Showing posts from March, 2019

Song Conversion Sunday: Pon De Replay

It's that time again. Time to go to the iTunes account, set the play controls to Shuffle, and see what comes up to use as a therapeutic music experience. I start up the program and, voila! The song that comes up is Pon De Replay, performed by Rihanna, written by E. Rogers, C. Sturken, A. Brooks, and V. Nobles and on my iTunes account from the album Radio Disney Jams, Volume 8.

Basic Information about the song:
the song is 3 minutes, 36 seconds long.starts with a percussive pattern that forms the foundation for the piece - approximately 98 bpm (according to my new favorite website Get Song BPM - seriously, why haven't I heard about this site before???)there is a primarily vocal timbre to go with the percussion and electronic sounds - chorus of voices support the front singerthe lyrics are primarily concerned with movement and offer some directives for moving in a specific manner, but there doesn't seem to be a set pattern for dancing offeredreleased in 2005was Rihanna's d…

Cultural Considerations: Looking at Small-ish Cultural Climates That Can Make a BIG Difference

I had some thoughts this week about culture in institutional terms.

I've always been interested in small cultures - you know the ones, they happen when you join a club. There are specific rules and expectations that are part of being a club member (some even have fancy handshakes!). If you join another club, those rules and expectations from club #1 may be part of membership in club #2, but there will probably be differences as well. That's the type of thing that I think of as small cultures. There are some folks who use the term "microculture" which I also like.

This is something that I see demonstrated in the school where I work. Each classroom has a completely different cultural climate. This is partly due to the nature of the teacher, partly due to the nature of the Behavioral Health Technicians that support students and the teacher, and partly due to the students in each classroom. There are remarkable and apparent differences when you walk from room to room.

Some …

Fun on a Friday

It's another snow day shortened week at my home. I don't have to leave for work until two hours later than usual, and I get to leave work very early. I am enjoying this routine, and I am hoping I can do it again next spring semester. This is my compromise for having interns and lots of snow days. I take my least clinical day and shorten it to make up for all the extra snow day hours that I have worked this winter. I can't really take an entire week off in a row when I am supposed to be actively supervising music therapy intern volunteers, so I've arranged it so that I can take some time off every week.

That means a bit more time at home on Friday mornings. I want to spend some time today getting back into a creation routine, so I am going to take some time to organize my crafting space and then make something. I also have my town's summer arts center class schedule. I think I may take a class this summer. I just have to settle for one and then pay the fee. So, what …

Thoughtful Thursday: When Emotions Erupt

Draft #4 of this blog post...

I am in a complaining mood, and I am frustrated by all sorts of things - by how my administration negates the work that I do at every opportunity, by drips on the bottom of the oven that smoke furiously when I try to cook, by kids who do not do what is asked of them (my mind goes automatically to ending that phrase with the words - ON PURPOSE), and many other things. I know the reasons behind all this, but that doesn't make it any easier to live through at the moment.

I am trying my best to remember that it is not effective to spew my bad mood over everyone else. I do not have to bring other people down to my level. In fact, I don't want to make others wallow in my bad mood. That is not an appropriate response to the general cranky nature of me at the moment. I am also trying to remember that what I am reacting to is not always the actual situation - I am reacting through a layer of crank that is not a universal is just in my own head.


The Chaos of Conference - Here it Comes!!

I'm going to my regional conference next weekend, so I'm spending lots of time trying to get myself organized. I'm doing three presentations (one of them is a 3-hour Make and Take CMTE), so I have bits and pieces of all sorts of things to coordinate, box up, and keep track of for the 46 mile trip to the conference venue. Two out of the three presentations include creative exploration applications, so I have paper and markers and index cards and file folders and laminating sheets to include...not to mention handouts and samples and all that. Needless to say, my work and crafting desks are covered with bits and pieces of things that I need to keep with me.

I saw a request for conference volunteers, and I really did try to sign up, but my time is going to be full of presenting and preparing for presentations. I'm trying to get over my guilt about not being the most helpful person and recognizing that I am already doing quite a bit for the conference. It is not as easy as I…

Here's to Twenty-Six Years! On to Twenty-Seven!!

Today is my music therapy anniversary. It is the day that I transitioned from the role of intern to the role of music therapist. It is not the day that I became board certified - that happened in November, but it is the day that I officially started writing MT behind my name (instead of MTI!).

I have been a music therapist for twenty-six years now. During that time, I did not have the job title of music therapist for about three of those years, and I have not always been doing only music therapy, but I have identified myself as a music therapist first and foremost for all of that time.

My sister has decided that she is going to retire when she gets to her 30 year anniversary of teaching. She has figured out that she can retire with full benefits at that time and will travel and do things outside of the school where she has taught for her entire career. She has decided that I will retire as well, so I can take advantage of retirement as well. She has 23 years of professional experience, …

Song Conversion Sunday: The Importance of Knowing Music Theory - Tangent

I spent most of the afternoon transcribing a piece of music into a format that my church choir will be able to read and understand this morning. This has led me into thinking about how many times I've had to use the skills that I learned in music theory as part of my roles of music director, music therapist, and composer/songwriter. I don't think there has been a day where I didn't use at least a small part of what I learned in music theory, whether that be dictation, sight singing, or the actual theory lessons. I think I've used my music history information less, but theory forms the basis of all of my active musicking.

This week's adventures in theory included the transcription of the anthem for this morning, but also included analyzing new songs shared by my intern, figuring out my own accompaniment patterns for new songs, and improvising music to support what my clients contributed. All sorts of music and theory as part of my day.

I think that part of my song ana…

Cultural Considerations: All the Different Ways to Define Culture

My thinking has led me into a corner this week - a place where I can't really move forward, only a bit backward once I've fully explored this space. I think that this corner is an important one, so I've been content to just stay here and think and think and think.

I realize that my title states "all" the different ways to define culture - that is my ultimate goal, but right now, I have started to define all the ways...

My current corner is full of the different ways that we define culture and how many different types of cultural experiences we all have in our lives. When I start to think about the cultural experiences that make up the "me" that participates in this world, I find that I have lots of influences, expectations, biases, and exposures to different things that make up the culture of "me." This started me thinking about how far do we go when we consider "culture" when interacting with other people.

First step in this explorati…

Presentation Proposal Season

It is that time of year again - presentation proposal season. Time to start thinking about what my fellow music therapists may want to hear about during conferences and on my website. I tend to coordinate lots of thoughts and proposals when planning for the national conference of the American Music Therapy Association, and those ideas form the basis of the CMTE courses that I offer over on and for all of my other presentation proposals. I am bound and determined to finish up my proposals and send them off this weekend, so I am taking some time to start looking at my archives to see what my brain settles on.

This year, I am attempting something that I haven't done very often. I am thinking about submitting a presentation for a non-music therapy conference. This is the presentation proposal that makes me the most uneasy because I am not exactly sure what to speak about to this group of eclectic clinicians. Being accepted means a trip to California in October tho…

Thoughtful Thursday: Putting My Best Foot Forward

Today is an intern audition and interview at my facility. I have a student coming down to see if we are a potentially good match for her clinical training. I do this. I want potential interns to come to the facility to see what they are getting into before they make a commitment to me and to my clients. I know that it is a financial difficulty for students, and I know that this requirement makes me less of an option to those who cannot visit, but I have to do this. My clients are not the type of clients that people envisage when they think of kids in a special education facility - they are the ones that have not made it in any other special education facility. An intern HAS to see them in order to understand that there are some daily experiences that happen in my school that just don't happen in other schools. Without seeing it, I think that many interns would be very surprised when they arrived to see things that happen on a regular basis.

That's why I insist that applicants c…

The Joy of Improvised Melody

I have a client who is casually musical. Do you have these types of clients? The ones who don't sing with the group, but who burst out with song when in a non-group setting? This client can be led into active musicking in the classroom, in individual sessions, and in relaxed moments. I played around in the classroom the other day when we were waiting for a peer and for a staff member to arrive. I started to sing a simple melody and the client sang it back to me without even seeming to know what was going on. I changed the melody, the client changed the repetition to match my alterations. The client engaged with me outside of the music room and then continued to do that in our individual session yesterday.

We were sitting on the carpet, playing the keyboard, and I started singing something that was somewhat related to our conversation - something about the weather - and the client started singing back to me. What came out was "It's raining tacos." We both stopped, star…

Back In the Saddle Again...

I returned to doing therapy with some of my groups yesterday. I sat down in the therapist place in the room and facilitated group music therapy for about 17 kids. I did one session in the music therapy room and another in a classroom. I was able to musically escort one group of students from the music therapy room to the art therapy room (as I was going to the classroom group) - something I haven't been able to do for a very long time - musically supporting transitions. I sang songs that I haven't used for a long time - TMEs that I developed as an intern and as a young professional - that still work the way they were originally conceived. Only two students all day had difficulties - one pretty intense, the other very mild. I observed the other three groups from a position that is a bit removed from the happenings - it is time to start giving my intern some space - literally and metaphorically. Again, I am heading back into the music therapy clinic as clinician rather than full…

Back to the Morning Routine and Refining the Evening Routine

I am heading back to work this week after a week off for Spring Break. Not much happened this past week - things were all about resting - and now it is time to get back into the morning routine that I started in February...that was interrupted many times in February due to inclement weather days...and that seems to serve me well, so I want to reestablish that particular routine.

Here's the deal. I am an early riser and once I am up, I am ready to get going. There is very little sleeping in or snoozing in my home because my eyes pop open and off I go. I am one of those annoying morning people who just do best in the early morning hours. I tend to wake up about 4am most mornings. Lately, I've been waking up at about 2am no matter when I go to sleep. I would like to get back into the routine of waking up at 4am rather than at 2am. My evening routine tends to have little to no effect on my morning routine - if I go to sleep at midnight, I still wake up at 4am (or 2am) - I am just m…

Song Conversion Sunday: Chorus Resonet - Celtic Wanderers, The Pilgrim's World

I did it again. I went to the iPod to find a song to convert into a therapeutic music experience (TME) and found something not at all like what I was thinking I would find. It's amazing how that can happen, isn't it?

So, this is how this all happens. I go to iTunes, set the controls to shuffle and click the play button. The musical piece that starts up is the one that I use for my Song Conversion Sunday post. I tend to do a little music theory exploration and then lead into my TME development. The last time I did this, I ended up in a totally new place with my thinking. The universe must approve of the path that I am taking because my random song this time around is a song from a culture that is not mine, but I think this one has a bit less difficulty for me because of the type of music - I feel that this one is a bit more genuine and authentic than the last song from iTunes. It still does bring up several questions for me, though.

This week's song is Chorus Resonet as perfo…

Cultural Considerations: A List of Terms and Personal Thoughts

As I keep investigating this idea of culture and what it means to me as a music therapist in my midwestern town with my clients from all over the country, I find myself going in circles. There are so many different things to consider when you start to look at culture, that I think I may need a course in sociology to help me figure things out. Hmm. I may look into a MOOC to see if I can find such a course. I bet I could, and I could get CMTEs because this has a definite application to my work as a board-certified music therapist.

I digress.

As I am thinking and experiencing cultural awareness, I am finding that I really don't know that much about it. I mean, sure, I understand the basic concepts that our culture is shaped by many influences. I know that my experiences are not the same as others who have not had the same influences in their lives as me, but there is so much to consider outside of the idea of basic cultural influences. Here are some of the terms that I am starting to c…