Guest post: Lisa Skarbakka

This week’s post comes to you from Lisa Skarbakka, MT-BC.

What does it mean to you to organize? Is it a wholly physical experience? How do you do it? Is it always a process, or do you ever feel it’s achieved?

When I was a kid, my dad had a sign on his door that said “creative minds are rarely tidy.” That was a convenient excuse for me! I think of organization in terms of the law of entropy: everything in the universe moves toward chaos unless energy is applied to bring it to a more ordered state. Everything falls apart unless we apply energy toward keeping it together. That applies to our relationships as well as all the other “stuff” of our life. That’s what I tell myself when I spend an hour cleaning out my car on the weekend and it looks like a disaster zone again by Wednesday! For me, the hardest part of organizing is getting started; once I’m actually doing it, it’s kind of pleasant, especially if I’m listening to a really great podcast. I often resist it, though, because it seems to take so much energy, and there are a million other more exciting things I’d like to do, and it’s never “done,” at least not for long. The people I know who are very organized seem to have consistent habits around it, so they do not ever have to decide to organize. I imagine it doesn’t take up as much energy when it’s a habit…I say “imagine” because I am not there right now!  But, little by little, I’ve become gradually more organized over time as I notice that I really do feel better when my “stuff” is in some kind of order (not to mention anyone who has to share space with me). I am setting an intention now to let go of labeling myself as “a disorganized person.” Our habits are not our identity; they are habits, and with a lot of intention and practice we can change them.

Lisa works as a hospice music therapist in and around Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Thank you, Lisa!

Guest post: Janice Lindstrom

This week’s post comes to you from Janice Lindstrom, MA, MT-BC.

What does it mean to you to organize? Is it a wholly physical experience? How do you do it? Is it always a process, or do you ever feel it’s achieved?

When I am “organized”, it means that surface clutter is mostly put away, there is a reasonable plan for my day, and I feel productive. For me, it’s a mental and physical experience. When my home is in order and my schedule is do-able, I can think better and I feel better. My outside environment reflects my inner mind. So when there is chaos in my home, I feel lost and adrift or irritable and frustrated. I think it is always a process to stay organized. When my routines are in place, my home and thoughts flow better. When they aren’t, I get stuck, mentally and physically. The best system I’ve found for staying organized, while being nice to myself, is through I am able to use her principles in other areas of my life, like my music therapy business, and finding that mythical work-life balance.

I have plans to share some tips that work for me for organization, that are music therapy-related, on my website, I haven’t yet figured out my routine for this yet, but it’s something I’m passionate about, so it will manifest very soon!

Janice works in private practice in Dallas, Texas. You likely know her from her radio show, The Music Therapy Show with Janice Lindstrom.

Thank you, Janice!

Guest submission: Word of intention

Today’s post is provided by Lindsay Markworth, MMT, MT-BC, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have gotten to know Lindsay over these past few months, and am looking forward to learning more about her approach as a Nordoff-Robbins music therapist. She owns Twin Cities Music Therapy Services.


Hello, my name is Lindsay Markworth and I am a music therapist and owner of Twin Cities Music Therapy Services here in Minnesota.  Erin has asked me to share my word of intention for the New Year, and I must admit it was a struggle for me to identify just one word.  Each year with my own New Years resolutions I find myself writing lists of goals, organized by heading and topic:  work, health, finances, adventures, music, etc.  There are so many words that I want to focus on, that this process quickly becomes overwhelming.  Goals are important across all settings of my life; however, my word is not a goal that can be quantified or even ever really checked off a list. Instead, it is a focused shift in my approach to life, business and work. My word is trust, more specifically, trust in the process.


Throughout different aspects of my life and work, situations have often occurred differently than I had originally planned.  I am by nature a Type A personality, a goal-setter, list-maker, and planner.  So, when I’m presented with a sudden change, my instinct is to resist.  I am beginning to realize that in my attempt to be in control, I am actually missing the purpose and beauty that exists within life’s spontaneity.


Just as this is a philosophy I intend to apply to my own life, in my experiences as a developing person and business owner, this is a concept that applies directly to my clinical work as a music therapist.


I was reminded of this recently in a session where a client seemed to be stuck on one specific song, repeating it over and over.  My clinical intention was to challenge this client to become more interactive and flexible within musical interactions.  My plan was to encourage the client to move away from this song, as it seemed to be a repetitive, internal musical experience rather than interactive.  I introduced new music from the same genre, and then I introduced new, completely unrelated songs with hopes of inspiring the client to join me in the music.  However, none of these attempts seemed to promote the development of an interactive music relationship.


As I reflected on my work with this client, I made the intentional decision to trust that this song was an important part of the client’s process.  When considering the possibilities for my role in this musical interaction one word came to mind: extend, adding to what my client was already doing.  In our next session, I joined the client in playing the song, and then extended the music creating additional lyrics within the existing musical structure.  My client looked at me, smiled, and responded by completing musical phrases through singing and playing the piano.  The client later initiated the “extended” version of the song, seemingly communicating acceptance of this musical collaboration.


This experience was a lesson for me in trusting each client’s unique process, and being open to the possibilities that exist when I set my expectations aside, allowing myself to meet my client in the moment.  Clinical goals are an essential aspect of music therapy, and these goals can certainly co-exist with a flexible, creative approach.  The music I prepare for a session may not be relevant to the client in the moment.  It is my responsibility to then, let go of my plan, listen, observe, and create music with my client.  This requires several dimensions of trust: trust in my client, trust in the music, trust in myself and of course, trust in the process.


This year I challenge myself to trust the process, embrace the unexpected and release my tightly gripped plans in favor of being more open to the beauty of the present moment in all aspects of my life and work.


“We’re coming into an art of who we are, as we become who we are.  We must become it to know it, and be it to recognize it.”-Clive Robbins.

Lindsay Markworth, MMT, MT-BC

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapist