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Be the One …

Our founder, Mallory, recently shared this story about her father:

“Music was the way in which my father experienced, interacted with, and related to the world around him. It was common practice for him to ask us to sit down and listen to a song with him; his timing was always terrible, actually, so if we ignored his request, which we often did, he’d just turn the song on so loudly that you had no choice but to hear it throughout the house.

One of the many, many things he taught me, and that I will always carry with me, is that if someone asks you to listen to a song because it’s meaningful to them, be the one who will.”

And this is our promise to you: we will listen to you, with you, and for you.

MT Internship & COVID-19

Hi everybody!

My name is Merideth and I’ve recently moved from the country roads of West Virginia to the sunny, peach state of Georgia to begin my six-month music therapy internship with Metro Music Therapy. Woohoo! If you told me a year (or even 6 months ago) that I’d be interning in the midst of a global pandemic, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, here I am!

As we all know, it’s been a challenge navigating the world of technology to still successfully “see” clients but through a new lens…or in this case, a screen. Thus far, the faces I’ve had the pleasure of meeting virtually are warm and welcoming. I’m sad I’m unable to see their smiles, give them hugs, and watch them make beautiful music in person. Hopefully, one day!

This experience has already differed from my school experience in the sense that I have multiple clients per day with different diagnoses compared to one client per week. While this is a bit of a challenge at the moment, I’ve already gained more knowledge than imagined just in the two short weeks of observation. I really am excited to continue growing personally and professionally. Metro Music Therapy has given me an amazing opportunity to learn from truly some of the best clinicians as well as amazing clients. I am blessed and ready to continue this journey! Stay tuned for updates. 🙂

Merideth McClain

How to get FREE CEUs!

During this unprecedented time, we know that many music therapists are out of work and finances are tight.
Grieving normalcy is both helpful and needed. Be sure to take time for yourself when you can.

When you feel you have the time, energy, and capacity, this can be a great time to earn FREE continuing education credits. The CBMT recently released an awesome chart to help MTs easily navigate their new system for earning CMTE credits! Check it out when you can. We have curated a list below of all potential FREE options that can be found on the aforementioned chart.

We hope this helps you as you navigate your new normal. Hang in there, friends! Collectively, music therapists are creative, resilient, and a little stubborn… 😉 We’ll get through this!

WORKSHOPS/COURSES/CONFERENCES/INDEPENDENT LEARNING:

     I. Online Training with CBMT Approved Providers:

    • What: May or may not be specific to music therapy
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Approved Provider Opportunities”
    • Create + Keep: Certificate of Completion
    • Credits: 1 Credit per 50 minutes (up to 100 allowed in a 5-year cycle)

     II. Other Online Training:

    • What: May or may not be specific to music therapy; trainings on Zoom, Doxy.me, Small Business Support etc
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Other Continuing Education Opportunities”
    • Create + Keep: Written summary + Proof of attendance
    • Credits: 1 Credit per 50 minutes (up to 100 allowed in a 5-year cycle)

     III. Reading Professional Publications:

    • What: Read and review journals, textbooks, online resources, etc. Does not have to be music therapy specific, but may be about a specific population, technique, etc.
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Read and Analyze Current Professional Publications”
    • Create + Keep: Written Summary + Full Reference Citation
    • Credits: 2 Credits per Journal article or book chapter (up to 100 allowed in a 5-year cycle)

PRESENTATIONS:

     I. Create a Workshop/Course/Concurrent Session:

    • What: Create an online in-service for your co-workers (present now online, or wait until you are all together again!); begin writing a concurrent session for a future conference and get everything together NOW so that you are ready when the call for proposals comes out; pull together a small group of professionals to participate in a round-table discussion or a symposium
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Presentations”
    • Create + Keep: Written Summary + Proof of Delivery
    • Credits: 10 Credits per 50-150 minutes of delivery; 30 credits for more than 150 minutes of delivery

PUBLICATIONS/WRITINGS:

     I. Music Composition:

    • What: Create new music! We’re great at this! Write and compose songs for yourself or your clients
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Music Composition”
    • Create + Keep: Written Summary + Musical Score + Audio Recording
    • Credits: 5 Credits per composition (up to 50 allowed in a 5-year cycle)

     II. Apply for and Receive a Grant:

    • What: Apply for a program grant! This may be something you have wanted to do but have not had time to do it. Now is the time! Research what is out there and apply! You could get awarded funding AND get continuing ed!
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Grant Awards”
    • Create + Keep: Written Summary + Letter of Award
    • Credits: 10 Credits for less than $5,000; 30 Credits for $5,000+ (up to 100 allowed in a 5-year cycle)

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

     I. Establish a Music Therapy Internship Program:

    • What: Start an Internship Program! Currently, Internship programs are struggling to give their interns enough hours and some have had to suspend their internship program until the pandemic passes or indefinitely. We will need more internship programs when this is over!
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Establish a Music Therapy Internship”
    • Create + Keep: Verification from University (an MOU is great) or AMTA Approval Letter
    • Credits: 30 Credits for University-Affiliated; 50 Credits for National Roster (up to 100 allowed in a 5-year cycle)

     II. Volunteer and Give Back:

    • What: Give back to the profession and the community by serving on a board for a music therapy non-profit or a non-profit related to our field; Call your state, regional, or national music therapy rep/officer and see how you can give back or help in this time of need
    • Category of CBMT Credit: “Service to Music Therapy Profession”
    • Create + Keep: Written Summary + Verification of time from Chair or Executive Officer
    • Credits: 1 Credit per 50 minutes (up to 50 allowed in a 5-year cycle)

Best of luck to all of you during this time – we are here to help!

~ The Metro Music Therapy team 

Now Hiring!

Metro Music Therapy is on the hunt for our next AWESOME team member!

You would be a perfect fit for this job, and this job for you, if:

  • Live or want to live in the Metro Atlanta area soon!
  • You are an MT-BC and an LPMT (Georgia)
  • You have a flexible schedule and love playing Schedule Tetris: Music Therapy Edition (TM pending) ?
  • You have experience working in adolescent, adult, and geriatric psychiatric units
  • You have experience with or are open to working with any and all populations
  • You can work a few days a week in Monroe, GA
  • You can work some evenings and weekends
  • You have reliable transportation
  • You write clear and concise documentation
  • You are well-versed in all things Google
  • You love working with a collaborative, fun, energetic team, but also really like spending time re-energizing in the car
  • You are open to supervising a music therapy intern
  • You are open to and interested in teaching adaptive music lessons
  • You have great ideas and know how to execute them
  • You have a heightened level of self-awareness
  • Your work is client-centered and is not about you
  • You enjoy educating and advocating for our field
  • You are trustworthy, reliable, and have a high level of integrity
  • You are creative, innovative, and are excited to take on new challenges
  • You have a high level of professionalism and want to represent our field and our company well
  • You love to have fun but know when to be serious
  • You set clear and ethical boundaries with your clients/their caregivers, your co-workers, and other colleagues
  • You say what you mean and you mean what you say

If you sound like our next awesome team member, please send your resume and 3 professional references to Mallory Even, Owner & Director of Metro Music Therapy: mallory@metromusictherapyga.com

2020-03-25T14:43:03+00:00February 28th, 2020|For the Music Therapist|

Music Therapy Advocacy!

Happy Music Therapy Advocacy Month!

As a music therapy intern who just completed my internship at Metro Music Therapy, I have had the opportunity to experience the multitude of ways that music therapy can positively transform patients’ lives. Academic classes in college certainly hammered in AMTA’s definition of music therapy such that I could recite it in my sleep: “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” Practicum sites in college gave me glimpses of how that definition applied to direct patient care. However, completing internship and learning to implement such music interventions with a more diverse variety of populations than I could have ever imagined has given me new insight into the importance of music therapy advocacy.

Music therapy groups can create a safe space with a sense of belonging for youth in the foster care system who have rarely known what belonging felt like before. They can create a welcoming community for refugee children who are navigating an entirely new country. Music therapy can provide comfort and relief from agitation for hospice patients who are nearing the end of their lives. It can increase quality of life for residents in nursing homes, assisted living, and memory care units. Music therapy can provide a unique outlet for emotional expression and processing for veterans who are suffering from symptoms of PTSD. It can help mitigate symptoms of mental illness for individuals in a behavioral health facility. Music therapy can do all of this and so much more.

Atlanta Veteran Songwriting Retreat – November 2019

With increasing advocacy efforts for music therapy, music therapists can continue to work with the populations most commonly served, expand services for those populations less commonly served, and design new programs to reach populations that have not yet had the opportunity to reap the benefits of high-quality music therapy care. As I have seen during my time at Metro Music Therapy, with a positive attitude that anything is possible, music therapy can continue to transform clients’ and patients’ lives for the better.

– Written by Haley Smith

Dungeons & Dragons & Music Therapy Advocacy

Did you know that March is Music Therapy Awareness Month?
Cool stuff!
Did you know that the idea of “advocating for my profession” makes me super duper uncomfortable?

Well, it does. And here we are.

March. Music Therapy Awareness Month.
Guess I should, like, advocate?

I mean, okay, I know it’s important!
There’s a lot of misinformation about Music Therapy out there, and it’s in the best interest of our current and future Clients – not to mention our brothers and sisters in therapeutic arms – that the general public is made aware of what exactly Music Therapy is, and what it isn’t. Music Therapy is an evidence-based (founded in research) practice, carried out by collegiate-program-educated, board-certified – and (depending on the State) licensed – health professionals, who are called “therapists” for a reason. Namely, that they are, in fact, trained therapists.
We know this, but a lot of people don’t yet. And that’s okay!
We’re learning and spreading awareness together.

I think what makes me hesitate when it comes to advocacy is that I never want to come across as confrontational, defensive, or – Heaven forbid – hostile. I don’t want to be throwing immediate correction in the face of some poor bystander whose only crime was uttering the words, “musical therapy.” And my people-pleasing self would rather let someone continue in misunderstanding than step on toes and “rock the boat,” as it were. I go to the extreme in thinking that advocacy is automatically aggressive in nature. (It’s not.)

If you’re a Music Therapist, maybe you struggle in the same way.

Or maybe you’re one of those gung-ho, shoot from the hip, neon signs and billboards advocators. If so, more power to you!

For the rest of us,
I hope this blog will be an encouragement.
There really is a positive, affirming way to spread awareness and excitement about Music Therapy.
And for me, a good method was put into words by a friend while playing “Dungeons & Dragons.” (Yes, I am a nerd, and I am proud.)

Us fighting Music Therapy misconceptions.

My friend, who was the “Dungeon Master” – the head honcho, if you will – said that, in a game of role playing and improvisation, everyone brings something new and interesting to the story. So his job as facilitator is to have an attitude of “Yes And,” rather than one of “No But.” In other words, agreeing – if possible – with what is brought to the table and helping the player make the most of it – without derailing the game. Then contributing something new to help create the best experience for the players.

In my head, I’ve been afraid of “No But” advocacy. (And rightly so.)

  • “No, Music Therapy is not lying on a couch and listening to smooth jazz for an hour to relax. Why would you think that?”
  • “No, I don’t just teach my Clients how to play instruments. Then I’d be a Music Teacher, obviously.”
  • “These plebeians have no clue what it is I do, and therefore I must educate them.”

Feels rude just to write these kinds of responses here.
So I’ve avoided advocacy altogether.

The truth is, most people I talk to about my job have a genuine curiosity. Their questions and initial thoughts about what sessions could look like are valid!“Yes And” advocacy acknowledges the validity of these initial thoughts while contributing new, expanded knowledge on the subject.

  • “Yes, music is so powerful as a tool to help ease anxiety and shift mood states! And actually, did you know that research shows it can be even more effective to use Client preferred music than just ‘easy listening’?”
  • “You’re right! Learning instruments is a great way to practice motor skills, increase breath support, improve cognitive function – that really touches on a lot of the non-musical goals we might be addressing with a Client! The main difference is that the end goal for our Therapy sessions are those non-musical objectives, whereas a music lesson focuses primarily on the knowledge and ability to play the instrument itself.”
  • “These folks have a good head-start in understanding Music Therapy. Let me help them learn even more about it.”

Now that’s positive and affirming, and educational!

There are certainly times when a person may be convinced of something factually inaccurate regarding Music Therapy. And there are times when people might be spreading misinformation or attempting to advertise themselves as “Music Therapists” without any training or certification. In these moments, correction is necessary. “No” is not a bad word. But for those genuinely interested folks who just want to understand, an attitude of “Yes And” can make Music Therapy advocacy an enriching experience for everyone involved.

Thank you, Dungeons & Dragons, for helping me to see advocacy in a new, positive light.

– Written by Kevin Middlebrooks, LPMT, MT-BC, NMT

Tempo Time Warp: Why Does Music Sound Slower with Exercise?

(a) Heart pounding, (b) out of breath, (c) muscles tired, (d) altered perception of time. One of these experiences is NOT what I would typically associate with exercise… until recently, that is. Any guesses which?

I’d just finished an evening run, and was driving back home from the trail with some of my favorite music playing. But whooooooaaaa, nelly, did it sound slow!

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Like, nigh unbearably slow. I’m talking goofily exaggerated slow-motion movie scene slow. Which was odd, because I was pretty certain the song in question was usually at a solid “andante” tempo. Suddenly it sounded like it was being sung by Treebeard the Ent, or Flash the DMV Sloth from Zootopia.

Full disclosure – I’m still pretty new to this whole “physical activity” thing.
So you may have noticed this strange phenomenon long ago. But this was a novel experience for me.
Why did some songs sound slower after exercising?
My only thought: “This can’t be the music. It must be my brain.”

Turns out, it probably was! A few google searches later, and I’m reading research articles about music, the brain, and exercise.
For us Music Therapists, the neurological effects of music on the brain are familiar territory – though still always exciting to learn more about!
But adding exercise into the mix? Apparently things get weird.

Here are some potential reasons for this bizarre Tempo Time Warp:

1. There is a tight link between motor activity and temporal processing.
A 2012 study (Hagura, Et al.) examined why professional ball players often experience the ball “slowing down” before hitting it. The findings – as well as other existing literature – indicate a tight link between action preparation and the areas of the brain devoted to coding the passage of time. These same areas of the brain are responsible for anticipating the amount of time an upcoming motion will take. Thus, the motor system plans accordingly. For this very reason, the Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy places an emphasis on tempo and rhythm in facilitating movement interventions, such that the brain is given a “start” and “end” point between each beat of a song to provide an efficient neural map to aid motor planning!

If our brain’s processing of time (e.g. tempo of music) can inform and invigorate our movements, it makes sense that – maybe – it can work in reverse too. Vigorous movement (e.g. exercise) could, perhaps, inform or even alter our perception of time in music.

2. The Musical “Sweet Spot”
According to an interview between Business Insider and one Dr. Costas Karageorghis – author of “Applying Music in Exercise and Sport” – “It seems that as exercise intensity increases, the human organism prefers a higher tempo […] However, there is a ceiling effect in terms of music tempo preference at around ~140 bpm and any increase in tempo beyond this does not result in correspondingly enhanced aesthetic responses or greater subjective motivation.”

Because people tend to prefer faster, more stimulating music when exercising at a high intensity, the need for more stimulation “may translate to a perception that the music tempo is decreasing.”

Essentially, this means that congruence between activity level and musical elements (especially tempo) matters. It would feel strange to watch a car chase in an action movie while listening to Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude, or to pair a lullaby with a football highlights reel. As Music Therapists, we call this the “Iso Principle” – matching the music to the current physical or emotional state of the client before gradually shifting. And apparently, if the music we listen to while exercising is incongruous with our activity level – outside of our tempo “sweet spot,” that is – it may even sound slower than normal!

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Furthermore, if our rate of movement continues to increase as we work harder in exercise (i.e. running at a faster pace), and yet the music stays at a steady tempo, it can feel as though the tempo is decreasing.



3. Think fast!
It turns out, our brains may even process things at a faster rate when we exercise, so the speed of external stimuli such as music feels as though it is decreasing. Dr. Karageorghis explains, “During low-to-moderate intensity exercise, the brain is oxygenated and so processing speeds can be increased as a consequence, especially in older adults.”

However, the reverse is true at higher intensities of exercise, such that processing of external stimuli such as music is actually limited.

4. “Everything hurts and I’m dying.”
The perception of time is also subjective, changing based on our experiences and what we’re doing. We know this as we get older, because my, how the years fly. When we’re ten years old, a full year is a significant chunk of our life, and thus time feels as though it moves more slowly than when we’re older. You’ve certainly heard the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun!” The opposite seems to hold true as well, doesn’t it? When you’re longing intensely for something, time can really slow down.

During intense exercise, then, the pain of physical exertion may cause a longing for relief, and thus a “slowing down” of time.

So it sounds like a lot of factors play into the Tempo Time Warp!
In any case, this is just another reminder of how intricate and complex – and just downright fascinating! – our brains’ responses to music in conjunction with other activities of life can be.

– Kevin Middlebrooks, LPMT, MT-BC, NMT

Read more about this topic from Lindsay Dodgson at Business Insider here: https://www.businessinsider.com/why-music-appears-to-slow-down-when-you-exercise-2017-9?r=UK&IR=T

Other Sources:
Hagura, N., Kanai, R., Orgs, G., & Haggard, P. (2012). Ready steady slow: Action preparation slows the subjective passage of time. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,279(1746). doi:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.1339

The Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy: https://nmtacademy.co/

It Takes Two: Benefits of Interdisciplinary Co-Treatment

*In accordance with HIPAA, and out of respect for our client’s privacy, the initial A. will be used as an alias throughout this blog post.*
*Photo used with parent’s permission*

In the world of Private Practice, it’s not uncommon to spend the majority of a given week – professionally – alone. Of course, I am seeing clients, their families, and facility staff members as I drive from one location to the next. But most of these folks don’t know much about Music Therapy, apart from what I present to them. As for the sessions themselves, it’s usually just me and the client, and perhaps a parent stationed nearby. And sure, there are my wonderful colleagues at Metro Music Therapy, for whom I am immensely grateful. But we unfortunately only get to see one another in person about once or twice a week, for staff meetings and the like. Outside of those happy moments, they’re all off doing fantastic work with their own clients.

Suffice to say, I rarely have a chance to collaborate with another health professional in the midst of a session. Which is why those rare occasions are so much fun!

I recently had the privilege of working side by side with a Physical Therapist in a session with one of our mutual clients – we’ll call him A. The first thing worth mentioning is that this merging of sessions was suggested and arranged by none other than A’s parents! How cool is that? It’s always exciting when the benefits of interdisciplinary co-treatment are recognized and sought out by the client or his/her family. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits in A’s case:

1. It’s Practical – Time Efficient, Decreased Duplication of Services, More Hands!
I honestly believe that I would be a more effective therapist if I had four arms. Imagine the possibilities! Playing guitar with two hands, helping the client play another instrument with a third, and taking real-time data with a fourth – sounds like a sweet deal, right? Alas, even on my best days, I’m no Dr. Octopus. Which brings us to benefit #1: more professionals means more hands! It’s a simple, obvious benefit, but a benefit nonetheless. Live music is often preferred in a music therapy session, but that can be difficult if I need my hands to assist the client. With an extra set of hands, I’m able to incorporate all the good things that come with playing guitar (rather than a recording), such as easy fluctuation of tempo, while the client still receives physical assistance. And then there’s the time efficiency – in A’s case, his Physical Therapist and Music Therapist were able to see him simultaneously, so I imagine he was less worn out afterward!

When professionals work together, there’s less chance of the client “double-dipping” with a given service on the same day. For example, let’s say A’s Physical Therapist visits him to work on head posturing for 30 minutes, and then I show up to work on head posturing for 10 minutes, but in a different way. Sure, it’s not a bad thing to get more practice in on a given skill, but why not combine methods for a more concentrated practice session, with the combined knowledge and skills of two very different therapists? That brings us to our next major set of benefits.

2. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – Combining Knowledge, Skills, and Experience
While I can address some physical goals through musical interventions, I am no Physical Therapist. There’s a significant difference between my knowledge and training regarding physical development and the knowledge and experience of A’s Physical Therapist. And similarly, there are skills that I possess as a Music Therapist that she does not, having never gone through my training. She may incorporate singing and music into some of her interventions, but not in the same way or with the same knowledge. Which is, again, why it’s so cool to work together! I had heard from A’s parents that he’d been working on holding his head up independently during Physical Therapy, but I did not entirely know what that looked like (or how the intervention was implemented in the safest, most beneficial way for A.) until seeing it with my own eyes.

Meanwhile, I recalled reading a research study in the Journal of Music Therapy, titled: “The Effect of Automated Interrupted Music on Head Posturing of Cerebral Palsied Individuals” (Wolfe, 1980). Participants in the study each wore a special head device, utilizing mercury switches which activated recorded music when the subject’s head was held erect, and paused the music when the subject’s head became improperly postured. Results of the study indicated that, for four of twelve participants, head control improved during the treatment condition. This essentially means that music can be a helpful contingency when it’s used to alert a client that they are holding their head properly.

We did not have a fancy head device, but with A’s Physical Therapist assisting him in initial head positioning and standing by to support him should he begin to fall, I was able to simulate the function of the device by playing guitar and singing while A. held his head upright. Whenever his head began to droop, the music would stop!
And there you have it: interdisciplinary co-treatment in action!


3. New Ideas – Next Time in Music Therapy…
What’s neat about co-treatment, even when it only happens rarely, is that it can inform individual treatment moving forward. Since that first co-treatment session, A.’s mother and I have replicated the intervention – using music as a contingency for head posturing, while she supports his head, should he start to fall – several times. And A. has been able to hold his head in place for up to about 45 seconds! I’m thankful that A’s mother brought me and his Physical Therapist together that day, for his benefit and for mine. Because, have I mentioned?
Co-treatment is just really fun!

4. It’s Fun!
Can’t really over-state this one. Other therapeutic disciplines are the coolest. There is so much we can learn from each other, and it’s such an honor to have a chance to work with another of my client’s therapists. I wish it could happen more often! In addition to the mixing of knowledge and experience, you’re mixing rapport and relationships too. My clients are awesome, and here’s someone else (namely, his Physical Therapist) who gets to work with A. and see how awesome he is every week!
And now we’re here with him together, working side by side?
That’s just… man, it’s a good time.


To quote Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, sometimes,
“It takes two to make a thing go right.
It takes two to make it outta sight.”

– Written by Kevin Middlebrooks, LPMT, MT-BC

 

Resources:
Co-treating: What Is It and What Are the Benefits For Your Child?
Lauren Weichman – https://nspt4kids.com/therapy/co-treating-what-is-it-and-what-are-the-benefits-for-your-child/

The Effect of Automated Interrupted Music on Head Posturing of Cerebral Palsied Individuals
D. Wolfe – Journal of Music Therapy – 1980

Benefits of an Interdisciplinary Approach: A Case of Collaboration
Dana Howell-Kimberly Cleary – Physical & Occupational Therapy In Geriatrics – 2001

Welcome to Studio PTC!

Did you hear the news?
Studio PTC is officially open for business, and we couldn’t be more excited!


With a brand new space, we’re bound for brand new experiences, and we hope to offer the same to our brand new students! A world of music, exploration, and learning awaits in an environment we’re determined to make as motivating, rewarding, and downright fun as possible.
So what might you expect to find at Studio PTC?

First Things First: Let’s Boogie.
I think it says a lot about our team – and the type of instructional space this is turning out to be – that one of the first things to happen inside Studio PTC has been affectionately dubbed the #BlueWallBoogie.

Turning an empty room into a cozy and welcoming learning environment takes a bit of imagination and – sometimes – a bit of paint. And what better color for our brand new studio than “Metro Music Therapy Blue?”

Painting day – in true MMT fashion – became a dance party as the whole crew boogied away against the backdrop of a freshly blue-ified wall. Thus the #BlueWallBoogie was born, and we highly encourage any students, family, visitors, etc. to join in the dance craze that’s sweeping the nation (or, you know, Peachtree Corners, GA).


Here at Studio PTC, we engage in only the most serious and stoic of interactions.
Clearly.

Out-of-the-Box Learning
We know that not every student fits into the “box” that general music instruction may presuppose. Our sincere goal is to adapt our teaching methods to suit the needs of any learner. So we made it a priority to draft a general music curriculum that we can easily present in a variety of ways – both “traditional” and “unorthodox.”
If a student is a “typical” learner… great! We’ll have a blast making music together!
If a student is an “out-of-the-box” learner… great!
We’ll have a blast making music together, just the same!

Because each of us here at Metro Music Therapy is a Board-Certified Music Therapist, we all have some practice in making music accessible, engaging, and fun for people of all ages and learning styles. We’ll be bringing that experience with us into every bit of music instruction at Studio PTC.
Will it always look like your typical music lesson? Probably not.
And that’s the way we like it!

Take a look at this sophisticated graph.

Here you’ll see the “box” of expectations for music lessons.
If you look closely, there is also a happy chick.
The chick is not inside the box. It’s a metaphor, see?
We are the chick. We are out of the box.
At Studio PTC, a slogan and social media hashtag of ours is as follows:
#BeTheChick

Lights… Instruments… Music!
So what kind of music lessons do we offer at Studio PTC?
We’re glad you asked!

For students as young as Kindergarten, we recommend starting with Music Fundamentals. In these lessons, we’ll focus on all the fundamental musical concepts and skills that lay a foundation for everything to come. That means rhythm, dynamics, tempo, melody, music reading, voice, and piano exploration – Fun stuff!

After Music Fundamentals, students 2nd grade and above are invited to experience more fully the wonderful world of the Piano – a personal favorite, I have to say! During Piano lessons (as in all of our lessons), we’ll combine our curriculum with the students’ favorite music. After all, the music a student already loves will be the most exciting for him/her to learn!

Once a student has reached 4th grade, they’ll likely have developed their fine and gross motor skills to a point that they’re ready to try a stringed instrument – like Guitar or Ukulele! This is also the minimum age we recommend for Voice Instruction. If you’re wondering: “Why wait until 4th Grade?
We want our students to feel successful as they begin their musical journeys, so we’d hate to jump into something too soon before they’re ready! As such, voice lessons beginning before age 12 will focus mostly on vocal exploration, choosing appropriate repertoire, and caring for the voice.

Whether it’s Music Fundamentals, Piano, Guitar, Ukulele, or Voice —
Whatever the avenue, we believe that making music is a life-giving experience that anyone can enjoy.
We want to help our students do just that!

So drop on by!
Do a #BlueWallBoogie!
Remember to #BeTheChick!
There’s good times a-plenty to be had at #StudioPTC.
We’ll see you there!

Expecting the Unexpected

I am a planner. I like to have a plan for most things that I do, and even when I don’t have a plan, I like to at least plan for the fact that there will be no plan. I think it mostly comes from a desire to know what I should be expecting. A desire to be prepared, mentally, emotionally, etc.

In other words, me and Surprise don’t quite Harmonize.

But the world of Music Therapy is full of surprises – some big, some small – and that’s something that I’m growing to at least appreciate, if not yet fully embrace (I’m working on it!)
Rather than a predictable and repetitive melody, this job feels more like free jazz sometimes. That is to say: it can feel a little all over the place! Just when you think you know what chord must be coming next, you’ve shifted into a new key. Right as you get a feel for the beat, the drummer drops his sticks and starts playing trombone instead. During a session with a client in a common area, a well-intentioned passerby visiting the facility hands you a grapefruit with a wink and a, “What you’re doing is so nice, keep it up!” (True story.)
You never quite know what your week might entail!

There are certainly constants that remain true in every session, every interaction, every song and every intervention. And, as mentioned in a previous post, structure and repetition are valuable tools in Music Therapy (See: Déjà Vu! Repetition in Music Therapy) But I’ve started to notice that one of those constants is fluctuation. One of the things we as therapists can Expect – with some degree of certainty – is the Unexpected.

We can expect songs and interventions to take a turn and become something entirely different.
We can expect clients to enjoy instruments and songs we never thought they’d like.
We can expect to forget instruments and materials and need to improvise – and we can expect those moments to perhaps be even more engaging and beneficial for our clients than whatever we had initially planned! (Who knew?)
We can expect cancellations, rescheduling, relocating, and visitors.
We can expect to be offered a grapefruit in the middle of a session.
(Okay, maybe that one’s a stretch.)

A lot of these surprises are good things! When we can embrace the Unexpected, “roll with the punches,” and learn to improvise (musically or otherwise) to suit the situation, our clients often benefit. And so do we.

But other surprises can be more challenging.
Other surprises can be harder to respond to.
Because no matter how much you think you’ve prepared, no matter how long it might have even been Expected, no matter the fact that you know full well what Hospice care means…

The death of a client can still knock you off your feet.

Which, I think, in its own way, is a good thing. Therapeutic relationships are meaningful for the therapist as well as for the client, and grief is a natural, human response to loss. So the fact that it can be hard to “roll” with this particular “punch” is no surprise. In fact, it’s evidence of empathy, confirmation of care, the mark of a meaningful relationship. But it is still hard.

If we can Expect the Unexpected, isn’t the opposite also true?
Something Expected can still catch us off guard.
So what do we do when an Expected outcome arrives Unexpectedly?
How do we make sense of the surprising event when it suddenly comes?
I certainly don’t have answers, but I know that it’s okay to feel shocked.
To feel uncertain.
To not be prepared.
To not have a plan.

Rather than trying to file those things away with a logical (but maybe somewhat robotic), “It was Expected, and I had prepared,” we can try to appreciate the (natural, human) feeling of surprise, even if not quite embracing it yet. And maybe that can better equip us to support those who are feeling significantly more shocked and uncertain than we in the wake of this “Expected” event.
Because remembering that even the Expected can still be entirely Unexpected might just help us to Harmonize with the Surprised.

– Written by Kevin Middlebrooks, LPMT, MT-BC

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