A season of Rock Stars!

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This past week, Banding Together’s Spring season of Jam Sessions came to a bittersweet end.  Throughout the past 5 months of being an intern, Jam Sessions became one of my weekly highlights and I will treasure some very special moments and memories from my first season being a mentor with Banding Together.

This Jam season I learned to watch, listen, and learn (in that order!).  I truly learned so much from observing the mentors/volunteers interact with and encourage participants as well as from participants being genuine friends to one another.  In my experience as an intern, so often I am jumping into things – taking leadership and problem solving – that this experience proved to be a very important opportunity for me to sit back and learn from watching others.  The patience, wisdom, and gentle, humble leadership I observed in other mentors taught me to be more aware of myself and to consistently encourage clients to be the absolute best they can be.

Another highlight from this season, was having the privilege of seeing participants experience such excitement and sheer joy when Jason Mraz performed as a Guest Musician.  This was such a special night of sharing in music with someone who has touched the world with his message and gift.  Thank you, Jason!

Lastly, Jam Sessions proved to be a complete blast!  The dance moves, the drum circle grooves, the action leader skills, personalities shining through with solos or at the mic, the relationships deepened and laughs shared… for me it was a true expression of the power and joy of making music with others.

On a final side note, Chiara and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves while taking the “Dress up as your favorite rock star!” prompt to heart.  Enjoy these pics of us as Jelena (Justin and Selena), Sonny and Cher, and Billary (Bill and Hillary).  (Oh, the many perks of being an intern!)

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That’s a wrap for our Spring session – here’s to another great one this fall!

Cheers!

-Marissa

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Move That Body – Patterned Sensory Enhancement

First of all, let me give a special thanks to Veronica May, MT-BC, NMT for coming to The Music Therapy Center to, in her words, “brickity break down” some Neurologic Music Therapy physical and sensorimotor techniques for us, and give us specific tools to use with our clients. The following information is based on her helpful instructions.

Music motivates movement! That is why there is a whole category of neurologic music therapy techniques that address physical and sensorimotor goals. One technique is Patterned Sensory Enhancement (PSE). PSE uses the elements of music – harmony, dynamics, rhythm, melody, tempo, and duration – to mirror a specific movement. It is used in motor rehabilitation, maintenance, or modulation.

In PSE, music is not only motivating movement, but it’s also illustrating the movements. When a music therapist chooses what type of music to play and how to play it in order to facilitate a specific movement, he/she must take all the elements of music into consideration: 1. Timing elements: meter, tempo, pattern, form; 2. melodic elements that indicate spatial aspects of movement: pitch, dynamics, sound duration, harmony. In addition to musical elements, the music therapist must also be aware of the elements of the movement his/her client is being prompted to do. What are the steps involved in making the specific movement? Where is the force of the movement coming from?

 

Enough with the technicalities! How about some examples for how MUSIC can ILLUSTRATE and FACILITATE MOVEMENT!

Example: Knee lifts from a seated positionSeatedKnRse2

First, where is the force of the movement? The LIFT, because this is going against gravity. Therefore, the “force” – or most emphasized – part of the music will be on the lifting motion.

 

Second, let’s think about the music.

  1. Meter: Knee lifting is like marching, so we would likely want a march meter (i.e. 2/4 or 4/4). Find a song, or plan your improvisation in that meter.
  2. Tempo: At what speed do you want your client making each movement? Choose the tempo that is most appropriate for your client’s age and motor challenge. Remember, slower tempos are sometimes harder for clients to maintain because there is less auditory info happening between each beat.
  3. Pitch: You want your client to make an upward movement, so instinctively, you play higher pitches to cue the lifting movement (e.g. a high C chord), and lower pitches to cue the lowering movement (e.g. low C).
  4. Dynamics: In this case, dynamics will help you emphasize the pitches that cue the lifting movement. Play the higher pitches louder and the lower pitches softer. E.g. Loud high C chord, soft low C.
  5. Duration: You can cue how long you want your client maintaining his/her knee in that lifted position by sustaining the high pitches (e.g. sustained high C chord), or making those same pitches very shor
  6. Harmony: Harmony doesn’t play a crucial role in this knee-lift example. But it can tie in to the emphasis piece. Emphasize the lifting motion by making the high pitch a chord (e.g. high C chord), and the low pitch just a single note. I’ll give another example. A clenching movement may be associated with a dissonant chord, while a relaxed/releasing movement may be associated with a consonant chord.

– Chiara (the new intern!)

Lions and tigers and….. public speaking!? Oh my!

If you are a music therapist, you know the feeling – you’re on an airplane or in an elevator when someone asks you what you do for a living.  The 30 seconds that follow have the potential to forever shape that individual’s understanding and view of the vast world of music therapy.  No pressure!

The vital importance of being an effective communicator and speaker cannot be over stated.  Whether your field is music therapy, marketing, or dog sitting, you have the power to help others understand the value and efficacy of your work.  So much about an individual brand or company is communicated in the initial, first-impression conversation and it’s crucial that you are prepared.

Recently in symposium, we discussed the (slightly overwhelming) topic of public speaking/presenting/communicating effectively.  Here are some helpful take aways if you’re looking to boost your ability to persuade, engage, and win-over others.

  1. Know your audience! Before you are able to effectively “sell” anything (whether services, an idea, a suggestion) to anyone, you first have to understand why it matters to them.  If you were speaking to a woman who has an 85-year-old mother with Dementia, do you think you would describe music therapy differently than if it were a man with a 4-year-old son with Autism?   Knowing your audience is so important to understanding how to effectively communicate with a variety of people.  When beginning a conversation, practice asking quick questions to get to know the person, where they’re coming from, and what they’re looking for in music therapy (or any other topic/field you may be discussing).
  1. Know your material. If you are educated, knowledgeable and well-rounded in your area of expertise, you are already set up for success to be an amazing communicator!  Remember, you are the expert.  Own what you say.  Use confident language like “we do” and “we are”, and be prepared to answer a variety of questions that might arise.  If you truly know your material, whether it is a 60-minute presentation, or a quick exchange in line at the grocery story – it will make all the difference in your confidence and will impact the other person’s quickly-forming opinion of you and of the field.
  1. Focus on the message, not on yourself. This is key!  As soon as we stop worrying about what the audience/other person is thinking of us, or how our voice sounds, or what our hair looks like, etc. etc., our message immediately becomes more impactful!  Focus on exactly what you want to communicate and on the power of your message.

For more helpful tips, visit Toastmasters.org.  They have a variety of free resources, from articles and videos to podcasts and conventions.  Some of the above tips were drawn from the following video:

And remember, haaaaave fun with it!

haaaaave fun with it

-Marissa

Fun with letters M & P

Neurologic Music Therapy group was led by Becca this past week in symposium.  She presented a TDM (Transformational Design Model) on one of her clients who is working on a speech and language goal of improved articulation.  She is using an OMREX intervention with kazoo as an initial step to address this goal area.

After Becca presented, the team got creative thinking of ways to expand this intervention to include language.  We discussed the importance of always tying breath support exercises with functional speech and language.  In order to put this into practice, we split into two groups and created interventions that focused on 2 bilabial consonants: p and m.  In less than 30 minutes, we created songs with visuals that focus on each of these letters.  The videos of our final products are included below, along with the chords/lyrics and visuals!

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-Marissa