Showing posts from 2019

Systems in Music Therapy: Session Documentation

There are systems involved in every thing we do as music therapists - even documentation. For me, documentation is a professional responsibility that is not required by my administrators. This translates into several facts that affect how and when I document. First, I can document in the manner and style that fits me the best. This is a good thing. Second, I can set my own requirements and timelines for documentation. This can be a good thing, but can also mean that I am missing something important to notate. Third, if I decide to change documentation formats, I can do so without talking to other people about it.

I have spent some time thinking about the nuts and bolts of documentation. Check out my YouTube channel here to see some of my Music Therapy Morsels about how I do my job and things to consider when setting up documentation strategies and systems.  

For me and for my clients, the most important part of documentation is response to intervention. Most of documentation includes th…

Ethics - a Murky Subject Area

I'm spending some time delving into the subject of ethics this weekend. It's something that interests me, and it is also a subject that can consume my waking (and sleeping) hours as well. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons - one, so I can write about it, and two, so I can teach it to others. The problem with ethics is that once you start thinking about it, you can slide down a slippery slope full of arguments, opinions, and hurt feelings.

Does anyone watch The Good Place? I love this show, though I am not watching the current season due to how I get my television programs. I am behind, so I will not know how everything ends until about a year after everyone else does. This show is not one that you can jump into at any time, so if you are not watching it now, start streaming it from the beginning so you know what is going on. This show has challenged some of my thinking about ethics and ethical behavior, let me tell you!

I enjoy a good ethical dilemma - not to be in the c…

Fun Friday: Beanbags

I've been on a bit of a spending spree lately, buying things like new tote bags and plane tickets and Christmas gifts for family members and a new car and a shirt for me from my favorite blogger's brand-new bookstore and several sets of vinyl beanbags in the shapes of frogs, turtles, and ladybugs! The fruits of my shopping are starting to arrive here at my home, so I am sitting and trying to figure out a couple of things - one, where I will put all this stuff until it goes to its final destination, and two, if there is anything else I need...

(P.S. I already know the answer to the second thing on that list, but it doesn't stop me from wondering...)

This day is one where I do not have to go to work, so I am taking the day to finish up the pesky chores that have stacked up around here. I cleared out the front hallway yesterday to accommodate the annual changing of the furnace filter, so I have things that need to be pit in their places. I am distressed by the state of my compu…

A Little Bit of Advocacy, A Little Bit of Ethics - A Day in the Life of This Music Therapist

This is not going to be a typical Thursday for me. It is a day full of different things, and I am ready for a break and a change.

I will be spending some time in (gulp) less than 5 hours talking to a high school health class about music therapy. I haven't done a career talk before, and the student who invited me asked me to specifically talk about music as a way to help work through stress, so I am getting myself geared up for a discussion as well as some experiential work on that topic. In the midst of all of this, I have to clean up my home because the management company is coming in to change the furnace filters and they will not be able to reach the furnace the way things are now. There we go. After I do my clean-up, the talk, and some grocery shopping, I will be spending the rest of this day working on some ethical thought concerning being an internship director for a course I will be offering later this year.

I don't usually have this sort of opportunity to talk about mus…

I'm About Ready to Bring Out the Videos

In the past two weeks, I've had very few positive sessions at my facility. My students are struggling, our mostly new staff members are struggling, and I am struggling to get anything accomplished. I am feeling like a failure as a therapist because I haven't had a day go by where I wasn't physically assaulted by a client for simply requesting that they remain safe in my therapy space. 

Here's the deal, folks. Music therapy is not always comprised of "happy people making happy sounds." There are times when you have to deal with humans at their worst, and it is not fun. These times, though, are the times when music can be most powerful and the role of the music therapist is the most important.

Sure, any therapist can enjoy their job when everything is going right, but it takes stamina and realism and dedication to stick with a difficult client during a difficult time! (I currently have about 100 clients going through difficult times, so I am feeling like I am VER…

"NTM" TME Challenge: Gunk, Gunk or Mm-Aah or Mm-Ack or Whatever Went the Little Green Frog One Day

I have spent years and years using a couple of sets of vinyl frog beanbags for lots of things - balancing, body part identification, Down By the Banks games, tossing, you name it. Yesterday, though, I came up with a new idea and put it into my TME database.

Some background information. Our new school social worker is doing a program using the Zones of Regulation. This program works so well within my current outlook of what music therapy should be for my clients, that I am trying to use it at least once per month. There are four zones - red, green, yellow, and blue. I happen to have frogs in each of these colors (and others besides), so the frogs and the Zones happen to be an easy match. It was easy to take a familiar children's song (which I know as Gunk Gunk, but others know as different songs) and do some lyric alteration to make it fit the Zones. The group that I tried to do this with yesterday was not having ANY of it, but I think I'll be able to get some others engaged in …

Moving the Post-Its

I spent some time yesterday accomplishing some of the goals that were on my September-October 30 day goal list. They were finished two days after that deadline which is REALLY great for me - I usually just let those deadlines whoosh by me. This is one that I am trying to take very seriously. I started the submission process for one of the courses that I've developed, and I decided to wait until closer to the new year to submit the other one. This is due to the approval process which lasts 365 days. So, I have finished the information and now am waiting to submit at a time that will benefit myself and others most. I feel good about all of this.

I am almost ready to move my post-it flags from the top of the page to the next page - the one reserved for finished tasks. The next set of post-it notes will move to the top of the page so I can see them. Simple little system, but it works for me!

I have also set my next 90 day goals into my planner and my thought process. I feel really silly…

Systems in Music Therapy: A System Doesn't Have to Be Big

I admit that I've been trying to come up with another system that I can write about for this post most of the week. I have hit my biggies - the color-coding, my use of sets of materials, the always bag, so I am left looking around me, wondering what I will write about now. I finally came up with two systems, both of which are things I do without really thinking too much about it all, but that are also very important to me.

Here they are...

30/30 and post-it notes!

Not really all that intriguing, is it??

Let me explain further...

I hate household chores, and my home environment reflects that hatred. In order to do chores, I have to arrange some sort of practice to break up the work into things that I will actually do. So, my 30/30 rule is what helps me out with this entire process. I spend 30 minutes working on a household chore (this afternoon, it will be cleaning the kitchen), and then I spend 30 minutes engaged in a creative or thinking task. My major focus for today is the tasks tha…

It's Really Not All That Hard...

I am currently trying to catch up on my 30-day goals set 30 days ago. I have not accomplished what I wanted to do, but I am making progress. I'm trying to focus on the fact that I am making progress rather than that I have not made as much progress as I would like. It's a difficult mind shift for me, but I am working on it!

I am also going to set up some new 90 day goals. One of the most valuable things that I realized with this first process is that there is cause to keep the pattern going. No one has ever said that to me before, but it makes sense to me to add onto my 30-60-90 day goal process turning my current 60 day goals into my new 30 day goals and moving everything else up by the 30 days that I've already spent. That leaves room to put in some new 90 day goals.

(Wow, that was a long sentence that wasn't really necessary, was it??)

Anyway, I now have some time to work on my next set of goals. I will get the goals that I have not finished yet done by the end of this…

I Want Some Fun, Friday!!

Yesterday was a very bad day. I had to write up eight students for severe behavior incidents, I need to write one more (at least), and I left the job feeling like a failure. After all that, I was doing my bus duty job and one of my co-workers found the arm from my Darth Tater keychain. I didn't even know I had broken it off, and there it was! That was the absolute last straw, and I ended up crying tears of joy and frustration in the hallway in front of five co-workers!

What a day.

I think I am going to spend my planning and preparation time sitting at the piano, transcribing songs that I've used in recent sessions. I want to be writing three therapeutic music experiences every week - getting them into my database and using them as well - but I haven't been writing things down very much. I think I'll take my jumpdrive to the laptop and sit in my big, beautiful music therapy room, and just sit down and compose some music.

My Fridays are predisposed to chores like this becau…

Thoughtful Thursday: Too Many Feels

I am currently full of diverse and challenging emotions - some are my own and others seem to have arrived from other people. I am trying really hard to figure out what to attend to and what to express and what to ignore and what to stuff and what to experience. It is not easy when emotions start to take over.

I have written many different posts about my rational mind and my emotional mind. I seem to be on the brink of an emotional mind takeover, and I am trying to get my rational mind interested in stepping up and remaining in charge of my interactions with the world. It is not easy for me, but my usual systems are made for this type of time, and they help me remain on track.

Come on, you know I'm going to say it! Bullet Journal!! To-Do Lists!! For now, the NOT-To-Do List is essential to my continued rational perspective of my corner of the world!!!

My bullet journal has a copy of my to-do list. I have some self-imposed deadlines that I will not be meeting unless I really spend lots …

Who Inspires You??

A post from NASA on my Twitter feed asked me the question above, and it started me thinking about inspiration and the people who inspire me.

Over the years, I've been inspired by music therapy professors, by co-workers, and by clients. In every situation, my interns inspire me - to be a better therapist for my clients, to be a better mentor for each one of them, and to just be better. As I've matured as a music therapist, I've been less inspired by my original music therapy mentors and more inspired by fellow music therapists.

I'm not sure who I would list as an inspiration these days, but I know this. I am inspired by my music therapy friends who go out there everyday into an uncertain music therapy world to do good things for the people who need music therapy services. I find comfort in knowing that we all have our ups and downs in our music therapy lives and inspiration in the way that my friends keep working for the benefit of their clients and employees.

I am inspire…

"NTM" TME for Fall - Autumn Rondo

It is FINALLY that time of year!! I love it when the hot humidity of our summers turn into the cool, crisp, foggy mornings of Autumn! We currently have overnight temperatures in the 40's (Fahrenheit, by the way) and highs in the 70's. This is weather paradise as far as I am concerned!

Due to this, I am feeling all things Autumn! Now, I do NOT like anything pumpkin, so I am not enjoying the pumpkin spice type of haze that goes over this time of year, but I am using this change in season to develop some "new to me" therapeutic music experiences (AKA "NTM" TMEs!).

We are doing a rondo this week - a simple idea, but one that has morphed into completely different results in the three groups that have done it so far. We've done a body percussion Autumn rondo and an instrumental rondo with word chanting and an Orff soloist. Some of my students have just played - we've never made it into a rondo, but some of them have demonstrated awareness of what a rondo is…

A Successful Weekend

I feel like I had a good weekend - one that was full of self-care and consideration as well as something that has made my immediate plans change. I spent lots of time sleeping on Saturday, and then I indulged in some time with my own energy renewing process - making something, ordering food, watching silly movies, and making something else. I finished one project that I've been working through in my head, and I made significant progress on another project that's been in the works for a long time. I am feeling like I got some things accomplished, and other than my blog topics, I didn't think much about music therapy at all - well, that's not true. I finished up several of the business things that I wanted to get done this month, so I did think about music therapy.

Before I let myself get into the process of thinking about what I haven't prepared for this upcoming week of music therapy interactions, let me bask a bit in what I did do.

I am part of a business challenge,…

Systems Sunday: The Things I Wish I Had Systems For...

Today, I am spending some time thinking about what I want to have systematically organized in my music therapy life. I have lots of music therapy stuff, and I am constantly trying to corral it into some sort of organizational system. I would love to be able to place my hands on everything that I want to see by just looking up a file in my digital world, but I'm not at that point yet.

I have several shelves that are dedicated to one specific type of music therapy tool or the other to help me find materials when I need them. I have a couple of music therapy textbook bookcases. Texts are arranged by topic area so I can easily identify where the general music therapy texts are compared to the technique-specific texts. There is a portion of the shelf dedicated to my copies of the Journal of Music Therapy and another part stores my Music Therapy Perspectives. I also have my copies of the first journal from the National Association for Music Therapy, Music Therapy in that location as well…

Getting Things Checked Off the List

I have recently been through several business coaching courses, some music therapy focused, some not, and the common themes of all of them are future planning and focusing efforts towards getting to that future. These are things that I feel comfortable with in the music therapy world, but not so much in the business world that I am trying to immerse myself in at the moment. (Isn't it interesting that I have such a block when it comes to business and yet do the same exact things in my clinical work - why don't I think of that as business?? It's my business!! I digress - have to get back to the topic at hand...)

I have a vision of what I want to do with this part of my music therapy life, and I know what I need to do to get started, but I am not finding it easy to fit in my big plans with my everyday life, so days like this one are very productive and very few and far between.

I woke up about an hour later than I usually do (go me!), and I sat down to start blogging. It's …

The Myth of "the Perfect Therapist"

Dear Fellow Music Therapists,

I've been inspired to write due to yet another post on one of my social media feeds. This comment was about supervising folks who display personality traits different from our own, and it started me thinking about "the Perfect Therapist."

You know the one. That therapist who is running a business, juggling home responsibilities, presenting at every single conference, looks like he/she is in control of all parts of his/her life, and who makes the rest of us feel like we are wanna-bes. I know many of those types of folks and have been that type of person for others (I know that), but I've also realized that there is no such thing as "the Perfect Therapist."

I think we all have expectations for ourselves that we do not live up to. At least, I know that I have these expectations for myself. When I was a new therapist, I kept hearing about the wonderful things that one peer in particular was doing - she was building a music therapy bu…

Thoughtful Thursday: Opinions

During my 12-hour day yesterday, we received results of an employee survey. This survey was completed by less than half of us, but it asked some interesting questions. We reviewed the results during our faculty meeting yesterday, and it was interesting to see what we all thought. I found that many of my opinions were supported by my fellow co-workers, and there was something reassuring about that.

My father is becoming a rabid political follower. He has never done this before, but his social world has shrunk since retiring, and we think that there is something happening neurologically. He follows all sorts of political blogs and websites and watches specific news programs without fail. He espouses opinion like it is unalterable fact. There is no room for other points of view. He and I no longer talk about politics because of this - my views are SIGNIFICANTLY different than his, and I cannot abide it when opinions are deemed wrong.


This is a familiar rant for me,…

Long Day Ahead...Time to Get Some Work Finished...

I have a twelve hour day at work today. For some reason, my administrators like to schedule long hours after school for training purposes and to get our monitoring finished for the quarter. For me, as a non-IEP based music therapist who has no monitoring, this type of day is simply full of other stuff to do - including catching up with the notes that I haven't finished (yet) and talking to my intern about various and sundry topics - sometimes our talk is about music therapy things, sometimes it's about the time my brother set fire to the bathroom. It has been a long time since I've attended one of these for the entire time. I used to have a part-time job on Wednesday evenings, but we have changed that job to Thursdays to accommodate one of my faithful choristers who has a Wednesday night class. So, I no longer have an excuse to skip out at 5pm. I have to stay until the bitter end...

So, knowing that this is going to be a very long day, I am planning to leave my house later …

"NTM" TME Challenge: TME Tuesday - Rhyming Words

Yesterday was a regular type of day. The kids who never participate didn't participate and the ones who always participate did participate. A couple of the ones that are typically passive actually engaged in our "New to Me" Therapeutic Music Experience which was nice to experience - engagement.

Let me explain.

I have this wonderful little Shareware program called Audacity. I downloaded it from the internet, for free, and it is a great bit of music recording nirvana for me. We started our "NTM" TME with a rhyming card game. Each person got half of a rhyming card set, we used a timer, and we tracked how long it took one person to find his/her matching card. The cards come in puzzle sets, so the person who was searching could either look at the words or the puzzle shape to find the match. This gave me an interesting glimpse into how my clients interpreted the information given to them. Some were not able to match using either method. Once everyone had their matches,…

Lessons Learned - And Learned - And Learned Again

I really should know better than to set myself a creative goal and then publish it for others to see. That's always the time that I get caught up in my own issues and can't get things accomplished, but I do this over and over again! This is a lesson that doesn't stick in my brain for some reason. So, I relearn this lesson and then go out to do the exact same thing again...and again...

I have made some progress on my current Composition File Folder project. I've put together two examples, have filmed almost all that I need to film, and tried to figure out how to take time lapse photos of the process. That last bit didn't work out as well as I would like, so I'm going to try some more photos as I work on the third example (there are six all together!). The actual project is coming along. I am almost to the laminating part! I still need the still photos for my TPT file, but that's the only thing that is keeping me from publishing the entire file. 

Here are some …

Systems in Music Therapy: My Maker Box

It really shouldn't be much of a surprise that I have a box for my making process - making visual aids, that is! At the moment, I have the pieces of my current project (almost ready for Teachers Pay Teachers store release, by the way) in the box, ready to go with all the materials I need to put together the project. I hope to have pictures taken by this afternoon so I can get it ready for release.

My "maker" box for visual aids (I have several different sets of things for different types of projects - I have a "composing" box, for example...) is a recycled small pizza box from my current favorite pizza place. They offer pasta in containers within these small cardboard boxes which seems like a waste to me, except for the fact that these boxes are PERFECT for storing sets of materials for making different things. I am getting ready to set up one box for starting crochet projects - they are the perfect size to fit in my current storage, and the hooks will fit witho…