Reflections on Music Therapy Conference

Reflection in a soap bubble.
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I just returned home from Kansas City where I attended the AMTA Midwestern Regional Conference. During the weekend I attended business meetings, sessions, and social opportunities.  It was a weekend filled with learning and connecting that has spurred many ideas for ways to offer music therapy services in the Hays, KS area. Here are highlights from sessions I attended.

Things opened with a musical performance by “Forever Young” an intergenerational group of UMKC students and folks from Landon Center on Aging. It was easy to tell the members of the group enjoyed sharing their rock music with us and we enjoyed listening to them.  Following a welcome and brief presentation of awards, Dr. Alicia Clair, MT-BC who spoke on “Change Points in the Progress of Greatness“. (Dr. Clair was one of my main professors during my college days. I still love learning from her.) One of Dr. Clair’s most Tweeted comments was “Innovative practitioners are reflective thinkers, courageous, competent, driven to succeed, & get “high” with success.

She defines innovators as “people who stand up on hammocks.” I like that definition!

My first session was Music and Play for Every Day presented by Anne Meeker Miller, Ph.D., MT-BC. Books and songs to assist young children in developing self-regulating skills were shared. While there were many take aways from this session, I learned a song I may add this fall to some of my Music Sparks groups: “Bright Light”.

My next session was by Melita Belgrave, Ph.D., MT-BC on one of my favorite topics – Intergenerational Music Therapy Programs! Benefits for children, older adults, families, and staff were highlighted; basics of success; and models of programs were shared. Areas of and for research were discussed. I even feel motivated to consider adding research to my work. (Thank you Melita!)

My Saturday morning started with a session led by Blythe LaGasse and Robin Edwards (both are MT-BC with Ph.D.s) on Maintaining an Evidence-Based Practice (EBP).   The ultimate goal of EBP is the best outcome for a client based upon clinical expertise; client values, needs, and expectations; and best external evidence. These women provided data bases and tips for locating research using the internet.  And, I am awaiting a template to assist me in systematically looked at the research. This will be key in keeping my work evidence based and especially if I do venture into researching.

My counseling skills were heightened by attending Stacey Patterson, LCPC, MT-BC’s presentation titled Deepening Therapeutic Relationships and Facilitating Change through Enhanced Verbal Counseling Skills.

Lunch included a fun look at Copyright laws by Donald Simon, an entertainer and intellectual property law attorney. Yes, law can be entertaining. To learn more, you can go to Soundscapes Music Therapy write-up on a previous presentation by Mr. Simon.

Krista Winter, MA, MT-BC presented on Creating a Music Therapy Program in a Rural Hospital.  Administrator Rudy Snedigar, CEO attended sharing insights into why her supports having a full-time music therapist in a small hospital. This is something I would love to see catch one for the sake of patients.

Creativity and Dementia in Hospice Care was an interesting case study presented by Amy Wilson, MA, MT-BC; Tricia Brashear, RM; and Iesha Burnham, CAN. Tons of information was shared. If you question the power of music, the amazing change of a client with dementia organizing herself with  drumming intervention reducing the time it took to assist her to bathe from two hours to twenty minutes.

Sunday morning, before hitting the road for Hays I attended Sing, Move and Learn! Sarah Niileksela, MT-BC and Michelle Gilbert, BS presented on a successful music and literacy event for three to five year olds and their families. The short report on this session is I am now armed with tons of ideas to enhance my existing program as well an idea for a program to start!

Of course, the best part is talking face to face with friends from college, Facebook, twitter, and past conference friends.  Their support and encouragement have helped me in being a better music therapist than I would be otherwise. If you would like to know more about what music therapists learned at shared and if you are on Twitter, look at #mwamta11. Time for this music therapist to move onto another task…

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