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Showing posts from February, 2019

Stuck in a a a Rut...

How many of you have never experienced the repetition and predictability of a record album with a scratch on it? Actually, don't tell me if you haven't had that particular experience. I think it would just make me feel old. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, back in the olden days, we had these things called "records." After use, they occasionally got scratched and if the scratch changed the grooves on the records, the needle that translated the grooves into sounds would skip grooves or return to one place on the record. If you didn't jog the needle out of the scratch into a complete groove, the same part of the music would repeat over and over again. February feels like a scratched record to me. It always has, ever since I moved to Kansas. I never really felt this way about February when I lived in California, but Kansas and February wear on me in a way that March and Kansas do not.  February is the month where we have the most inclement weather

Being an Observer...Again

I am relegated to being an observer in music therapy these days. My junior intern has taken over full responsibility for her caseload and my senior intern has two weeks left of her time with us. It is my time to observe and be an evaluator rather than a therapist. This switch from being therapist to being a mentor/observer/evaluator is one of the essential roles of supervising music therapist, but it is the most difficult for me. I love being a music therapist - it is what keeps me interested in this profession after 26 years - and being the person in the corner who is always writing things down is not my preferred role. I want to be leading the groups and the individual sessions, but that's not my role at the moment. My role is to watch. Now, do not fret for me, friends. I do not have an intern for April or for June, so I will get to do therapy for a long and extended period of time coming up after Spring Break. I enjoy interns, but I don't actively recruit for my open p

You Know How When You Start Thinking About Something...

...and then you see it EVERYWHERE?? That's happening to me in my developing thoughts about culture and how we use elements of culture in music therapy. All of a sudden, I'm finding situations where I could see others reacting or responding to music or comments or information given. I am having to spend some time sorting through these feelings and the expanded vision, and I haven't even really been all that deep in the topic...yet. This happens quite often. I hear a song that I like, and all of a sudden, it is everywhere - in the Dollar Tree store when I go shopping, on the radio, my clients ask for it over and over again, it is incidental music. You name it. It becomes pervasive. This type of thing is happening to me right now. I have always been interested in culture, especially how it influences musical performance and engagement. I try to be culturally aware - I try not to be someone who tries to take cultural aspects as my own, but I also see a great benefit in

Song Conversion Sunday: Leading Me Into Deep Thoughts About Culture

Last week, my randomly selected song for this next series of Song Conversion Sunday posts was one that sent me into some deep thinking about culture and cultural appropriation and that has challenged me to think a bit differently about the music that I have on my iPod and how I use that music. Now, to start all this off, I am not an expert on culture, cultural appropriation, cultural misappropriation, or anything other than my own experiences. My own cultural experiences are that of middle-class, caucasian America. I am a woman, I prefer the pronouns "she" and "her," and I do not have to spend much time thinking about cultural misappropriation because my cultural background seems to be prevalent in the place where I live. I have never really thought too much about whether the music that I use in sessions is something that I'm taking from another culture and shaping it into something other than what it was intended for originally. I guess this is something to

Choosing How I Use My Time

One of the recurring themes in my life is "Choosing How I Use My Time." I talk to interns about it, I talk to my family about it, and I talk to others about it as well. I recently read a blog post about getting started in a small business while working full-time, and I found some things to think about, especially when it comes to choosing how I use my time. I talk to people all the time about time management, organization tips, and making choices. These topics are based in my own experiences over the years and the systems that I have established for my own work life, personal life, and well-being. I have been a good time manager and a lousy one. My organization systems are always evolving and never exactly what I want them to be, but I continuously strive for the one system to rule them all! I also make LOTS of choices about how I use my time. I choose to do the fun things about being a music therapist (other than leading sessions, of course) at my home. I am often cre

Fun Friday - Here I Go Again...

I am going to try an abbreviated day again today. The plan is that I will take 3 hours off my regular schedule and work from 9-2 today. Last week's plan to do the exact same thing was thwarted by a last minute school cancellation by the superintendent. Today it looks like I'll be able to carry out the plan - there are no school closings in the area, and the temperature is 28 degrees Fahrenheit with a high of 40 as the forecast. There is a chance of afternoon rain showers, but it should only be rain as the temperatures will be above the freezing mark. I'm saying all this because I have a need to reassure myself that I will get to enjoy some time off today. The last time I wrote this down, the superintendent did his thing and changed everything. I think I'll go check the closing list again..."about 0 school listings found." I will now start to decide what my Fun Friday will look like. These are not in any particular order... Breakfast of some sort. Maybe

Thoughtful Thursday: Why I'm a Member of My Professional Organizations

I recently re-upped my membership in the World Federation of Music Therapy . I have to admit that I haven't been a member for a long time, but I decided it was something that I need to do as a music therapist in the world. I am also a certificant of the Certification Board for Music Therapists and a professional member of the American Music Therapy Association as well. My memberships with those last two organizations have been constant (while my membership with the World Federation has not been steady at all) because I find that membership is important. I am of the opinion that if I don't join, then I have no leg to stand on when it comes to changing what these organizations do to represent my profession. Nothing frustrates me more than someone complaining that "AMTA doesn't do enough to..." and then mentioning that they aren't members. (By the way, I feel the same way about voting in our quasi-democratic process of governance - if you don't bother t

One Foot In Front of the Other

It is another snow day here in my neck of the woods. I am getting ready to head out a bit early so I can get to work. We'll see if I am successful or not. I'm not looking forward to going out, but both of my interns have obligations to do, and they don't go to work if I don't go to work on these inclement weather days. MY rule is that I don't do ice. I need to put on my clothes (rather than my pjs), layer on the cold weather gear, and go outside to see how much ice there is out there - that will help me make my decision about whether I chance it today or not. (There is an inch of snow covering about two inches of slush out there right now.) All of my roads are completely covered which means icy conditions and snow covered roads the entire way to work. I hate missing snow days, but I also hate sitting in ditches (which I've done on one of these days) and having thousands of dollars worth of car repairs (which I've done on a day that should have been an inclem

It is Almost Music Therapy Day!

Do you know that the World Federation of Music Therapy has decided that March 1st is International Music Therapy Day ? Isn't that fun? I didn't do much last year for Music Therapy Day, but I'm thinking about doing something this year. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I'll figure out something. I'm going to start with a poster on my bulletin board. After that? Who knows?? Having a day for music therapy advocacy and recognition around the world is a really fun idea. I enjoy the thought that there are music therapy friends in Taiwan who are celebrating this unique profession at the same time that there are music therapy friends in South Africa and Canada and Sweden and here in the states doing their own celebrations. I wonder what we can do to make this more of a recognized day rather than just something that we do as music therapists... I encourage you to head over to the World Federation of Music Therapy site to see what types of things are h

No More Complaining About the Weather - Let's Focus on the World of Music Therapy Instead!

There are times when my mind gets mired into specific trains of thought. This is one of those times, I think, and I am trying really hard to pull myself out of the quicksand that is inclement weather days into something else. I've been writing lots about the "me" side of this blog lately and not so much about the "music" and "therapy" parts. It's easy to do when your schedule gets messed up and all you see is more inclement weather in your future... Time to pull myself up and out. I love being a music therapist. I love working with other music therapists to help them get to the best type of therapist that they can be. I thoroughly enjoy working with music therapy students and helping them figure out how to become music therapists during their internships. I like doing these things both in person and via webinars/recordings. I love starting an idea, offering that idea to other people, and then watching that idea expand in ways I never would ha

Song Conversion Sunday: I Like the iTunes Version, So...

The last time I selected a song, I found it on my iTunes account, and that worked really well for me, so I think I'll do that again. I set my music to shuffle and press play. Here goes - let's see what song comes up... Zen Buddha Indian Meditation Music for Awakening, by the Sea Tranquility Academy, on the 111 Ambient Nature Sounds album. I really like it when fate takes me on paths of exploration and learning. I know very little about Buddhism or meditation, so I will be trying to find out as much information as possible about this particular piece of music as well as why it is titled what it is titled. I don't know that I will be able to do this music any justice whatsoever, but I will make an effort to learn what I can about this piece and the people who present it to the world. A Google search for "Sea Tranquility Academy" reveals that this type of music seems to be what this group does. There is little information about who is behind the music under th

Work Issues - Why?

I am involved in a situation at work that is getting more and more contentious. The last time this happened, I ended up filing a grievance against the (other) person who did the exact same thing to me. The grievance went through, and eventually, the person was fired. I am still there. I am thinking that this situation will also lead to difficulties, and I am so tired of having to defend myself against bullies who have the attitude of "Well, I'm here for the students," with the implication being that I (MJ) am not interested in being available for my students. Yep. I've been working at a small, rural school with absolutely no room for advancement or even recognition for the past 23 years for the GREAT paycheck (tongue firmly in cheek and this is definitely a statement FULL of sarcasm).  I woke up at 1am this morning (due to the cat) and then stressed about the incident that occurred yesterday for about two hours before finally falling back to sleep. The thing that

I Need a Creation Break

During these months (it has been months, hasn't it?) of inclement weather, I've fallen off the creating wagon a bit. It has been some time since I've sat at my craft desk and actually made something, but I am starting to feel the itch to create something again. I think the settling weather is helping with that resurgence. Of course, the weekend forecast includes 3-5 inches of snow, but that offers an opportunity to create without having to go outside for any reason at all. That's a perfect setting for some playing with creativity. I wrote a new song yesterday. It's been a while since I've written something that has not been improvised, so that's an indication that creativity is on the rise. I want to write it down, translate it into a therapeutic music experience, and then make it into a Teachers Pay Teachers file to share with others. Look out for "I'm Being a Bully" in my store pretty soon. I also have a bunch of tasks to do to get m

Wednesday - I Hope It Will Be "Regular"

We had a regular day yesterday. We did our regular schedule and saw the kids that we usually see on Tuesdays. It was a good day. Then I came home, had some dinner, went to sleep, got really bad acid reflux, and then had anxiety dreams all night. I awoke to find a rebuke for something that I was doing that was a careless mistake (my LEAST favorite mistakes) and that I had to fix. Fortunately, I only had to fix my mistake on 12 things (rather than the 95 that I will eventually complete), so that's somewhat positive. I just hate it when I make these types of mistakes - they stick in my brain (if I let them). The good thing is that I've fixed the mistake and will fix the template that I used that was also incorrect. So, my day is not really starting off as "regular," but I still have hope. Today looks like it will be a regular day. The high temperature is forecast to be 53 degrees Fahrenheit and there may be some sunshine involved as well. I should be seeing the stude

What Day Is It?

My beautiful music therapy room - I'm ready to use it! I think it will be a regular day today. I'm saying that with a bit of hesitation since the magic hour of 6am has not arrived yet, but I don't think that we will have to have an inclement weather schedule day today. I'm really hoping that we do not. So, in the past week (as we have had THREE inclement weather days - I attended two of them), my office has become more of a cesspool than usual. There are boxes of things for the store that need to be labeled and repackaged to fit the storage that I have available for me. There are projects to go through. There are things to make, things to toss, things to bring home, and things that just don't need to be there. I have facilitated 17 groups in the past two days - usually I do 10 groups in two days (and my interns do most of those groups these days, so I oversee 10 groups in two days). There is a certain level of exhaustion from being in the spotlight all the tim

Another Inclement Weather Day - Ugh.

I am really getting tired of not having my regular schedule happen. I have interns who are not getting to do their roles because of all of the interruptions. I have tons of documentation to do because I am seeing 64 students daily and have to keep up with notes (which reminds me, I have to do Friday's notes this morning - I'll have to leave extra early to get to work so I can get all the notes done and get ready for today's sessions as well). I haven't been able to do the consultations with my interns that we need to do because there aren't enough hours in the day. I am tired, I am cranky, and I am not at all happy that we have to do this yet again. To add to all of this, I now have to figure out when I can take off 72 hours in the next 4 months without depriving my junior intern of the supervision/consultation and need for oversight that she deserves. I won't get paid for those 72 hours, so I have to take them at some point. I already have plans for 32 hours,

Song Conversion Sunday: Stand By You by Rachel Platten

It is time again for me to dive into a therapeutic music experience development post. If you recall, the last time I actually wrote about music, I selected the song, Stand By You , performed by Rachel Platten, as my new focus. I then took a week off for the Online Conference for Music Therapy, and I am back to my focus. I've been listening to this song this morning, and I find it to be an interesting piece of music. It is not complex - in fact, I think I can replicate most of it just from listening to it a couple of times. The melodies are repetitive, the rhythms are steady, and the harmony (I don't think I wrote about the harmony on the graphic below - I'll change that for next week...) is pretty unremarkable - I, IV, V chords with the occasional vi and ii thrown in for novelty. What I really like about this song is the words. This is a song that is meant to be sung to someone who is going through a rough time. It offers support, and I like that.  This is a song that

Waiting for the Sunshine

I am posting later than usual (by about five hours!) because I did something that I rarely have a chance to do. I lounged around in bed and snuggled with the cat from when I awoke until just about now. I did feed the cat and gave her the medicine that she is taking at the moment, but that was all. I briefly thought about going out shopping, but I have too much stuff already that I don't use or need so why go get more just because I can? Instead, I watched way too many episodes of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon and started thinking about a website redesign. It is time. I want to rearrange things a bit to see if I can get more traffic. Who knows, but this has been a reinforcing week for my social media efforts, so it starts me thinking about stuff. It was nice to wait for the sun to come up this morning. It's been some time since we've had much sunshine around these parts. This sun is not very strong, but it is visible and not covered up by clouds. I will try to e

Snow Day #5 - and I AM Going In!

I am thankful that I was able to stay at home safe and sound yesterday for our fourth snow day. I am also going to go to work today during our fifth snow day because staying at home reminded me how much I do not like surprise days off without plans. I have no idea what I will be doing during the 30 minutes that I have scheduled for each class - I may just chuck it all in and open the store for that time - each class can come in and shop during their music therapy time. I may figure something else out, but I am going in! I have many co-workers who do not understand my preference for working on inclement weather days to staying at home. I'm not exactly sure myself why I would rather be doing things than getting under the covers and hibernating on bad weather days. I've never been off the inclement weather staff list. My biggest motivation is the promise of scheduled time off when I want it later on. Right now, though, I am starting to have some difficulty finding time to sche

Snow Day #4 - and I'm NOT Going In

My view on the way home yesterday. It's thicker now!! I have decided NOT to go to work today because the world is covered with ice and it is not letting up. In my 23 years of living in these February climes, I've spent time in a ditch, I've slid into another car on an ice day (interestingly, NOT a snow day, but it should have been!), and I have only missed four inclement weather days total. One of those days was for a DMV appointment, so I had to take it! Today, however, I have erred on the side of caution and am taking my inclement weather time as it occurs rather than later on. I can handle snow. I even enjoy driving in snow, but ice scares me. This part of the world is encased in snow, and I'm waiting for the sun to rise so I can see if there is any type of sparkle. That's the only good thing about ice - the way the world sparkles when it is covered with glitter. I have already texted my administrators and my interns - just in case they don't see it o


Oh dear, the cat's been on the keyboard again. Well, that seems as good a title as any for this dark morning. As of this moment (4:31 am), my school district is still open for business which means I may get my wish for having a regular Wednesday rather than a snow day Wednesday like the past two weeks. We will see if that comes to pass. I was released at 1:00 yesterday due to the icing conditions. My commute home wasn't too bad, but things were getting a bit slick so I am glad that I had a chance to get home before the winter weather advisory started up. It was nice to be home, but it led to lots of yelling from the cat who didn't seem to understand why I was home and her bowl was empty. Life with cat. While I was at work yesterday, I spent some time looking at my work space and trying to figure out what I want to do with that space. I did my documentation yesterday while my intern was leading her group, so I have some time this morning to work on my office. I have

I Need to Find a Music Therapy Interest

This is the eighth post I've started today and it will be the last. I am not very interested in much of what is going on in my life right now, and I want something to invigorate me. It's not really happening by osmosis, so I need to start searching for something. The problem? I have no idea what something to look for. I do best when I have a challenge with a clear goal in mind and that is the part that is eluding me. I am just coasting through my music therapy life right now. My interns are doing the things that they are supposed to be doing. My clients are responding the way they always respond to music therapy treatment - some positively, some negatively. My professional goals are happening as I spend time on them. I've settled into a boring routine which is not very stimulating, so I feel my brain atrophying. This is not a feeling that I like. I need an interest. I want to find something that will allow me to grow as a music therapist. Maybe I should move int

Time to Get Back Into My Routine for the Morning

Last week was a rough week and my morning routine was just all sorts of interrupted and messed up. I'll spare you the gory details, but it was not a week where finishing my routine was really an option - at all. So, I took it easy on myself and just didn't do the routine - any of it! I tried for the first three days of the week, but the last two were really sick days, so I didn't even try. As a result, I am currently getting ready to re-establish my morning routine. So far, I have gone over my social media accounts, fed and medicated the cat, taken my medication, and now I am sitting down to blog. I have already taken an hour out of my morning to do these things, and I'm feeling behind. I know I'm not behind, but that's the feeling that I have. Time to focus on the routine. Get specific things done and have some time for creative expression as well. I have to put together a bunch of materials for a project that one of my interns is finishing pretty soon, a