Working in private practice offers its set of challenges. One such challenge, for me, is finding consistent motivation to KEEP UP ON MY PAPERWORK. I’m actually pretty scheduled and somewhat determined, and definitely goal-oriented. But, my lists and post-its and planners and web-based calendars amass entries much faster than I can strike them (or recycle them, in the case of my post-its).

Today, I figured it out. Today, I felt productive. Today, I drank twice the amount of coffee as usual — and continued drinking it well into the dark of mid-afternoon (I hate these short days) — and today, I see a space in the lineup of paper product piles assigned to to-dos.

Today, there was coffee.


Inaccessible music

I keep a limited amount of music on my iPhone, because it doesn’t have enough capacity to hold my whole library (and frankly some of my music is embarrassing). My husband has thousands and thousands of tracks on Google Music, and though I know the password and where to log in, I am not able to do so when suddenly, for instance, a client says, “I like [this artist].” I know we have that music available on Google Music, but it’s obscure enough that I don’t keep it handy in my iTunes.

This happened three times tonight alone.

Dang. It. 

Reporting to caregivers

There are a few things about working in private practice that I’m “testing.” One is to report to the parents or caregivers of my clients and students directly (meaning within the same day if they’re clients or students I see weekly, or within the same week if they’re clients I see monthly) following each session or lesson I provide. I’ve been doing this for each of my clients and students for the past three weeks, and am already finding this to be a productive practice in that the parents or caregivers respond to me quickly with questions and ideas.

The reason I do this is because, though I’d like to, I don’t have the ability to meet with the parents and caregivers in person on a weekly basis. Most of the time, my time slots are filled back-to-back. (I may revise this in the future, but for now, this is how I’m operating.) I’m finding that regular and timely reporting via e-mail is the most effective way to include family members.

I try to cover three topics:

  1. Strengths in the session or lesson, and progress being made toward goals.
  2. Progress I see that can be made in future sessions or lessons.
  3. Plans I have for future sessions or lessons.

I’m pleased with this method, but I’ll keep looking for a more streamlined approach.

And now

Now that I have accomplished my wedding (what an accomplishment that process was, too — I spent a whole lot of energy worrying over that lovely day), I have come up with some new goals for my work and my small private practice. Some of these I had incorporated into my daily routine months before my wedding, but some I have just recently decided I’d like to do. Here are a few:

  1. Record the new songs I create, even if they are written in session and I’m not sure they’d be applicable elsewhere.
  2. Attend a bi-monthly instrumental workshop (one I’m planning to attend is a ukelele picking class).
  3. Incorporate one new, as in current, song at some point throughout each working week.
  4. Professionally interact in some way each day on the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  5. Create fact sheets for every condition, illness, syndrome, or disability I encounter for current and future reference.

Most of these particular things I have done to some degree or another, but I feel the need to be more diligent about them. And of course, there are many more needs to fulfill, but those I’ll leave for another list, perhaps.

I’ve taken to use monthly, weekly, and daily checklists, but then let each and every un-checked task haunt me if and when it’s ignored. Any good ideas to help let go of those things that simply did not happen?

Vitamin M

I am having trouble with my site at the moment, so I’m hoping that this post at least shows up… Oh, how technology can (and does) make and break my day.
I want to say that on Saturday, a smallish group of music therapists in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area met for our monthly meeting to take the opportunity to support one another and to share resources. We’ve created a group on Facebook that we call Vitamin M. Feel free to ask to join if you are a Minnesotan!

GoodReader and its helpfulness

I have a tendency to acquire tools, materials, apps, and even instruments that I enjoy knowing I own, but do not actively use for as long as months after I buy or receive them.

Enter: GoodReader. My fiancé happens to be a computer and technology genius and seems to have daily tips and advice, and showed me GoodReader probably months ago. Not until this morning did I use it.

Essentially, GoodReader opens PDFs on an iPad or iPhone, but what’s great about it is that it allows the user to highlight text and save edited copy. I’d been reading my music therapy articles from the real live paper journals and had been highlighting passages with a real live highlighter. Though I love handwritten notes and paper planners, I find that GoodReader’s capability is really useful since I will likely be finding more material online now than in the older research I have in printed form.

Ah yes, my handwritten planner

Tell me: Do you use GoodReader? How else do you use it?

Presentation tomorrow

Tomorrow evening I present to a group of families who have a child with Down syndrome. I am excited for the experience. The first portion (maybe even half) of my presentation will be engaging the children in experiences on a 1:1 basis as well as in a group. I do not know how many people will be in attendance at this meeting. But, I do know that most of the parents aren’t too aware of music therapy (as was told to me by the family who invited me to speak).

For this reason, I will be breaking the presentation into these pieces:

  • Mini music therapy session with the group of children (complete with the therapeutic arc)
  • Repeated mini music therapy session with the children’s parents taking the place of the children
  • Explanation of some goals I’d have for children in this population
  • Explanation of how the experiences I implement targets those goals
  • Instruction for parents of one experience that will help generalize and build skills, that they may utilize in the home

I’m looking forward to the event. I’m even looking forward to the fact that there are many mysteries involved.

Wish me luck. 

Music Therapists Unite!

I am excited that a meeting I had organized tonight went really well. I invited all of the music therapists I know personally who live in Minneapolis and its surrounding areas to get together and catch up, share knowledge, and plan for future meetings. I found a space to hold the get-together, which, unfortunately, didn’t prove to be ideal. I am so happy we got together, though.

Beyond re-connecting and sharing where we’re working and what we’re doing, we talked about CEUs, supporting each other in performance endeavors, and what we want out of this group in the future. None of us happened to be very versed in how, when, or where to obtain our CEUs, so we’ve decided that our next meeting’s big topic will be learning just that.

Ideally, we’ll have time to make music together in some fashion. Tonight, we didn’t.

Support group

When I was in coursework, I had such a neat opportunity to be a part of a music therapy support group, aimed at students. We met monthly, discussed questions and issues that came up for us in our reading and practicums, and also shared music therapy experiences. Our groups were facilitated by an MT-BC who shared with us how she created a support group for her fellow professionals.

I am trying to develop one for my fellow newly-credentialed music therapists. When I was an intern, I organized a few get-togethers of the like, but even though I made all these promises to my colleagues and myself, I just didn’t have the mental energy this summer to go forward. I have found a community space that could be perfect for us– I think they may even encourage our music-making. I just have to get all the logistics down.

Is there anyone out there who is a member of a professional support group? My goal is to share resources, experiences, and to build a much bigger network. If you are a member of a professional support group, please share with me your experience in it.