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Showing posts from August, 2019

Fun Things Friday: Visual Aids - Why Do I Make Them?

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Do you ever have moments in your music therapy session when you realize that you really need a visual to communicate something with someone or so they can communicate with you, and you just don't have it at your fingertips? So, you try to remember what that something is for later so you can make it?

I do. ALL THE TIME!

The Speech Pathologist at my facility is always reminding us that all of the devices, books, PECS, and other AAC things that we have around are the voices of our clients, and we have to ensure that they can use their voices. I've run into several problems with this quest, and it is my quest to have visuals (at least) that my clients can use to express their ideas, opinions, likes, dislikes, motivations, and anything else that they want to express, so that is one of the reasons that I enjoy making visual aids for my clinic. I view them as part of the voices of my clients who either cannot, due to physical situations, or do not, due to other situations, use sound to…

Thoughtful Thursday: It's Time, My Friends, to Share Your Life with Others

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You may not know this, but I am one of the founding members of the Online Conference for Music Therapy, Inc. I am also the Continuing Education Coordinator and the Treasurer, so you can rest assured that this is a passion project of mine. I've been involved in this organization since its inception, and I've been part of eight wonderful, interesting, stimulating, and challenging conferences.

The first weekend in February is one of the best and most grueling weekends of my year, but it is so worth it!

I hope that this post will encourage you to do two things. (My business course is teaching me all about persuasive speech to close a deal - here's one of my first tries!) I hope that you will reserve the first full weekend of February (the conference starts on January 31 for us North American-types) to attend the conference. You can earn CMTEs for attending, and you do not have to attend the entire 24-hour conference on that day/night. You get access to recordings for a month aft…

The New JMT is Here, AND It Was Relevant to ME!!!

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Shameful confession here - I do not always read my Journal of Music Therapy when it comes to me in my mailbox. In fact, I don't always even take it out of the plastic covering. Just so you know, it takes three years for that covering to biodegrade, and it does it in lots of splintery flakes - just so you know...

ANYWAY, I picked up the latest JMT from my mailbox on my way out of the house yesterday. I arrived home before the mail carrier visited, so the journal was waiting for me. I tucked it into my bag and took it into work with me. I finished up my documentation with some time to spare (yep, I was there too early...again...sigh), so I thought, "why not open it up and see what's in there?" So I did.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first article actually was relevant to one of my music therapy passions - that of internships. Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes has written about the pre-internship fears of music therapy students. I read the entire article, and I'll …

TME Tuesday - A Bit Different From Before, But Returning to My Feed...

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For many years, I released a therapeutic music experience (TME) every Tuesday. I have many different original songs and adaptations to offer to anyone and everyone who finds my blog. (If you are interested in this, please feel free to search this blog using the terms, "TME Tuesday" and "therapeutic music experiences," to find this series of posts.

I then had a bit of an existential crisis.

I got caught in a philosophical loop that included some advocacy concerns and a bit of disgust with some folks in the community who just expect that they should get my hard work without compensating me for my time and effort. I went around and around and around with thoughts about letting everyone and anyone access my music therapy ideas and original compositions. If someone takes one of my therapeutic music experiences and then uses it, that person may say that what they are doing is "music therapy," even if they do not have the appropriate education, certification, or t…

Highway to the Danger Zone

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I feel perky on this Monday morning.

Over the past week, I've spent more time at home than anyplace else, thanks to a bout of possible kidney stones and definitely colitis. I finally have the diagnosis confirmed and appropriate treatment happening, so I feel pretty good right now. My body hasn't quite wakened, so there is no pain happening and my temperature isn't up too high. It's nice.

I am going to work.

This doesn't seem like much of an announcement, but I think that it will be a good thing to get out and get back into my real life routine again. This, however, is where the danger lies.

I tend to head back too much, too fast.

One of the things that happens when I start on this cycle is that I get this burst of energy and then I go full enthusiasm into whatever is in front of me. I start to get tired, but I am halfway through my something, and I just don't want to stop. So, I press on. Then, I exhaust myself, and I crash. 

I don't want to crash this time becau…

Systems In Music Therapy Sunday - The Two Purposes of Color-Coding

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It is Sunday, so it is time for me to unpack a routine, a procedure, or "the way I do things" into a bit more detail and try to find some sort of justification for why I do what I do the way that I do...

Today, I am going to unpack the way that I organize things using color.

I color-code lots of materials and ideas in my environment. I find that I respond more quickly to materials when I can easily identify their purpose quickly, so color lends itself to quick recognition for both me and most of my clients. The only clients who have difficulty with this type of system are those with various forms of color-blindness, and I have materials that they can access as well. I really do use color as a shortcut, and most of the ways that I use these colors are completely personal and are a trick for me rather than for anyone else.

The first way to use color is to help organize multiple sets of identical visual aids. This is where the color blind consideration comes into play. I find that…

Our Code of Ethics

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It's time for me to spend some time reading the American Music Therapy Association's Code of Ethics. I try to re-read all of the documents that AMTA publishes for its members every time I get ready to welcome a new intern to my internship program. I will welcome #27 in (gulp) nine days, so it is time to get back into the process of thinking like a mentor and like a proud AMTA member.

I find the entire topic of ethics both comforting and challenging. I like that there are some boundaries out there, but I am often uncomfortable when placed into gray situations. The Code of Ethics offers some of those boundaries, but much is left to the individuals involved when it comes to determining whether an ethical dilemma is a violation. That's the part of the entire thing that makes me squirm in my chair a bit.

I have been involved in discussions where things were not completely comfortable but were not an ethical violation. I have had to make a determination that a situation was not a …

Fun Things on a Friday - Cutting Out the Laminated Stuff

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I am stuck at home for another day because of the treatment protocol that I am doing right now for my mystery gut stuff that's going on, so I am on the lookout for things to do to fill the hours. So, today's fun thing to do is to cut out all the things I've laminated lately. Doesn't that sound like fun?

I enjoy making visual aids, but I have never liked laminating them and cutting them out. In my intern days, my internship director gave me all sorts of laminating projects to complete to get some hours for the program. In those days, laminating machines were huge, expensive, and beyond the reach of the private school not-for-profit organization that I volunteered at for my internship. I had to use contact paper.

If you don't know what contact paper is, well, count your blessings! I still have nightmares about the projects that I had to re-do because the contact paper did not perform the way it was supposed to. So...many...wrinkles!

One of the first things that I purcha…

Migration Into a New Bullet Journal

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It is official - I have filled my R2 bullet journal completely and have now moved into my other journals. Yep, that's right, I now have two journals at home that I am using. In this picture, the one on the left, my trusty R2-D2 journal is full of calendars, collections, and the first portion of the CMTE course that I am taking on business practices. Since I was almost finished with the pages in the R2 journal, I moved my calendar and important information pages into the bullet journal pictured below, a Passion Planner. I've never used one of these before, and I'm finding that it helps me keep track of the things that I want to keep track of! I think I may get another one of these once this one fills up. My new journal (upper picture, on the right) is reserved only for CMTE things right now, but who knows what it will morph into as I keep using it??

I enjoy using my journal to keep track of things that I need to do. I also enjoy watching what very creative people do with the…

Ups and Downs

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I'm on my third sick day of this week. On Sunday evening, I started something that I've experienced before, but it didn't go away. Usually, when I get this strange pain in my side, it lasts for about 30 minutes and then goes away. Sometimes it comes back after a couple of hours, lasts for about 30 minutes, and then leaves again. This time, it started and did not stop for about 24 hours. I'm to the point now where I have more time without pain than with it, but the pain is still present, and I don't like it. So, since the pain is coming in waves and is pretty intense, I've decided to experience it here at home rather than in the middle of music therapy sessions.

I feel guilty about this.

I feel guilty that I haven't been to work this week. Now, I know that it is better for my health to be able to go through the treatment that my nurse practitioner has recommended, and that treatment has to be done at home where I can access a bathroom immediately. I can't …

Music Therapy Maker: New Product Release - Anyone Out There Like Dinosaurs??

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I am in a season of creativity surges and lots of big thoughts. This is a great feeling that leads me to lots of new ideas and plans, but plans are taken over by a new surge of thoughts, so there is little to no time to get things finished. I'm trying to combat that pattern by finishing something before starting something new. 

I'm not very good at finishing things.

I'm very good at figuring out things to do, but I don't really like finishing stuff, but I have finished one of my projects - I have a new file ready for my Teachers Pay Teachers store - Dino Rhythms! If you are interested in word patterns, dinosaur names, and a snappy song (if I do say so myself), then check it out!

There is a certain satisfaction that comes with finishing a project. Now that this file is finished, I am going to move to the next creative thing on my list. It is time to write six TMEs to go along with this particular visual aid. So, off I go into the world of therapeutic use of a particular it…

Something Something Sunday - Systems in Music Therapy

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I am ready to make a change to my Sunday posts. I try to do some themed, predictable posts during the week - I used to do a TME Tuesday, I do a Thoughtful Thursday, and Sunday has been all sorts of things - Song Conversion Sunday, Synthesis Sunday, Just a Song Sunday, Supplemental Sunday. It's been all those things at one time or another. It is time for something new.

I like having a theme to write around on these days in the week. It helps me to focus on what I want this blog to be - a place for me to center my writing on music therapy and on what it means to me as a middle-aged woman in the United States. This is the place where I post my opinions (as I am no longer looking at certain social media feeds due to some people who are [in my opinion] acting like trolls out to quash anyone who doesn't see their way as the only way. Themes give me a focus that help me contribute my thoughts in a way that is easy to track through the blog - I use the same labels in the posts, so a pe…

Well, That Was Strange...

Somehow, someone in Ireland viewed yesterday's blog post over 1,000 times. I wonder why.

Anyway, I am sitting at my work desk, waiting for the power to go out. I don't have my flashlight nearby...maybe I should get that ready...the lights have flickered once already, but it was just a flicker...maybe I should light a candle. That would conquer the absolute blackness that is life without electricity (and no candle).

I enjoy wild, stormy days like this one is starting to be. There is something quite humbling about being part of an environment where you cannot control what is happening - you can only react. I think this is how my clients feel most of the time, and not by choice. I am in control of most of my own destiny because of who I am, and when situations like this storm occur, I realize just how much I am able to do because of that identity. My clients do not have the same opportunities as I do - mainly because of their life circumstances and a little bit because of their age…

Oh, No! I Just Remembered That I Didn't Do Anything for My "NTM" TME Challenge

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I have been sitting here, thinking up and rejecting blog post titles, when I realized that I haven't done part of my weekly goals...

I haven't done my purposeful "NTM" TME development this week. Now, I did do some new TMEs with my groups, but I haven't written them down or acknowledged them other than using them with my clients. Way to go, MJ!! First week out!

That's not the only thing that I haven't done this week, but bogging myself down in those types of thoughts will not help me out. I need to realize that I've actually accomplished quite a bit lately, and think about the things that are crossed off the list.

All of my group sessions are finished for the week. I keep my group treatments on Monday through Thursday so I don't have to change my schedule during our summer sessions. We do not work on Fridays, so if I have group sessions on Fridays, then I have to smush (VERY professional terminology, there!) the Friday sessions into a Monday-Thursday …

Thoughtful Thursday: Words Can Hurt and Ethical Considerations

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Have you ever been sitting in a meeting when someone makes an off-hand comment that is directed at you that just pierces your heart and then takes over your brain for the rest of the day?

Ugh. This happens to me quite often, and it happened yesterday. An entire day of good stuff just destroyed by a snarky little comment offered in a public forum with no prior warning to me. The person who made the comment had and has no idea of the devastation that I felt when the comment was made, and I know that my reaction is above the average type of response to such a comment, but that comment increased my anxiety tenfold. I ended up just crawling into bed when I got home, feeling like a complete and total failure (emotional brain takeover - I know that I am not that failure! My rational brain knows better, but emotions tend to take over!). I had my anxiety symptoms, and I worked through them a bit, but they are back this morning.

Lately, I've been avoiding specific social media feeds because o…

I'm Learning So Much About So Many Things Right Now

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This has been a season of learning for me. I am trying to learn about subjects that are pretty unfamiliar to me, and I am setting myself some very concrete goals. This is partly due to a feeling of ennui (isn't that so much more intriguing than the word "boring?" I love the French term!!) and partly due to a need to do more as a music therapist. My personal word for this year is "courage," and my word for the school year is "renewal," so I'm feeling that my current trend towards studying and my quest for self-improvement fits within my understanding of both words.

I have decided to take a year off from presenting at AMTA conferences. This came about because I couldn't think of anything that I wanted to present when it was proposal time, and I was engaging in so many anxious behaviors centered around this time and topic, that I made the decision NOT to propose anything in favor of taking at least a year off. This had nothing to do with costs of …

Tools That Make My Music Therapy Life a Bit Easier

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I am on a constant quest to find ways to work smarter and not harder. I strive to figure out tips, techniques, or tricks that help me organize my materials, make more time for the things that I like the best about being a music therapist, and minimizing the time it takes to do things that I don't like about being a music therapist. As a result, I have collected and created lots of systems to keep myself going. Some of them have worked for me - others have not. So, I keep trying. I keep thinking of new ways to do things, I test them out, and then I evaluate them to see if the data supports the use of those ways (sound familiar to any of you music therapists out there??).

I am often asked how I find ideas for therapeutic music experiences, and my initial response is almost always to laugh because I don't really know. I don't have a system for finding ideas, they just come to me. My systems come into play when it is time to write things down so I can remember those ideas after…