Friday, November 16, 2012

3 Thanksgiving Ideas

Autumn is awesome. It's almost over too. That was fast wasn't it?  I mean, I kind of feel like we just started the school year and summer was just yesterday and now it's almost winter and my dusty boxes of Christmas decorations are bouncing around in the basement asking when they can come upstairs.  
But wait. 
This post is called 3 Thanksgiving Ideas. Let's remain on task and stick to the topic shall we?
Idea #1:
Rewrite someone else's songs.
Does this sound like cheating to you? Well it's not. Let's face facts. MTs are busy and sometimes a short cut is totally worth going for.  I happen to like rewriting lyrics AND rewriting the melodies. Recently I found this site called Songs For Teaching and I edited the melody and a few of the lyrics to one of the songs I thought was cool and made it more adult sounding (as it was a kid song).  This site is really good for giving you that quick lyric or song idea and the categories are endless. Check it out. 
Idea #2:
Use some recorded music.

I like to go on Amazon as opposed to itunes since you can save a few cents generally.  I search for key words.  There aren't too many really awesome adult Thanksgiving songs so I just searched for words like "Pumpkin Pie"  or....

"Mashed Potatoes". Rufus Thomas is kickin' it!!!!! Just check out the boots and shorts. I can NOT stand a good way!
So what do I do with these songs? Use them to jam with the instruments or structure a warm up where each person has to come up with their own way of using a drum or shaker for the group to follow.  I toss around balls or do stretches or if it's a group, maybe a dance routine.
Idea #3:Food Menu
By now you might realize that i like to use the term "face facts" so...Let's face facts again.  Thanksgiving is probably the biggest food holiday and if your clients are like mine, food is a huge motivator and item of joy in their lives...and mine too..if we're facing facts and all.
ANYWAY...Write up a menu where you have song titles all relative to the Thanksgiving menu.  Each person can "Order" their song up hot.  I like to assign each person to be the leader of their song by choosing the instruments for the rest of the group and leading them in playing.
So...those are my tips.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Last night right before Trick or Treating time, I finished submitting my paperwork for Re-certification. I will be entering my third cycle which means that I've been a music therapist for 10 years yalls! I know this might not excite some people but when I said it aloud to my husband last night I gave a little scream! And I reflected that I feel more and more like I'm getting my professional act together.  Having your own practice, having a kid and having little guidance after grad school leaves you a little on your own...a little set back sometimes....BUT then I just got this wind from somewhere and took off facilitating my own growth. And not to toot my own horn but....It feels great and I'm so proud of myself and if I can't say THAT on my own blog?? well too bad. I'm reveling in this. Finishing up another cycle full of credits just feels great. And now that I'm somehow a little more serious or experienced or mature or whatever, I find that I'm really paying attention to these courses and using every single resource I can. Ok. Humble me will be back next post. Until then, celebrate yourself too! You deserve it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


There are three items I wanted to write about today. They are lessons that I've learned along the way and are basic concepts that might help some MTs out there.  Check it.

The clients I work with surprise me all the time.  Perspective is key.  Instead of looking at the impossibly long term goal, think short term and a "little at a time".  When you look back, you might be surprised at how far someone has come.  A goal that seems entirely unattainable can be broken down into reasonably achievable steps. Before you know it, that impossible far away goal is closer than you think.

I'm talking about scheduling woes here.  This week I rescheduled 8 of my client groups.  This was no small feat.  Rearranging clients and seeing them at times that fit together makes great sense.  Often I schedule clients anywhere they fit and try to force the pieces of the time puzzle together.  Taking a look at my clients time slots and session locations recently, I realized that I might be able to increase my productivity dramatically and get home to be with my family at a reasonable hour.  I've tried rearranging my clients like this before but I was met with so many dead ends. Lot's of Nos and too few Yeses. Sometimes the timing just isn't right. Sometimes it takes asking the right person. Whatever the reason, try asking for your request at a later time...the worst they can say is No. Again.

My husband and I started this workout video series this summer that's basically a knock off P90X.  We had so much fun laughing at the motivational catch phrases that the host of the videos threw out between squats and push-ups etc... Right when you were getting really tired during the work out, he'd say something like the phrase above and Nate and I would crack up and keep going. HOWEVER, this phrase has sort of stuck with me.  I find myself using it when I feel like I'm not making enough progress or when life throws you those career curve balls that you weren't counting on. Let's face it, we all need a pick me up and this phrase has been great for me. Simple and slightly funny due to it's origin. Find your own phrase to boost your confidence and determination.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


QUIZ TIME!!!  How music therapy Savvy is YOUR ol' noggin?  Take this test that I made up and see how you do.  Quizzes are fun.
btw, this quiz is mostly for NON music therapists but MTs should also take this quiz anyway. why not.

**disclaimer** This is by no means a real indication of your actual intelligence but take the quiz anyway and comment with your score!


1.  Music therapy is a new field of treatment.
2.  Music on it's own, is healing.
3.  Music therapy can be used for any age group.
4.  Music therapy can be facilitated by anyone with musical abilities.
5.  Music therapy is an evidence based profession.
6.  Music therapy provides fun entertainment for clients.
7.  Clients must possess musical ability to receive music therapy services.
8.  Music therapy is a new aged profession.
9.  Most music therapists are women.
10. There is one style of music that is more beneficial than the rest.  

Score it!
1. False  2. False  3. True  4. False  5. True 6. False 7. False 8. False 9. True 10. False
7-10 CORRECT-  MT GENIUS.  You are an MT smarty and most likely a great supporter of music therapy services. GO YOU! You probably read the music therapy research blog right?
4-6 CORRECT-  MT INTERMEDIATE. You know a thing or two about music therapy and are curious to know more to sharpen your awareness.
1-3 CORRECT- MT NOVICE....Don't despair. I was once an MT novice too.

Detailed Answers:
1. False- MT has been around "technically" for ages however became a real field of study and treatment after WW2.
2. False- Music is used as a TOOL for healing, by a music therapist.
3. True- I have had clients aging from 2 years to 87 years old! WOW!
4. False- big false. sad part is, people really believe this. You must be a trained professional. There is  a lot going on in our sessions!
5. True- Yes! There are studies and research and data and scientific evidence of the benefits!
6. False- seems like a trick question...well music therapy can totally be fun BUT that is just a side benefit of all the work that is going on right along side the fun.
7. False- No experience required! Music therapists work with each person at their own level.
8. False- sometimes the term "new aged" can take away some of the valid and clinical weight that a field possesses.  There are indeed some less traditional ways in which we MTs present material in sessions but I would never consider it a new aged profession.
9. True- yup. mostly.
10. False- the most effective style of music is the preferred music of the client :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Hi! I have an idea. I've used it all summer and it went over well. Sadly I'm only just posting this idea today when we're inches away from September...NOT the height of roller coaster season.  but that is ok!
So the video above is the song I used. "Roller Coaster" by M. Ward. I love M. He's so darn cool. This video isn't really the best quality as it was filmed at a show however notice the piano at the beginning?  He's brought an audience member up and taught him the piano bit and has him accompanying him. Very improv. Very music therapy familiar. Now on to my idea.

1. In your group or individual session, start a conversation about summer themes and more particularly, Roller coasters and amusement parks.

2. Questions: 
Have you ever been to an amusement park?
What was your favorite Roller Coaster?
What are some challenges of an amusement park?
3.  Get out your CABASA! It's perfect for this activity. Roll it. Show your clients how to roll it. Work on independent rolling skills. If they are more advanced, work on rolling it to the rhythm of the song. Roll it up and down the arm for sensory integration for Pete's sake!

4.  Sing it with your client and make sure you alter those lyrics.  For example, I've basically redone the song to make it less about a relationship and more about roller coasters.  Instead of singing "YOU'RE like a roller coaster" sing "Let's go on a roller coaster"...this sort of thing.
Also insert the tid bits of conversation that you had in step 1 into the song, improv style.  Your clients will smile. check plus.

**also** M. Ward often uses alternate tunings. I just use G-A7-D

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Yesterday I had a glorious time with some dear friends whom I consider to be the ultimate in MT support. I'm on the right with an arm around Jeanie Matteson, and leaning in towards Beth Ghiorzi.  They are like encyclopedias of knowledge, rivers of resource, they have strong opinions and are able to deliver their thoughts with sensitivity. That's probably why we all have degrees in music therapy (or if you're Jeanie, countless degrees and certifications :)
The support I've gotten from
 these two has been so valuable to me in times of MT need, and otherwise!  We hash things out, talk it out and even hug it out. And this sort of friendship/professional support is what inspired me to blog today.  You see, we all need a network of support, especially in fields that require "emotional investment".  Not only music therapy but also those in the broader world of special needs service and care.... and I mean we REALLY need it.  If you have your own practice, you can identify with the fact that basically, the MT life can be stressful and a little solitary at times unless you reach out to your peers and make a point of connecting professionally.  The online music therapy world is getting better however and there are some excellent professionals out there that welcome questions.  There are also some great opportunities for connection (other than FB) such as the recent online meeting I attended called the Therapeutic Music Experience Swap Workshop which was hosted by  Mary Jane Landaker who in general shares a ton of her ideas online.
So.. WHO is in your support team? 
Do you have at least one professional in your field that you can go to 
for support?  
What steps do you take as an MT to make sure that you get professional supervision?
I'd love to know! 
And lastly, if you're an MT and you're reading this, I SUPPORT YOUR GOOD WORK! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Hey yalls. It's almost 100 degrees today! So what better topic to link the weather to than professional burn out!  First of all this is something I believe every professional that cares and who works hard eventually feels at some point in their lives.  With life revolving around the themes of  summer and vacations and swimming and picnics etc..., it reminds me to step back sometimes and take it easy.  
Sometimes I have to say to myself, HEY! SIMPLIFY! You don't have to do it all...and then I struggle to follow my own advice.
Anyway I did a little research and found some great tips on how to relax and found a few defining warning signs of burn out that I thought were worth mentioning. Who knew I'd need tips for that?!  

  • Loss of interesting in meaning of your work
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anger at those making demands
  • Negativity and irritability
  • Helplessness

  • Take time away from work if possible, take that vacation and ENJOY IT!
  • If you can't get away, take FREQUENT BREAKS doing things OUTSIDE your field
  • CHANGE your routine
  • Take deep breaths
  • Un-hunch your shoulders and re-position your posture correctly
  • Eat healthy
  • Use music for your own benefit- hey it works for our clients. Use it for yourself, would ya?
  • SCHEDULE nothing on your weekends.  Don't fill them up with more busy times than the work week.
  • Soak in the tub
  • Make up your own calming, rejuvenating mantra 
AND MANY MORE... just google "rejuvenating" and before you know it, you'll be thinking on a healthier plane. Good luck and relax.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Proud Momma

I know it isn't mother's day but this may be the best 2 days after mother's day present a Music Therapist Mother could ask for.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Dang it. I missed it. This wonderful production was last weekend and I didn't go. I even knew about it. I just stupidly figured that it would be performed for a long time. ALAS. no. Anway, I shall tell you two things about Opera in my darling town of Lancaster, PA... now.
1.  In about 1997 when I moved to the city towards the end of college, I would drive downtown from my apartment on Colombia Avenue and see this old brick building with TONs of cool factor but with some lack luster as well.  It said "LANCASTER OPERA WORKSHOP" in white letters against a fading blue metal frame with rust drips underneath each letter.  I had dreamed it to be this amazing Opera place at one point in time.  I'd crook my neck to peek back and see the expanse of the building, imagine it's former glory.  In all seriousness, I thought it was closed. never was. In fact, since 1965 that place has housed VOLUNTEER opera productions (which means almost no one is paid)....and another cool's an old fire house. I knew that place was cool.
Fast forward to 2011.  It was then that I noticed the amazing posters that they started putting up advertising their shows. I loved every one. Super artistic...see the above butterfly poster...
I thought OH! Opera is back! No, it just never left. How cool and how wonderful!

2.  The Opera company has a really nice website. You can hear clips from the performances and I am very impressed. In fact, I was eating a homemade microwave smore while listening to the 2nd selection of Madama Butterfly and the combination was exquisite. Truly. No cheapening of the opera with the smore. I just remembered how much I love Opera. I also happen to think that if you don't like Opera, it's because you've never heard it performed live.  I just can't imagine not being sucked into it. It's magical! So take a minute to listen to something beautiful and I really think you won't be sorry. The human voice is an incredible thing. isn't it?

Monday, April 23, 2012


Hi readers. It's me again. and I'd like to talk about taking a stand.  That's what Music Therapy Advocacy means to on April 23rd, 2012.  It means so many other things too but as life deals it, it can either take a back seat or zoom to the front and be the hot ticket.  I recently heard that more funding cuts may be taking place in the near future and I may loose a really special group that I treat.  This is terrible news.  AND the frustrating part is that there isn't always a clear easy way to oppose things like funding cuts.  Sometimes I get a little down in the dumps about it and I feel like my voice is lost.
HOWEVER.... The worst thing is to do nothing. Don't do that.
Here is what I suggest.  
1. Contact your MT comrades.  Chances are they've been through this too and may have info to assist you.
2.  Know your stuff. Don't be on the sidelines unsure as to what is happening. Make phone calls and have conversations with real people, those funding agents and know, where you send your paperwork, billing and progress updates. Jump out of the easy email format and make your actual voice heard plus have your questions answered faster than email!!!
3.  Research ways to advocate for your clients.  Start HERE.  CBMT has an excellent compilation of the recent Social Media Advocacy Project which happened this past January.  So really, I'm a little late in posting this I guess. 
4.  Check out who's in your MT State Task Force. Chances are you might even know them. I found Melanie when I searched for mine.
5.  Write to your state representatives and state your case asking for their support of music therapy.
6. Don't give up. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Oh Yeah.

NPR just ran this piece and it hits pretty close to home. Funding cuts, nursing homes, music and healing and even ipods. An ipod project was started with customized music on it for each person revealing wonderful responses and the older generation coming to life in less than stimulating environments.  Of course the live music format is preferred but , this guy, Dan Cohen is on to something. He's a social worker who started a non-profit called Music and Memory where he gives individuals in nursing homes ipods with their preferred music on it. He is also featured in a  Documentary called Alive Inside.  Wonderful stuff. Check it out. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Super MTs

If you are a music therapist and you haven't come across these three ladies (Michelle Erfurt, Kimberly S. Moore and Rachel Rambach), you may be out of the loop. They may just be the MTs with the most online presence I've come across.  So first of all, wonderful compliments and three cheers etc for these lovely people. The each have wonderful sites of their own but I snagged this image off of their colaborative website...
The latest podcast focuses on public speaking which is probably my biggest professional fear. It's refreshing to hear someone like Rachel Rambach admit that she is not comfortable with public speaking...and of course it's yet again impressive to hear how the other two are pretty comfortable if not enthusiastic about it.  
Totally worth checking out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I really like this site. It was easy to put together and I'm even considering paying the upgrade to get my own domain name. I made it in one morning on  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 12, 2012


Hello. It's March 12th already. Which means that I'm WAY behind on Irish music collecting. Actually, I always forget about incorporating Irish music into my sessions and today I think I know why. 
Dont' get upset if you're of Irish heritage. In fact, my dear sweet husband is part Irish BUT.......It's not my favorite music. There. It's out there. I've not only thought it, but written it. Don't really love it. 
But as most MTs know, that doesn't matter. You have to play music you don't personally prefer ALL THE TIME.  
So I've been researching songs and albums and youtube videos and playlists on the web and this is what i've come up with. Some of these might not be perfectly appropriate but eh....and actually, this will definitely give away how easily i'm swayed, by the time I finished compiling these songs, I sort of got into them....and felt like having a beer. cheers.

TOP FIVE (5) Irish Songs that I can handle

1. Sam Cooke- Danny Boy. 

2. The Pogues- "Streams of Whiskey"

3. Clancy Brothers "Beer Beer Beer"
4. U2- "Sunday Bloody Sunday"

5. Gaelic Storm "Nancy Whiskey"

Friday, March 9, 2012


Hi! Ok. So what's up with the Title of this post? Well, when I was in college a friend of mine used to sing this Epic Whitney Houston song when we'd have (what today we would call) "EPIC FAILS".  
Click to listen to the track while you read, if you choose. 

So what kind of fail am i blabbing about? WELL...sometimes my music therapy ideas aren't always a success. Who likes to admit that? Not me. I'm never the first person in line to shout out ma failures. But you know something? Live and Learn. Mistakes and the UN-SMOOTH are opportunities sometimes.
Take for instance this week.  I wrote the outline of a song aimed at stating goals, naming steps towards the goals and pairing emotions with the possible achievement of said goals.

SO. yeah. that's a lot. And just as a disclaimer, I was using this on my highest functioning clients. Executive functioning skills in the house. I was expecting some real goal planning here. I was expecting the clients to spontaneously call out some prolific, un-thought-of goal....AND although this is not unheard of, it was sort of unrealistic, and it took me by surprise. I kind of overestimated. And in general, I make it a point to NEVER underestimate, because you never know what your clients might be able to do.  They pleasantly surprise me often. But this was not one of those times.  My clients started naming goals alright, but sort of insane goals. Like for example, become the next AMERICAN IDOL. Another one was be as skinny as a super model. Hey, we can all dream right?
So I was caught in this difficult position of feeling like I had to tell the client hey, maybe those goals aren't realistic (as they hopefully looked at me with excited expressions).  I couldn't just say, um, no, that goal sucks.  or cry out, "Darn, this isn't what I wanted it to be!" So what did I do?
 Well, I let them write the song with me TWO times. Once with a "wish or dream" in mind. Then again with a more practical, problem-resolution based set up.  Secondly, I modified. And by that I mean, I didn't just jump into the song and have them spontaneously choose goals, emotions and steps on the spur of the moment. That was poor planning on my end. This idea needs a conversation proceeding it....and following it for that matter.  Tinkering and recipe adjusting my sessions + didn't we almost have it all?
that's what. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Last Night's Session

Last night I saw ONE of my favorite clients. yeah, they're all my favorites...BUT...
 He is an older gentleman who is blind but fully ambulatory and definitely more mentally engaged.  He is also a music hound. He listens to records everyday, perhaps all day.  He also happens to play the harmonica which I think is top drawer.  
Last night his staff member popped into the session room and delivered his harmonica.  Usually he keeps it in a drawer and prefers to keep it there, despite my nudges.  Last night however, he gladly reached for it and started playing his own improvised song.  Together we played a duet and ended up laughing together by the end.  The feeling I get from that sort of spontaneous music making and musical communicating is totally priceless. It's the gem in the haystack. the spice of music therapy life. Improvisation in music therapy sessions is SO IMPORTANT. I want to make sure that I do more of it. Not only is it a good practice, but it's a musical challenge to myself and when it works, it really gives something wonderful to the client. And that's what it's all about, sharing an experience and hopefully growing from it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Handy APPS for Music Therapists

 Hello wonderful music therapy people.  This morning I got an APP attack....and here are some useful findings in no particular order and all FREE!
first up.
This app lets you look up any chord and visually demonstrates the notes, positioning and fingerings. Perfect for when that tricky chord pops up in your music.  You can also tap on the notes and hear the chord as well. Sweet.

Next up.
Dropbox is great. It's like icloud for all of your computing needs. Basically a storage unit for all the documents you need, accessible to all your devices and computers away from home. You do have to download dropbox onto your iphone or in my case, ipodtouch. also if you don't have an iphone and you are an MT working with a classic ipod, I suggest (HIGHLY) that you get an ipod touch.

Guitar tuner is easy. you just tap the note that you want to tune your guitar to and tune it. easy. 

It's a compilation of instruments. You choose which one and you tap to play. This would come in handy with physically impaired clients.  I don't think this is a replacement for REAL instruments mind you, but it's definitely a good supplement. 

ok then. If anyone has any other apps that they love, let me know! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Just a Quick hello and how are ya.  I found another valentine resource and wanted to share. This site is mostly Autism centered however I am going to use this site and it's resources for all sorts of clients.  Try the Valentine Bingo game and pair it with songs! That's what I'm about to try today.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


My Guy by Mary Wells.

 My Girl. 

 I could almost just stop right there. I mean need I say more? But in case you need some ideas I would suggest 2. 
 1. For BOTH of these classics, there is a strong hand clap that you can definitely use as a warm up. I'm thinking of adults here....and probably older adults but you know, these are classics and they do stand the test of time so roll with it. Clap as a group. Follow the backup singers and clap side to side or have the group come up with different ways to clap (above head, side to side etc...) You could also use drums to tap the beat as well. 
 2. MOOOOOVEMENT! Move Like the Temptations! The moves aren't that hard and the tempos are pretty slow. I plan on trying to adapts the moves for seated positioning and rock it out just like those suave cats with my seniors. It's a fun way to cover both men and women all in the spirit of valentine's day and beat the winter blues to boot. good luck and thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


SOoooooooooooooooooo. Yeah. It's that time again for me. I've ONCE AGAIN taken the slower path on earning my credits for receritfication. This is my second time around and I have to say that I feel a little panicked. Like DUDE! What is taking me so long?! Why do these credits cost so darn much!? Where do I turn? I've done a million Tool Box classes already. WHAT ARE MY OTHER OPTIONS FOR CREDIT? WHO KNOWS THE ANSWERS?! ACK!!!!

k. panic session over....deep breath.

Actually there are a lot of options out there. And I don't even know what they are but I plan to make it my mission to find them and post them at the top of this blog for any desperate MT out there that needs ideas like me.
ALSO...I plan to honestly review the classes I have already taken and give props to the best ones. If you know of any other options, classes, web stuff, presentations, etc please comment. In fact, comment even if you don't. I love comments and no one ever leaves any. boo hoo.

k. desperate comment plea over. sigh.

seriously tho, let's help each other out eh?

1. Call or email AMTA. I love asking them for help. They know it all!
2. Check out CBMT. They will direct you to their manual for assistance like they did to me. Go to the recert credit page and  click on re-certification manual and look at PAGES 16 and 24 here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Hi! So I was taking this first day back into regular life after the holidays to do some internetting and checked in on some of the music therapy blogs I like.  Interestingly enough I found a Pintrest Post from Michelle of Music Therapy Tween.  She has a great write up of how to use it for your MT ideas and links another MT pinner that has a fantastic board for her private practice.  Anyway, I decided to post about it as well because after seeing several MT boards, I was inspired to add my own.

For anyone who is new to Pintrest, let me lay it out flat for ya.

1. It's an online bulletin board
2. You can make countless boards with their own theme
3. You can "pin" almost anything you see anywhere on the internet
4. People see what you've pinned and they "repin" or "like" etc...

So in the past I've mostly TOTAL FRIVOLITY on my boards. Clothes, shoes, fancy drinks, home decor....and I still will ABSOLUTELY do that BUT...I'm happy to be adding a meaningful board with a little more substance. 
Check me out here if you like.