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?

Meditate on it

Yesterday I wrote about some struggles I’m having coordinating a demanding home and work life. I got some really useful feedback from a fellow music therapist* here in the Minneapolis area. She suggested pre-session meditation, which immediately got me thinking about this fantastic app I have been using over the past several months. The app is buddhify and is coined as the “mobile mindfulness app for modern life.” What I love about it is that the guided meditations are only ten minutes long. I did try to meditate shortly before my last client this evening, and as hard as it was to do, I think I benefitted from the attempt.

Do you meditate? Are there other meditation apps that you like? What other feedback do you have to help dig out? Please leave a comment below.

*Oh, and that fellow music therapist can be heard on her podcast, Urban Therapists.

How clarity feels

I have always had a tumultuous relationship with music. I started playing violin before I was able to form memories, and grew up with music as an integral part of my life. I burnt out on it in college, even though I was studying vocal performance. I graduated in three years, mostly because I wanted to be done and get on with it, whatever “it” turned out to be. I stopped playing violin for a few years. Only recently, since I’ve been in Minneapolis, have I played it with any frequency again. Now I use music as a tool for others. I haven’t though I use music for myself. I’ve resigned myself in the last few years to thinking of music as a job, albeit a creative and fulfilling one. I have had trouble really identifying myself as a musician. I’ve always thought that I would have to know more in order to identify as one. I’d have to be better able to work with music theory. I’d have to know about more bands. I’d have to write a certain kind of song. Essentially, I’d never be able to truly be a musician, because I don’t have the time, energy, or interest to be or know all these factions of music.

Only this week have I had something of a revelation in regard to my relationship with music. What if I re-position myself? What if I acknowledge that the way I compose my music, the way I play, and certainly the way I sing and use my voice to connect with others really is music? I don’t write songs in the traditional way. I don’t analyze fugues (anymore). I don’t remember a whole lot of the music history I once learned, even though I did find it fascinating. But I do engage with my own music on a daily basis. I use music as a means to communicate and find meaning where I can’t otherwise. I use music to soothe, calm, excite, and energize. I use it to regulate my own energy. I use it in myriad ways, really, and I find it emerges in very natural, unique expressions, given the needs of the circumstance. I do use music. I use it for others and for myself. I take this opportunity to re-create what music is in my eyes.

Do you have trouble identifying yourself in a way that you think you should?

Song and artist share

I am so fortunate to have worked with a fellow music therapist here in the Twin Cities who is a fantastic singer-songwriter by the name of Lynn O’Brien. I bring her up because I found myself in a session today that simply needed to have within it one of her songs, called “Still.”

Please do yourself a favor and listen to an excerpt of this song here.

There are so many fellow music therapists who perform and record on a regular basis. Another of whom I need to share with you is Angie Kopshy, and I look forward to writing up on some of what she does in the near future! Please let me know if you’d like any other pairs of ears on your original music.

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.

A song share

Yes, the musicality of this song is strange. The singer’s voice doesn’t sound like it should be singing these lyrics. But, I appreciate these lyrics as a music therapist. I was listening to The Current this morning and thought the song, or at least the lyrics, could lend themselves well to a group discussion with high schoolers or middle schoolers.

Any thoughts?

Coming together for peer supervision

We had a great group for our somewhat-monthly peer supervision meeting last night. I was fortunate to meet for the first time three new music therapists who are practicing in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, and together all seven of us improvised and shared some songs we’d been using in our clinical work. Coming up on Saturday is the Music Therapy Association of Minnesota conference, entitled “Brain Tuning: Teaching Others to Improve Attention, Memory, and Problem Solving Skills.”

Thanks to those music therapists who came out last night. I will be posting about the next peer supervision group meeting once it’s decided.

Upcoming meeting

There is a small group of music therapists in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas that meets on a (relatively) regular basis. If you happen to be a board-certified music therapist in our area and are interested in a peer supervision group, please feel free to contact me directly about joining us.

Our next meeting is Wednesday, April 24, at 7:00 PM. Our agenda is still yet to be entirely determined, but we each will provide five or more songs of one genre that we happen to use often; we will more than likely play whatever instruments we all decide to bring; and we will spend time catching up with what’s new in the last few weeks.