SOAP Notes – Another Way of Assessing

Every music therapist has their own unique style when it comes to the way they lead sessions, set goals, and take data. Something we learned about at this week’s symposium was SOAP Notes – a type of assessment. The acronym “SOAP” stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan. Here is an example of what information goes into a SOAP Note:

Subjective – Information about the client, including diagnosis, history, and any other self-reported information.

Objective – What the clinician observes (something measurable), and can include what interventions were performed.

Assessment – In medical settings, this is where the diagnosis is determined. For music therapy purposes, this can include what interventions were performed, and perhaps how successful the client was in reaching their goals in those interventions.

Plan – What to do next; revision of goals.

This is a very logical way of assessing, as it provides the framework for both subjective and objective data. In addition to a frequency count or duration recording, the music therapist has the opportunity to write comments regarding what worked well and what can be improved in the next session. I hope that this gets you thinking about how you can use this type of assessment in your own practice!


Music Therapy and the Importance of Practice

It’s crazy to think that we’re already headed into February! Time is truly flying by here at MTCCA.

As an intern, there is never a shortage of things on my “to-do” list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget why we do what we do, as Music Therapists. Of course, our clients are always there to remind us of the power of music and the effect that music has on their quality of life. With this in mind, the one thing I never skip on my “to-do” lists is practice. The difference between practice now and practice back in school is that practice no longer means “perfect.” Now, as an intern (and soon as a professional!) practice means the difference between being some lady with a guitar and an ipad and a highly trained clinical musician, ready to respond to whatever musical cues my clients throw my way. By practicing and becoming as fluent on guitar, piano, and drums as possible, an MT is able to use their brain power more effectively in sessions. Rather than worrying about what the IV chord of F is, an MT can respond to the rhythms the client is playing.

This past week, the team got together with Jayjay Lim at Greene Music to have an improv workshop. Jayjay shared with us a few easy tips for teaching adaptive lessons, and even more helpful tips about how to accompany a client. Though all of us were floored by his talent, (and many of us were thinking “I could never do that!”) it was a great reminder of the importance of practicing. Music doesn’t just happen, and music isn’t one-size-fits-all. As an intern it’s always easy to forget to practice, or to run out of time, but I do really believe that, while no one will ever be perfect, practice definitely makes us thousand times more effective as therapists.

Adapted Lessons

Today’s symposium meeting was on teaching adapted lessons. Having just finished my student teaching, I was really interested to learn more about working with students with special needs. Everyone had some great resources and tips to share, so I will just talk about some of the highlights:

  • There are many educational books and method systems for teaching music theory and piano in a simple and fun way. The key to these books is that they include lots of visuals, interactive activities, and songs that are enjoyable to play!
  • Teaching music doesn’t have to just come from a book. Interactive activities such as coloring and using a whiteboard, iPad, or even play doh can make music theory fun and easy to understand because the student is learning through different modalities, including visually, aurally, and kinesthetically.
  • The internet is really your friend when it comes to finding creative ways to learn and teach music! A website that we learned about was and it includes lessons and games that make learning about the piano and music theory lots of fun!

I encourage you to use a variety of resources when teaching adapted lessons – in most cases, the more fun you have, the more you learn!


Meet Nerissa

We are excited to announce our newest intern!

Nerissa Manela is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Music Therapy at the University of Miami (UM), where her principal instrument is violin. She was very involved at UM, including her roles in the Alpha Mu Music Therapy Club, Secretary of the UM National Association for Music Education, and violinist in the Frost Symphony Orchestra. Nerissa has gotten involved in music therapy at the national level by serving as a student representative on the American Music Therapy Association’s internship Approval Committee. She also spent a summer in Ireland working with music therapists at COPE Foundation, an organization that serves over 1,000 individuals with disabilities.

“From the time I was in my primary school orchestra, the music culture impacted everything that I did. Music played such a big role in my life, and I wanted to pass on my positive experience with music to others. Music therapy allows me to pursue my passions for music and helping people.”

Family, Internship, and the Purple Party Song

As I begin my fourth month of internship, I’m struck with how quickly time has past. At times, I have absolutely felt like time was dragging and the end of internship was a lifetime away. However, now, suddenly, I’m halfway through and barreling towards the end. I had the unique experience of having 2 weeks off for the holidays in the middle of my internship, something which was hugely needed. I saw my brothers and my best friends, and was able to read, rest, and recooperate. This week, my first back in the new year, I got to sit in on one of our client’s as he recorded his music for his upcoming album (look for it on iTunes!).  His sister joined us for the recording as well as his mom, Brian, and the producer, Chris. It was a very non-traditional sort of way to spend a Tuesday night and I absolutely loved it. On one hand, it was an evening of recording music. On the other hand, it was an evening which really brought to light the tight knit community here. The client’s sister actually went to school with me back in Boston. Chris, the producer, also graduated from Berklee.

As I look towards the end of internship and the beginning of my journey into the big, bad real world, it’s nice to remember that no matter where I’m working, it is possible to build a community like the one I witnessed tonight. After all, it is those communities which create such powerful environments for our clients and, ultimately, which support our progress in Music Therapy sessions.