Intergenerational group

I have the privilege of being a part of an intergenerational music group that meets on a weekly basis in St. Paul. Specifically, my son is the group member, but my husband and I get to be there, too. I love this group for two reasons. One is that it is co-lead by two music therapists, and the other is that I get to see babies and young kids interact with seniors. My son is the youngest (at three months of age it’s hard to be younger), and I estimate a couple of the seniors to be in their nineties. I knew I would enjoy the group, but I am surprised by how much I loved being there. I’ve worked with seniors and toddlers, separately, in the past. Seeing the two age groups interact was really special, and I am looking forward to our next session.

Have you ever observed an intergenerational group?

Monday matters: Consistency

As much as I enjoy and appreciate themes, I’ve never been one to work inside them. This being said, the “Monday matters” posts are an attempt to focus myself on a topic throughout my working week.

Finding consistency clinically

I’ve been working with two different populations over the past year or more. I work with groups of young children, ages infant to five, and I work with children and adults with developmental disabilities. Providing consistency plays a role in my work with both of these populations. With the children, my hope is to instill a structure that begins with an opening song, then moves into vocalizing and/or singing, then movement, instrument play, and closes with a similar closing song from week to week. In working with my other clients, my idea of consistency is personalized per the needs of each client. Some clients need a more rigid routine than others, and providing them some flexibility and autonomy inside that routine is sometimes a challenge I have. Other clients always request a certain song that I consistently provide. However I think the most important way in which I am consistent with these clients is that I try my hardest to be present, be open, and be aware each time I see them. These are important factors in my practice of consistency.

Finding consistency professionally

I could be doing more here. But, I’m trying to be consistent about organizing the peer supervision group here in Minneapolis. We’ve been meeting regularly since I was in my internship. I could definitely be working more toward CEUs and trainings, but at this point, I’m not.

I wonder about the ways you find consistency in your work week, either with clients or in business.

Child Development Club

Happy new year!

We’ve been traveling in the Midwest and in New York City over the past couple of weeks. This is our first full week back at work. There really is comfort in routine.

I am taking this opportunity to guide you to a new website to which I am a contributing blogger. The site is Child Development Club, and it was created by Laura Efinger,  M.A. OT/L, CEIM, who lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. I’m excited to be a part of this community as it has writers of a variety of professions (including one other music therapist) who live all over the world.

Child Development Club’s mission:

The Child Development Club was created to support parents, care providers, educators, administrators, therapists and other professionals by providing relevant child development resources. Our goal is to provide international resources that adults can utilize with children, so children can thrive and be successful in activities of daily living no matter where they live.  Our goal is also to provide a resource network that students can easily access and utilize on their own.

Feel free to find my latest post here.

And it’s winter

Out the front door

Yesterday, we here in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas experienced snowfall for about 24 hours, amounting in 15 inches or so in my neighborhood. This is a shot out the front door.

Luckily, even though I schedule myself rather tightly, I still lumbered my way through the streets and made it to nearly all of my sites. My big concern this winter is what to do when a storm like this hits in the middle of a weekday. I’ll have to pick and choose, and then probably re-schedule sites and clients for the weekends.

Snow. Lots of it.

In double-sickness

And I’m sick. Over the past two weeks, this cough I’d developed turned itself into bronchitis and I woke up Monday with a painful sinus infection. Two unrelated problems, that hit me at the same time. Luckily, I have some pretty understanding families (who would want a sick person around their child?), and one mother told me she thinks it could’ve happened because my body hit a let-down following the wedding. Probably true. Honestly, I was expecting to get a little sick, but not quite this bad.

I’m medicated now, and feel much better than even yesterday. Today I’ve caught up on all the music therapy, speech-language pathology, and music education blogs that I read. One of the music education blogs,, mentioned an app I might put into use, called “Note Squish” (find the full description here). The app seems that it would engage some of my clients, especially those who are infatuated by anything technological and who seem to engage with my iPad more than with the dry-erase board I use (and this doesn’t surprise me).

Subway flash mob

I feel rather distant from a number of things lately, but this is because we are so busy getting together the rest of our wedding planning. Obviously I haven’t been writing daily; but I’ve been working daily.

Last week’s UPS included:

  1. Acquiring new clients
  2. Seeing my once-a-month clients
  3. Setting up a high school student observation
  4. Acquiring new instruments and materials for the little ones I see each morning
  5. Getting a $15.00 discount at a children’s store, just by using foursquare

Last week’s NOT-SO-UPS included:

  1. Learning that I won’t be seeing a really special client after the Spring session
  2. Becoming frustrated with my (in)ability to continuously engage my little ones
  3. Becoming frustrated that I’m finding it more and more difficult to separate my wedding planning from my every thought
  4. Realizing I can’t keep up with everything I’d like to be doing right this minute
  5. Succumbing to feeling overwhelmed

Have a good week, everyone.


An Article Weekly: “Possible Effects of Music Therapy on the Building Blocks of Communication”

On Mondays, I will be writing up a short, non-academic review of an article I’ve found interesting. These articles will be taken from music therapy literature. 

Tonight, I’m writing about another article I found in imagine. 

I presented to a group of mothers who have children with delayed speech, and the title of this piece stood out to me because of my experience presenting to that particular audience. And, because I heard the most recent episode of “The Music Therapy Show with Janice Lindstrom” (of Heartbeat Music Therapy), which was an interview with music therapist Roia Rafieyan (whose blog is Contemplative Music Therapist), I am even more interested in meeting clients where they are, whether or not they are able to communicate verbally or otherwise.

“Possible Effects of Music Therapy on the Building Blocks of Communication”

Debra Jelinek Gombert, MA, MT-BC imagine 2(1), 2011, 31-33

I thought the Theory section of the article was interesting.

According to speech language pathologist James MacDonald, a child’s interactive life has these three components:

  1. Social Play — interacting with another with no goal other than being with each other
  2. Imitation — acting and communicating like others, spontaneously learning from the surrounding world, and
  3. Reciprocal Turn-Taking — having the habit of give-and-take in a related meaningful manner (pg. 31).

The protocol used in this study included the use of hello songs, goodbye songs, and four pre-composed songs that used scarves, shakers, drums, and sounds. The object of the study was to determine whether a communicative effort would be extended by the client.

Following the four-week study, mothers of the clients wrote that they saw an increase in their children’s turn-taking, imitation, imaginative play, and other positive aspects of interaction.

Certainly I do not do the article justice with this very brief review. My interest in developing communicative behaviors and/or speech is ever-growing; I’m working with children and adults who use little to no speech at all.

I found Roia Rafieyan’s interview on Janice Lindstrom’s show to be inspiring. Two pieces I remember are that she said about ninety percent of her job is hearing (or listening, I can’t remember her word — there is quite a distinction between “hearing” and “listening”), and another being that she is most interested in knowing how her clients are, not in trying to get them to do something.

Anyone read anything good lately?

An Article Weekly: “Research Snapshots 2011: Music and Early Childhood Development”

On Mondays, I will be writing up a short, non-academic review of an article I’ve found interesting. These articles will be taken from music therapy literature. 

Today I read a piece by Blythe LaGasse, Ph.D., MT-BC, Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at Colorado State University. This article appeared in imagine, the online magazine published by American Music Therapy Association.
“Research Snapshots 2011: Music and Early Childhood Development”
imagine | 2 (1) 2011
I haven’t explored imagine probably as much as I should, so I was happy to find a reason to do so today. I have been working in early intervention for a few weeks now and am finding that my methods are evolving. I am also noticing that the one-year-olds I see on a weekly basis seem to be really attuned to some rhythmic qualities of the experiences, much more so than I anticipate going into the class. Many times I’ve picked up my guitar with a movement song in my head and thought, “Maybe I can promote a little bit of movement with this.” As many times as I’ve thought that, I’ve been surprised by the dancing that happens by those same one-year-olds.
One question LaGasse poses in the article is, “… [A]re we hard-wired … for music engagement?” (pg. 29).
Two answers to that question are:
  1. Infants moved their heads with classical music but not with random sounds (pg. 29),
  2. Infants moved significantly more with rhythm or music than they did with speech (pg. 29).
 One excerpt from the article that I particularly enjoyed is as follows:
“… [R]esearchers found that children engaged in an arts-enriched preschool (early learning, music, visual arts, and creative movement) improved in language, literacy, mathematics, and science skills, regardless of ethnicity and economic disadvantage. This growth was in comparison with another ‘high quality’ preschool, suggesting that an art-focused program can enhance early learning goals” (pg. 29).
I began my music instruction at the age of two. I wonder what kind of adult I’d be today if I hadn’t begun so young (or at all)!

Experience: Play It Loudly

Play It Loudly, Play It Quietly

I’ve been working in early intervention all over the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro for about six weeks now.

I’ve come up with this music experience that has worked well for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and has worked on a long-term continuous level.


One group of six to eight (ideally no larger) toddlers or six to 10 pre-schoolers


Physical, sensory, social, cognitive


Somewhere between three and five minutes


In one circle on the floor


Maracas, egg shakers, chiquitas, small tambourines, bells, any small percussion instruments

I distribute one instrument to each client. I instruct them to show me “sleeping instruments.” Once each instrument is distributed, I tell the clients, “Show me ready position,” for which I model holding an instrument straight in front of me. I tell the clients to use their “listening ears,” because I will be changing up the ways I play and sing.

I sing through different actions (Play your instrument way up high) and some different qualities of sound (Play your instrument quietly. How quietly can you play?). I use a song that I created (out of desperation to get my little clients’ attention one day), and, of course, use different vocal qualities and guitar playing.

I then add something of a bridge to the song, in which I sing-instruct the clients to pass their instrument to their neighbor. Nine times out of ten, my clients pick up on the passing aspect, even in my larger groups. (We do utilize a practice round.) The passing provides each client an opportunity to play many, if not all, the instruments in the group.

I’ve been bringing back this experience, and especially in my pre-school groups, I’ve built up the difficulty and have been pleased with the successes that have been happening.