Thursday, June 30, 2011

She speaks in numbers

Every Thursday, I facilitate small group sessions with residents who are in the TCU. I have had a number of good sessions there, but today I had a favorite. On that unit lives a woman who speaks in numbers, but she does it so well and with such effective inflection that I can usually understand what she means (not, of course, exactly what words she is intending to use). Today she sang with me, whole songs, lyrics and words aplenty. I love that.

I also had opportunity to co-facilitate a session today, on the palliative care unit. I found that to be really beneficial. I was targeting an improvement in gross motor function, and there are only so many hands I have. With two of us, much more was accomplished. I also love that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New book

As found on Twitter, AMTAInc. is selling a newly-released book, Music Therapy and Geriatric Populations.

Oh, if only I had the energy and desire to read work-related books when I'm not working. Maybe in time I will have that energy reserve that I think I'll need for that. Anyone buy the book? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


A favorite realization: When I see a resident wearing a sweater that I know I own. And the sweater is brown. Coupled with some nice Velcro shoes, and I'm set.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nickel Creek gave me a present

Recently, I have moved, and my mom has begun allowing me to repossess a number of my old belongings that she no longer wishes to store at their house (politely insisting I take back my crap). Last night, Thomas and I went through one of the giant plastic bins The Mother had had. In it, I found an AHSSA (American High School Speech Association) travel mug (I think I got it at one of the All-state competitions [notice I said "one of"]), a weird collection of Stanley Kubric DVDs that I think were pawned off on me by a friend in college, some pictures of babies in my family (back when they were babies), a couple of opera scores, and a lone Nickel Creek CD. Of course I love the pictures of the babies. But I remember that CD with very specific clarity. I especially like "Tomorrow is a Long Time" (though with that clarity I do not recall why I like it so much). I love how music can do that. This, I know, is not a discovery, because part of the reason any music therapist practices music therapy is for the realization of that phenomenon. 

I love that I found that CD. I feel like I was given a present. By myself. Because I forgot where I'd put it. Since I'm unorganized and lazy and moved so many times that I soon  entirely abandoned any effective means of tracking where and what I'd packed.

So it was sort of like opening a present.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From place to place

Not only do I work at a care center, but I also work at its adjacent apartments, for those more independently-living seniors. Many of the residents of the apartments are married to residents of the care center, and I am so fortunate that I am able to spend time with both members of the couple in separate environments. I don't know any other person on either staff who is afforded such an opportunity. I am able to put faces with names that come from memories related to me from someone in the care center, while also getting to hear from the other party (sometimes) similar stories. I love it. One of my favorite parts about my job is how continuously fascinating peoples' stories are.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I don't happen to be one of those musicians who loves to play and/or sing at any moment of any day. There is a time and place for my music, and, apparently unfortunately, that place is at work. 

So when my boss called me the morning of my day off to ask that I provide the entertainment for our department's barbecue that same evening, I explained to him my feelings about the music I provide. To this, he responded, "Well, maybe you could just play a few songs, no pressure." I e-mailed him, thanking him for asking because I am happy that he'd think I could entertain (that word, that word) everyone, but (I think) politely and professionally said no. The other music therapist at my facility had reminded me of maintaining boundaries, and had I not declined and not provided music for everyone that night, I would have been distracted and distant from everyone instead of feeling closer to them as co-workers in a social context. 

A few days have passed, and even today I was approached by a co-worker who applauded me for refraining from working at a non-work event. 

I applaud myself, too. 

Monday, June 20, 2011


I am starting most of my work from scratch. I am new to music therapy, I am still relatively new to the cities (so I don't know a large number of music therapists here), and I am really new to working with kids and people with developmental disabilities. And, I have never worked as a music therapist who is an independent contractor. 

So I thought it was fortunate and opportune that when Thomas and I walked into Target yesterday, the whole front portion of the $1.00 bins were dedicated to children's items (like dry-erase boards, beginner's math workbooks, etc.). I can do $1.00 for most of that. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Private practice (not the TV show)

Today, I officially began practicing as an independent contractor. I had only one client tonight, and will have three on Thursday. I am excited for what could lie ahead. 

I will be using much more piano with these clients than guitar, which is absolutely out of my comfort zone. But everything about this private practice is out of my comfort zone, so why not add a main accompaniment tool? I am starting from scratch with these clients; I have very few instruments to use, and not a whole lot of experience with this population. But, I have to start somewhere. 

'Twould be nice to have Nordoff-Robins training, and another music therapist for co-facilitation. Not in the cards.

Tired and ready for another day at the nursing home...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time and presence

I love my work. I'm bored with the songs I use, but I still love my work. 

One of the hardest, but most special, parts of today was when a resident pulled me aside and asked that I explain to her what is happening. She had just been hospitalized, and had before lived on a high-functioning floor, when now she lives in palliative care. I did my best to describe to her what changes she is experiencing. She was thankful for the explanation. 

I get so mad at myself about thinking I don't know enough, but sometimes being able to spend time with the people I see seems to be exactly what they need. 

Last week, one of my co-workers suggested she could run a residents' play. This immediately made me think of the movie, "Young@Heart." Watch this movie, if you're a person. I love it. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

More changes and developments

I have been in the habit of posting to this blog on a very regular basis, either on workdays or every day of the week. This week I have taken a break, as you can attest, because I am splitting the blog into three. Eventually, I will relocate this blog, but not at this point.

Here is where I will talk about my music therapy and music performance experiences. Here is my "professional blog."

As I have mentioned in the past, I do have a website in progress for the specific purpose of housing my professional web presence. We'll see how formal I get, but I do have some goals.

I will be taking over four individual clients as an independent contractor, starting next week. Yet another transition, and definitely one that is important for me to do. I look forward to the challenge. Also, I was asked today to consider facilitating music therapy for a group home (which is entirely separate from anything I am currently doing). I was asked what I charge. I'll tell you: I don't know. That's pretty much what I said, in some different language. 

Work is going well the care center, despite the fact that I had to use a loaner violin today. Dang. The sound is absolutely, in all respects, different, and it's hard for me to play it. I don't recall ever playing someone else's instrument. I look forward to reuniting with mine early next week. 

Beginning next week, I will be co-facilitating sessions on the palliative care unit with the other music therapist in the facility. I have been feeling like I have not been able to provide for these clients the way I should, and so I am positive having another pair of capable hands will be beneficial for everyone involved. 

Luckily, however, I feel much more adept this week than last. I've found that the more detailed I make my session plans -- even if I don't actually follow the plans -- the more goal-oriented my sessions are. Unfortunately, I haven't got everything figured out yet. :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Independent contracting and a broken violin

I had to give up my violin today. My bridge is warping, and it snaps out of place while I am playing. Frequently. And it freaks me out. So I am having them replace the bridge and re-mount my chin rest (two separate issues), and I won't have my violin for at least a week and a half. I have a loaner, but I am having some separation anxiety about this distance that has been created. I remember sleeping with my violin in its hard case when I was little. I don't sleep with my violin anymore, but, still. 

Oh, I miss it.

Now that I will be working as an independent contractor, I have needed/wanted to come up with a name for my "business." I don't know what I'm doing in the business world, but whatever I am doing is exciting. But yes, I have decided on a name. I will bring it to you in later posts...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Working out work

I am pretty excited right now. I have just returned from the first night of meeting some of my new clients, and though I am experiencing a very strong element of terror going into this new work, I do definitely feel thrilled as well. These clients each have developmental disabilities, and most of them are young. These are the terrifying elements, as I haven't had a lot of experience with either population for quite some time. 

The past few days I have felt pretty ineffective at work at the nursing home. I have already vented about my frustrations to another music therapist today, so I don't have that need anymore, but honestly, man, I hope I come up out of this hole soon. Of late I have been focusing on physical wellness, specifically fall prevention. I would love to co-facilitate with our physical therapists, but I am having trouble deciding how to approach them about this. 

My favorite picture of these two together. :)
Maybe we'll get to the yard tomorrow,
in the 90-degree heat.
On other fronts: We started showing the Harry Potter movies last night. We thought 'twould  be fun to review before the new one comes out in July. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wedding blog created

I knew today would be difficult, given that it was the first after a three-day, huge weekend. And given that I was/am still invested in the wedding planning that is going on. 

For future reference, Thomas and I have created a wedding blog. Should you want to know what's going on in that realm, you can find out at To Be Married in Minneapolis.