Aaah! Joys of a Bubble Bath

Anyone remember baths with Mr. Bubble? That was a childhood delight of mine – a bubble bath. While I don’t indulge in bubble baths as often these days, I still love them. Since January 8th is Bubble Bath Day I may just celebrate.

At this time of year (and living in a cold climate), taking a bubble bath requires warming the tub with some hot water before I fill it. Once the metal warms, I enjoy adding my favorite bubbles or essential oils to the water. Often I bring in music selecting to play what appeals to me (maybe relaxing, maybe playful). Then, get in the water and enjoy. Often I take a few minutes to read while I enjoy the music, the aromas from the water, and the warmth. Sometimes I add a little more warm water to extend my enjoyment before drying off with a fluffy towel.

Want a few bubbly songs to get you in the mood? Try these:

I’m off to enjoy a bubble bath….Until my next post, I wish you a bubbly time!

Opening up to the energy

“Performance is not about getting your act together but about opening up to the energy of the audience and the music. And letting it sing in your unique voice.” ~ The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

When I came upon this quote. I stopped. Literally stopped. Something resonated with me on many levels. It resonated to me as a musician, a parent, and a therapist. Surprisingly, it isn’t the word “performance” that made me stop. It was the phrase “open up to the energy”. Yes, I know all things are energy at some level. But, what does it mean to open to energy?

As a musician, I can attest to many different energies during a performance. Often it is nervous energy. Judgmental energy is flowing (is my pitch correct, how is my phrasing, etc.) There is also the focus or lack there of by the audience. When I open to the energy of the audience and the music, the nervousness fades away. It becomes more a sharing.

As a parent, I know the energy emitted from my child affects the type of energy with which I need to respond.  The way the energy presents itself has changed as she has grown. As much as don’t want to admit it, there are times I have not been open to the moment and the energy my child is presenting.  Yet, when we are in the moment (when I am open), it is amazing what happens and the memories that are created.

As a music therapist working with older adults and young children, I am very aware of the energy they present for a session. Often I have to shift plans to better meet the needs of the clients energy.  I also must be aware of what  energy is necessary for the clients to meet their goals. Here openness means being aware of what is needed.

This time of year can be full of lots of high, fast, and loud energy which can drain our personal energy reserves. For me to be effective in my various roles, I need to open my awareness to my energy. Taking time for proper food, drink, rest, and exercise can help keep my energy from crashing. It means saying no to some things. It means being patient with myself.

How do you open up to energy during a busy time of year without burning out? Please share it in the comments below.

6 Keys to Living (with Music)

Keys - Lost and found

Image by Stewart Leiwakabessy via Flickr

Life can be complicated for many people. It sometimes seems especially so for those whose livelihood is in the arts such as music educators and music therapists. You aren’t sure what to do, how to do it, when to change. You feel lost. While I can not answer these questions for you, I have identified what I consider to be the keys to surviving and even thriving based upon my life as a music therapist and my husband’s as a music educator.

Consider  a 2-5 year plan. Where do you want to be living? What do you want to be doing? Describe a day in the life. What kind of music do you want to be creating? This information will inform the rest of the keys. It should serve as the basis of how you live your life. It is okay to “re”key from time to time. In fact, I’ll bet you plans will change with life.

Care for your body. There is an expanding body of evidence to support the importance of proper nutrition and exercise. Yet, there are other  aspects to consider. Whether  you are a music therapist, an instrumental teacher or a vocal teacher, it is important you  care for your voice. Be sure you warm-up your voice and cool it down each day. In addition, you need to be sure you are injuring yourself in rehearsals or performances. Be sure to see “Music Shouldn’t Hurt” by Susan Poliniak in Teaching Music, Vol. 19, No.2 for specifics.

Care for your environment. As much as possible, the space around you should support & encourage your work. Find a system to organize paperwork, music, recordings, instruments and equipment that works for you. Be sure you have a space for creating and enjoying your music. Include something for your sense or smell, sight, and touch in your environment. Who wants to plan classes or sessions in a chair that doesn’t feel comfortable? Who wants to spend much time in an area with a nasty smell?

Control your finances. Be aware of both your income and your expenses.  There are great resources out there to help  you learn about finances, budgeting, and saving. A few examples are David Bach, Robert T. Kiyosaki, and Suze Orman. Use your 2-5 year plan to help guide your financial plan. Live within your means. Budget money for enjoying the now. Be sure your fees for lessons and sessions cover your time for travel, preparation, and clean up. From time to time see what others are charging in your area for the same or similar services.

Consider your relationships. Create a list of who inspires you personally, professionally, musically. Realize some relationships are required – familial & work included. But, you can decide how to handle these relationships. Be aware of the people who surround you. Do you have friends? Do they have goals and interests similar or complementary to yours?  Are you setting aside time to maintain and develop these relationships? It is easy to get so “busy” with work we don’t invest quality time into relationships.  Care for your persona/brand both off and on-line. Remember, what is posted online lives on for family, employers, students/clients to see.

Care for your thoughts/mind.  Continue to learn throughout life. Find ways to “unclutter” your mind so you can focus on a thought at a time. Find ways to release the constant mental monitoring especially those of negativity. Continue to make music for yourself. Find for yourself how to balance the need to perfect your craft as a musician with your need to enjoy being in the moment with music.

Thank you to the Fort Hays State University chapter of CMENC for asking me to present. You are the inspiration for this post. I am grateful to Stephanie McWilliams of The Unstoppables for providing me a base upon which to build.

More detailed information is available in the FACETS newsletter being released on Friday, October 21st, 2011. Sign up today to get your copy.

Keep Your Head Up!

Facial emotions.

Image via Wikipedia

Last week on the Music Sparks site I shared the need to “Weave Me the Sunshine”. I seem to have my emotional antenna up these days. First, I decided to purchase “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, Ph.D. I’ve just started reading the book, but I am finding it a fascinating read. Vanessa Busch describes general premise of the book as:

“…above all other ingredients of living an emotionally healthy life is the importance of loving ourselves. In the grips of what she took to be a breakdown, or midlife crisis, Brown came to understand she was experiencing a “spiritual awakening” and worked to explore its significance and the interaction of knowing and understanding yourself and loving yourself. She intersperses her own personal journey with research and clinical observations of others of the work of living a “wholehearted” life, or “engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.” The point is to embrace life and oneself with all the imperfections, releasing the stress of overdoing and overworking. Brown offers exercises for readers to plumb their own emotions and begin to develop the kind of resilience needed to stand up to unrealistic expectations of others and ourselves.”

Be watching for future posts about my journey through this book.

Next, I heard a song this week that speaks to emotions while riding in the car with my teenage daughter. Take a listen.

Do you think it speaks to dealing with our emotions in a genuine way? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below,

In the Mirror

A mirror, reflecting a vase

Image via Wikipedia

My church has started a new ministry called Crosswalk. It is creative, fun, and challenging. We are currently spending four weeks on the topic “How do I see myself?” Last night we dealt with “how we see ourselves through our own eyes, through the eyes of others & even through God’s eyes.” We took time to look in a mirror & answer  for ourselves what we think others see? We wrestled with what we see and our true emotions.

Views of oneself seemed to be a recurring theme for me this week. I read a post about research on reverse facial image and preferences. Unfortunately, I didn’t bookmark the post so I am unable to locate it to share. I did find a PDF from a 1977 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled “Reversed Facial Images and the Mere-Exposure Hypothesis”.  Interesting thought that we prefer our own face as a reversed image but a friends face as a “normal” image. In other words, we prefer photos of ourselves as we view ourselves in a mirror.

As a music therapist, I know and use many songs that deal with emotions and some that deal with mirrors. We spent a fair amount of time last night discussing the appropriate expression of emotions. We spent most of our focus on verbal expression and behavior. Personally, I find there are many more ways to express and to explore our emotions among them physical movement, various visual art mediums, and music. Music is my preferred medium.

This following song was shared during last  night’s service. It seemed to  resonated with several people in attendance.What emotions do you hear in the lyrics?

As you look in the mirror and within yourself, treat yourself with the love and respect you treat others.

Football Fields are for Marching Bands (Too)

Football Field Panoramic (HDR)

Image by joebiologyuni via Flickr

Football season is here. The fans are starting to wager on the winners and losers. The players are strapping on their pads. The fields are freshly lined. The rock music is being prepared to blast through the speakers. Suddenly the music is silenced and the crowd in the stands hear “Ladies & Gentleman, please welcome the Dusty High School Marching Dirt Devils. Under the field direction of ….”

Yip, it is MARCHING SEASON. One of my favorite cartoons in high school was Funky Winkerbean. Mr. Dinkel was the band director who declared “Football fields are for marching bands”. The band geek in me is willing to share the field with the team. As a member of the  Eureka High School Marching Band I attended many a football game. As a student at the University of Kansas, I was never able to king’s x the space for marching band, but I can guarantee I went to the game to see the band not the football team. (KU wasn’t winning many games in those days.) Marrying a high school band director, I have chaperoned my fair share of home and away football band trips and marching festival (which are held in football stadiums). Now I attend Hays High games to cheer on my daughter and the other members of the marching band. And, I also cheer on the Fort Hays Tiger Marching Band as my husband assists with that group.

I enjoy marching season.  Still, I have heard band directors told to stay off a field so the band doesn’t mess it up. Really? Who is going to mess it up more – someone marching or someone tackling? Football fields are for marching bands, too!

From this perspective, on and off the field, let me share a few thoughts about marching bands. (These thoughts are mine and may or may not reflect the thoughts of band directors, marching band members, the band supporters, or various education institutions.) 

Marching band is a lot of work mentally and physically. Remembering drill, proper technique for moving AND playing, playing musically, adjusting to the movement of those around you while following the person on the podium takes a few brain cells. Getting air through a horn or carrying percussion equipment while marching a 7-9 minute show is a workout. It takes hours of practice to do this. It takes dedication to do it well.

Marching bands deserve a little recognition. Think about it, there are multiple high school pep assemblies to talk about the players and the upcoming game. But, when was there last a pep rally for the band going to festival, or the debate team heading to a competition, or the theatre department putting on a play? And, how many times have you seen the band as a back drop for the homecoming festivities? Or, how many times have you seen the teams come onto the field to warm up as the band completes the half-time performance? What would happen if the band warmed up on the field while the game was in progress? These students are in a credited class that meets during the day and required to attend an extra-curricular events. Outside of other performing arts courses, how many courses extra-curricular events? I was impressed last year to see the Hays High student body sit down to watch the band at half-time instead of running to the concession stands. (HHS students, you ROCK!)  Take away: Consider watching and listening to the band as it performs – both at half time and at a concert.

Marching band season is the warm-up for the band. Once the players hang up the cleats, the band goes on to concert season. (Or if they are lucky, they are doing concert music during the football season.) This is where quality music making occurs, technique is honed, passion exists. Yes, it is a high hearing stands full of people yell when you complete a show, but for me that pales next to the highs of creating music that moves me as a player or as a listener. The take away – Don’t be upset when I don’t worry if the football team makes it to state playoffs. I’m thinking about festivals and concerts.

There is rarely a payback for the band. I mean this in several ways.

  1. While band is a class, the members are required to attend an extra-curricular event. I have yet to hear of a football team required to dress appropriately and attend a concert to hear the band.
  2. Educational institutions rarely staff a band like a football team. In Kansas many high school bands have a director maybe two. The high school football teams often have a head coach, and assistants for the offensive team and the defensive team plus several other trainers. (In their defense, our local athletic boosters foot the bill for some of the assistant coaches. ) Yet can you imagine what it would be like to have add coaches for percussion, brass, and woodwind? That rarely happens in a rural Kansas high school.
  3. It costs to have marching band. Music isn’t cheap. (The average piece of marching music is around $50 these days. So multiply that by the number of songs you hear the band play at a game in the stands and on the field.) Drill writing takes time of the director or money for a drill designer. The big thing is budget. The Hays High band music and equipment  budget for the year is $650. The money is already spent. Band boosters will be fund-raising for concert music and instrument repairs for the remainder of the year. And, remember, marching season is just the warm up, so the band costs continue.
  • The take away: If your football team makes a profit from the gate, consider sharing those funds with the band to cover those expenses. If a band member asks your financial support, please consider giving it if you are able. Every dollar helps.

Don’t get me wrong, I think our community is supportive of the band programs. I want people to know what they are supporting. I have met a lot of people through my marching experiences. I have had a lot of fun with the marching band. So, let’s keep the music going on and off the field.

 

Joy Is Like The Rain

rain on the window

Yesterday I was awakened by thunder. There are so many places praying for rain I viewed it as a blessing even though I would have preferred sleeping. My first thoughts were of Karen Carpenter singing “Rainy Days and Mondays”. As the day went on the song playing in my head as the sun shone was “Joy Is Like The Rain”. (If you don’t know the song you can read the lyrics and listen to a recording at : Joy is Like the Rain.) This was one of the first songs I learned to accompany myself on guitar.

There is a good chance you have created a rainstorm at one time in your life just like this choir: 

What feeling arise for you when you listen to the rain? Are they positive or negative in nature? Share your rain memories.

7 Link Challenge – Musical Gems Version

Seven

My friend, Michelle Erfurt put out a challenge on Music Therapy Tween for a 7 link challenge. This seemed like a simple challenge. The questions only apply to the dates of August 2010 – July 2011. So here we go!

  1. Your first post of August 2010:  Music Connections – Learning This was a part of a series. It was taken from presentations I had done.
  2. A post you enjoyed writing the most: Celebrate National Kazoo Day   Is there anything more fun than a kazoo?
  3. A post which had a great discussion: Finding Your Tempo Giusto   This was a book inspired post. I love sharing my thoughts on my reading.
  4. A post on someone else’s blog that you wish you’d written Three ideas for Musical Breaks  I wish this was a post on this blog. Rachelle is great a capturing thoughts.
  5. Your most helpful post: Help with a child’s goal Is there anything that makes you happier than helping a child meet a goal? For me there isn’t much.
  6. A post with a title that you are proud of: What are Your Six Songs?   Having a couple other blogs follow with related posts made me proud. It is a way for me to feel like I am meeting my goal of getting people to explore different facets of life.
  7. A post that you wish more people had read My Music Therapy Aha! Moment I want people to know how work, degree, employment grow out of things that bring joy to life. This is my story.

Now, it is your turn! Share your 7 links my blogging friends.

Hometown

Neighbourhood - IMG_7341

Image by Nicola since 1972 via Flickr

What makes a hometown a hometown? For many people it is the community into which you are born and raised. Having been born into  a parsonage family, I have found it difficult to answer the question of “What’s your hometown?”.  While I was born in Texas, we moved away when I was a toddler. We lived in two communities in Indiana. Then we moved back to Kansas.  The largest number of my childhood years was spent in Eureka, Kansas. Here is a song and photos to give you a feel for this community.

My family left Eureka while I was in college. And moved again after I was married.  During my adult, married years we have lived in many places including Kissimmee, FL; Winter Park, FL; Kansas City, MO; and Ocoee, FL. We are starting our tenth year in Hays, Kansas. At this point, I have a feeling of history here, of connection to people, and of being at home. I know who to call when I need help and support. And, people call me for the same reasons.

As we are increasingly becoming a population that moves around, the question of  what is your hometown becomes involved for more people. One of the songs I often share when working with older adults is “Dear Hearts and Gentle People”. I think the lyrics offer a partial answer to the question of where is my hometown.

I love those dear hearts and gentle people
Who live in my home town
Because those dear hearts and gentle people
Will never ever let you down …

I feel so welcome each time that I return
That my happy heart keeps laughin’ like a clown
I love the dear hearts and gentle people
Who live and love in my home town .

I hope you feel at home where you are…for now.

Book Review: Anything You Want

Nomination for book cover fail of alltime: &qu...

Image by Andrew-Hyde via Flickr

At the recommendation of Kat Fulton and Rachel Rambach, two amazing music therapist, I took a risk and purchased yet another book today. I managed to read all of “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers while I worked out this afternoon. Yes, an hour read or less. I downloaded the Kindle version this morning and received a gift of music to boot. I have taken a little time to listen to the downloads. Now I have a few new favorite songs!

While it is a business book it is so much more.  It has things to take into life. Here are two quotes as examples. The first is from page 11:

Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.”

And from page 51:

…it’s about what you want to be not what you want to have.

To have something…is the means, not the end.  To be something…is the real point.

The book is one I will read again. A music business model that is customer centered seems to transfer in many ways to a music therapy business – a client centered profession. Have you read this book? If so, please share them in the comments below.