TME Tuesday: Organizing My TMEs

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 experiences that almost everyone who has ever been in a general music class has completed.

We had to determine the following parts of our TMEs (which were not called TMEs at that time, but music therapy applications - I've since gone away from that terminology):
  • Purpose
  • Primary Clientele Type
  • Recommended Group Size
  • Duration
  • Goals - musical, social, other
  • Objectives
  • Materials
  • Process
Can you see where I got many of the ideas for my current TME structure? I can.

Anyway...

Now that I live in a computer age, I have the ability and drive to use digital ways to organize my TME ideas, so I do. I have a database of TMEs that I keep with me at all times. (Seriously, I do - there is a copy of the file on a small jump drive in my wallet at all times!)

My database isn't fancy, but it includes all the information that I want to know about the TME ideas. The categories that I use are as follows:
  • Title of TME
  • Keywords (major goal areas addressed)
  • Author
  • Source (if not author)
I am getting ready to add some more columns. I think I'll go through all of the TMEs and indicate if (and how) the TMEs address different domain areas.

As you can see. many of the ideas that are in my TME file are not my own. This is my compendium, my bag of tricks so to speak. I compile all of my ideas into this file so I can search for ideas and have the information linked to the database so I can finish my strategy planning easily. If I click on a blue hyperlink, the TME indicated pops up. It's wonderful! 

I enjoy this format, especially because I can sort things. I know that adding some more columns will allow me to sort more efficiently. Can you imagine typing in the words "crossing mid-line" and all the TMEs that include that as a goal domain just show up at the top of the file? It gives me shivers.

As I tell folks all the time, this is how I happen to organize my TMEs. It is not the only way. I've found this to be such a time-saving tool that it is one of the things that I encourage others to do. 
Find a way to organize your ideas, techniques, music, TMEs, applications, interventions to make your music therapy life easier. Be efficient. Work smarter, NOT harder!

Find a system, stick with it, make it work for you, and go forward into the world of music therapy.

Brainstorm - I think I will start a new database of all the things that people recommend on Music Therapists Unite for specific things. I might as well take those ideas and add them to my list. I'll develop them into full-fledged TMEs of course, with all the different pieces that I find to be important for my own TME use. 

I think I am going to spend some time with my TME file in the next several weeks. I know I have ideas that need to be added. I have written several theme-related books that include TMEs that may not be in the file - I have to investigate that fact. I also want to update the file with the new columns - offering more options for using the TME file for my strategy sheet. There you go. This may be a good "forever" type of professional goal - update the database...

Happy Tuesday!

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