Category Archives: Clinicial Skills

Cultural sensitivity – good for business and good for you!

Image Source:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2011/05/16/slave-lake-fire-evacuation.html.  Retrieved on May 21, 2011.

During this past week, I wrote about undertaking an individual, or series, of music interventions involving evacuees from Slave Lake, AB.  The community has suffered greatly with all 7000 inhabitants being evacuated following a firestorm that swept through the town.  Yesterday, they released a tally of homes and businesses destroyed by the ensuing fire(s) – 485 either destroyed or heavily damaged.  That is just the physical losses – many of the emotional and psychological losses are yet to come.  In part, that is why I felt the need to volunteer my assistance.

There are a number of evacuation centers.  Part of me would like to go to the evacuation center in Athabasca where 800-1000 people are living, at least temporarily, but at this point that is not possible.  So today I am volunteering at the evacuation center located in Edmonton – the Northlands EXPO centre.  In planning and seeking permissions I ran into an unexpected barrier – cultural sensitivity.  Edmonton, and Alberta in general, has a large number of aboriginal/native communities.  The area around Slave Lake has a large number of individuals belonging predominantly to the Cree nation.  When I stated that I wanted to do a “drumming circle” the administrative committee reject the idea on grounds that it might offend some of the evacuees who might consider drumming a sacred activity or an activity associated with particular ceremonies.  I’ve been a music therapists for 15 years and drumming is part of my regular collection of interventions when I am working with clients – I have never have associated it with the potential to offend.  Perhaps it is just the name  “drumming circle” that may have cultural associations?

A factor in your music therapy business practice, cultural sensitivity is receiving increased attention in music therapy training.  Indeed, as the world seems to shrink – via increased personal mobility/job finding geographical location and “easy” access to a huge variety of cultures, your awareness of the predominant culture(s) or ethic groups within your local area.  When I lived on Vancouver Island (the Comox Valley), I found a large percentage of individuals were of German descent or ancestry.  Here in Edmonton, the native population and those of Ukranian descent are two of the most significant cultural groups.  This means that I need to learn songs, musical styles, and understand the beliefs that are a part of these cultures because I am likely to derive clients from those cultural groups.  When you do so, you will be better able to meet their needs and provide meaningful interventions.  Cultural sensitivity might also apply to occupational roles.  When I lived on Vancouver Island, predominant occupations included – logging, fishing, and mining.  Entertainment was not community based, but rather individuals “made their own entertainment”.  In Edmonton, residents are accustomed to accessing community and cultural arts-based activities – “to being entertained” rather than “providing their own entertainment”.  There is also a much wider diversity of employment histories – logging and fishing are not among them!

So what will I be doing today?  My first intervention will involve the children and musical activities, involving movement, imagination, and fun.   Next, I will ask participants directly about their beliefs surrounding drumming. (I have also sought out information sources via the Internet, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and personal contacts that have some experience with local/Alberta native populations).   If they are approving of the idea, I will then ask permission of the evacuation center administration to come back and do a second intervention.    I may not call it a “drum circle” and will avoid a “circular” shape – even though that provides a meaningful and psychologically comforting “holding” place for the emotions that are bound to arise.  I might call it “Catching the beat” or “Fun with drums”.  Stay-tuned for further updates!

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Filed under Business Tools, Clinicial Skills, Interventions, Music Therapy

Responding to Disaster

It seems that everyday a new tragedy or natural disaster is reported in the news.  Here in Canada the past few weeks have been filled, and are still filled, with reports of flooding in various provinces.  On Monday, the news hit a little closer to home.  Slave Lake, AB (population 7000) was completely evacuated following a firestorm that has burned at least half the town, much of it – to the ground.  Evacuees are staying in nearby towns and cities, including the city where I live – Edmonton, AB.  I’ve been thinking about what I could do to assist those affected, whether it resulted from flooding or fire?  Here’s how I am attempting, in my own little way, to respond.  Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.  Thanks to Voices, Vicky Abad, Kate Williams and Monica Zidar for publishing an column that started me along this line of thinking!

The proposal that I am making to my local Red Cross:  Several hours of MT intervention with evacuees from Slave Lake, at two of the nearby evacuation centres.

Details:  Evacuees are being housed, along with their pets, in several evacuation centers.  Many are still trying to find out if they have anything to return to, as information is still sketchy.  Most left with moments to spare as the fire was sudden and escalated quickly due to high winds.  Luckily, there have been no reports of injury or death as a result of the fire.  Approx. 1/3rd of the town has been burned to the ground with up to half of the town damaged significantly.  Water and electricity have been cut off although efforts are underway to restore utilities to the rest of the town that remains standing.

Some of my intervention ideas include:

1.  Movement and music activity for elementary & preschoolers

This would include up to 30 minutes of music, singing, movement to music, parachute activities, etc.

2.  Drumming activities using variety of larger drums, gathering drums and simple percussion

a)  All age groups – group drumming activity using “heartbeat” rhythm to begin and end the session

b)  Teens/Tweens – emotional release/de-stress (using opposites, start/stop, accompaniment to pop/dance music)

c)  Children/Elementary age children – Provide egg shakers, rhythm sticks that have been donated.  Afterwards, children can take them home with them.

The basis/theory behind the activities is:

1.  Music is universal and generally enjoyable to most individuals – almost anyone, of any age, enjoys music and drumming

2.  Music can be useful as a distraction – these people have little to do but sit and worry about the future.  Distracting them for even a short amount of time can be therapeutic and useful.  Children especially need a creative outlet for their energy and natural anxiety, especially in a strange environment.

3.  Music can help to “normalize” an environmentchildren and adults alike are in a totally foreign environment at the evacuation centers.  Any “normal” type activity can be psychologically helpful and help to ease them through this difficult time.

4.  Music can help individuals move to a different emotional place  – I’m not sure what state many of these folks are in but if the news reports are true – most are in a relative state of shock.  Providing something as simple as an egg shaker or rhythm sticks (that I’m hoping to get donated) can help to ease the painful memories in the minds of the children and help them to have something to hold onto and remember positively about this experience.

So – am I crazy?  Should I be worried about too much emotional reaction/uncontrollable situations due to the large group setting?  Does anyone have any experience in similar situations that they could share?

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!


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Filed under Clinicial Skills, Interventions, Music Therapy

Twitter and the power of social networking

I recently attended a blended conference (both onsite and online) called MoodleMoot Canada 2011.  Actually, I attended two of four days of the conference, and followed along on Twitter during the days that I was not able to attend.  It was my first opportunity to use Twitter as a source of information and be a contributor of information.  Similar efforts have taken place during recent music therapy conferences, both national and regional in the U.S. and during the Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT2011).  In fact, it seems like TweetUps (a meeting of individuals on Twitter at a conference) have become increasingly popular.

That’s great but how does it affect me?

1.  You should join Twitter and begin exploring

Twitter is a “microblogging” format.  Basically it means that you can provide small insights or announcements.  (Generally, on Twitter, you are limited to 140 characters).  I personally use Twitter to share professional developments, make professional announcements and share resources that I have found that I believe might be of interest.

2.  What should my username be?

You can make your username anything you wish but remember, you are trying to attract followers.  Some people use their name (e.g.  @RachelleNorman, @michelleerfurt or @KnightMTBC), some people use their business name (@listnlearnmusic) and some people use a pseudynym (@victimorious)

3.  Another use of Twitter – getting feedback or seeking out “experts” on a particular issue that you are facing.

As a recent blog posting highlights, you can send a “shoutout” to either your own followers or Twitter users in general to get an answer to a question, or make a business related announcement.   When you do so, expect quick feedback.

4.  Posting conference updates/presentation highlights.

Like I said, I was able to attend 2 of 4 days of MoodleMoot Canada 2011.  Still, it turns out that I was one of the most active Twitter users, resulting in a place on the top 10 individuals “tweeting” about insights that I was having.  How do I do this? – using a “hashtag”.  Whenever you see a “#” sign, it means that someone has created/is marking a way of following a particular subject or idea (e.g.  To follow tweets by music therapists you might use the hashag #musictherapy).  It is now routine for conference to post an “official” hashtag, that conference attendees can use to post updates (e.g.  #mootca11 or #ocmt2011).

5.  This sounds great, but I want to follow more than one topic/area of interest?

It’s true – the Twitter website is a poor excuse for an interface.  It is VERY “clunky” and not very user-friendly.  The good news – you can use Twitter feed aggregators (software that allows you to follow multiple Twitter feeds).  One of the best, and the one that I use is called Tweetdeck.  Actually, Tweetdeck has recently been purchased by Twitter itself, so maybe their website/interface will be improving shortly.  They are many others (e.g.  Hootsuite) – just Google “Twitter feed aggregators”

6.  What is a “retweet (RT)?

A “retweet” is the reposting, either word-for-word or edited, of a previous “tweet” (post) by someone else.  This can be a way to further your message, or have a new business development shared with a wider audience because something that someone retweets is shared with your network of followers AND the their network of followers.

7.  Can I send private messages to one or more of my followers?

Yes you can!  As long as that person is following you, you can use the format “D: _______” rather than “@_______” to send a private message to one or more individuals.  Another way of more publicly sharing with a group of individuals involves the use of a Twitter tool called “Tweetchat“.  This tool allows you to follow 1 hashtag and carry on a conversation/chat with individuals also following that hashtag.  I also recently discovered another Twitter tool called GroupTweet.  (The use of GroupTweet is well described on their website).

8.  I’m a conference organizer – is there a way to employ Twitter to engage participants?

YES, YES, and YES!  First, set up a conference #hashtag and publicize its’ existence on any literature, website, blog posts, etc. at least 2 weeks prior to the conference and encourage Twitter users to use it throughout the conference.  This allows for a consistent identity/brand and helps to prevent misdirection of tweets.  Secondly, use Tweetchat or GroupTweet to follow “What is being said/posted”.  At the MoodleMoot Canada conference, individuals tweets were highlighted during presentations on a large screen using another Twitter tool called Visible Tweets.  You can also store any tweets about the conference, for later review, using a tool called TwapperKeeper.  Finally, after the conference is over, you can present summaries of posts using tools like Twitter SteamGraphs.

Are you on Twitter right now.  Feel free to send me a message @JLisaMT.  Are you joining Twitter (after reading this article) but not sure where to start/find followers? – send a message to @JLisaMT and I will be happy to share your username/account name with people in my Twitter network.

See you on Twitter!

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Filed under Business Tools, Clinicial Skills, Conferences, PR/Advertising, Web 2.0 Tools

Can you feel it?

There is a definite buzz in the air about music therapy!  Can you feel it?

I’m not sure how it started, I only know why – because music therapy works!  Recently, music therapy has been all over the airwaves, the news, in books and in a feature length Hollywood film.  And yet, as a recent discussion on the MUSTHP-L listserv highlighted, many music therapists continue to have to describe and defend their work on a daily basis.  Why is that?  Here are some of my thoughts as well as observations from a student in my “Introduction to Music Therapy” class from this past semester.

1.  Music is universal

The universality of music is wnquestionable.  It has existed in every known culture since the beginning of man even though, curiously, it has no “inherent survival value” like food or shelter  (Davis, Gfeller, Thaut. 2008).  This is both a blessing and a detriment to the understanding of the term, “music therapy (MT)”.  Yes, people understand the term, “music” but that has become synonymous with “entertainment” in today’s modern culture.  Hence, when people hear about MT they immediately think that it is something that is entertaining, not healing – at least in the medical sense.  As one of the class members described,

“I knew from my personal experience with music that it moved me, however I did not know how in depth music therapy really was.”

(A.B.  Used with permission)

2.  Music works with all age groups

Music therapists work with all age groups, from infants in the uterine environment to adults in the last stage of their life.  How can something that works with such a vast range of clients, work in reality?  When music therapy began as an organized profession, it initially began with a psychological focus.  Since that time, specialty areas within the field have grown and expanded tremendously.  Hence, increasingly, music therapists are choosing to work with a particular clientele, rather than attempting to work with a variety of clients, throughout the lifespan.    Some of these include:   work with premature infants (NICU-MT),  neurological rehabilitation (NMT), Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (NR-MT), Therapeutic Drumming, Music and Imagery (Bonny Method of GIM) and Community Music Therapy (CMT).

3.  Music therapists train extensively and must pass rigorous examination

Just as you wouldn’t want to see a doctor who has never attended medical school, you shouldn’t see someone who is calling themselves a music therapist without the proper training.  Sadly, at this time, there is no means of legally protecting the title “music therapist” in either Canada or the United States.  There are ways, however, to determine whether an individual has completed the requisite education and professional training.

In order to become a music therapist, individuals must first complete four years of undergraduate training in music therapy.  This is the minimal standard and many music therapists continue onto graduate level education.  They must also complete an internship of approximately six months duration (1000-1050 hours in North America).  Only then, may they apply to become a Music Therapist Accredited (MTA – Canada) or a Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC, USA).  Before granting these designations, a music therapist must complete additional examinations.  In addition, those designations are only maintained by the ongoing completion of continuing education related to professional practice and skills.

Being a part of their national and/or regional association also means that a music therapist must abide by professional standards of practice and a code of professional ethics.  When a music therapist agrees to take you on as a client, you begin a professional relationship, not a casual or friendly relationship.  As such, there is specific protection of things such as:  patient-therapist confidentiality and protection from abuse in the relationship (financial, physical, emotional, psychological and sexual). By all means, check out your music therapists and ask them about their credentials.  They should be happy to share these with you!

So what can we do as music therapists to improve your understanding of music therapy amongst the general public?

1.  Maintain our memberships in national and regional music therapy associations.

2.  Making the promotion of music therapy a priority in our national and regional music therapy associations.

3.  Open up our newsletters and research to the public through use of vehicles such as YouTube, Blogs, and Creative Commons licensing instead of keeping them locked away behind “member only” walls and proprietary journals.

4.  Continue to respond to questions about the topic – “What is music therapy?” even though we are sometimes “sick” of having to describe and defend our profession.

References

Davis, W. B., Gfeller, K. E, & Thaut, M. H.  (2008).  An introduction to music therapy:  Theory and practice (3rd ed.).  Silver Spring, MD:  American Music   Therapy Association, p. 17.

How can we improve your understanding of music therapy?

Please feel free to comment below.

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Filed under Books and Resources, Clinicial Skills, Introductions, Music Therapy

What’s on your reading list?

I am a dedicated life-long learner.  There, I said it!  I can’t go a day without finding something that peaks my interest and curiosity.  Today it might be a new web page, tomorrow a new piece of software, an infographic or newly released book about an aspect of music therapy.  Sometimes I find something useful, other times I find that something doesn’t really apply.  The point is, I am always looking for ways to improve and enhance my professional practice and knowledge and – that can’t be bad!

So what are some of the tools that I use and what are some of the recent books that I have read?  For things internet, I lean heavily on a few blogs and a tool called StumbleUpon.  It depends on users to literally “stumble” across and promote websites that they like using their web browser.  I also use information gleaned from the postings on Twitter, organized and monitored by the TweetDeck application (there are also other Twitter feed aggregators such as HootSuite and Twitter for Mac).  Finally, I listen to a variety of podcasts such as the Music Therapy Roundtable and the Music Therapy Show with Janice Harris.

For new textbooks and resources about music therapy I depend on e-mail notifications from some of the major publishers such as JKP – Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Barcelona Press that was started and may still be owned by Ken Bruscia, and publication lists from major music therapy associations such as AMTA and Nordoff-Robbins.

I also seek out resources that are useful in my business.  I have been in private practice where you are chief cook, bottlewasher, promoter, accountant….  You get the picture.  A very useful book that I found helped me to focus and get organized was Scott Belsky’s, Making Ideas Happen.  It is specifically aimed at us creative types and has very practical and useful suggestions.  I’ve also been reading Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of the very successful internet company called 37signals.  This book encourages you to “keep it simple” and “underdo your competition”.  It is a radical departure from the normal “do it better, do it smarter” type of business guidebooks. 

Finally, I recently took the opportunity to read a book about, but not about, music therapy entitled, Sing Me Home by Jodi Picoult. Several other music therapists have written reviews of this book (see the links below), that may also become movie.  It features a music therapist as one of the lead characters.

I found it a compelling read, not because of its’ advocacy of gay rights but rather because of its’ depiction of the field of musictherapy and clinical practice.  The American Music Therapy Association listserv (MUSTHP-L) has recently had a very active discussion entitled, “I think that my in-laws finally know what I do” started by M. G. that discusses the fact that we [music therapists] still often find our work misunderstood and incorrectly described.  In the book Sing You Home, I think that Ms. Picoult does a decent job of describing how music therapy works, especially as it relates to her work with Lucy, another main character in the story.

Reviews of the book by music therapists

1.  Kimberly Sena Moore (The Music Maven) – http://www.musictherapymaven.com/book-review-sing-you-home/

2.  Rachel Rambach (ListenLearnMusic) – http://listenlearnmusic.com/2011/03/friday-fave-sing-you-home-by-jodi-picoult.html

3.  Life in Harmony Music Therapy – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Life-In-Harmony-Music-Therapy-LLC/150845808287240?sk=info

These are just a few of the reviews by music therapists specifically.


So what’s in your reading list?

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Filed under Books and Resources, Business Tools, Clinicial Skills, Education, Music Therapy, Open Platforms/Software, Web 2.0 Tools

Welcome to my new blogging site!

I am beginning a new journey under the banner of MusicTherapy365.  This doesn’t mean that you will get a post everyday, simply that music therapy is an aspect of my life I cannot ignore, on a daily basis.

Who Am I?

My name is John Lawrence.  I am a music therapist and educator from Canada where I have been in private practice for the past 15 years.  My professional interests include:  Music therapy (MT) with geriatric clients and persons with Alzheimer’s type dementia, Neurological Music Therapy (NMT) and the historical and developing world of MT.  As an educator, I am interested in Online learning, Web. 2.0 and 3.0, Hybrid educational environments, Open software and open platforms, and social networking communities such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

What do I expect to achieve by blogging?

I’m very glad that you asked!  As I indicated above, “I am interested in the historical and developing world of music therapy“.  I am also a lifelong learner who likes to share what I have found.  I am hoping that my blog will allow you to better connect with, and understand the world of music therapy.  I also hope that it will become a valuable resource for current and aspiring music therapists as I share technological and innovative solutions for clinical and business issues that arise from time to time.

What are my credentials?

These days, anyone can start a blog and write about anything that interests them.  That said, I do have some specific qualifications that provide justification for this new endeavour.  I have been a music therapist in private practice for the past 15 years after obtaining a Master’s of Music Therapy degree from Temple University.  I have been instructing an “Introduction to Music Therapy” course at several post-secondary institutions and have found that I relish the opportunity to share my knowledge and skills as a teacher.  I have chaired, and will be chairing, the organizing committee for the Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT).  If those mean nothing to you as credentials, then I will simply say – I’m a bit of a rebel from Edmonton, AB CANADA who likes to “stir things up”!

That’s it for now – stay tuned for further blog postings.  If you need to reach me in the meantime, here are some possibilities:

John Lawrence MMT, MTA
Edmonton, AB
CANADA
 
E-mail:  jlmt@telus.net
Alternative E-mail:  john.lawrence@capitalcare.net
Facebook:  John Lawrence
Twitter:  @JLisaMT
LinkedIn:  John Lawrence MMT, MTA
 
 

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Filed under Books and Resources, Business Tools, Clinicial Skills, Conferences, Introductions, Music Therapy, Organizations, Pedagogy