Showing posts from March, 2020

Memories of a Simpler Time

Ah, do you remember what it was like back in February when I was complaining about the things that concerned me way back then? Wow. What a difference a month makes when it comes to things to think about and try to work through and well, survive.

Now, this is an attempt to be a bit flippant during times of fear and uncertainty, but it is also a reflection on remembering that no matter how bad you think things may be, they can always get worse! Ugh.

I hope I can remember this the next time I feel like I am beaten down by situations in my life.

I try my best to acknowledge the worst case scenarios and then look for the positive in my life. Sometimes I can do that with ease and other days I struggle to find positives. Today, I am choosing to focus on positive things that are happening in my life because the other parts are too overwhelming to contemplate without sliding into negative thinking patterns.

So, here I go...

I am impressed by the things that I am seeing in the music therapy world ri…

Is This a New Normal?

I am sure that many of you have been glued to your social media feeds and televisions sets like I've been over the past couple of weeks, watching people talking about what is going on and then trying to figure out what we, as music therapists, are going to do to keep going as professionals. My feed has been full of people offering telehealth sessions, educational livestreams, and all sorts of "new" ways to provide music therapy to people who need to have social and physical distancing. We have stepped up to do things differently, and that fact leads me to wonder if this is an evolution in "how we do things." I'm wondering if this is going to be a new "normal" way of being a music therapist. 

There are going to be some clients who will never return to live music therapy sessions. There are going to be clients who will experience music therapy now over the internet who will not be able to be served by music therapists once social distancing is no lon…

Moving Into the World of Digital Music Therapy

If nothing else, this virus has really forced creative thinking onto all of us, especially around the thought "Does music therapy HAVE to be done face-to-face, in the same room?" It interests me that the answer seems to be a qualified "no." 

I think that all of us would prefer to be doing music therapy as usual, but it's amazing what my music therapy colleagues have been presenting through digital platforms and social media. The way these music therapists have overcome the current challenges brought on by social distancing and quarantine is inspiring to me.

I feel a bit inadequate because I am not currently doing these types of things on social media, but I also acknowledge that not everyone is able to everything in the world of music therapy (ask me how I learned THAT particular lesson one day - it's definitely a "duh" moment in my life). So, I am focusing on what I can offer to the music therapy community rather than scrambling to make videos of t…

Getting Into a New Routine...and Announcements!

At Girl Scout Camp, we used to sing a little ditty about Announcements that went a little bit like this...
There are all sorts of verses (many of them very rude because, you know, camp!), but I stuck with one of the most polite ones. Bella-cat included because, you know, CUTENESS! Check out my t-shirt at the end - my dad LOVES punny shirts and found many of them online this year! This is one of them - it felt appropriate for the current climate.

So, I'm starting a few get togethers on social media for the express function of connecting with my music therapy community - Mondays and Tuesdays at 7pm Central Time. This is so we can talk to each other about the things that are happening in our lives with people who understand it the best - each other! Mondays are for anyone - music therapists, students, interns, and Tuesdays are for interns only! There are details on how to register and get more information on the website right there on the home page. Please register so I can send you a…

Okay...Not What I Expected, But Into the Fray Anyway...

Yesterday was our "here's what we're going to do" meeting at work.

We are now considered "essential healthcare workers" and will be continuing business much like usual. There will be some differences - they are trying to figure out how we will be doing planning at home and about a third of our clients will not be attending school services at all in this time frame, but the rest of it is just as usual.

Except - our schedules are being changed by people who have no idea how music therapy works. 

Except - my intern is no longer allowed on the grounds because she is a volunteer.

Except - no can seem to make a decision about ANYTHING that lasts longer than an hour.

Except - I now have to have my work email on my personal phone which is something I REALLY do NOT want to do.

I am trying, just like everyone else that I know right now, to make sense out of what our jobs look like now. I will be doing the same old sort of music therapy that I always do but with less stude…

What I Have Accomplished This Week

I need to celebrate something that is going on in my life, so I am going to write a bit about what I've actually done this week...this VERY long week full of rapidly changing circumstances and full of the unknown.

Oooh, now I am singing the Panic at the Disco version of Into the Unknown from Frozen 2 - my favorite song from the movie - the PatD version, NOT the Idina Menzel version for some reason - but I digress.

This has not been the best spring break for me for many reasons, not the least of which was the global pandemic that is happening around us all. I started my break in a preparation for a medical procedure that did not happen because I seemed to be in a feverish state when it was due to start. I don't think I had a temperature, but the nurses would not listen and I panicked and burst into tears because this meant that all the anxiety and bad dreams and panic attacks have to be rescheduled because I was having a facial flush (NOT a TEMPERATURE!). Then my family members …

Possiblities Abound...Now I Need to Know Which Path to Take

I think my anxiety about all of this is starting to subside a bit. I've been watching what all of you all are doing out there, and there are puppies and kittens on the television, so I am starting to come up with scenarios for myself in my job as a music therapist.

I'm in an interesting spot. I am a school employee who works within a residential treatment program. About 65% of my clients are residents. The remaining 35% are day students who attend the school only. My paycheck comes from the school district, but the facility contributes to that paycheck. So, my job is more complex than that of the typical school-based music therapist. We have two separate groups of clients that will need interaction and treatment. The focus of most of the administrators at my facility are on our residents. The school has to be a secondary focus at this time because our residents are there all the time. While administrators are focused on how to house, supervise, and keep our residents safe, I am…

Thoughtful Thursday: Feeling Twitchy - No Music Making...Yet


I am impressed with the things that my music therapy friends and acquaintances are doing in the face of this new way of living. My feeds are full of recordings and live streams and new thoughts about how to do music therapy where it is needed even when miles and kilometers separate us. It is amazing to see what is being offered out in cyberspace right now.

I am amazed by my fellow professionals.

I'm trying to figure out what my job may look like starting on Monday. Still no information on what I'll actually be doing after break, but I'm starting to think through my possibilities. I'm a bit hampered by distance, technology, and lack of knowledge, but there are still possibilities. Brainstorming also helps me remain sane in this time of uncertainty (again, one of my MAJOR anxiety triggers) - I like coming up with a plan for myself. It's even better when I can come up with seven plans for myself!!

One of the things that I've noticed about myself in this situatio…

The New Reality

My school district has closed for the next week for sure and probably for the rest of the school year - well, at least if the governor has anything to say about it. My administrator sent out a copy of an email "sent to all USD staff" (not sent to my email address) that states that we will be extending our break for another week as we come up with a plan. Our school, being a public, special purpose school housed in a residential treatment facility, will not match any of the decisions made by the superintendent. So, I'm not sure if I'll be trying to do teletherapy with my groups or just stay at home. I don't know if I'll have a salary for the next two months or not. I don't think I'll be paid by the church since the church is closed and I'll not be needed during this time. I only have two more months with that paycheck anyway, but every little bit will help these days.

Uh-oh. I'm starting to spiral. 

Here's what I know for sure.

There is nothin…

Adapting to the Current Situation...Full of the Unknown

I don't know about you, but there is so much happening right now that I can't really seem to keep up. My church job has been canceled for this week, my school is on Spring Break and we haven't heard what's next, my big step outside my comfort zone was canceled, and my medical procedure yesterday was postponed - AFTER I DID ALL THE PREPARATION! I am in a state of feeling sorry for myself and then shame spiraling because I have it pretty good these days and then my "shoulda" goblin comes out to play. My internal critic comes out to play. "You SHOULD be contributing something big to the world of music therapy right now." "You SHOULD be creating good music." "You SHOULDN'T be sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself because you have things pretty good these days." "You SHOULDN'T be stressing about not knowing what is going on." "You SHOULD remember that you aren't as bad off as others. You SHOULD be suppo…

Well, Check That Off the List...And That...And, Now That as Well.

Well, then.

It has been quite a strange week in this world. Things have gone from "we'll wait and see" to "cancel EVERYTHING and grab as much toilet paper as you can on the way out!" I was contacted by the Midwestern Region of AMTA this morning that the conference (the one where I was going to be an exhibitor for the very first time - breaking out of my comfort zone and EVOLVING as a business person) has been cancelled.

This is both good and bad for me right now. It's good because it is a month away from the event so I know that there are things I can get done - I can cancel my hotel reservation and stop rushing to produce materials to offer. It's bad because I have a large stack of projects already started sitting on my living room floor. 


Today is the first day of my Spring Break. It is my official Spring Break, so my school will be closed this week. My residential clients will still be at the facility, but day students and teachers are gone for th…

Another Survey

I hate thesis survey season.

I get SO many requests to participate in surveys that it is unusual to have no requests in my inbox during any particular day. I know that this is the way that students get through their education (I was one of those students, once upon a time), but I find that most of the topics are pretty inane. I am very particular about which survey requests I answer. For example, I NEVER complete a survey posted on Facebook. That just seems lazy to me. If you want my opinion, then send me an email. Make at least a little bit of effort thinking about your desired respondents, okay?

Anyway, I got yet another request for yet another survey that seemed to be something that I wanted to know about, so I completed it. Two surveys in two days. That's REALLY unusual for me.

This survey was about AMTA membership. I answered all the questions, but still don't feel that what I answered will make any real changes to how our organization is run. How could it? AMTA is not invo…

Musing About Longevity in This Profession

I completed one of the many, MANY survey requests that have crossed my email address in the past two months (you can tell it's thesis season!!) this morning. It was about longevity as a music therapist and asked some of the questions I want answered, but not all of them.

Now, I have been a professional music therapist for almost 27 years now. This is my anniversary month (finished my internship on March 26), and I always get a bit sentimental about my professional choice during the month of March. In the interest of full disclosure, because I try to be completely honest and transparent in my blog, I have not always been at a point where music therapy was clearly the answer for me and my life. There have been good times and there have been completely lousy times in my journey through music therapy. I have always remembered that I am not stuck - I am free to go and do what I need to go and do in this life. It's just been fortunate that music therapy has been what I need to do.

My …

Baby Steps...Baby Steps...Baby Steps

I am very tired.

Some of this is due to the increase of medication that I have had to take due to my seasonal allergies, but I think most of the tired feeling is from frustrations and challenges at work.

That's right. Work is affecting everything that is going on in my life.

This isn't a big surprise to me, but it may be to a new professional out there. What happens at work can affect what happens at home and the opposite is also true. What happens at home can affect what happens at work. I cannot completely separate my work life from my other life - it is just not completely possible. Trying to deny the effect of work on my non-work hours just leads me to constant stuffing and avoidance behaviors - neither of which are good for me.

It is time for active solutions to this problem.

I cannot control how my clients react to what I present. All I can do is present my expectations and my requirements to them in a consistent manner each and every time. I will script my responses to the m…

Tuesday at Teachers Pay Teachers: My Store - musictherapyworkscom

Okay, okay. This is definitely a self-promoting post, but I know that you all will forgive me for taking this morning to show off some of my own stuff...won't you?

As you probably know, if you spend any sort of time looking at my blog posts or my website, I enjoy making things - paper things, song things, therapeutic things. I don't do much sewing to share with others - my seams are never quite straight, and, let's face it, Janet Stephens has that type of music therapy prop COMPLETELY and PERFECTLY covered over at Bear Paw Creek, so why would I ever think that was something to offer the music therapy community - go see Janet! She's got all sorts of stuff to sell to us - body bands, bean bags, GREAT storage - seriously, if you are looking for music therapy props, go to Bear Paw Creek! So, since Janet has those types of props covered very well, I decided that my contribution would be original therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) and visual aids - things I love to make and…

New Month...New Goals

Over the past several months, I have not been goal-setting the way I tried to earlier in the school year. I am finally to a point where goals seem to be something good to do again, so I am heading back to my goal setting process to reset my thought patterns. Part of this is due to my penchant for bullet journaling and part is due to all the things that I have to do these days that are piling up and the fact that I need some structure to help me figure out what to do next.

So...I am setting some new goals for myself.

I sat down with my bullet journal on Saturday for my review of February and my goal process for March. I have limited myself to three goals. This is primarily due to the fact that I really want to do everything, but I need to focus on getting SOMETHING finished, so three goals seems to be the best number for me at this moment. I selected one environmental goal (cleaning my home), one business goal (exhibit hall production), and one personal goal (getting back into an evening…

Synthesis Sunday: Slogging Through Winnicott's Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship


Of all the articles that I could have chosen, this one is a doozy for me. I am surrounded by vocabulary that I do not understand, and I am determined to figure out what the big deal is about this guy and his writings. I want to be familiar with these theories so I can assimilate them into my own understanding of what happens in family systems. I want to understand so I can deepen my own knowledge to become a better music therapist for my clients.


For some reason, however, Freudian psychology confuses me, and this article has LOTS of references to Freud. I know that this article was published in 1960, so most folks only really had Freud and Jung to focus on, but I feel that we have grown so much since then to include other types of perspectives. Freud always makes me feel a bit cranky - mainly because I think that most of his theories about humans were wrong - so having to read from a Freudian perspective makes me automatically confused and disgruntled.

Nevertheless, I will mov…