Monday, May 30, 2011

The past few days

A massive weekend is behind us. Thomas and I have just come home after having seen three movies in as many days. Thanks, Groupon

Oh yes, the length of my hair
will be right about here this time
next year. I just won't have
that mustache.

We also reserved our reception site for the wedding. I made sure to warn him that my hair is quite likely to resemble William H. Macy's in "Lincoln Lawyer" by that point (yes, this is one of the three movies we saw over these past few days). I will have to dye it a nice off-blond, just like Will. 

One reason I have to believe I am actually in my mid-eighties: I complimented (truthfully) one of the residents I had in a my music therapy groups on his delicious choice of footwear. Yes, Velcro played a major role in the construction of this shoe. And yes, there was food on the shoe. 

On the wedding front: I had a dream the other night that our guests were falling asleep at our reception because the music was so poor, but I saved the day by calling the DJ of my high school prom(s). Those guests were much happier dancing to Shania Twain, Sublime, and the like, than to the nothing that we had apparently provided.

In other words, the Memorial Day weekend has been very nice. Now, to another week. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Tonight I hosted a group for music therapists and interns who live in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. The group went well-- we shared songs, improvised, and even got to Skype with one of our newer colleagues who recently moved to Indiana. 

I have visions for this group. I'd love for us to meet on a monthly basis and facilitate workshops for each other, such as guitar maintenance, vocal warm-ups for those therapists who were not trained in voice, and even how to utilize social media. Hopefully, more of the music therapy community will join. Ideas abound. (One of the perks for hosting this group is that Thomas bakes chocolate chip cookies for anyone who is there. Damn good cookies.)

I also have visions of conducting research in the future. But that's for another time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This Is How We Go Out

I will keep this short. I just got home from my first softball practice. My first fastpitch softball experience of any kind in nine years. 

I can hardly type, nor can I properly grip my beer. 

Now I have calloused fingertips on my left hand from playing guitar and violin, and a possibly- soon-to-be calloused index finger on my right (from pitching-- who knows how much I'll actually do at this point).

Wear your gem sweater.
(Another picture not taken by me.)
One of my best friends just informed me that he is going to get married next summer, too. Here is what he and his fiancĂ© will be enjoying. Lucky.

"If you want to survive, just shoot them in the brains." -- Leslie Hall

Monday, May 23, 2011

Disney World in Maple Grove

I enjoy shopping in essentially no circumstance. Yesterday, we went shopping for eight hours. Eight hours. A full night's sleep. We happened into this Disney World-esque town that consisted of brand new shops, stores, and restaurants, mashed into a few blocks, surrounded by massive piles of the dirt that was moved to accommodate their existence. I say it was Disney World-esque because it seemed so new and pretty and resort-like. I could've sworn we were states away from Minnesota, only because this weird place seemed so foreign... And now you can tell how often I go shopping, and for that matter, shopping in suburbia. 

Tornadoes touched down, damaged property, and killed and injured people in Minneapolis yesterday. The weather seems to be especially bad these past few months. Thankfully, we were not affected by the weather and do not know anyone who was, but I feel for those people who were. 

Partially because of the weather, we did not go camping this weekend as we had planned. The other part of the reason is that I am much more indoorsy than outdoorsy. I like being outdoors, so long as I have access to the indoors. (This is much, much more true in the winter than the spring and summer. Let's just say I am not a happy snowshoer/inadequate snowboot-wearer who owns nearly no outdoor gear to protect myself from cold under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. And let's also say that I will take this information into account and continue to complain about how much I hate the cold.)

Does anyone else feel that music is their job and not their hobby, and that therefore it's no fun to do outside work hours? I ask this because, while we did not go camping, we did meet the campers/outdoorers for dinner, after which they were going to gather for a sing-along. I promptly rejected that idea, even though no one asked nor had they actually started to play.

Let's recap: This weekend was all kinds of crazy, but pretty neat, too.

No pictures today. I'm trying to get myself to take at least one picture once a day. But I did not do such a thing on this day. 

Friday, May 20, 2011


Apparently I glean a huge amount of confidence from simply being around other music therapists. On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity and privilege to rehearse with my ex- co-intern for an event in which we are performing, and the familiarity I share with him was so helpful to me. He and I are in the same, beginning phase of our careers, and we have positions in similar facilities, and the act of discussing experiences we've had with our co-workers and residents was just so dang refreshing. 

Bash in the grass
One of my favorite music therapy bloggers (Kat Fulton at Rhythm for Good) posted recently about the importance of creating space for a music therapy session. Oh, for that to happen...

This weekend, we are supposed to go camping, but of course we're also supposed to get a bucket of rain all day tomorrow. 

Tonight: an orchestra concert.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moonlit panic

Nothing like being completely worthless all night last night and then waking up at 1:30 AM because A., I was dreaming that I wore jeans to work on a not-casual dress code day that is every day but Friday; and B., I was convinced that I am doing a terrible job as a music therapist. I essentially didn't sleep for the remainder of the night. Maybe it was the full moon a couple nights ago. 

I "taught a class" or "conducted a session" (something I can't call music therapy because there aren't goals, apart from providing an engaging experience, in mind for my residents/clients) this afternoon that was one big factor for my unease last night. I "taught," or rather "shared," the knowledge I have regarding the difference between violin and fiddle. Ever seen/heard a Chinese erhu? Did you know that it is technically a fiddle? 

Another reason I can't call this particular session/class/what-have-you music therapy is because it's an open group-- anyone can come and go at any time. Does anyone have music therapy groups that are open? This is an honest question; I'd love to know.

And: Has any violinist out there have any suggestions for alleviating back pain that I am almost certain is caused by playing violin? My hard cider and extra strength Tylenol combination isn't doing the trick. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Maya Angelou and fall prevention

Today I attended a seminar on fall prevention in nursing homes/care centers/skilled nursing facilities. Doesn't sound like fun? Yeah, it wasn't, but our presenter was fantastic. She used a fantastic quote from Maya Angelou: "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." Unfortunately, she was using it to reference the kinds of care provided to residents of nursing homes decades ago. 

Tonight marks the only unspoken-for, unscheduled night I'll have for seven days. Luckily, the weather is fantastic, so we planted our few plants. 

I am developing a website to use professionally. I am considering dividing my blog, and dedicating a professional blog to that particular site, and moving this one to another place. When I decide, 'twill be done, and it'll be easy to use. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sometimes I should worry

A really intense few days lie behind me. Big downs and big ups, and I am happy to have had a day of a big up. However, I think it's interesting to notice that sometimes the amount of worry and anxiety I experience about a particular event really isn't too irrational-- I performed pretty badly, I am sorry to admit, at an event over the weekend, and it ruined my day. And most of the days coming up to the performance. I have always been one to worry, and this time it was justified. Huh. Not a fun realization. 
Flowers also known as tulips

But, Thomas and I have found places we'd like for our reception. That's awesome news. And we started the gardening process. Also good...

I am spent. Here is a picture Thomas took.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Live music and late posts

Blogger was down on Thursday, but dang it, I wrote a post anyway. The following:

Excellence occurred today. One of my groups did a significant analysis of lyrics, which led to discussion. Residents conversed with one another, and seemed to connect on the topic. All was well.

And, I got to see one of my very best friends, and also one of my bridesmaids, tonight. Her boyfriend played a show at the Triple Rock Social Club, and I will be fortunate enough to see her tomorrow night and into the weekend. If Ever Was a Fire will be playing tomorrow night in Des Moines and the following night in Ames. I wish them luck; their drummer was very good. J

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Maintaining groups

I have picked up another job, as of last week (and potentially another, third job), and I am already noticing some possibly great opportunities with one of my groups, as well as challenges with my identity as a music therapist. I am content and excited to be developing more experience with the senior population, and that I am using my other primary instrument-- the violin/fiddle-- in a much more prominent way. But the challenge is that this particular group, and actually many of the others I facilitate, are open groups-- anyone can come, anyone can go. I am able to balance such a session with the 1:1s (that I am absolutely loving) with people in assisted living, which happen directly after this particular open group. However, I feel that there are so many obstacles in the way.

I would love to hear from any music therapist out there who works in skilled nursing facilities or care centers. Essentially, I'd like to know good tactics for keeping large, open groups therapeutic. (What a broad answer that could require.)

In other news: Bash had his first vet appointment today. He seems happy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Toward the beginning of the game
Before the storm

And the purple sky
Remember when I mentioned the Twins game in my post yesterday? Well, after four innings, we got to see pouring rain and hail, with a tornado warning siren in the background. However, they did wait long enough to resume play, but Thomas and I didn't stay too much after they started again.

Let's see, what else happened today... Oh, a volunteer at work stopped me in the hall to ask if he could bring all of the instruments he owns (which initially is super cool) to play on my units during my session times (which initially is not super cool), but not until after he asked if I had a guitar tuner so that he could point out he thought I was out of tune. However, he made a point to assure me, "I'm not trying to take your job or anything." (I highly doubt he knows what my job is.) I found out very shortly thereafter that he is, in fact, trying to find a job on our staff. 

And here I have encountered my first strange I-need-to-be-somewhat-possessive-of-the-music-that-happens-here moments.

Go Twins. (We were down 6-0 when we left.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Piano Bash

I will tell you what's cool. Using your smartphone to listen to Pandora while running for the first time in two weeks because you feel fat and have the first half marathon you've ever run to prepare for in a few months. And an expected 80-degree day tomorrow for the Twins game we get to see in the corporate box (free drinks and dinner).

I spent a good portion of the day fretting about having to use piano for a group at the end of the day. I didn't use it, but I will next week, so that means I have a whole week to worry about that. And to worry about the wedding music I will be playing on Saturday. Hopefully I will spend the time I want and need to spend on this music. However, there are so many other things to do in a day. Maybe I won't sleep anymore. 

Hello, Bash. You are skinny.
Here are some pictures of mighty Bash, whose previous owners invested some precious time in preparing him for us; he is the most well-mannered 10-month-old puppy I have ever known. I am really surprised by him and absolutely pleased. 


Friday, May 6, 2011


A real weekend lies before me. A real, two-day, grown-up weekend, that is happening on a Saturday and Sunday. And the weather is gorgeous, which is tremendous and wonderful. 

Here is another list of sentences I dislike (note that they are said to me by typically-functioning adults with well minds):
"You look sick."
"I can't believe you had such luck getting roles [in theatre]."
"I don't like that [wedding] dress on you. Your shoulders are so masculine."
"You don't seem like a theatre person to me at all. You are way too introverted. I just can't imagine you performing."
The following was said by someone in my facility, but it's just too unique not to share:
"Did you have a lot of acne when you were a kid? 'Cause your face looks like it."

Here is a list of things I lovelovelove that are happening on a daily basis:
Waking up at 6:00 and going for a long walk with Thomas and Bash;
Eating breakfast;
Having a reason to start my day with physical activity, and to take that same walk when I get home from work;
Looking forward to the next day as I fall asleep the night before.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May in May

I may have an opportunity to provide music therapy to clients with developmental disabilities on a 1:1 basis as an independent contractor. I may also have an opportunity to teach voice, violin, and/or beginners' guitar. I may too have an opportunity to develop my skills advocating for music therapy by presenting to a variety of groups throughout this area. 

I may really want to take this opportunity, should it be granted to me, because I am configuring a three-year plan that includes opening my own practice...

I may need to take a business class or two between now and when I decide to act on that plan.

I may also feel a pang of hesitation because I may really want to spend good time at home. However, maybe now is best to invest this kind of time so that in the next couple of years, when there is more of a pull to be home (not that there isn't now, but when it might be too hard to be away... ), I could maybe accomplish having my own schedule and my own clients...

I may, I may, I may. We'll just see how it goes. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Blue and black shouldn't be worn at the same time

Here I sit, in my blue sweatpants and black sweatshirt (yes, nice, and yes, I did color coordinate with Mom), rocking in one of our two wicker rocking chairs on the enclosed porch, with Thomas sitting next to me and Bash (the new dog) sleeping on the doormat, and I am thinking that life is pretty awesome at the moment. 

Remembering to love moments like this is truly difficult for me. 

Because I could just as easily think that this is a great moment, but for the fact that I am not being productive. And because I am not doing things that need to get done, this moment, therefore, really isn't as great as it could be. And there goes my cherishing the moment... 

No, that's not true. I still am loving life. 

I do wonder, though, how to do it all. I could easily, and maybe should, spend hours each night working. I am still trying to find my balance.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The activity girl

Finally, it's over 30 degrees here, and the sun is out. I took Bash/the dog whose name may or may not be solidified, for a walk directly after work. I had a great morning, both at home and at work, but my afternoon has pretty much sucked for reasons I can't determine. Even the walk in the awesome weather didn't help me. 

Below is a list of phrases I dislike:
"Is there going to be a sing-along?"
"Are you the entertainer?"
"Are you going to perform for us?"
A staff member to a resident, as I am trying to gather specific people for a group: "Would you like to listen to some music?"
"The new activity girl is here." (This one is special; I don't like "girl," either.)

I do happen to look good in red.
I. can. hardly. stand. those. words. in. those. configurations. !

But I do. I do stand them. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ability vs. musicality; nature vs. nurture

On Saturday, Thomas and I had another opportunity to go to an orchestra concert. True, I was tired from having worked all day, and Thomas seemed tired from having run a 10K in the morning (and helping me move out of the apartment), but we went. I was again impressed by a violin soloist, Johnathan Magness, and I was reminded that I absolutely love Dvorak. Another thought I had, though, was about the act of teaching music. 

Clearly, this violinist and all of the orchestra members are terrific musicians. I had to help run an event at work that morning, also having to do with violin players-- and I say "violin players" because they were children, very young to maybe high school-aged. They were giving an annual recital. (Mom, they weren't Suzuki, though they did play a lot of Suzuki songs.) Now, they are learning how to play violin. They are learning about music by experiencing an instrument. But in my book, they weren't musicians. Yet. 

This is not Bash.
I have played violin since I was two (nearly three) years old. I can tell you that I do not ever remember being enthralled by the music I played. I do not have a memory of hearing a piece and having trouble resisting some temptation to learn it. I do, however, recall seeing a couple other kids who had a need to know a piece. Certainly, I have benefited from my Suzuki instruction, but my big question is: How is musicianship taught? Or is it? At what point does the ability to play an instrument, or use your voice to sing a song, become musical? I believe that I am a musician, but I do not think I was a musician until very recently. I suppose I am wondering whether or not musicality can be instructed. Can one be taught to be a musician, or is musicianship (and lack thereof) a part of one's nature?

On a very different topic: Thomas and I are now dog owners! Yesterday, we adopted a 10-month-old, black labrador/retriever mix from the Humane Society. We love him! We have (just this moment) named him Bash. (There is a story behind his name, but you'll have to ask me to have Thomas relay it to you...)

Pictures of Bash to come.