#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: Music Therapy Handbook

26 May

This post is part of a 5 week #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge. Learn more and join the movement by visiting Serenade Designs!

Challenge #4: Pick a current research article or chapter of a book and reflect.

I recently received a hot-off-the-press copy of Dr. Barbara Wheeler’s newest publication, Music Therapy Handbook…and I’m so excited. I just can’t hide it. I love this book! (See photo below for more evidence). It covers a HUGE range of topics in chapters by top-notch professionals in our field. It’s a must-add to your music therapy library.

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Me hugging this book because it’s my new BFF.

3 Handy Takeaways:

Part I: Overview and Issues

Use for: Presentations, Handouts, Websites, Advocacy Work

What’s it about? In Chapter 1, Dr. Wheeler provides a brief summary of music therapy as a profession, from clinical training and populations served all the way to recognition and public awareness. Other must-reads include chapters on music therapy and the brain, ethics, cultural diversity and assessment.

Part II: Orientation and Approaches

Use for: Studying for CBMT exam, Widening perspectives, Clinical Applications

What’s it about? Popular MT approaches covered range from psychodynamic, humanistic and developmental to NMT, community music therapy and music therapy in expressive arts. Think about your current population, and start framing your work in these various approaches. This section got me looking at my work through 10 different lenses—a great way to spice up session planning and in-the-moment creativity.

Part III: Clinical Applications

Use for: Studying for CBMT Exam, Clinical work, Research, Session planning

What’s it about? This section gets into the real nitty-gritty: music therapy with different populations. My favorite part about this book is that it goes far beyond what previous textbooks have covered to include a current snapshot of MT as a profession. New populations include addictions, domestic violence, survivors of trauma, NICU, and grief/loss. Each chapter really provides a thorough breakdown of suggested music therapy experiences with clinical examples. Some chapters I loved were “Music Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” (because of its inclusion of relationship-based strategies) and “Music Therapy in the Schools” (it provides different models of service delivery and theoretical approaches).

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#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: Waiting

18 May

This post is part of a 5 week #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge. Learn more and join the movement by visiting Serenade Designs!

Challenge #3: Share a quote that makes you think.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 9.45.13 AMWaiting for a message. This is something I find myself doing every day. I wait for my kiddos to make connections during sessions. I wait for e-mails and phone calls. I wait at traffic lights. I wait for my coffee at Starbucks. I wait for the exact response I want to a musical cue. I wait to share reports at meetings.

Then, I think about the waiting that my clients endure.

Waiting for their bodies to listen.

Waiting for their brains and mouths to respond (knowing that the words that might come out might not be what they actually mean).

Waiting for the right form of communication.

Waiting for someone to see them as a real, thinking person.

I am inspired by autistic self-advocates like Emma Zurcher-Long of Emma’s Hope Book, who typed the beautiful words I chose to share today. So I wait for her voice, and the voices of her peers, to be accepted. I read her poetry, I think, and I share; then I encourage my clients and colleagues to do the same.

At the core of my values is a belief that we should presume competence in all people on the autism spectrum. So I wait for our society to embrace ALL forms of communication–verbal and nonverbal. I wait for people to understand that spoken words may be unreliable. I wait for doctors, therapists and teachers to accept new challenges and new approaches. I wait for the rest of the healthcare community to see autism as a movement difference, rather than a social one.

I wait for a client to learn to play a steady beat, to play the drums, to cross midline. 

I wait for a client to type one word, even if it takes 30 minutes.

I wait for a client to find the right iPad app, device or communication board, even it it takes months of trying.

I wait for a client to find and share their voice, even it it takes years.

I’m waiting for messages every day. And I’ll wait as long as it takes.

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#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: Grab a Guitten

11 May

This post is part of a 5 week #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge. Learn more and join the movement by visiting Serenade Designs!

Challenge #2: Write about something that works for you in your everyday life as an MT.

The guitten has been, by far, the best addition to my bag of tricks this year. If you HAVEN’T heard about the world of guittens (AKA guitar + mitten = my favorite thing ever), hop over to Jody Tucker’s website and feast your eyes on the cuteness. If you work with kiddos, you’ll love how functional, versatile and conversation-worthy it will be for all your music therapy friends.

  1. FUNCTIONAL: It protects my guitar from those little hands that love to turn, turn, turn those knobs. I mean, seriously—it’s like guitar tuning pegs radiate beautiful rainbow light and have a neon sign on them that says, “TURN ME, I’M AWESOME.”

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  1. VERSATILE: I constantly use my guitten as a puppet for songwriting and finger play (try “Little Bird” from 1plus1plus1equals1), which is especially perfect in the springtime. I’ve even put shakers and bells inside the guitten while working on spatial concepts. Some of my kiddos also practice social skills by saying hi and shaking his wing during our hello song. DO check out the full list of guitten characters, which include animals, flowers and bugs.

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  1. CONVERSATION STARTER: First of all…my guitten TOTALLY looks like an angry bird. I mean, how cool is that? My video game obsessed friends have played with the guitten while making angry bird sounds into the microphone, or have used it to play “real life” angry birds by tossing him into drums. Other groups have even worked together to name him and have dubbed him our group mascot.

Note: Some of my friends don’t like the guitten on the guitar, but it provides a perfect jumping off point for asking for help/self-expression. One little friend is even working on saying “Bird off!”paired with signs. If I’m working with teens/adults, I usually ask if they want me to keep it on. 9 times out of 10…the answer is “YES!”

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#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: Get Some Junk in Your Trunk!

4 May

This post is part of a 5 week #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge. Learn more and join the movement by visiting Serenade Designs!

Challenge #1: Think and write about a question you hear a lot in your work.

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk?

My favorite comment from music therapy students or observers quite literally has to do with all the junk in my trunk. Yup, I said it. The trunk…of my car. AKA a glorious place where most of my instruments and visuals live. (But seriously, are you singing “My Humps” yet?)

unnamed (65) My favorite comments:

 (I open trunk) “…That’s crazy.”

 “WOW. You have a lot of…stuffed animals?”

 “Geez, how can you afford to buy all these materials?”

 “Uhh, do I actually need all this stuff?!”

My answer, MT friends, is NO! You absolutely do not need to be a music therapy material hoarder like yours truly. (I really do have a problem. Laminator addicts, unite?) However, my advice to students everywhere is that it can never hurt to start working on your instrument collection early. Having instruments on hand means that while you’re making the transition from student to professional, you have the ability to taking on contracting jobs or work at facilities that don’t already have instruments (or a budget to buy instruments). Because I work in private practice, I’m always on the go—but the great thing about having a big collection of instruments and visuals is that my materials are always ready to go, too.

If you can, I encourage you to start making your own wishlist NOW. Set aside a small amount of $$ each month for your instrument fund. Use birthdays and holidays to ask for instruments (I know, I know…but it’s so worth it). At your graduation party, ask people to bring instruments instead of gifts. If you get creative, your instrument collection can grow at minimal cost.

Check out a list of MY essential items below. Did I miss something? What’s your favorite? Leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list!

 My Top 10 MT Must-Haves:

 Runner-Ups:

 Random things I always have on hand:

  • WIPES, YA’LL (!!!!)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Masking tape
  • Crayons/Colored Pencils
  • Sharpie
  • Velcro

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5 Activity Favorites: EGGcellent MT Ideas

24 Mar

I like to go ALL OUT with bunnies and eggs this time of year. Can ya dig it? Check out 5 of my favorite activities below and get ready to shake, rattle and roll with your music therapy friends.

1. Roly Poly Egg by Kali Stileman. Believe it or not, my Mom found this book for me at the grocery store…and it is SO stinkin’ cute. It’s perfect for spatial concepts (up, down, over, under, etc) and has dotted lines that kids can trace with their shaker eggs. Sometimes I follow this book with Laurie Berkner’s “I Know a Chicken”–so visit Toneworks Music Therapy for adaptations.

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2. Egg Hunt. Buy yourself a pack of plastic eggs at the Dollar Store, and I guarantee you’ll get mad mileage out of them. My dyads and groups have enjoyed working together to hide and find the eggs, then do whatever action is inside. Depending on the clients, actions may be as simple as gross motor movements (clap, jump, skip, etc) or complex as working together to write a song or draw a picture. The George Center has even more fab ideas for this one, and Music for Special Kids has a cute song to go along.

unnamed (60)3. Egg Matching/Sorting. MORE PLASTIC EGG FUN AHEAD! For little ones, matching eggs is a great fine motor task. I bought little poof balls and my tiny friends have enjoyed sorting them into eggs of like colors. For kiddos working on number word ID, have them match the word to the number, then count the corresponding number of poof balls to go inside. I’ve also done this with rhyming words and color words, so check out my Spring MT Pinterest board for more inspiration.

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4. Egg & Spoon Race. This idea came to me from Rachel See in one of my fave Music Therapy Mailings kits. I like to work together with clients to create an egg obstacle course that usually involves balancing shakers on spoons (or various body parts), playing a rhythm/word on a shaker and any other silly things we can come up with (i.e., squawk like a bird, flap your wings, etc).

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5. Egg Sensory Bin. Take all your materials from above, dump them into a drum and BAM: instant sensory bin. Bonus points if you have other things to touch & feel, like felt, that green stringy stuff that goes inside Easter baskets or stuffed animals. Play some relaxing music and explore together!

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{MORE} Dr. Seuss Inspiration: Silly Sound Song

1 Mar

Monday kicks off Read Across America week, and boy oh boy do I love me some Dr. Seuss. I wanted to share a little song I wrote that works great for speech, impulse control, engagement and self-expression goals (and if you use an iPad, finger isolation/fine motor skills).

You can find the visuals & sounds I used for my choiceboard (plus more activity ideas to Seussify your sessions) in this previous post. Download the images and either: print and put on big macs or load them into an app like Sounding Board or Choiceboard Creator and add sounds. When the music stops during the song, have your kiddo press their desired button to sing along. If clients are able, I have them come up with their own sounds and use their voice or instruments to make them. This can get really silly, especially if you have a group of kids making sounds at the same time OR waiting and taking turns.

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For even more Dr. Seuss inspiration, check out my springtime Pinterest board and the Read Across America website (full of worksheets and coloring pages!).

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5 Activity Favorites: Valentine’s Day Fun for Little Ones

4 Feb

Get ready to hug, drum, sign and sing…because I’m sharing 5 of my favorite music therapy activities to use in celebration of Valentine’s Day!

1. Heartbeat Chant: I made up this simple little chant to use for colors, shapes, number ID, animals, etc. Just change the lyrics as needed! It’s a fun challenge to get your clients doing a heartbeat rhythm and super easy to adapt for different needs. This also works great with a group on a large gathering drum.

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2. Snuggle Puppy: Okay, this board book is just the CUTEST. It has lots of opportunities for “ooo” sounds and basic signs (hug, kiss, I love you, dog), and is unbelievably sweet if you have stuffed animals to go along with it. I also like this one for Mommy & Me groups as a lap song.

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3. Little Red Valentine: This piggyback song has been a hit with my ECI kiddos. Download my colorful hearts visual, cut them out and have your kiddos put them in a little mailbox (or drum, etc–whatever is on hand) each time they correctly ID a color. Oh, dollar section of Target…I love you, oh yes I do.

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4. Rachel Rambach’s The Feelings in my Heart: I always like talking about feelings/family/friends around Valentine’s Day, and this song is a great conversation starter. I’ve used the full version for older kiddos or just the chorus + signs for each feeling in a simple chant for very little ones. I made a fun visual to go along with it–all you need is a foam heart (cough Target again cough), some feelings pictures and velcro.

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5. Rachel See’s Teeny Tiny Valentine: The visual I use for this one is easy: take the feeling pictures off the foam heart, grab one heart that you cut out for Little Red Valentine, and cut out one more medium-sized heart. BOOM. This song is a fab fingerplay, but I’ve also used it with the above visuals for IEP kiddos working on opposites: big/small, loud/soft, etc.

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#MTAdvocacy: Making Advocacy Your Go-To Conversation Topic in 2015

13 Jan

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_250x250

I’m sitting in Starbucks with my guitar propped on the table.

I’m wheeling my bag of instruments and visuals into a school.

I’m meeting a client’s extended family, visiting from out of town.

I’m co-treating with social workers, OTs, PTs and SLPs.

Take a moment to think about the many advocacy opportunities that may present themselves to you on a daily basis. On any given day, I can be found working in 5-8 different facilities, homes, schools and public spaces, all filled with people curious about my bag of instruments or with questions about what they see during a music therapy session.

I’ve learned that any opportunity can become an advocacy moment if you seize it. Over the last year, I’ve discovered 3 simple steps that taught me to SEE and INVEST in the many advocacy opportunities around me. These steps have helped grow my caseload, build awareness in the communities I’m serving and established me as a “go-to” team member in the facilities where I work.

1. Engage in the Conversation: Let’s face it–sometimes, it can be really exhausting to explain what it is that you do as a career for the 200th (okay…maybe I’m exaggerating…but we’ve all been there) time in a week.

But the most important thing I’ve taken away from my work in this year is to engage in every opportunity to advocate, no matter how small.

So even if you’re tired, stressed or simply not in the mood–don’t walk away from the mini advocacy moments you encounter every day. Saying “YES!” to conversations with strangers, sharing resources with families and volunteering your time for the occasional presentation can help grow the presence of music therapy in your community…while also growing the work opportunities available to you!

2. Reframe the Conversation: The next time you find yourself in a surprise advocacy opportunity, think about how you give feedback during sessions or lessons. I like to sandwich my constructive thoughts right in between a whole lot of positivity, because this is a great way to help your listener take in the valuable information you’re offering while also commending them for engaging in a dialogue with you.

Here’s my go-to formula:
[Thank You] + [Advocacy Information] + [Follow-Up]
Ex. “Thank you so much for coming to me with your questions! Actually, ______Can I give you my card in case you want to learn more? I’d love to keep our conversation going.”

3. Continue the Conversation: This is where that positive follow-up comes in. It’s important to tailor your follow-up to your listener’s needs, because knowing your audience will help you keep the conversation alive! Is this a teacher interested in implementing music interventions in the classroom? Or a stranger at a coffee shop curious about your guitar?

 You could:

  • Ask specific follow-up questions
  • Give them your business card
  • Direct them to AMTA or CBMT
  • Provide supporting research
  • Connect them with other professionals
  • Follow up via e-mail

 My challenge for you in 2015 is to seize your next unexpected advocacy opportunity and turn it into a positive conversation about music therapy. 

 Check out 2015’s Music Therapy State Recognition website for more posts about #MTadvocacy this month, and be sure to read more below about the NEW Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015)!

As the profession of music therapy has been moving forward with recognition at the state level, it has been identified that a document was needed to reflect a similar format to other health care professional organizations’ Scopes of Practice. CBMT and AMTA worked together to create a Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) for the profession based on published documents from both organizations. This new document entitled Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) is available as an educational tool and legislative support document that broadly defines the range of responsibilities of a fully qualified music therapy professional with requisite education, clinical training, and board certification. Click here to read the Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015).

 

Candy Cane, Candy Cane

22 Dec

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 5.54.33 PMMerry Christmas week!  Today I’m sharing a bonus song my kids have been singing all month to work on speech, engagement and attention goals. No matter what holiday you celebrate, there’s definitely one universal love shared by kids everywhere…and that, my friends, is CANDY.

I wrote this little song and whipped up some visuals (DOWNLOAD FOR FREE!) to go along. It has lots of different speech sounds [m, k, ch, g, b, oh, l], opportunities for vocalization and room for kids to add their own sounds or favorite candy. We like to hold the candy canes while we sing, take pretend bites (key word: pretend) and rub our tummies at the end. Enjoy! And maybe treat yo’self to a candy cane at lunch today. 🙂

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4 [Super Fun] Holiday Songs for Speech Goals

16 Dec

This year, I discovered a few silly songs…that have absolutely no real lyrics. BOOM! Many of my kiddos are working on speech/communication goals, so I love that these are basically just scat sounds—great for encouraging clients to experiment with different vowel and consonant combinations. Whip up a little choice board, pull out your microphone and get ready to vocalize!

1. Minion Holiday Song (Minions)

 Who doesn’t love these little guys? You get extra cool points for showing the video. Because…MINIONS!

2. Carol of the Mehs (Glove and Boots)

This one is perfect for that bilabial “m” sound—plus, it’s awesome. We’ll also turn the recording off and sing it on a bunch of different sounds.

3. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Pentatonix)

In order to show everyone how hip you are, you have to have a Pentatonix song on your holiday playlist. This one is my favorite because it’s a good conversation starter—sometimes, we’ll listen to the instrumental recording, then this one, and compare. Also fun for movement!

4. Jingle Bells (Singing Dogs)

Don’t judge me for listening to singing dogs. SERIOUSLY. DON’T. It cracks me up (maybe a little too much), but it also makes my clients giggle—especially the animal lovers. It’s really fun to try singing Jingle Bells with other animal sounds, too.

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