Kids come to class and to sessions starting today. I've had to deal with teacher complaints about their schedules (talk to others, not to me!) and assisted in reassigning four out of twelve group assignments (that will cause some consternation today, I am SURE!). In the music therapy room, we are going to do some rhythm work this week.

As I have mentioned before, music therapy tends to be the only place where my students have positive experiences in a music environment. This is usually because my students don't participate easily in general music education as most music educators know how to engage. Add in the fact that most of my students do not understand many of the concepts of music education (seriously, why do we call that a quarter note?) and the additional fact that they have serious behavior responses when they are not engaged, and most music educators just cannot work with my students. So, many of them come to their firs…

Just a Song Sunday: Let There Be Peace On Earth

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I hate it when the world gets enveloped in hatred and fear.

I despair when people take something that means one thing to me and twists it into something that supports hurting others.

I am disturbed when acts that are designed to hurt others and instill fear in more people are not labeled what they clearly are (in my opinion), terrorism, no matter who perpetrates the action. 

I like to think that I would have been one of the people in the clergy line, promoting peace and nonviolent demonstration, but I suspect that I would not have stepped up to participate if invited to do so. That makes me sad.

Full disclosure here. I am a white, Christian, highly educated single woman. I am about as privileged as you can be when it comes to expectations and socioeconomic status (I could always be higher on the SEStatus continuum, but I have enough money to support myself and my eccentric habits, so I really can't complain).

When things happen in the world, like the demonstrations and deaths in Charlo…

One Day Per Week

My school schedule is fully in effect as of this weekend. I no longer have the luxury of three-day weekends that I get during the summer months. I now have only one day per week free from work-related responsibilities (mostly). Even this day occasionally has work-related responsibilities, but I do try to limit them to things that I love or volunteer to do rather than the full-time job things that happen that I am asked to volunteer for (there's an event this evening, as a matter of fact, that I declined because it was on my one day off and would affect my other job tomorrow morning).

I get to plan on not having plans today. That is a good thing for me. I have nothing that I have to do, except for cleaning the kitchen of course, that never goes away. I'm even enough caught up with the laundry that I don't have a full load to do this weekend. That's good.

Saturdays are my self-care day. For me, self-care includes time to sit on my bed and read books for fun. Self-care incl…

Back to Work

I'm not sure what to write about this morning. I had started a post about some good news that we received at work yesterday, but it really wasn't moving me towards writing about music therapy, so I abandoned that post idea. Here's an idea...

I am getting ready for a work day at my job today. This is a luxury that doesn't happen as much as it used to, and I am very thankful for this day dedicated to preparation for students. My plan is to clean out, clean up, and organize my storage closet and my office. To that end, I'll be arriving early to start pulling things out of my spaces. I want to be able to clean the floors before I reorganize, so I plan on taking everything out of the rooms first. Then, I will swiff the floors with my Swiffers and then reload the rooms. I also want to take things that I do not need back to my home. There's no reason to keep things where they are not needed.

I am looking forward to today. I am going to put the iPod into the stereo to pl…

Thoughtful Thursday: Time to Get Going

I woke up this morning around 2 am. I had started another migraine headache, and I guess my brain wanted me to enjoy every moment of the experience. I'm not really surprised by this - I knew another headache was coming, but I never know quite when they will occur. I did eat lots of pepperoni yesterday, so that may have brought on this last migraine a bit faster than usual. I'm actually glad to be going through this one as my previous migraine pattern has been a cluster of 4 headaches and then a break for about 5 years before the next cluster. This is headache #4. 

At about 2:45, I noticed the sparkles, so I downed some of my favorite headache medication before the pain started. At this point, almost 3 hours later, I have twinges of pain, but that's really all. I will need to take some more medication in about an hour to keep on top of the pain because this is the first day of school, and I will NOT take it off as sick time! We have no students today, but we do have lots of …

The Last Day

It is the last day of my Fall Break (which is called the Fall Break because it comes before the Fall semester - the Winter break happens before the Winter quarter - the Spring break happens before the Spring quarter - it's not a perfect system, Janice, but it works for me. Snark!!) It is the last part of an extended break for a very long time.

When I awoke, I was greeted by the news that a high school friend of mine passed away today. She was ill and had many health issues, so the news was not entirely unexpected, but it was not all that expected. This is the latest in a series of unexpected deaths that have occurred this summer. I am happy for her that the illness is over, but it will be strange to see posts on her wall that are not hers.

My plans for today are to do as little as possible. I have to do some carpet cleaning today, so I need to clean. The laundry is finished (except for what I wore yesterday), but there are dishes to do and things to organize and store. I have a lamp…

TME Tuesday: Organizing My TMEs

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Forgive me as I deviate from my usual practice of offering up a therapeutic music experience (TME) on this day. I decided that today was a day to talk about how I organize my thoughts into TMEs, and how I organize those TMEs so I can fill up my sessions with TMEs that work for my clients.

Some background is needed here.

I am an older therapist. I started off my education before the advent of personal, portable computers, so most of the things I did in school were typed or handwritten. (I took a class on how to write using the computer - how's that for being ancient??) I started my TME file in the second semester of my freshman year at college. The course? Observation and Music Therapy.

My professor had us come up with 25 TMEs. We had to choose what size of index card we would use to keep track of our TME file, and then off we went.

My very first TMEs (yes, I still have those cards) were just what you would expect from a beginning MT student. All of the TMEs were typical music games or…

Nearing the End...and the Beginning

I have three days left of my Fall Break before we start the Fall semester at my facility. As I have said before, the beginning of the school year is the time that I tend to make (and keep) most of my New Year's Resolutions. This year is no different.

The beginning of the school year has always been a good time for me. I was one of those kids who loved school and got bored over the summer without the stimulation of classes. I never quit learning, even during the summer, but the difference in routine always affected me. 

My mother, wise woman, never let us watch television during the summer months. We were outside. We would go to Girl Scout camps (day camps and overnights). We always helped out at Vacation Bible School. We made many trips to the library to participate in summer reading programs. We would go to the evening concerts in Memorial Park. We would ride our bikes around and around the cul-de-sac. We traveled the length of our big back yards playing Little House on the Prairie…

Just a Song Sunday: What Makes My Music Music Therapy?

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One of the constant questions that music therapists are challenged to answer usually goes along the lines of this type of conversation:
Well, what do you do?I'm a music therapist.(Several seconds of silence) So, what does a musical therapist do?(Internal sigh about the several different tracks that the conversation can take - should I start with the whole "musical" thing? How much does this person REALLY want to know, etc.) Well, basically, I use music to help my clients move towards their own personal goals.Oh. So, like singing songs to them?Sometimes. Sometimes I help them use music to motivate themselves to complete tasks. Sometimes I use music to help them calm down. Sometimes I encourage them to make their own music to express their emotions. I use music in many different ways to help my clients get to their own goals.Oh, I do that. I listen to my "workout" playlist during my time at the gym. I have a playlist for studying and for cleaning the house.I'm…

Bullet Journaling and the Music Therapist

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So, I started this thing almost a year ago (I think I started last September). I became part of the bullet journaling movement - sorta - kinda - well, not really. I wanted to be part of the bullet journaling movement. I was seduced into trying to make my weekly pages all cutesy and full of stickers, but it became quickly apparent to me that none of those things were me. As a result, my bullet journaling became lots less like the cute journals that are featured on Pinterest and became much more of a monthly collection of appointments and thoughts.

I decided that this way of doing things is fine for me.

Fast forward to early last month.

I got a coupon in the mail for a free teacher planner if I spent at least $20.00 in the store. That really wasn't a problem - I needed some specific headphones to go with my listening station, so I received a new teacher planner.

Now, I don't usually use planners. None of them have ever really given me what I need in order to make my session strategi…

Thoughtful Thursday: What Do You Want in a Music Therapy Blog?

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It's the mid-point of my Fall break, and I am starting to think lots about my new year's resolutions. 

I know, it is not officially the start of a new calendar year, but it is the start of my school year, so I tend to make resolutions more this time of the year than in January. So, as I approach the end of my break, I tend to start making my resolutions.

Some of my resolutions are already set.

I am working on my first ever continuing music therapy education course offered through my own approved provider status. I am going to work on course content later today, moving closer to the end of that goal.

I have already launched my quarterly newsletter. You can sign up on my website on the Contact Us page, if you are interested in getting it every three months.

I do have some other thoughts about resolutions for the 2017-2018 school year.

I want to make this blog something a bit more relevant to the lives of other music therapists out there in the world. I'm not quite sure how to do t…

"Finish Things" Day

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Today is the day I get some things finished. I am declaring it "finish things" day.

I usually spend my vacations thinking that I can always do the next task later in my vacation, and then the vacation ends. At the end of vacation, my list is usually still very long. Not this time around.

Today is "finish things" day.

Here's what I want to finish today.
File Folder Activities - I have a bunch of new things that I've made that need to be laminated. Laminating is not a problem for me, but cutting things out takes time, so I have to really be dedicated to finishing something to get it done. Today I will put all the little pieces onto the laminating film, run them through the laminator, and then start the process of cutting them out. I have the Velcro ready to finish things up - I just have to start."Choose" signs for my clinic - I am starting off a new choice system using my large rolling cabinets and picture icons. This system has to be made. While I am …

TME Tuesday: Lummi Stick

One of the things that I like to do is to use things that I learned a long time ago and then discover the therapeutic benefit contained within. This is a hold-over from being raised by an Occupational Therapist. My sister gets a bit disgruntled every once in a while when she realizes that most of the "fun" we had growing up actually had a therapeutic motivation. Then she laughs and uses the same "fun" things with her second graders.

Lummi stick play is something that we learned in Girl Scouts, and the idea has so many therapeutic elements that it is a natural for a therapeutic music experience (TME). Don't let the fact that it is labeled a "traditional children's game" fool you. You can use these stick patterns and this TME with many different people (with some adaptations, of course. Use your music therapy-trained brain to come up with tweaks that will make this work for your clients). Enjoy!!

By the way, if you are interested, we have a quarterly …