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

What are your words? February writing prompt

Today is already January 15. I will be putting up a submission next week for January’s writing prompt, “word of intention.” In February, I’ll be considering self-care.

February seems to be right in the middle of winter for us here in Minneapolis. I know the calendar says otherwise, but last year we had snow as late as May. I abhor the cold weather and snow generally sucks, in my opinion, so clearly I live in the wrong place. But, I’m here, and one major part of enduring the winter here has to be those pieces of the day that are attributed to self-care.

As professionals in a helping field, music therapists often talk about self-care. Do we really do it, though? What does “self-care” mean?

I’m curious about what “self-care” does not mean, too. I know much of the time, self-care is expressed in terms of daily activities. What are the things that we don’t do? What about self-talk? Do you combine that with self-care?

I want to hear from music therapists, art therapists, counselors, therapists, teachers, administrators, and anyone who uses self-care intentionally. Please write up a few words to describe what you do and don’t do for self-care, in relationship to your professional life. Send me your words here, and be sure to include your contact information and links, by February 15.


I’ve decided on my theme word for the year. Design. I’ve come across so many blog posts and articles about “lifestyle design,” that I’ve decided to take into consideration the fact that I am my own designer. One big reason I started to work for myself only is because I wanted to control my work life. In essence, I wanted to design my days and my habits and my priorities. I do that. However, I also feel that I react more often than I should. A reason I chose design is because the action behind the word has a lot of intention in it; I’d like to have more intention in my work and daily life.

Prompt: What is a synonym for “design” that you apply to your work? Leave it in the comments.

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