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Showing posts from April, 2018

Ah, The Merry Month of May

It is almost time for the most hectic month of my year - May! You may feel that December is your most hectic month, but I have December whittled down to just the basics and a set schedule. For me, the most hectic month of the year is the one coming up in two days - May.

During this upcoming month, I have two immediate family birthdays, my own birthday in there, Mother's Day, graduation, Pentecost, the end of the regular school year, preparation for the extended school year, our Annual Talent Show, the roll-out of a completely new documentation system, and May the Fourth as well!! Everything is moving along, but there is lots to do this month compared to other months. In addition, there will end-of-the-year field trips that will interrupt my schedule and well-laid plans. There will be kids who are making demands that I drop everything and give them what they want for their Talent Show offerings. There will be surprise meetings. Things will happen that will interrupt every single thi…

Synthesis Sunday: Getting Back Into the Routine

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This post was actually ready last week, but I had a migraine so working on the computer was completely out! I am getting myself back into the habit of reading research and making clinical inferences for my own clinical practice.

For this week, I chose an article from the Music Therapy Perspectives, volume 34, number 2, published in 2016. Michael Viega wrote an account describing Hip Hop as a musical genre as well as a culture and a way of thinking about the world. (The full citation is at the beginning of the R-I Worksheet contained in this post.)

The article gave me a glimpse into parts of Hip Hop that I have never really considered or even been aware of during my time working with adolescents. There are significant differences between the terms, hip-hop, Hip Hop, and Hiphop. Read these definitions on page 138.

Here is my worksheet model.

My "Things I Want To Do" List is Getting Longer and Longer

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Something that I am adding to my bullet journal is a page that lists "Things I Want to Do." This page is all about fanciful thinking and dreams - there is nothing about this page that has to be done, but there are many things that I hope will be done at some point!

It is a fun exercise to dream about what could be.

This is one of the things that is on my self-care plan. I spend quite a bit of time imagining possibilities for myself and for others. I want to share my ideas about music therapy with others out there in the world in ways that I am currently and in new ways. I want to travel. I'd like to go places where other music therapists go, but I'd also just like to ramble a bit around this beautiful world.

I want to publish a book - something published by someone other than me.

I want to have the time to finish the things I've started. I want to buy my own house. I want, I want, I want...

Some of these things are things that I can accomplish without much financial o…

It's Always a Journey: Continuously Thinking about Behavior Management

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I work with some challenging clients. Every student who attends my school has been sent to that school program because they have failed in every other school environment. This often means that the group sessions that I have to do are full of kids who have learned to avoid undesirable tasks through aggression, tantrums, self-injurious behaviors, running away, and doing all sorts of things in order to gain attention or leave uncomfortable situations. Classroom groups are determined by people who never have to work directly with the students, and often group members are not very compatible with one another.

At the moment, I have several groups that are complete messes.

Imagine a group of 12 kids, ages 7-21 (yep, you read that right - we have that range of ages in the majority of our classes right now). Staff members are in all sorts of training at the moment, so there are never enough staff members to cover our basic ratios of staff to student interaction. Add to the environment the fact t…

Thougthful Thursday: Always Rushing and Never Getting Anywhere

I spend most of my life going somewhere in a bit of a hurry. Take yesterday, for example. I had a relatively leisurely morning (I woke up at the time I wanted to waken). I had time to make a lunch to take with me to work (which I left at home). I blogged, I moved around my home, and I nuzzled the cat when she sat between me and my computer. I moved myself out of the house at the usual time, but forgot the lunch I had so carefully prepared.

I drove down the road at 75 miles an hour (5 miles over the speed limit - I like being a bit of a rebel, but not too much of one!), and made it to work early. I didn't want to do my documentation, but I remembered that if I didn't get it finished, I would rue that decision on Friday when I have more time for creativity and thinking. So, I did my documentation, set up the room for music therapy sessions, and sat down with my guitar.

I had found an extra 45 minutes of unencumbered time!

Since that almost never happens to me (I tend to over-plan a…

I Wrote Half a Song Yesterday

I found a melody and some accompaniment yesterday before my first session. I wrote everything down (with some basic rhythmic notation) and am trying to figure out what words go with the song.

I absolutely love when I find a song.

It doesn't happen often, so when a song arrives in my brain, I try to capture it as soon as possible. These songs seem to be the songs that my clients remember years and years after I've introduced them. This one is not complete yet - there are no lyrics to go with the melody - but the foundation is there and is sound. 

My documentation was finished early yesterday, so I arranged the music therapy room for my centers and then sat down with the guitar. I started to scat a bit - singing random notes along with a simple guitar accompaniment. I found a phrase that resonated with me. I repeated it several times and then expanded on it. I was able to write it all down as well!

The song will spend some time in my head until I figure out what words will fit the s…

TME Tuesday: My Rhythm Notation Struggles (And How I've Fixed Them!)

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I admit it.

I have a rhythm notation block that I have not really been able to practice out of my repertoire in all my years of taking dictation and writing songs. For some reason, rhythm notation is my downfall when I am composing. I can't tell if what I've written is actually what I am thinking until I hear it again. Unfortunately, if you are interested in writing music, you need to be able to notate rhythm as well as melody lines, harmonic figures, and other elements of music.

For years, I've written music down and then given it to competent musicians to play. I then hear what I've written and have to change things because what they play is not what I want.

The best thing that happened to me was the advent of music notation programs!

Over the years, I've used all sorts of music notation programs, including Cakewalk (which I LOVED!), SheetMusic Notation (another one I LOVED!), and Finale's Printmusic (which I am learning and don't find as intuitive as the oth…

My Body Still Wants Me To Go Slowly

I swear, I do have a Synthesis Sunday post ready to go. I read my article and used my post-it notes to analyze what I had read and was ready to go yesterday morning when it happened - the sparkles in my eyes that signal the beginning of a migraine headache.

These headaches come and go. I tend to have several headaches over about a year's time, and then they go away for about four years. This was (hopefully) the last for the year. They don't seem to have any real cause, and I don't respond well to most of the medications out there for migraines, so I just have to move through them.

I did what I was supposed to do, I got up, took my daily medications, took my Tylenol (the only painkiller that I can take) for the headache, squinted through the sparkles in my visual field to email the preacher and the organist at church, and then went back to bed. I didn't sleep much, but I was able to limit my movement and my exposure to light during the day.

My body seems to do this. I thin…

Creation to Get Me Out of the Grumps

I have a case of the grumps - that mood where there just isn't anything that makes me happy and everything just makes me a bit angry. It's silly things, really - my father's ultra conservative posts on Facebook, the fact that the cat wants to cuddle at times when I do not, all the food that I have in the cabinet that just doesn't sound appetizing to me at all, the list just goes on and on. Nothing is really serious, so I'm thinking this is the product of hormones, and I am very grateful that I have another day off before I have to work around others.

It is time to spend some time in my own company. I don't think I'll get an early morning phone call from my father - my family is going to the memorial service for my second cousin once removed today. I'm not going because I am the only one who doesn't live in California. Grump.

I have to make a choice - do I let the grumps take over my life? Or do I work through them. I choose to work through them. I k…

Bone Tired - That's Me

I am absolutely exhausted.

Yesterday was our super-secret special event, and it went very well, but it left me so completely exhausted that I am now thinking about going back to sleep rather than writing any more of this post. I would really like some food other than what I have in the fridge right now, but I will make due with what I have because it takes less work than trying to get dressed and go into the cold morning to grocery shop.

Not only am I tired, but I am lazy.

My to-do list is growing. I have to find out if the mechanic can replace my headlight this morning - I noticed it was out on Wednesday evening. I am going to see if the chiropractor can fit me in sometime this weekend - my body hurts in all of my joints. I need to vacuum which means corralling some of the mess so I can get from point A to point B with the vacuum without knocking over stacks of stuff. I want to clean out a bit more so I can have some space in the closet, so that's on the list as well - cleaning out …

Thoughtful Thursday: Other Duties As Assigned

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Tomorrow is a scheduled day off. For some reason, we get a random Friday off in April every year. Tomorrow is the day. I have some big plans for tomorrow - sleep in and then try to uncover some carpet so I can vacuum. I also need to grocery shop. Before all that can happen, though, I need to get through the Super-Secret Special Event at school today.

In the job description of all jobs that I've ever had, there is a handy little phrase at the end - "Other duties as assigned." This little phrase is why I am getting ready to dress up in a cape and spend my day regulating bouncy houses and gift bags - it's another duty that's been assigned.

I don't mind duties like this (I do mind the duty of having to go to endless meetings that have nothing to do with my job, but this one isn't bad). I like having the duty of coming up with something creative and to make some fun for my clients. The day will be exhausting, but it will also be a good experience for my clients.

It's Always a Journey: I'm Not Writing Many TMEs These Days

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I was moving from my session area to my office yesterday after a session that had been a bit challenging, and I was thinking about things as I am wont to do. As ideas and thoughts moved through my head, one of them was that I wasn't really spending much time writing new songs and TMEs lately, but my sessions were full of new music.

You see, I've been improvising lots of music lately.

It's interesting that I go through periods of time when music is at my fingertips, seems to flow out of me, and then it completely disappears. Other times, the music in my head simply has to be written down. It rarely happens at the same time. I find this pattern to my creativity within the music very interesting.

On Monday, I used a song that I often use - Put Your Cough and Your Sneeze in Your Sleeve - and improvised several new verses (I should really update my TME file to include the new verses for later...) about other manners and expectations. My clients seemed to enjoy the first verse (we …

TME Tuesday: Strange Things by Randy Newman

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As you know, if you read yesterday's post, we are getting ready for our Super-Secret Special Event to be held on Thursday. This year's theme is super heroes. I got my shirts yesterday, and they look great! Anyway, that sent me searching for a super hero therapeutic music experience (TME), but I haven't written any. I had a wonderful intern who wrote a great song, but since it is her intellectual property, I cannot share it here. Here's another something to use - you could adapt it into a super hero origin song, I guess - the changes that occur when you become "super." I love Randy Newman, so try this out and let me know what you think....


Therapeutic Music Experience Strange Things Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC