Here’s what I’m reading this month…

Over at Music Sparks I shared my three words for 2012: strengthen, stretch, sustain. As a part of strengthening, I have set an intention of 15 minutes of professional reading each day. Here is was is currently on my shelf.

“Ethical Thinking in Music Therapy” by Cheryl Dileo

This is in preparation for a continuing education presentation I will be making with Rachelle Norman of Soundscape Music Therapy at the Midwest Regional Music Therapy Conference. (If you are a music therapist, we hope you will join us for a conversation filled presentation.) I am looking forward to increasing my knowledge and sharing my experiences.

Also on my self is “Music Therapy, and Early Childhood: A Developmental Approach” by Elizabeth Schwartz.

Elizabeth was one of the speakers I heard at the American Music Therapy Association conference in November 2011. As I am adding an infant session this month through the Hays Recreation Commission, I wanted to brush up on a little more on my knowledge base.

For pleasure, I am reading “Death Comes to Pemberley” by P.D. James. This book is a follow-up to Jane Austin‘s “Pride and Prejudice“. This mystery is a lot of fun.

What’s on your reading self? Share it in the comments below.


Endings & Beginnings

Transition - New Beginning
Image by Mara ~earth light~ via Flickr

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Semisonic

As the year draws to a close and a new year begins, I am taking some time to review the year here on Musical Gems and to plan for the year at hand.

As part of my review I looked to see what created the most interest this year.   I wish to thank you for reading my posts, for sharing them, and for leaving comments. The top five viewed posts were:

  1. What Would Life Be Like Without Music?
  2. What are your six songs?
  3. Sharing Your Story, Making a Change
  4. Reflections on Music Therapy Conference
  5. Football fields are for Marching Bands (too)

Politics, fun challenge, advocacy, music therapy, and marching band…hum, things on which I have strong views.  Providing information others find useful, informative or fun is my goal. Please take a moment to answer this poll.

We’ll see what kind of exciting ideas we can share in 2012! I wish you much joy.

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.

7 Link Challenge – Musical Gems Version


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.

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.

Listen in on Blog Talk Radio

I am very excited to be a guest of Janice Harris on “The Music Therapy Show”. We will be visiting Friday, July 1, 2011. The show airs live at 11 AM Central/ Noon Eastern.  To listen live, you have two options:

  1. Call is to  (646) 652-2850. Calling in allows you to ask questions.
  2. Listen on-line at: . There is a chat option if you wish to post a question to Janice.

If you need a different time to listen, the show will be available as a podcast both on the  and through a link on the Music Therapy Show blog. It will also be available through iTunes.

Please join us!

Happy 1st Birthday!

This is the gift table that my sister made.
Image via Wikipedia

Musical Gems is a year old.  It is amazing what has happened with this site in the last year.  This is my 70th posts.  The ones receiving the top six post views are as of this writing (from most read to least):

  1. What are your 6 songs?
  2. Sharing Your Story (This was the 1st post I had by a guest.)
  3. Reflections on Music Therapy Conference
  4. Celebrate National Kazoo Day
  5. A Little About You, A Little About Me
  6. Continuing My Journey

I am so thankful for all who read my posts and share their thoughts here. You are helping me grow. Musical Gems can also be found one Facebook.I am so thankful for the over 40 followers there.

So where will the next year lead? I’m not sure. Yet I think many things will unfold as the year progresses.

To celebrate this year, Musical Gems has started releasing a monthly newsletter. You are welcome to receive FACETS, too, by signing up for the newsletter.


Run Away!

jogger im Gegenlicht
Image by quapan via Flickr

June 2nd is National Running Day. A great excuse to go for a run! Knee issues no longer allow me to jog, but I love to walk. Need a reason to take up running or walking?  Here are just a few of my personal reasons:

  • It is an affordable form of exercise for many.
  • Exercise releases endorphins.
  • Exercise can assist people with relaxation and sleep.

So, no excuses – get out & move!

A way to pace your run/walk is to listen to music. Rachelle Norman of Soundscape Music Therapy shared a great site for creating potential playlist for this purpose: Jog FM. Not only does it allow you to sort by music genre, it helps you map routes and figure the distance. I give this tool a thumbs up!

All this thinking about running and music has this song running through my head:

What Would Life Be Like Without Music

Music Note Bokeh
Image by all that improbable blue via Flickr

On Monday, May 17, 2010, the local school board voted to cut the fourth grade orchestra program so the 10 sections of class could be moved to cover the loss of 28 general elementary music classes. (For background information see this open letter I posted.) The need to cover 28 classes of elementary general music is sad. The cutting of the fourth grade strings is sad. But, what is most sad for me is the loss our children will experience.

Not every person is a singer. Not every person plays a musical instrument. Not everyone is creates/composes music. Yet, we are all music consumers. Can you imagine a day without music? No music on the TV, on the radio, in a movie, in the car, at a sporting event, at a religious service…NO MUSIC! This is unimaginable to me.

Currently I am reading “The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature” by Daniel J. Levitin. There seems to be so many related quotes I could share from the small portion I have read. But here it is:

“…music gives the brain opportunities to explore, exercise, play with and train those mental, physical, and social muscles necessary for the maintenance and formation of society as we know it.  It offers a safe forum in which we can practice and hone skills that are vital through the life span.”

That sounds like there is much music offers our children as we put them through our educational system.  Given this and the pervasiveness of music in our world, limiting opportunities for music education seems unwise. I am thankful that unlike some school districts, music is still offered in our schools. Yet, these cuts will impact the experiences students will receive.

I was blessed to be born into a family of music lovers. My parents said I sang almost as soon as I spoke. By age two, I reportedly actively participated in music during worship. Piano, voice, and flute were my companions for years of school. I taught myself to play guitar which I shared at summer Girl Scout camps and church events. I knew I wanted a life that included music while I worked with people. Finding a career in music therapy has been a blessing to my life. So, I really can’t imagine a life without music. Can you?

  • If you can imagine a life without music, I challenge you to report how you avoided it for a 24 hour period of “normal” daily activity.
  • If you can’t imagine a life without music, I encourage you to report how music impacts your life.