Thursday, January 27, 2022

I Am Fed Up...And Can't Say A Blasted Thing! No, Wait...I Can!


I was perfectly fine this morning. I really was. I took a couple more minutes of being in bed this morning. I took a shower and then came down to find a spate of messages that passively blamed me for technological issues that are happening in a particular group. I was named as the reason for not changing things to avoid some of these issues. No one else was named in the message line, and it really tromped up, down, and sideways on my feelings.

Now, I am a grown up and I know that I do not have to relate to things in this particular manner, but this happens every year at this time and it is always the worst timing because I am very busy right now - more busy than others in this particular group. Interestingly, when things calm down for me, these same folks have no interest in changing things up. I refuse to participate in the conversations concerning technology because I always feel that I am the one who gets blamed, so I refuse to make the decision. I am not a fan of waffling and passive-aggressive people who are not brave enough to make a decision, and it infuriates me when I get blamed for the consequences of decisions that others make.

This morning, the conversation really hurt me. So, I addressed it with the people who were involved. I am coming across as a bit hysterical at the moment, I am sure, but I am not responsible for this situation and refuse to be scapegoated, even in an attempt at humor. I do not have to be the only one who is named in this conversation.

I was having such a good week, too.

I left my long day at work yesterday feeling good. I never do that. These day and a half days usually leave me feeling sick and tired. Now, I am tired, but I was in such a happy, buoyant mood last night. I was enjoying feeling happy about things. Now, I am a crying, hysterical mess. I am hoping that this will change once I get to work and can do other things, but comments like the ones made on social media tend to sink in and get under my skin. It will certainly make my next live interactions with these same people a bit more strained than usual. 

I have always had a difficulty with being appropriately assertive. I have put up with snarky comments about things for a long time, and today, I just snapped. I put my reaction on the post as they happened rather than trying to figure out how to approach the people that started all of this. I usually try to be more measured in how I respond, but today was just the tipping point. I may have shot myself in the foot with these folks, but there has to be a limit to how much I get criticized for something that is not my fault.

I am rarely completely transparent on social media. I spend most of my time trying to present the persona that I want to maintain. I do not offer random comments. I think everything through very deliberately - even my daily happiness posts on my personal feed. On this blog, I spend lots of time writing things that never see the light of day because they are just too raw, emotional, and honest. Now, that's not to say that I lie on social media - I try not to, but there are some things that happen in my life that are just not things that the world needs to know about me. I relish my privacy and my ability to remain who and what I want to be on social media. Again, I am not always happy-clappy when I post things, but I do not always post everything that I am thinking and feeling. For example, this post is going to be posted on my blog - with a huge lump in my throat and lots of queasiness that I did not wake with - but I will not advertise it at all on my social media feeds. If you are reading this, it is because you tend to read just about everything I post. So, thank you for that.

I am going to be fine. I am proud of myself for speaking up and speaking out for something that needs to be changed. I will continue the relationships that are present in this particular group of people, but I will also expect better from those who constantly try to shove me into a particular role. I will no longer sit by and be the butt of jokes or the reason that someone else cannot step up. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Certification Examination: Thoughts from Someone Who Only Took It Once...In the Last Century

I was offered an interesting opportunity recently that has made me start to think a bit about our Board Certification examination. No details about the opportunity, but I am thinking again...

Before I get too far into this particular topic, let me tell you a bit about myself and where I come from as a board certified music therapist.

I took the examination in November 1993. In those days, back in the last century, the test was administered once per year. You had to go to the closest examination center where you sat in a room full of people taking all sorts of certification tests. There weren't many music therapists in the large auditorium that my test was held, but all of the seats were full of people taking all sorts of tests. I am a fast test taker, and I finished my test in 20 minutes. I was terrified that I had failed because it did not take me any time at all to finish, but I passed. I have no idea if I passed well, but I passed and that is all that matters for this examination. I have not taken the test since because I haven't felt like I have had to - I can get 100 continuing music therapy education credits without any problem every five years, so I have not taken the examination since 1993. This has been purposeful, but it is important for you to know because I have no idea what the examination is like now, almost 30 years later.

So, keeping this in mind, let me tell you a bit about what I think about the Board Certification Examination.

First of all, I have made a Music Therapy Morsel about this very topic - just a little bit about this exam and my thoughts for others who are trying to take and pass the examination. You can find that link here. (By the way, I have released all of my presentations and morsels to anyone who is interested - if you find value in my content, please like and subscribe to my channel for more music therapy information!)

Second, I feel that the Board Certification Examination is part of the process of being a music therapist. I know that there are problems with it, and I know that the cost is daunting, especially when you are fresh off an often unpaid internship experience. It is the tool that we have to tie in our processes of music therapy advocacy and title protection and presumed competence as a profession. I know that the folks at the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) are constantly working on issues of inclusion as well as cost. We do not often think too much about the people behind the examination, but there are many!

Third, I think the Board Certification Examination is something that we don't always talk about well during our education and clinical training processes. I know that I feel pretty helpless when I am talking about it because of the fact that I have not taken it since I first had to! I cannot really talk too much about what the test is like because I don't know! I think many professors and internship directors are in the same boat - we cannot tell you what to expect because things have changed so significantly in the past 30 years. Since we can't really help you know what is going to happen, we tend to rely on new professionals to help us get some insights into what happens when you go to the closest testing center.

Lastly, the Board Certification Examination is a test of how you synthesize information. It does not measure your effectiveness or competence in the clinical area. It can only measure how you approach situations and how you problem-solve. The idea behind the examination is "what do most music therapists do in this situation?" The questions are often written with the idea that there is a "best" answer as opposed to only one "right" answer. The clues to what is "best" are often in the question and will help you center your ideas about what to select for your answer. This means that your personal way of doing things in the music therapy clinic are not always the way that others would do things.

I have heard that the best things to study for the examination are introduction to music therapy texts - books that offer multiple theoretical perspectives and frameworks so you can think globally about music therapists from different ways of doing things when you enter the exam. You have to really let go of what you would do during any sort of situation and focus on what most music therapists would do.

One more thought about all of this.

We are not a test score. The Board Certification Examination does not measure how you interact with your clients. It does not measure your musical performance skill. It does not indicate anything other than you were able to pass the examination. Did you know that CBMT will arrange for any sort of accommodation that you might need to take the exam? You just have to let them know what circumstances you have and they will work with you. Your peers will do things differently than you do - you are not compared to anyone during this process - you are just required to do what you can do the way you do it best. I think we often (at least, from my perspective and what former interns have told me) feel like we are lacking when our path is different from that of our peers. We are NOT! We will do what we can do with this profession and that includes the board certification examination! 

Next time, on Music Therapy Secrets...

The Annual Maintenance Fee from CBMT - It is not a joke, it is something to budget in!

Let me know your impressions of the Certification Examination. I would love to know if you were surprised by anything that happened during your test. I would also love to know what your opinions are about what I've said here...Leave a comment here or comment on social media where you found this link!

Happy Wednesday - mine is a 10 hour day followed by my part-time job, so it will end up being a 15 hour day before I get home. I am already tired, but that's just part of who I am these days.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

TME Tuesday: CD Blanks

Flashback to the CD burning days of my career, and you can see a project that my clients completed quite often. In 2014, I finally wrote it down and made it a bit more formal. These days, folks don't burn CDs as often, but you could certainly translate this into a playlist experience instead of making a CD booklet - I liked the use of the cover art to pull together the concept of presentation of music.

This TME Tuesday post is very much inspired by my reading of Wellness, Wellplayed The Power of a Playlist!! by Jennifer Buchanan. If you haven't read this yet, then go get it. I will do more of my synthesis on Sunday, but I am looking forward to reading it again and using the ideas contained to focus my own music listening again.

Hey, if you are interested in more TMEs like the one presented below, consider signing up for my sing about mini subscription. Only $9.00/month USD for 4-6 TMEs and supplemental materials delivered to your email box on the fifth of every month! You can find details here.

CD Creation

Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

Purpose: Creative expression; emotional exploration; development of musical preferences; fine motor coordination




Fine motor – writing, pasting

Replication of symbols; reading; writing

Discussion of preferences




Exploration of emotion through music identification and preferences

Music awareness; music history; music appreciation

Creativity; quiet interaction and participation

Source: Traditional music therapy experience idea. TME development, artwork, and procedure © 2014 by Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC

 Materials: CD Blanks; markers or colored pencils or crayons; CD cover examples; music title lists; direction list; OPTIONAL: pictures, words, magazines, glue sticks

Environment: Group members need to have a flat surface to write and/or paste on. Group members also need enough space to work on task without getting into personal space of others.

Song/Chant/Words: None – music may be used in the background, if desired.

Procedure: R = Reinforcement opportunities; C = Redirection/Cue opportunities; A = Assessment

1.      Arrange center area to include materials for task – include all materials listed above.

2.      C=show examples of CD covers

3.      A=assess whether group members show interest in the covers

4.      R=reinforce group members for attending to the task

5.      C=explain that group members will make their own CD covers of favorite music or music for a specific emotional state

6.      C=offer example based on specific focus for the group members – emotion links, simply preferred music, and/or other foci

7.      C=direct group members to move to the center

8.      A=assess whether group members show interest in the center

9.      R=reinforce group members for attempting the center

10.  C=assist group members as needed

11.  C=discuss choices of group members as appropriate for time and group cohesion

Therapeutic Function of Music:

Music is the subject area rather than the focus of the TME. Through identification of preferred music, the client can use that music to assist with mood vectoring or in choosing preferred music for therapy sessions.


  • Make large group CD covers for music listening in the classroom
  • Offer song titles for cutting and pasting


  • Make specific titles for CDs that group members have to complete – for example, Songs for a Rainy Afternoon. Use music listening to assist clients in compiling their lists

  • Use with client-composed music as the last step before publishing musical products

Happy Tuesday to you all! Enjoy this TME!!

I Am Fed Up...And Can't Say A Blasted Thing! No, Wait...I Can!

Rant. I was perfectly fine this morning. I really was. I took a couple more minutes of being in bed this morning. I took a shower and then c...