Monday, January 28, 2013

Picture It!: A Visual of Music Therapy Advocacy

January = MT Social Media Advocacy Month!


Introduction: Advocacy --> Recognition --> Access

Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists have collaborated on a State Recognition Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this plan is to get music therapy and our MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can more easily access our services. The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date, their work has resulted in over 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011, 1 licensure bill passed in 2012, and an estimated 7 bills being filed in 2013 that seek to create either title protection or a licensure for music therapy. This month, our focus is on YOU and on getting you excited about advocacy.

What is the State Recognition Operational Plan and
why is it important to music therapy?

The State Recognition Operational Plan is a national initiative being implemented jointly by CBMT and AMTA to obtain state recognition of music therapy and the MT-BC credential. This collaborative effort between AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provides guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as groups of music therapists work toward recognition as defined by their particular state.

The plan involves increasing awareness of the music therapy profession and of what it means to be board-certified. The ultimate goal is that, in all situations, the MT-BC be a minimum requirement as a service provision in every work setting.
Picture It!
Last year, I shared an original song, "a-d-v-o-c-a-t-e".   In 2013, the theme for our SM Advocacy Month is "CONNECT With Music Therapy." I asked greater Cincinnati clients, families, and fellow colleagues to share with me three words that came to mind when they thought of their experiences regarding music therapy. [some responses I received were so paragraphs, nontheless!] The plan was to see how these words literally connected with each other, as you can see below:

Some of the words included were embedded by yours truly [I wanted people to know that MT is researched, scientific, goal-driven)] but I love that so many of the responses that came in [especially from families whose homes I visit] were very subjective and emotional... lots of folks displayed a very visceral reaction when talking about music therapy. And while each person's view of MT is different--- even therapists practicing across our country have different notions of how they approach our profession--- there seemed to be common threads running thoughout here: positive effects of self-esteem; happiness; accomplishments; using a medium that is music to achieve AMAZING outcomes.

My thanks to all who participated in helping me make a rockin' visual- your words are SO important! As we continue our work together, and music therapists across the country do the same, we strive for others' recognition that music therapy is capable of awesome results.

Other MTs, professionals, families, you see words above that you'd  use to describe music therapy?  What else would you add to the list?

Monday, January 7, 2013

MT DIY- Let's Play a Game!

Howdy and happy 2013, all!  Here's hoping that your 2012 ended on a high note, and that the new year will bring you good health and happiness- and be filled with music!
I've, unfortunately, been sick since Friday for the second time within the span of 5 weeks : (   Very unlike me!  It's a good thing that I'd planned to share a non-singing activity with you today!

At our Christmas gathering with my mom's side of the family, I noticed in passing that she had large foam dice that she thought would work well for my Gram, plus my 5-year-old niece, when playing games.  My work hat landed on my head for a minute- I needed a pair!  These were an item that had always been on my (ever increasingly long) list of "to purchase", but never quite made it to the top.  It turns out, mom ordered them from Oriental Trading, and they came in the amount of 6 pair.  It also turns out that my momma is super sweet, and I can cross "large dice" off of my list : )

A loooong time ago, I made this board to use in lieu of my traditional picture schedule board (when appropriate), and called it "Let's Play a Game!"  The number rolled on the dice determines the order of session activities for kiddos.  Making the board is simple- foam board, Velcro, and a marker! Apologies for the length today, but to give you details as best as I can, here's a breakdown of skills that may be targeted, procedure for use, and pictures:

1. Following 1- and 2-step directions, as well as a schedule
2. Being flexible within a routine
3. Counting 1:1 correspondence
4. Number identification and matching
5. Within a group, opportunities for turn-taking, waiting, cooperation

1. I start by giving instructions...something like: "We're going to play a game today! (excitement is always good :)  This is going to be our schedule, and we're going to use a dice (pausing to let the dice be examined).  I've put our work pictures on the board.  Each time you roll the dice, we're going to count the number of dots and then find the number on the board; then it's time for that activity.  When we're finished with it, we'll reach up and take the picture off and say it's 'done.'  We get to do this until all of the pictures are gone and it's time to say 'Goodbye.' If we roll a number after we've already used it, the dice is rolled again until we get a new number.  [If in a group, I'll add: "We'll start with __ and go around the circle, taking turns to roll the dice"]."

2. I set up the board by putting a "Hello" and "Goodbye" picture card before/after the first/ last number- for my kiddos, these are constants and need to have their place at the start and end of the session.  The rest of the cards can be placed randomly.

3. Student(s)/ Client(s) roll a dice.  Before I had these fun yellow ones, I'd made one (again, a loooong time ago) from a box.  I like using a large one for several reasons:
    a). it gives a larger visual field
    b). it's easier to manipulate physically
    c). it's different, and more intriguing than a regular ol' pair of dice

4. Activities (or interventions, tasks, if you prefer) are performed as their respective numbers are rolled.  Say the first number rolled is 5.  According to my board, "conversation" would be first.

5. Complete the activity.

6. Once finished, remove the card from it's numbered space.

7. Remind individual/ group that if a number is rolled again, the dice continues to be rolled until a new number appears.

8. Repeat until 'schedule' and session is complete.

- if it's hard for a client to look at the numbered game board and want to visually follow the activities from 1-6, you can elect to roll all numbers at once to make a complete schedule, and transfer ordered pictures to another board.  This still helps to work on the aforementioned skills, but may make more sense to some.
- you may wish to use the pair of dice and the concepts of addition/ subtraction to get a number.
- a dice could be modified to hold (Velcro?) the actual schedule pictures, done in the order they're rolled.
- if hello, goodbye + 6 other activities is too much to fit in a time frame, I've done this: place the greeting and closing at #1 and #6, respectively.  Instead of rolling for these numbers, ask the student to find those numbers on the dice.

Should you be feeling DIY, and want to make the dice, I used a small box; taped it closed; applied white card stock; drew dots with a black Sharpie; used a little clear packing tape.  Ta-da!

I work primarily with young children through early adolescents, but you could surely adapt this to fit other age ranges!  Questions or comments?   I love input!  Hope this is helpful : )

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

concert time!

Are you feeling the same when I say, "It's December...what?!?!"  Each year, this last month seems to be a little sneakier and creep up a bit faster than the last.  Even though it's hard wrapping my head around the fact that 2013 will be here in less than four weeks, I really do love this time of year.  Family time, a larger collective thought of doing good for others, the coziness cold weather brings (that it is when it's not in the 60s!)...
Something else awesome is the performance that my kiddos at CCA will have in a little less than 2 weeks! It's the second year that it's been held, and will hopefully stay as a tradition.  This is open to family, friends, and community members who wish to show their support and enjoy a little Saturday morning holiday music-making!  All who will participate have been working very hard on their piano, guitar, and vocal pieces- I can't wait to see them in action : )

Monday, September 24, 2012

Click it!

As a child, I remember the emphasis my mom  placed on wearing our seatbelts.  I bet the car wasn't even taken out of park until she was assured that we were buckled up.  An easy-peasy, important way to keep yourself safer when driving around, and the repetition during those years formed a good habit.  I'm sure one day, I'll be echoing mom's words : )
Important as well is the availability that kids have now to wear seatbelts on the school bus; this safety measure adds a layer of protection when travelling to and from school and home.
Hope this may be of help to you!

Click! Buckle Up

Click, click, click- buckle it up!
Click, click goes the seatbelt on the bus
Click goes the buckle, then I leave it alone
Stay buckled when I’m going to school and home

Hop on the bus, And buckle up
As soon as I sit down
Keep it on, while I’m sitting
While the bus is driving around

My seatbelt keeps me in my place
Everywhere I go
My seatbelt also keeps me safe
When we’re driving on the road

Click, click, click- buckle it up!
Click, click goes the seatbelt on the bus
Click goes the buckle, then I leave it alone
Stay buckled when I’m going to school and home

Stay buckled when I’m going to school and home.
Buckle up!

Monday, September 10, 2012


My idea of calm : )

What do you do when you need to calm yourself?  I was thinking about some phrases that have been used during my life, to urge others (or others directing me) to do so...remember "take a chill pill"? Chill out, calm or settle down, "chillax", be cool, "chill your grill" [I deferred to Google after these and found some strange/ funny ones, too :) ].  Regardless of the saying, generally when you hear it- especially with context clues- you're likely to understand the meaning...and hopefully get a grip, if needed.
When I'm creating songs for my kiddos, I always ask parents/ caregivers/ teachers/ therapists, etc. if any specific language is already being used to teach the topic.  It's really important- especially for those with special needs- to be consistent, and I do my best to carry that through songs that we use...not just in music therapy sessions, but maybe at home with mom or at school with an ABA therapist.  Better results have the opportunity to occur when everyone's on the same page!  Such is the instance here.
"Stop-Calm-Slow" also gives specific, concrete [again- important!] examples of ways that a child might hit pause and mellow out, after recognizing that a mood shift needs to occur.  Sometimes, the self-awareness that it needs to occur in the first place is half the battle.  With a young student, we literally practice moving at a fast, excited pace around the room- kicking legs, flailing arms, shaking head- accompanied by the faster guitar playing.  I verbally recognize that her body is in an "excited" state.  She's gotten to slowing herself down in harmony with the song, and also is able to perform the suggested actions on her own.  Now, we're working on translating it into in-the-moment occurrences during sessions.
Hope it may be of help to you!


Sometimes I might get excited

A little too overexcited
And my body wants to go, go, go
But before I do that,
Think of how to react
Stop, and think calm and slow.

Take a deep breath,
Count to three,
Calm my body
Sing la-la-la-la-lee (ee-ee)
Give a squeeze
On my arms and my knees
Ask for help
If I don’t know what to do
(I need help, please)
Sing la-la-la-la-loo
You know….
Stop, and think calm and slow. (2x)

Monday, August 27, 2012

borrowed time

It's sort of literal, actually.  I'm really really excited to start sharing some songs with you that come from a very important part of my music therapy career--- my internship!  With gracious permission from supervising music therapists, as well as other therapists I worked with, I'm happy to share with you songs and activities that were shared with me 6-7 years ago.  "Internship Interventions" (does that sound like a reality TV show? ) will highlight pieces by these creative minds that were mainstays during my time with Midwest Music Therapy Services in St. Louis- as well as during my practice today.  Truly some "goodies."  I hope you find them as useful as I have. 

Today's song is from Lindsay Betz. Lindsay was one of 4 MTs I had the pleasure of learning from during my internship.  Her songwriting style was fun, and I always enjoyed how she could make learning academic tasks seem enjoyable with her ditties. I can say that I've gone back to "Tick Tock Clock" time and time again (no pun meant : ) throughout my career. Currently, Lindsay and her husband own and operate Jonathan Betz Photography in Colorado Springs.  Thanks so much for sharing your creativeness, Lindsay!


Tick, tock, look at the clock-
Let’s learn how to tell time.
Tick, tock, look at the clock-
You will see two hands.

First, look at the short hand-
This is the hour hand.
Find the number on which it lands.
The hour is: ____________.

Next, look at the long hand-
This is the minute hand.
Find the number on which it lands,
Then count by 5’s.
Start at 12 with “0”.
The “0” means o’clock
The minute is: _____________.

Then, put the numbers together.
First the hour, then the minute-
Now you’ve figured out the time.
The time is: _____________________:_____________________.

*over the years, I've adapted the lyrics just a bit to accomodate students' styles of learning

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

wearing a different hat

During my today, I practiced music as therapy and music therapeutically.  Is there a difference?  Yup (see below).  I was lucky enough to have time to visit my grandma- and I'm sooooo glad I did.  It made the day for both of us- maybe even the week!  I wasn't her music therapist, I was her granddaughter; she wasn't a client, she was my Gram.  We sat opposite each other in our respective chairs- much like a music therapist and a client might- but I wasn't watching reactions for the purpose of data-taking and reporting (although I did find myself doing so at times, it wasn't my intent...just a work habit!).  I watched her face to see the smiles she gave, looks of pride as I accompanied on my guitar and she on a keyboard on her lap, and listened as she found harmony to join me in singing "You Are My Sunshine" (one of my favorites we sang together during my childhood).  It was therapeutic for both of us as we engaged each other and found enjoyment and relaxation in participating in and creating music together.  We bonded and made memories over an activity that's seemingly so simple.  I loved it.  She told me that it was "wonderful."

Now, people can and do definitely use music in the same manner we did- recreationally to support emotions, energize, or happens every day, and that may be therapeutic for you.  Think about psyching yourself for a run, turning to a piece you recognize as soothing on a long drive home from the office, or playing with your kids.  All awesome!  However, it's music therapy when a board certified music therapist assess and creates a tailored treatment plan for his/her client(s).  Today, singing along with some of my grandma's favorite tunes, I was perfectly happy to be a music therapist using music in a therapeutic manner.

By the Gram used to play the accordian- cool, huh? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

the power of 5

I'm really excited, friends-  Look what came in the mail yesterday!  My new certificate from the Certification Board of Music Therapists (CBMT).  Now I'm officially a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) for another 5 years....bring it on : )
Curious as to how a music therapist gains national certification?  Briefly...

When music therapy students finish their collegiate coursework, each participates in a clinical internship that generally lasts 6-9 months, with a total of 1200 hours of training completed. Following the successful end of an internship, the music therapist is eligible to take the board certification exam, administered by the CBMT...and successfully completing this grants the privelage of the MT-BC credentials for 5 years.  During this time, we MTs participate in various professional activities to accumulate a minimum of 100 hours of continuing music therapy education (CMTE) credits, if we intend to follow this method of being recertified after our 5 year cycle [this is the route I took, in case you're curious].  A music therapist may also opt to sucessflly re-take and pass the recertification exam during the 4th year of his/her cycle, in order to maintain MT-BC status.

Currently, there are over 5300 music therapists who retain the MT-BC credential.  Only those who have completed the requirements of the program and pass certification are able to use the title of board certified music therapist. If you are interested in music therapy services, you can search here to look for a certified therapist in your area.

Monday, May 14, 2012

which comes first?

A melody or lyrics? When I'm writing songs, I typically look at wording before adding any sort of musical notations. This allows me to think about components of music, such as meter, key, dynamics, chords that may emphasize lyrics, etc...and parallel this to elements of spoken language (rate of speech, rhythm, type of utterance, emotion(s) of the speaker).  This way, I feel that I can better "attack" topics and really highlight them with music.  However, there are occasions when I'm driving along (and along and along!) my way to/from work and my mind is suddenly flooded with notes. It may be for a current project or something that I roughly record on the voice memo feature of my phone, and stash away for the "right" activity.

It just so happened that for today's song, the lyrics were already written for me. They were penned by an ABA therapist who I "share" a kiddo with. We thought that since music is such a motivator for her, putting the words to music seemed a natural fit. When I write, I, personally, usually look for  some sort of rhyme; this song doesn't, but to me- it works. The flow and message of the words are good, and during sessions, I've seen great success at learning, singing, as well as recalling afterward.
I like that the song offers empathy that yes- it's alright to be angry...we all experience this emotion!  However, there are ways of expression that aren't appropriate (and these can easily be modified to fit your needs); instead, alternatives are given.  I also made a lyric page with pictures to illustrate each "do not" and "can."

So, when it comes to song-writing, it may be a "chicken and egg" deal...other therapists, teachers, composers: how do you approach your creations? I'm interested to know your methods!

Getting Mad

Sometimes I get mad.
It’s OK to get mad.
I get mad when something is too hard.
It’s OK to get mad.


When I get mad, I do not kick.
When I get mad, I do not scream.
When I get mad, I do not run.
It’s OK.

I can ask for help.
I can take deep breaths to feel calm.
I can count to 20.
Then I feel better.

Great job, Lucy*!

*name changed

Monday, April 30, 2012

sing it, spell it, say it- part 2

Wow! Are you like me, wondering where in the world the month of April rushed off to?  It sure snuck in and out quickly.  In greater Cincinnati, we ended the last day with temperatures in the 80s!
To kick off the fourth month, I shared a song that was inspired by a student, "Sing and Spell Hello."  Of course it needed its counterpart and, to bid adieu to April, here's "Sing and Spell Goodbye":
See you in May : )

Sing and Spell Goodbye


Goodbye to you;
Goodbye to me.

Music time is over;
We’re at the end.

So I'll say "Goodbye" to you, my friend

Goodbye ____
Goodbye ____
Goodbye to you;
Goodbye to me.
My "Goodbye" card for picture's on its last leg!