Showing posts from December, 2018

My Music Therapy Resolutions (For AMTA and All of Us Who are Music Therapists!)

'Tis the season for making goals and having good intentions to follow through, making ourselves healthier, wealthier, and wiser, right? I set my goals for each year in August when the new school year begins, so I am about halfway through with my intentions - I'm not doing too badly, but there is always room for improvement (check out this blog post if you want to know more about my intentions for 2018-2019). So, because I am already finished with my self-reflection for this upcoming year, please indulge me as I make some resolutions for our profession - all of us who are music therapists...

(NOTE: These opinions are completely my own and are in no way meant to be interpreted as fact by anyone. They are OPINIONS, and, since this is my blog, I get to spout those opinions as much as I want. I do not receive any financial compensation or benefits or perks based on the things that I write here. If you find that you do not like my opinions, feel free to comment below [note that I mod…

Not a Song Conversion Sunday - Sorry About That!

...but not really all that sorry since I am currently on vacation and am spending my time in my parents' guest room waiting for them to waken. I've been awake for about three hours now, and I have at least another 2 hours before anyone will start to stir. I've started, completed, and uploaded a new file to my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Music Notation Cards, and now I am sitting on the bed, surrounded by my computer, my bullet journal, my ideas book, and my tablet which is playing bullet journaling YouTube videos to keep me company.

My songs are at my house, many hours away, so we will NOT be doing anything song-related this day. If that is why you are here, just go back to last week's post and know that I will be back into my regular routine next week.

This week, however, I am still in vacation mode. I have today and tomorrow without travel plans and then I am traveling back to the full routine of work, being an internship director, seeing my cat, and doing the things …

Figuring Things Out as I Go Along

Yesterday, I took my idea book downstairs to work on it while my Dad and I shared some time together. Dad's idea of sharing time is always accompanied by shows like NCIS: Los Angeles, so we talk a bit, we watch a bit, we argue a bit. I decided to start fleshing out a continuing music therapy education (CMTE) course that I want to start while engaging in conversation, and it went pretty well. I've outlined the first two modules and can start getting the powerpoints started.

I tend to start off with a spark of an idea and then I try to figure out how I will get to my desired outcome as I go along the journey. This is how I approach things like treatment planning as well. For some things, I have an established sequence of events, but for most things, I move along within the process itself, adjusting as needed to move towards the end goal. There are times when I think that having a set protocol to follow regardless of client needs/preferences, etc. would be easier, but I know that …

New Stuff for a New Year!

I went to a teacher supply store yesterday, and spent about $40 on teachery things. This is one of my favorite things to do, and I was able to find some things that I needed or just wanted for my current music therapy classroom. Here's a description of my haul:

Music Basics large poster set: I have several walls in my music therapy room that could be used for incidental music notation and theory learning. This poster set will help with that. It has three pieces that specifically cover staff notation - something I cannot seem to teach my students to understand. I think I may put it on the Word Wall - Velcroed to the wall because my students seem to lose interest in pulling things off the wall when they are Velcroed rather than taped or stapled...

Dry Erase board erasers - These are my favorite dry erasers and they were on sale! I can't find these any place where I am, so I tend to purchase them when I can! I bought three!! Three! I like these because they last me much longer than…

Thoughtful Thursday: Time to Review My Goals

It's that time of year again. The television shows constant weight-loss program advertisements, fitness centers are advertising New Year's specials, and all work-out apparel and equipment are on ridiculous sales!! Many people are thinking about their New Year's resolutions, and I've decided to check up on my New (School) Year resolutions. These are my personal resolutions. I have another list of professional resolutions, but they are pretty boring - continue to develop the internship program, continue to provide music therapy services, etc. Yawn! So, here are my personal resolutions and intentions.

I always start my intentions at the beginning of the new school year because that is my major checkpoint. January is simply the middle of the school year for me, so I've found that resolutions made in January are not nearly as effective for me as the ones that I make in August. So, here is an update on my goals from August. The original text is in black type and the updat…

Vacation? Day One - The Papercrafting Room

Happy Day after Christmas (otherwise known as the second day of Christmas), and I am presented out! We bombarded the three year old with his own stack before the rest of us started. That seemed to be a good strategy as Mr. 3 played with all of his stuff and let the rest of us open things. We did everything except for stockings yesterday, and I got to sleep at a pretty decent hour for me. I now am navigating the early morning hours as a guest in a house where folks sleep in WAY past the time that I get up, and I am reflecting on what it means to be a music therapist on vacation.

Being on vacation is always a bit difficult for me. I used to feel guilty about leaving my clients, and then I realized that I did not play as large a role in their lives as they play in mine, so it was fine for me to be on my way for a couple of weeks during the year. Being away from them on purpose made them notice me a bit more. It also refreshed my creative spirit and therapeutic purpose, so win-win! I now g…

Make-It Monday: Music Therapy Tools

I spent some time this weekend, combing through my clip-art files to make a food-based visual aid for my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It is almost finished, and I am getting ready to release it to the world. (If you are interested, it's called "I Want To Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat.") This will be a multi-functional visual aid chock full of food-related pictures and word options for clients, and I am pretty excited to be able to add it to my files for my clients. It's going to be a bit pricier than my other files because it was so much work, but it will still be reasonable for those of us out there who need inexpensive materials for our clients.

This file will be another one of my generic music therapy tools. In the visual aid, I do offer sheet music and lyric sheets for a specific song, but there are so many different ways you can use food pictures in songs that I am sure that this will become a worn-out visual pretty soon!

That reminds me, I have to make another set of e…

Song Conversion Sunday: Choosing Something to Convert

It is again time for a Song Conversion Sunday post. It's amazing how these things come up every week! (Lame attempt to be funny here!!) Anyway, I thought I would expand on my ideas about why this sort of process is so important to me and to my therapy practice while going through part of my current routine. 

I've been a music therapist for many years at this point. I've spent most of my career working with persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities and chronic psychiatric challenges. I have all sorts of therapeutic music experiences (TME - the name I use for the things that I do with my clients during sessions) that I have collected, written, used, refined, and abandoned over the years. The nature of this job, at least for me, is that I am always looking for more TME ideas, more songs, more ways to connect with my clients during music therapy interactions. I want new music and new ideas, so I often go out looking for them!

I keep an idea book with me almost all the…

I Wasted an Entire Day

Yesterday was a completely wasted day for me. I spent the entire day in bed, doing various tasks, but not really leaving my bed to do much of anything. I did not blog, I did not work on any computer projects, and I spent the entire time engaged in things like laundry folding and goal setting. I did not get to sleep until WAY after my usual time, and I was fretting about a work interaction that is bothering me at the moment. My mind just kept returning to this interaction (which is no where NEAR as concerning as my mind kept insisting it was) and would not turn off. I finally got to the point where I could sleep and slept until 4:30 am. I'm now up and ready to get some work done in my house.

I don't often get to waste a day like that, but when I do, I tend to find my outlook and energy renewed.

I am now looking around my house, thinking about all the things that need to happen before my next big obligation. It can be overwhelming, but it is also important to acknowledge the big p…

The Making of a Theme - Thoughtful Thursday

I am still on the same old song - a theme about themes. Perhaps this is more of a variation on a theme. (Boo-doom-boom, ching!) I know, the puns are lame, but that's what you get the day before Winter Break.

I've spent lots of brain power on thinking about themes this week, all started by a post on one of my social media feeds. I've thought about why I like them, why I don't like them, why I encourage others to both use and not use them, and placing the concept of themes into my clinical model. (If you'd like to read those posts, click here and then here.) Today's post is all about how I organize therapeutic music experiences, materials, and session strategies into thematic programming.

Here's how I put together my themes (when I use them in clinical work)...

My thematic planning starts when I write a therapeutic music experience (TME). When I put a TME down onto paper (in a digital format, but still...), I think about all of the clinical outcomes that are add…

There is a Theme in These Posts About Themes...

I admit, when I get thinking about something, I just do not stop until the thought is thunk. (Interestingly, my spell-check does not object to the word "thunk.") So, I am still stuck on the idea of thematic programming and how music therapists can (and already do) use this programming in their clinical interactions. I thought about this all the way to work yesterday and for the first 20 minutes of my clinical day, and I decided to continue to develop this idea into a second post because I always do better once I've written something down for others to see and think about (AND comment on!! Tell me if you think this is right or completely wrong!!). Here are my thoughts about thematic programming - Day Two (if you are interested in reading my thoughts on day one, here's the link).

First of all, I believe that we all do thematic programming in our music therapy clinics. Oooh, I can hear people saying, "What? I don't do themes on lollipops or monkeys in MY music t…

Thematic Programming - The Good and the Not So Good

There was a comment on one of my media feeds asking music therapists if they ever used themes when planning sessions. Lots of us have responded, stating that we do indeed use themes when planning music therapy clinical interactions. This seemed to be a completely new idea for the original poster, and I find that pretty fascinating.

Let me just say, from the beginning of this post, that I do both thematic and non-thematic programming for my music therapy clients. In the past several months, my reliance on thematic programming has drastically decreased, but that is because most of the music therapy work that is happening is being supervised by me and not led by me. When I was acting as therapist rather than intern supervisor, I relied quite a bit on structure and themes played a large part of that structure.

As with most music therapy ideas, there are benefits and drawbacks to becoming someone who uses themes as part of music therapy interaction. Let's start with the benefits (as I se…


This is not a good sign - I am not interested in blogging this morning. Usually I get out of bed and look forward to writing something to post, but I am not finding things to be interesting right now. This may be a side effect of my recent illness, but it is not something that happens to me regularly, so I am a bit concerned...

I've had one of those strange virus type things that are going around out here. It was not pretty, and I spent two and a half days at home from work last week because I could not get away from the bathroom for more than 5 minutes. I've eaten very little since Tuesday, and now I am trying to head back to work. I have to be there this week, but my stomach and gut are still iffy and I want to be careful not to get sick again. I have things to do this week and next, and I want to be healthy for those things. So, I am working on my self-awareness and self-care.

One of the things that I try to think about often is my "self." This sounds a bit selfish…

Song Conversion Sunday: Finishing Up Lullaby and Lopalong

It has been a long week full of illness in my neck of the woods, so you may have noticed (or maybe not, that's okay) that I haven't posted many of the days this week. I am starting to feel better, though, so I thought it would be good to start off this whole feeling better thing with a Song Conversion Sunday post - something to start the week off right.

Here we go...

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been taking a song that I found in one of my songbooks, one that was randomly selected from one of my many shelves of sheet music books, and a song that was chosen by opening up the book to a random page. The page that I selected has a really simple song on it that I really do not like a whole bunch, but that is the song that I have, so that is the song that I'm using. (If you want to read more, check out these posts - Post One and Post Two.) 

It is now time to figure out how to use this song clinically. The music is not complex at all - good for multiple uses. The lyrics a…

My Current Secret Shame - Bullet Journal Planning Videos

Everyone has at least one weakness, and mine is that I am currently spending WAY TOO MUCH time watching bullet journal planning videos. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I use the bullet journal method for my life - personally and professionally. I enjoy watching what others do with their journals - mine is definitely NOT fancy or pretty. It is functional, and I have FINALLY found a system that works for me, but I still get pulled into the YouTube world of Bullet Journal Plan With Me videos.

These videos all happen the same way. A person with a great manicure focuses the camera onto a wonderful background where the journal is featured. There is almost always a cat who shows up to see what is going on (so far, I only have the cat to contribute - my manicure is never GREAT!). There is a cute theme that is accompanied by a variety of artistic skills - watercoloring, stickers (often designed by the star of the video), shading with fancy pens, and all sorts of things. …

Make It Monday: Music Note Cards

I often make things for my students so that they can choose music-themed familiar games for days when I am not able to sing or make music with them. One of the most functional things that I have made is a deck of music note cards. We use these cards to play notation WAR, Go Fish, Old Maid, Memory/Concentration, Slapjack, and other card games. These are some of the most versatile visual aids that I have, and they are really easy to make!!

My music cards have the following notes (at this time - I'll be adding some more) - sixteenth, eighth, quarter, half, and whole. I currently have four different card decks - they are color coordinated so I can make sure to put entire sets back together - all the purple cards go together, etc. They are a bit smaller than playing card deck size, but that doesn't seem to bother my clients. We use them for many different things.

So, how do I make these?

I go back to my favorite visual aid base of all times - 4X6 inch index cards!!

When you cut these i…

Song Conversion Sunday: Lullaby - Lopalong

It is Sunday again, and that means that I will take a song, randomly chosen from my shelves of sheet music books and single copies of music, to analyze and make into something that has a therapeutic purpose for my music therapy practice. This process jumpstarts my creative interpretation of music in general by making me think about something out there in the world that doesn't have any therapeutic meaning for me to begin with and then finding that meaning through contemplation, study, and thought.

This month's song is from a book called, Musically Speaking. It was written by Roberta Wilson Dolana, published by Word Making Productions located in Salt Lake City, Utah. I can find very little information about the company or the author/composer, so I'm thinking it is a very obscure book.

Now, I got this book from the discard pile at my facility when they disbanded the employee resource library many years ago. I'm sure that I picked it up because it had music in it, but I hav…