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Showing posts from June, 2018

Bogged Down in Plans

I am at the beginning of my second summer break. This is the time when my "want-to-do" list just grows and grows and then reality sets in and I realize that there is so much that I just don't want to do...

I get this way at times. I have lots of things that I want to do, but not enough time in the day to do what I have to do in addition to what I want to do. My music therapy list of things I want to do is so very long. It is both heartening and disheartening to look at the spiral notebooks that hold my ideas.

I am going to get something finished this week. I'm not sure what it will be, exactly, but I will finish something. 

Before I get to my "want-to-do" list, I am going to write out my "not-to-do" list. I've found that this list is important so I can get myself going and not get bogged down in my "woulda, coulda, shoulda" goblins. You know the ones - the thoughts that start with "I should be..." or "If only I would...&q…

Thinking About Strategies...Again - It's Always a Journey

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I spent time this week talking about something that I love to talk about - how I do things in the realm of music therapy session strategizing and thinking about all things therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) and client interactions!

Warning - I am a product of my own experiences and often state my opinions here on this blog as statements of strong conviction - things that I want others to know about. I figure that my blog is a good place to do that - if you don't like what I say, you are welcome to comment or to avoid me completely - it's up to you!

I work with interns, and I often find their mindset to be a bit constrained, especially when it comes to therapeutic music experience (TME) development. I think this is partially due to the natural developmental process of any and all music therapy students and partially due to the way they are taught to engage in session planning and TME development. I think there is a better way, and I share it with the folks who come to my presen…

I Won't Bring Myself Down

I am trying really hard to make it to the end of this week. Yesterday, my last group included full frontal nudity - never something fun - and I am completely knackered.

I'm frustrated by so many things right now that I am going to focus on some positives to remind me that there are positive, happy things going on in my world.

I am going to end this contract year with some sick time accrued! Granted, it's not lots of time, only 4.5 hours, but still! For the first time since my my knee injury, I will have sick time carry over into the next contract year! I keep reminding myself that this is a good thing as I drag my exhausted body into work every morning - sick time accrued is good time.

I will have four new team mates when this next break is over. It is a concern when a third of the teaching staff decides to leave, but it is somewhat of a blessing as well. We are really hoping that we have the teachers we need as of a week from Monday, but we don't usually have folks who start…

TME Tuesday: I've Said It Before...

...and I'll say it again.
There is no wrong way or place to find ideas for therapeutic music experiences. There is no WRONG!As part of my break during this summer from sharing TMEs (I'm WAY behind on getting them transcribed, so I'm allowing myself not to share until I get caught up!), I am going over my process for writing TMEs. Today's topic is "Finding Ideas!"

My interns often ask where I come up with my ideas for TMEs. Now, I have the benefit of 25+years of coming up with ideas for working with people - babysitting and working as a camp counselor as well as a lead teacher in day camp after day camp - so coming up with ideas is pretty easy for me. Not everyone has the same experience, so let me just say that everything has the potential to be a music therapy experience - you just need to investigate through the lens of a music therapist.

I look at children's books, television shows, movies, educational materials, curricula, toy stores, the time sucking Pi…

Transition: Student to Professional - Thoughts on Being in an Internship Program

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Welcome to an occasional post theme. I've decided that I will reflect on being part of an internship program on this blog. I will do every little thing I can to ensure that my interns are protected while I still express some of my emotions and feelings about being part of this experience.

I am an internship director (ID). I have been doing this job since 1999, and I have trained many interns at my program. My internship has not ever been completely full (except for from 2007-2010 where I had three years of back-to-back interns), and I have had the luxury of only taking those interns who have interested me. Over the past three years, I have not been an active ID - space constrictions and recovery from an injury really took over my life - my program went inactive for a time, but now the internship program is back up and running, and I am finding my way back into being a supervisor.

It is amazing how much I've forgotten about being a supervisor, including the contagious enthusiasm…

Synthesis Sunday: Nope, Can't Do It

I'm really sorry if you arrived at this blog, looking for something about trauma-informed care today. I cannot do it. Not this week.

There is so much trauma being inflicted on innocent people these days that it seems to permeate every bit of my existence. Being prone to depression during these hot, humid, sunny days of summer, I am having to be more proactive about my moods than usual. I find myself in complete exhaustion all the time these days - some of that due to allergy reactions, some of that because it is difficult to feel motivated, some of that because I seem inherently lazy.

As much as I try, I cannot seem to escape the headlines of separation, trauma, and nasty interactions between people these days. Does it seem to anyone else that we are just turning mean and egocentric? Who cares if we hurt someone else as long as #1 is taken care of?? "I'm right and will always be right. There is no need for facts - my opinions are all that there is! If you disagree, then lea…

I'm So Excited, and I Don't Have to Hide It!!

I finished something this week - something that I've been developing and working on (on and off) for 25 years! It's official, and I can start talking about it right now! So I am!

I am launching an online continuing music therapy education course on July 20th!!

This is my first such course, and I am so excited about it that I can barely sit still. I have been generating course material and modules for the last year, and I finally took the final step towards making this a reality - and it IS! Here's hoping that others will find it interesting.

My first course is called "Composition and Creativity." The launch date is July 20th, and I will post about this course on that day, showing off the new website design and offering this course to the greater music therapy world.

Here's how it works.

Sign up for the course and select the modules that are most relevant to you. Watch the video, complete the demonstration element, submit that element, and do the next module. Compl…

Cake For Breakfast

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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…

What is Autism, Anyway? DISCLAIMER - THIS IS ALL OPINION!

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

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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...

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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

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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

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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!!

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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 …