TME Tuesday: Thematic Music Lists

Today's post is a bit different from most of my TME Tuesday posts - I'm going to share a strategy rather than a therapeutic music experience (TME). 

I have lots of little strategies that I use in my music therapy practice to make my life and clinical interactions more efficient. Many of these strategies have taken me years and years to figure out. It's amazing, isn't it, that we often stay in the same patterns and routines just because we can't see any other way? When I do find another way, I try to share that with others. This is one such example.

One of the things that I do when I am developing themes is go to Google and type in search strings such as "thanksgiving songs for children" or "songs about giving thanks." 

It is amazing what information is out there on the web, and I take advantage of that fact to make my themes that much more rich and full. All of a sudden, instead of the four songs that I have that relate to the theme, I have loads and loads of options. 

To be most efficient, I compile everything I find into a master list. I am working on a database that will help me organize even further. I make lists of songs that are from all time periods, from all genres, and from all sorts of places. Those lists help me when I am looking for something different to do with a group or an individual. The lists also help me prioritize my music purchasing each month. I can see lots of options and do some research on what I want to spend my money on.

How do I use these lists during sessions?

I usually use them during my strategizing time. I make playlists where every song works with the theme. My iPod has playlists of Enya's music (musician of the month two months ago), Halloween music (because, you know), current client requests, and, at the moment, Thanksgiving. If I get really ambitious, I make other playlists - songs about food, songs about family, songs about being thankful, but I am not usually that ambitious. 

When I am preparing my session strategies, I call up my list. Most of the time, my lists are just that - lists with the song title and the recording artist's name. I listen to songs that attract my attention. I make my playlists, and I figure out specific musical elements that will be important when I am making decisions within the session itself. I may make a note of the tempo, the orchestration, the meter, the familiarity, etc.

During the session itself, I can easily choose a song that will support the theme and may help my clients work towards their therapeutic goals as well. When I am in the session, wondering what music I should (ugh) use with the group of people in front of me, I have options. For example, the clients may be signalling that they need a dance break. All of a sudden, I can turn the iPod playlist to Thanksgiving music, and voila! We have Thanksgiving music that will support a dance break! If we need to cool-down, I can use another playlist selection to regulate our breathing and relax within the music.

The process takes time, but then it saves time as well.

I am currently updating my list and my list procedure. I am envisioning a computer file where I can type in either a theme word or a targeted musical element and yet another list pops up. When I finally figure out what I want, I will spend the time that it will take to put it all together, and then I will be unstoppable!! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!! (Sorry for that. Sometimes I just cannot contain my quest to take over the world. [Extreme silliness right there!]). For the moment, however, I will keep on the way I have been - making my lists, purchasing music, generating my playlists, and using those lists to expand the music therapy experience of my clients and to enrich my session strategies.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Thanks for reading.

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