Showing posts from June, 2018

Cake For Breakfast

Today, I am going to have cake for breakfast.

My mother used to allow this every so often and would justify it with pairing the cake with a bit of cheese to make it a "whole protein!" I have lots of doubts about that reasoning, but, I mean... Cake for BREAKFAST! We never argued that it would be better to have something more nutritionally substantial because CAKE FOR BREAKFAST.

I admit that these days, I am the one who decides what to eat for breakfast, and I use the same rationale when I choose to have cake for breakfast. (Thanks, Mom!)

It is time to start my breakfast and my three-day weekend.

Yesterday was fine until the end of the therapy day when my last group of clients came to me from art therapy in a full-on riot! I was able to calm them down using a combination of firm expectations and rhythmic patterning with a chant as well as with repetitive movements coupled with breathing, but it was not a good situation to be in. I got home and went straight to sleep where I had ni…

Thoughtful Thursday: Tragedy and Trauma and Vicarious Trauma

I am struggling right now to make sense out of our world. There are things that are happening that are traumatic. There are things that are wrong. There are things that will ruin us as a whole that are happening because of a very small number of people who presume that we share their ideas. I have a father and several family members who think that the things happening now are the greatest things ever. The rest of us don't talk about these things.

I have been on a news hiatus since the last Presidential election. I find myself either yelling and getting furious at what I hear or I cry about it. There is very little in between, and I just cannot go through that process every day. So, I avoid listening to the news. Right now, though, there is no ignoring what is happening to families in our nation.

I work with children who have been separated from their original families and often from many other family units as well. Sometimes those separations have been warranted - the family was una…


This morning, as I was wondering what to write about, I stumbled upon an NPR article entitled, "'Cutting edge' program for children with autism and ADHD rests on razor-thin evidence." Oh boy. Talk about a headline to suck me into reading the full article!! Talk about autism and programming? I'm there!

I read through the entire article. It concerns a franchise treatment program that purports to "cure" ADHD and autism. The franchise program is called Brain Balance. There is a franchise that is close to the movie theater near my parents' home - I noticed it last December when we went to see The Last Jedi, and the claims made on the windows (the only thing that was available to see) were astonishing! Curing autism? Hmm.

Just so you know, I personally don't think that autism is something that needs to be cured. I think that persons with autism deserve to be celebrated the way that they are, but the world isn't ready to shift for them yet.

So, the ar…

Oh Crud, It's TME Tuesday

Usually, Tuesdays are my easiest post days. I simply pull out something from my TME file and copy it into the post and, voila! I am finished. During summer, however, I am all off my regular schedule due to changes in my work schedules and the abundance of sunshine and all the darn pollen out there, so I get a bit discombobulated when it comes to having my plans finished up.

I think I may take a bit of a TME Tuesday hiatus this summer - I will try to focus on things like writing TMEs or coming up with ideas - or, I may just do TMEs, who knows, but since it has been a bit of a surprise to me that Tuesday comes around every week, it seems for the best.

Of course, that means generating material for these "not necessarily TME Tuesdays." This may be more difficult than I originally thought.

So, since I've made this decision this morning, I guess I'll go with it.

Today's topic? Hmmm.

I firmly believe that every music therapist who works with clients should have a bag of tric…

This Is Not Going At All Like I Anticipated...

If you've been reading this blog lately, you know that I have recently taken up another task - one that I love - the role of Internship Director. My intern is starting her third week with us this week, and nothing has gone like I planned. Now, from the get-go, let me tell you that none of this has anything to do with the intern. She's been doing exactly what she's been told and seems to be taking things in stride.

Nope. Everything that is going on is on my end. Would you like the rundown?

I was fortunate to get her into the three day behavior management training during her first week. I perused the calendar very carefully and sent her to the place indicated on the training calendar. They had moved the training to a completely different location. The training calendar did not have the correct times listed on it for the training that she was supposed to have. We ended up working several hours extra because the trainers said, and I quote, "Well, we don't really follow …

Decisions Made Through a Trauma-Focused Lens Affect More Than Just One Person

I often wonder, during my reading about things trauma related, what happens when trauma is denied - when people do not remember trauma or like to pretend that it never happened.

A bit of antecedent information. I have a family member who has never had a stable home life. His mother and father were together when he was born, lived together until he was 3, and then split up. They were never married, so he did not go through the "trauma of divorce," but the only thing that was different was the legal aspect of that type of separation - everything else was the same. Neither of his parents is very stable. His father has continuing health issues, a new family (which is breaking up), and he has recently moved away from this family member - to the other side of the world, to be near the little son who is also living on the other side of the world. The family member is staying with his mother who bounces from relationship to relationship, often having more than one at a time. She has …

Friday - Quiet Day for Contemplation

It is Friday again. The wind is blowing from the east (it seems). It is getting really hot out here - one thermometer said 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the other one on my way home said 102 degrees. My allergies are horrible as things are blooming, growing, flourishing, and blowing around. I am on every single medication that I take, and my nose is STILL running, I am hoarse, and I cannot take a full breath without coughing, sneezing, or THE MOST FUN OF ALL doing both at the same time.

Today is a day off from work. That's a good thing. I am sitting here, in pajamas, getting ready for a day of nothing. It is also payday, so I will pay my bills, but that's all I have to do. I can sleep all day, if I want to. I want to do a paint pouring project (my first ever) today, so that's something that I will try as I am in between naps.

On one of my social media posts, I saw a job post for a part-time music therapist at the facility where I did my music therapy internship. I interviewed fo…

Thoughtful Thursday: The Infectious Attitude of Young Music Therapists

For many years, I have had the privilege of being an internship director. I do not get any recognition or recompense at work for this. I do not get any benefits from AMTA or CBMT (other than a couple of CMTEs every year) for this. I rarely get an acknowledgement from the university programs that I work with, and this part of the job complicates my job pretty significantly. Yet, I continue to offer internship positions at my facility. Why? Because I love this part of being a music therapist!

I think that, if you asked Internship Directors out there why we are IDs, most of us would say that being a supervisor at this level of a person's education is just plain old inspiring. Every intern I have ever worked with has taught me so much about the field of music therapy - things that are good and things that I will change in the future! Interns are so very ready to be doing music therapy, that they are eager, inspired, and so enthusiastic that you just cannot avoid the feeling.

I spent the…

Breathing - An Essential Work Task, Don't Ya Know...

I am currently in the throes of my summer situation - asthma.

For some reason, during the summer months, my breathing gets all screwed up. It's a combination of the heat, the humidity (oh, the humidity), the pollen, and it knocks me out! Add in a tendency to avoid the sunshine and WHAM! It all adds up to my summer slump.

I'm having to lug my nebulizer and my additional breathing medications to work with me. It is difficult to do much singing at the moment with my tight lungs and increasingly sore throat. I am on so many medications, at the moment, that I probably cure asthma of bystanders just by walking past them.

This is no fun.

So, what does a busy music therapist do when in the throes of a long-lasting asthma attack? Change things a bit. Sing as long as I can sing (when the coughing starts, it's time to stop singing and focus on breathing). Use the coping skills that we are teaching our students (especially the deep breathing - by focusing, I can usually calm my breathing …

TME Tuesday: Solfege Notation

I'm an old school composer. Most of my compositions are very simple and appear to me when I am not near any of my devices, so I continue to use my solfege for composition. (Interesting, with my spelling suggestions, Microsoft seems to think that "solfege" should really be "golfer." Added solfege to the dictionary to stop that particular recommendation...)

If you are in any place in your music therapy education or career and have no idea what I mean by solfege, I'm curious about how you all learned musical dictation and sight singing in music theory classes. My program used solfege pretty much exclusively for sight singing - we used the moveable "do" and it stuck with me as a convenient system for composition. So, I write all my songs in solfege.

Over the years, this has confused some of my interns. They would go into my card box and pull out a card scan and not see any type of fixed musical notation.
No fixed notation and just these little letters -…

Making Monday Count

Extended School Year (Week Two)

Last week was a week full of humiliating circumstances that I had to go through - people changing things from how they were supposed to be to what they thought they should be without checking with the people who were directly affected (e.g., ME!) I looked wrong in all those circumstances (something I REALLY hate!), but I wasn't. I am hoping that this week will be a bit more settled.

I declare, here and now, that I am going to make this Monday count.

I'm not entirely sure how I am going to do this, but I am going to, by golly!

This week is Centers week. I feel woefully unprepared for everything these days, so I'm not exactly sure what we are going to be doing. I'm thinking that the Orff instruments will play a role. We are working on the theme of "Helping Others." We could use the Orff instruments to play familiar songs with one client helping another to find the correct notes. We can use the boomwhackers and drums to make musical …

Synthesis Sunday: Thinking More About Trauma-Informed Care

Now that I have taken up the role of Internship Director/Supervising Music Therapist again, I am finally getting an opportunity to put my Trauma-Informed Care Trainer Certification to work. (Also, you will be hearing lots and lots about my interns and how they challenge me to think about music therapy from a different perspective than my own!) One of the training topics that the trainers are trying to insist that my interns sit through is "Trauma Sensitive Care." I refused the topic (mainly because I have sat through it and it is pretty much worthless) stating that I would take care of that training myself. In retrospect, I have not told anyone at work that I am a T-IC certified trainer, so that may be some of the insistence on their parts, though I doubt it would make much of a difference if I told them that fact...

I digress...

One of my future interns is very focused on working with persons through a T-IC focus, so I'll be spending time talking to that intern about what…

Something New Saturday - Two New Songs and Two New File Folders!!

This has been a creative week for me. I had two new songs develop during the last 10 minutes before a session, and I just finished two new file folders using some templates and some original art. It's time to cut out and adhere Velcro to all the pieces, and then they'll be ready for use in my clinic.

I am in the process of making my first file for Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) - it is an original song with a letter sound focus and with original art. I had fun drawing pigs for the file, and it has been a learning experience to make the file and get everything ready for uploading to TPT. I am learning how to use other people's clip art (with full attribution, of course) when I am making my files, but I am also making sure that I am using my own art as much as possible. I enjoy drawing and coloring, especially when I get to share that art with my clients. Not many of them realize that I am the artist when they are involved in the actual use of the visual aids, but some do. They …

Flaking Off Friday

The BEST thing about summer is that I get three-day weekends (almost) every weekend! I am starting my first three-day weekend right now - after an hour long Windows update. I laminated some projects and read my Bible (seven Psalms this morning!) while I waited for Microsoft to finish up the things they wanted to change about my computer...

Anyway, all that is finished now, and I am getting started with my morning routine.

I updated my bullet journal, took my daily medications, laminated my projects that were awaiting lamination, watched some fun television (I love The Good Place and Legends of the Monkey King at the moment), and am now contemplating some breakfast.

Today is going to be a day where I do what I want to do and not necessarily what I need to do. There is a big difference between those two (in my mind, at least). At some point during the weekend, I need to upload new music to my iPod, solidify my session strategies for next week (it's CENTERS week), do a load of laundry (…

Thoughtful Thursday: Things Happen the Way They are Supposed To

The first week of our Extended School Year (ESY) is three-fourths of the way finished. We are going into the last work day of the week, and it has been quite the week. There have been lots of new things thrown at me at the last minute, lots of gaps in communication revealed and (hopefully) fixed, and then getting back into the routine of music therapy groups. The heat and humidity is building, and my body is indicating that it really doesn't like either of those two things! I am getting back into the routine of music therapy and being a supervisor again. 

I am exhausted.

One of the things that I am prone to is summer Seasonal Affective Disorder. I tend to become a bit more likely to be depressed during the hot summer months than the cold, dark, winter months. Because of this, I am being as proactive as possible to combat some of my usual tendencies.

This started way back when I was just a little kid. My mom asked me if I wanted to take a walk (I was probably between 18 months and 2 y…

I Was Right...Just Accept It...It Will Be Easier If You Just Assume That I Am Right From Now On!

I had two separate situations happen at work yesterday where people told me I was wrong, and I was able to prove that I was right. The situations themselves aren't all that important, but the situations could have been completely avoided had the other parties involved actually decided to talk to me rather than making their own decisions that affected me.

Now, I hate confrontation, but I will go into full-blown confrontation mode if something happens that is inappropriate or incorrect. I will fact check before I start a confrontation, and I will have documentation to back up my position. I believe in being prepared (Thank you, Girl Scouts!!), and I do not enter any sort of situation without knowing the facts.

Two people tried to convince me, "We've NEVER done this before." I was able to prove that we did do things this way before and this is the way it is supposed to be. They haven't responded yet, but I will be able to provide email proof that they did these things…

TME Tuesday: Musical Coding

WARNING: This is not a complete idea or therapeutic musical experience...yet. I am working on it, so here is a glimpse into my process of putting together a TME from the very beginning...a very good place to start...

Idea sparked by my sister, a second grade (sometimes first grade) teacher who teaches computer coding to her students and from materials sent by Music Therapy Mailings (I think last month, but it may have been the month before that). I have done TMEs like this in the past, but I have never really thought about it in terms of coding before.

Basic ideas of coding - if you are interested in learning more about what coding is, google it! There are TONS of resources and tips and exercises - skill development in the areas of executive skill function and planning to see if things will work the way they need to work. In the music therapy room, we are going to use instruments to indicate directions and will be guiding a human through a predetermined pattern in real life.

Basic ideas …

Back to the Extended School Year

Working in special education, like I do, and working in a residential treatment facility, like I do, means that I have clients available to me throughout the calendar year. When I was first hired, many years ago, the position was advertised as either a nine or twelve month position. My principal at the time did not give me a choice and signed me up for the full year position, covering our Extended School Year (ESY). I didn't argue. Way back then, we had three weeks between school and ESY. I would get REALLY bored with my own company, and I would head back to work with an enthusiastic attitude after going a bit stir crazy at home by myself. I had enough time during those breaks to go home to visit my family and then to work at home. Those days are gone.

Today, I go back to work for our extended school year. Lots of things have changed in the many years that I have been at this particular facility, but one thing remains consistent - our students do much better with the structure of s…

Synthesis Sunday: A Shift from Trauma-Informed Care? Already?

I am somewhat late to the Trauma-Informed Care (T-IC) philosophy, but it is the significant treatment philosophy being pushed at my facility, especially for those of us who are therapists. We are being encouraged to use the tenets of T-IC in every interaction that we have with students. I am immersing myself in strategy development on how to incorporate the ideas and thoughts of T-IC in my music therapy practice.

One of the things that I have learned is that being a practitioner who is aware of T-IC is that there are no "T-IC" music therapy interventions, per se. The idea of T-IC is to interpret responses through a different lens - remembering that exposure to traumatic experiences changes brain development, so sometimes the behaviors are brain-based rather than deliberate. Just like there is no music that you can prescribe for a specific diagnosis, there is no "one-size fits all" when it comes to working with people.

For my population, T-IC has become the baseline f…

The End of Summer Break

I have a weekend left before our Extended School Year (ESY) begins. This is always a bittersweet time for me - the end of time away from work and the beginning of my structured time. It's good and bad. I would love more time off, but I need more structure to my time than I currently give myself. It's a good thing that I don't ever have more than two weeks off at a time, I think!

I am about halfway through my office conversion. The desks are in and are becoming functional, and I have gone through about half of my books and papers. I threw out old intern files and old paperwork from my tenure on the Association Internship Approval Committee - all of that information is in the box of confidential paperwork to be recycled at the UPS store. I have WAY too many books and things left to go through, but I have made progress and will be able to finish up in the next two days.

This time around, the end of summer break means that I get to work with an intern again. I am simultaneously …