Showing posts from November, 2019

Slow Progress is STILL Progress

On my desk, I have a shelf where I put my laptop so I can see things on the screen and so I can have the camera at eye level for filming things that all that stuff. The shelf itself is something I rigged from the extra shelf from a old bookshelf and empty Pringles cans that I will eventually cover with decorative elements or something but that just sit on the desk, keeping the shelf up high.

All that just to tell you that I have a post-it note that is on the far right side of that shelf. The note has (in my sloppy handwriting reserved for writing things quickly) the following statement - "slow progress is STILL progress." I'm not sure where I saw this first, but it really has been a good thought for me in the past several months. I often find myself looking at it when I am sitting in front of the computer, wondering if I will ever find something to write about on my blog or as I am trying to think about my future. (Expect lots of these types of thinking posts this year - …

Thoughtful Thursday: Thinking Thankful Things

Happy Thanksgiving, American Music Therapists! Happy Thursday, everyone else!! Today is a day that is set aside in this country to recognize the process that European settlers and the indigenous peoples of this part of the world took to get to know each other. Whether you think that this situation was right or wrong, it happened, so I choose this day to think about other things that I am thankful for in these times.

I am not a person who enjoys the "traditional" foods of this holiday. I am not a person who gets all excited about spending time with other people. In fact, this Thanksgiving is pretty perfect for me - ham and cheese casserole, pecan pie, lots of alone time, and absolutely NO shopping outside of my home this weekend!! I mourn the loss of focus from a day to rejoice in what we already have and the new focus on getting stuff. I don't want to spend this day trying to fight my way to a "deal."

So, I don't.

I choose to spend this day contemplating thing…

Egad! Taking a Break is HIGHLY Recommended

I have spent quite a bit of time lately just staring at my computer screen. For the past two days, I've moved away from this forum and have been playing with paper, pencils, pens, and planning.

I spent some time thinking through some of the things that I want to accomplish in my life. I sat down with all my books of thoughts and schedules and plans and ideas and then figured out some things to do in the near future. I figured out a way to make what seems like insurmountable tasks into manageable and easy-to-track steps, and I was able to follow through on that idea. I organized some things for this next year, and I settled on my word of the year. I've mind mapped this word into some goal thoughts. I feel so very focused at the moment, and that is something that I haven't experienced for a long time.

Now, I'll admit that some of the same old insecurities will be lingering - that always happens - but I at least have some concrete steps to work on when anxiety rears its ugl…

Nothing At All...Pretty Much All the Time Now

I am spending exorbitant amounts of time these days staring at my blog page, wondering what I am going to write about. Nothing seems to be very interesting to me, and I end up just writing a little bit and then I delete it all. This is the fourth start I've made this morning - everything else has fizzled after two paragraphs.

I'm in a depressive cycle right now, and it has lots to do with compassion fatigue and burnout.

Today I have to confront some co-workers who overstepped their authority last week in a way that complicates my role at my facility, and I'm dwelling on that confrontation. I've agonized over what I want to say all weekend. It's ridiculous that this situation has taken over my brain and body in a way that has affected everything else that I've been doing, but it has. I'm not sure if I'm anxious about this situation or if I'm anxious and my brain has grasped onto this situation to expel that anxiety. It's quite the quandary - you kn…

Synthesis Sunday: Selecting Articles

Welcome to the newly titled "Synthesis Sunday" series here at musictxandme (through I intend to make this a time to focus on something that is woefully lacking in my life - the research to practice connection.

Let me explain.

It is wonderful that we have all these researchers who are investigating all sorts of questions about music, therapy, and humans, but I often feel that those questions are not relevant to what I do with those three things - music, therapy, and humans - on a daily basis. I have difficulty including information from research projects into my interactions in the music therapy clinic. I think this stems from several places...
Research tends to focus on generalities, ESPECIALLY when it comes to specific music, music therapy techniques, or the therapeutic music experiences that are used in the research process. An article may include a list of musical pieces that are used in the process of interacting with clients, but there is often …

Thoughtful Thursday: Not There, and Glad About It

Today will start the American Music Therapy Association's national conference, and for the first time in 25 years, I am not attending. I made this decision back in April when I decided not to submit any presentation proposals and again in July when I decided that I didn't want to spend exorbitant amounts of money to go see the same old people talking about the same old topics - none of which are directly related to me. So, I opted not to go. For the most part, I'm happy about my decision, especially now that I am in recovery from my recent health situation, but I still have some twinges.

Instead of going to conference, I am talking to car repair places, am trying to avoid exhaustion, and am scratching around my incision sites. I am very thankful that I am not trying to do these things while roaming around an unfamiliar city and sleeping in a hotel bed. Even so, friends are posting lots of pictures from the conference area and that makes me take notice and experience those t…

General Thoughts (Well, More Like a Series of Rants) to Get Me Back Into the Groove of Things

Today is Wednesday and is the first day that I go back to work after gall bladder surgery. I'm simultaneously ready and not ready to get back into my music therapy routine, and today's post is going to be dedicated to all the thoughts in my head and trying to express them so I don't end up dwelling on one thing more than any other. I'm not sure that it will work, but here goes nothing.
AMTA National Conference - I am very glad that I decided not to go to conference this year. The benefit of hindsight has me feeling very good about this decision as I now have significant medical expenses to cover in the next couple of months and don't think I would be very happy traveling to Minnesota in my current state of being. I'm tired of hearing the same old things from the same old people, and I'm tired of the constant squabbling that is going on in our association. The most recent brouhaha has led me to leave a social media group completely because of the spoiled atti…

Make-It Monday

I need to make something today.

I am in a bit of a funk about my surgery, heading back to work on Wednesday, negative attitudes on social media, and all sorts of things, so I feel the need to work all that out through creation.

So, now the question comes - what should I make?

I want things to be functional for me as a music therapist and for others as music therapists as well. So, I want something that I can make, replicate, post on my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and use in music therapy sessions with all sorts of clients. I am starting my sing about february subscription edition this week, so perhaps I'll make something to go along with those ideas. Maybe not.

I have two of my mini pizza boxes ready to be decorated and then used for storage. I want to use one of them for my growing stack of decorative sticky notes. I'm not sure how I'll use the other one. I have two more to paint today - blue and green.

I'm toying with several ideas about making things for music therapist…

Systems Sunday: Research-Informed Clinician

As you know, I am an opinionated music therapist who doesn't (really) hold back when it comes to writing this blog, so it should come as little to no surprise to you that I have written quite a bit about being a research-informed (my term) clinician. I often use this forum as a place to think through some of the ideas that I have and to figure out my positions on music therapy relevant topics.

If you are interested in the system that I have developed for myself to help me figure out if the research I read has any direct relevance to my clinical situation, then feel free to read any of the posts listed below. I've been writing about this for about three years now, so there are lots of things to read. Most of this information is what is usually on my blog when I am trying to figure out things - my thought process as I developed this system, but the system does work for me, so it is something that has lasted for the past several years. It works for me.


My Brain and My Body Are Starting to Catch Up

It's a good morning for me. I am feeling pretty rested these days - thanks to enforced time away from my job and a body that is craving healing that just stops at random times. I actually feel a bit of energy today, and that is something that hasn't happened for some time now. I have an appointment for lab work and a post-surgery follow-up this afternoon, so I have something to do later that will keep me going throughout the day.

I have spent several hours doing some brainstorming about various and sundry things lately.

I am narrowing down my word of the year for 2020. In fact, a bit of time with, and I think I have my word. I'm not going to reveal it until closer to the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, but I feel that this word will be an effective prompt for me for this year. Hmm.

I've enjoyed having a word to guide me through this year. I was able to refer to it several times as I was trying new things. I also consider the fact that I took myself to the…

Thoughtful Thursday: So, What Do I Want From Our Researchers?

I have always been someone who sees a problem and then strives to make it less of a problem. I've identified a problem with myself and research, and I'm now stuck in solving mode. If I'm not getting what I need from our publications, then what can I do to get what I need elsewhere??

This is the type of question that will take over my mind for a while, especially now that I have six more days of enforced rest away from my job. I don't have many clinical issues to think about, so my mind is capturing the most intriguing problem and is working away at it.

One of the most frustrating things for me is to identify something that I don't like without having an idea what can fix it. I get very frustrated with other people who just seem to complain and complain but who do not make any effort to make their situations less difficult for themselves. So, I am going to talk a bit more about what I need as a clinician from the research that is available out there.

This is just my br…

So, What Is Relevant in the World of Music Therapy Research?

Yesterday, the most recent issue of Music Therapy Perspectives was stuffed into my mailbox. I got it this morning, and decided to look inside on this blog post. I open up the plastic covering and look at the table of contents. I tend to find MTP a bit more relevant to my life as a clinician than the Journal of Music Therapy, but it still doesn't have too much to do with my role in the world of music therapy.

This edition includes an article about adolescents' experiences of MT in inpatient treatment - this may have some sort of relevance to my students, but probably not - my students have chronic issues rather than need for stabilization in acute care. There is another one about adolescents and identity formation. That may be more relevant and more easily transferred into my particular clinical setting. We will see.

When I get into the mood to read research (and, to be completely honest with you, it doesn't happen often), I have a system! I'll talk about it more on Sunda…

"NTM" TME: Goals and Objectives

I am looking at another eight days of enforced rest as I recuperate from surgery, so I am starting to spend some time looking at various projects that I have sitting around. My pile of things to be laminated and then used in music therapy sessions is getting a bit too much to handle, so it will be time to run laminating sheets through the tools pretty soon. This process always leads me into thinking about how I can use things in music therapy sessions with specific clients.

I do not have formalized goals and objectives in my music therapy clinical space. This is primarily because music therapy is considered an educational enrichment service at my school rather than an IEP-based service. Basically, what this means is that I have general goals for music therapy treatment, but I do not have to work on academic goals only. My general goals are pyschosocial in nature, so almost everything that I do can incorporate those goals, and everything does.

What this means, on a practical sense, is th…

I Think I've Reached My Point - No More Challenges, Please

So, I went to pick up my car from the emergency room parking lot where it had remained since Wednesday evening when I had to go to the emergency room until the day that I could get a taxi and brake without significant amounts of pain. Then, I found this...
Doesn't look like much, does it? This little tear in the back of my car sent me into full hysterics for quite some time. Someone decided to back into my car and not leave any information about insurance and the such. I now have scrapes, a dent, and this tear in the back of my car - one that I am going to be trading in in a couple of weeks, of course! The new car has been ordered and is on its way from its country of origin as we speak.

The police officer who took my report stated that the damage was a crime since the person responsible didn't try to contact me about the incident. We have about five days of security footage to look through - if the cameras even worked - to see if there is any sort of identifying information tha…

An Enforced Break - Not the Best Thing to Happen, But It Does Happen Every So Often


I managed to finish up my very busy day on the 5th of November, just to end up in the hospital for a surprise gallbladder removal and additional bile duct procedure. I didn't plan this AT ALL, but I am thinking that this may be part of my recent fatigue, blah moods, and issues, so I am very grateful to be on the other side of all of this - minus my gallbladder and some gallstone fragments. I spent three days in the hospital and am now at home, trying to figure out what is going to happen next.

My post-procedure instructions are pretty vague - go back to work when work duties no longer cause pain. Hm. That really depends on what duties you are talking about. You can drive when you don't have any pain when braking. Okay. Go to your primary care physician within 5 days - but the doctor won't see me because it is impossible to get an appointment with them, so I'm going to have to go as a walk-in tomorrow because I need some more guidance about what I need to avoid …

"NTM" TME Challenge Check-Up: Not My Best Performance, But...

For a time now, I have been striving to increase my clinical creativity through developing new therapeutic music experiences (TMEs). I have been trying to find some "New to Me" TMEs to bring into my clinical practice to help me increase my repertoire for the benefit of my clients. This practice has been something that I come back to on a regular basis, and it seems to be helping me find some new ideas.

My self-imposed rules are pretty arbitrary, but seem to work. The major rule is that I have to include some sort of therapeutic music experience that is something I haven't done before. It can be a TME written by someone else or it can be something that I've come up with on my own. The proviso that I can use something that someone else came up with has been the best decision I have made for this particular goal. I have tons of materials and resources, and it is fun to bring a new song, written by someone else, into my therapy setting to see what will happen. Many times,…

Back on Track...For Now

This past Saturday was a day that I devoted to thinking and working on my computer on various projects. I alternated between working and sleeping. It was heavenly, and it reminded me that I enjoy making things and working on music therapy theory and techniques. I like the opportunity to sit and think as well as to dream of what could be in the world of music therapy.

I took my Saturday as a day to finish things. I stayed in my pajamas and moved my computer to my back room where I could recline while working, and it worked really well for me. I wish I could do that type of thinking and creating every day, but I cannot. The need for a paycheck compels me to go out into the world, dressed in real clothes, to enter a world of music therapy sessions and school-based therapy situations.

As I move from home mode into work mode, I am getting my session strategies together in my mind. I will lead two group sessions today, and I will watch two other group sessions today. I have a new guitar stude…

Systems Sunday: My Composition/TME Writing Kit

Lo and behold, I have found yet another system to share on this Sunday morning. Today, I'm going to talk about my composition/TME writing kit. This is a box of materials that I keep at work so I can compose while I am doing something else - usually as I am doing formal observations of my interns. I can grab a shoe box of materials to keep near me while I am sitting outside the group.

Pencil - always a pencil. I never compose with a pen - this is probably because I've been told that a good musician always has a pencil, but it is really because I change my mind often, and pencil marks are easier to erase than pen marks. Right?Index cards - 4X6 inches. These are my go-to composition tools. I write the words on one line, skip three lines to write the next stanza, and then I use the blank lines to indicate rhythms, notes, and chord structures. If I mess up horribly, I can always rip up the card and start over, or erase the entire thing.Post-it notes - 3X3 inches. These are…

I Forgot How Much I Like Scaring Adults

I spent Halloween evening ensconced in the back of my little Honda Fit, with my head in the hole in the center of this picture - smack dab between Yoda and the tall doll pictured here. The idea was it was supposed to represent my closet, but I'm not sure that came across really well - I need better lighting and better signage for next year.

Anyway, I devised a way to, first of all, stay completely in my car all evening. I'm a veteran of Trunk or Treat in the small town where I work as a church choir director, and I usually spend the night feeling completely miserable - cold, crabby, in pain because of how I have to put my body, and just not happy at all. I decided this was the year that would end! So, I made a backdrop (notice the scarves from the Dollar Tree - Trunk or Treat accessory AND music therapy prop!). The concept was the closet in the movie ET - you know, the one where ET hides from the mom? So, I put my head into the display - no makeup or anything - just my face, an…

The Day After Halloween

I am of the opinion that the day after Halloween should be a day off from school...always!

This is largely influenced by the fact that I work at a school, so please consider these thoughts from the perspective of someone who has to deal with kids and adults who are working through candy hangovers, extreme exhaustion, and post-holiday let down.

I spent two hours yesterday, (mostly) comfortably ensconced in the back of my car, in my Trunk or Treat set-up. I was a stuffed animal, and it was very successful! I was warm, I was comfortable, and I only freaked out a couple of little kids. I don't mind freaking out the big kids or the adults, but the littles don't need to be scared. If I ever find my phone again in the mess of stuffed animals, poster boards, candy bags, sleeping bag, and various and sundry other materials, I'll post a picture of my set-up (mainly so I can remember what I did and replicate it next year!). My hands and feet were warm, and I think I was the most comfor…