Articles for January 2016

Music Therapy Advocacy Month

It is January, and with the dawning of a new year comes the annual Music Therapy Advocacy Month sponsored by the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists  This is a time for us to advocate for our profession as a collective group.

As I read through posts from my colleagues, I wonder what I can say that will make a difference, if not an impact. Music is a powerful tool and, when administered by a trained professional, can have enormous impact on those people that are participating in the act of creating it. This is true whether the person receiving music therapy has Alzheimer’s, Traumatic Brain Injury, Parkinson’s, Down’s syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum disorder and basically anyone and everyone else.

I have been trying to put my thoughts into words and to relate them to Dina Register’s post about being a connector, reflector or director, which area is my strength and how I advocate for music therapy. After much reflection, I realized that in order to be a successful music therapy business owner, I have to have all of these attributes and constantly advocate for music therapy.

By feeling connected to a greater purpose of providing positive life changes for the people I serve, I become a reflector of that purpose. It is hard to remain anonymous and invisible when I walk into a facility with a guitar on my back and bags of other various instruments. When the music begins, of course, the sounds I create with my clients attract even more attention. I am reflecting my joy and purpose to my clients and they in turn reflect it back, which facilitates positive change. This is what I want other people to see when they observe and experience music therapy.

I must also be a director. In my sessions I am structuring and directing the musical experiences so that I can help my clients to achieve positive outcomes. This means choosing songs and interventions that are fun and presenting them in a way that motivates my clients to participate so that they can achieve their goals.  As a business owner, I must be aware of all the multiple aspects of business ownership, I must set goals and push the business in the direction that I want it to go.

I would to thank Dina Register and the CBMT executive board, Judy Simpson and the AMTA executive board, and all of the state advocacy teams for your hard work in advocating for our profession. My advocacy has been on a grass roots basis as I build my private practice and I truly appreciate those of you who have taken the time to serve on your local, state, regional and national committees to advocate for all of us.

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Sing Me a Book – January

Hello, Happy New Year and welcome back to the Sing Me a Book Blog series.

Transitions can often be difficult for children in special education. Many kids want to pick up where we left off in Dec. and sing holiday songs. Now while “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” are winter songs, I try to avoid singing them in January if at all possible.

There are two books that I use in January that are good for transition, because although the holidays are over, winter is still here. I sometimes use these in December if kids are in “holiday overload” but mostly I save them until Jan.

cold lady snowThere Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro

This is another “Old Lady” book and since I did my favorite “Old Lady” book in Nov. the kids are familiar with the sequencing and felt board concepts. I tell the kids, “That little old lady gets around, AND she eats EVERYTHING!” Which is the case in this book as well. There is a tag line at the end of each verse that says “I don’t know why she swallowed the snow, perhaps you know?” So I ask the kids “Do you know?” and they are prompted to say “I don’t know!”

The fun part about this book is that the lady eats all of the elements to make a snow man then hiccups out the fully formed snowman. Once again I used my flatbed scanner and laminate and Velcro to make pieces for kids to put on the felt board and I usually surprise them with the snowman at the end.


The Twelve Days of Winter by Deborah Lee Rose12 days of winter

This book goes to the tune of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” but the teacher is giving the winter gifts to the students and each one is something you might find in any classroom during the winter months such as crafts and treats. I again made use of that flatbed scanner and printer and scanned the object on each page then I added the number and the item name so that it includes number recognition and literacy skills. Then they are laminated and velcroed and ready for use.

For most of the groups, I give each child a card to put on the felt board in the correct order as we sing that verse. But I have a couple of groups that need modification, either the kids can’t hold the cards without eating or tearing them, they can’t sequence all of the numbers or they can’t wait until the number is called. Instead of handing the cards out I put one or two on a smaller board for example I may put the 6 and the 10 and ask a child to find the one with the number 6 and then put it on the bigger felt board. This takes a little longer but still meets goals and is fun for the kids.

I also use some active listening skills for some of my classes by telling them to look for a particular picture in the book, such as penguins, teddy bears or for older kids, find the kid in the book who is picking his nose (yes, he is there, on EVERY page!)

So please write in the comments below and tell me what books you use in January, or how these suggestions are working in your classes.

Come back in February for another one of my ALL TIME favorite children’s books.

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