AMTA 2017 – What a Year!

Meredith and I not only love our careers. We love our profession! Both of us are committed to giving back to the American Music Therapy through service and sharing our expertise.  But AMTA 2017 might be our busiest year yet!

Here is the line up. If you are traveling to the AMTA conference in St. Louis, please stop us for a chat. If you would like to know more about any of the presentations, send us an email next week. We would love to know all about how YOU support the profession.

AMTA Leadership Academy*

Nov 15, 2017 12:30 pm – 05:30 pm

Presenter(s): Meredith Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC; Alicia Ann Clair, PhD, MT-BC, Anthony Meadows, PhD, LPC, MT-BC, Deanna Bush, MM, MT-BC; Kamica King, MT-BC

CMTE F. Developing and Expanding Supervision Skills*

November 16, 2017

Presenter(s): Meredith Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC; Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, MA, MT-BC; Katie Bagley, MT-BC; Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC

A Preventive Model of Music Therapy for Children in Limited Resource Communities

November 17, 2017 8:00 am-9:15 am

Presenter(s): Varvara Pasiali, PhD, MT-BC; Elizabeth K. Schwartz, MA, LCAT, MT-BC

The Music Therapy Pyramid Model: From Theory to Practice

November 17, 2017 2:15 pm-3:30 pm

Presenter(s): Meredith R. Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC; Ronna Kaplan, MA, MT-BC

Community Engagement in Music Therapy Practice

November 18, 2017 3:15 pm-4:30 pm

Presenter(s): Helen Dolas, MS, MT-BC; Ellary Draper, PhD, MT-BC; Grant Hales, MT-BC; Meredith Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC; Tom Sweitzer, MA, MT-BC

The Music is Enough – Stepping Up Your Interventions and Repertoire for Children

November 19, 2017 9:30 am-10:45 am

Presenter(s): Meredith R. Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC; Elizabeth K. Schwartz, MA, LCAT, MT-BC

Chicken Soup and the Musical Mechanisms of Change

I just came back from an amazing international conference on current research in music therapy.  It is always refreshing to hear truly great minds present their ideas with a passion that is backed up by charts and graphs and big name journal citations. A thread that ran through many of the presentations was the call for further research focusing on the ‘mechanisms of change’ that allows for music therapy to work.

I guess that I am pretty naïve,  because when I am making music with little children and their families, I think that I know what those ‘mechanisms of change’ are.  The search for validation through research just seeks to precisely explain human nature and the place of music in humans, even though this phenomenon has existed throughout time.  It is kind of like my mother-in-law’s chicken soup.  It tasted awesome every time.  When I asked her for the recipe, she looked at me quizzically as if to say “Why?” She then proceeded to throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that and set it to simmer on the stove for hours. It was undoubtedly just the way she learned from her mother, and her mother learned from her mother. It was within the ‘doing’ that the ‘understanding’ became clear.

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But this making of the chicken soup did not exist in a vacuum. There are really four critical mechanisms in the know-how of chicken soup:  The Ingredients; The Cook; The Cooking; and The Eater (that would be me!). Each of these parts needs to be present in order to complete the chicken soup experience.

So here are some of my ‘throw in a little of this’ thoughts from chicken soup on how music and music therapy works.

The Ingredients of Music

It is the unique variation in the elements, or ingredients of music, in each music experience that creates one mechanism of change.  Research has pinpointed the physiological and psychological changes created by some of these ingredients such as rhythm or harmony.  Much more needs to be done in the less studied ingredients such as timbre or pitch. With careful observation in my sessions, I can see how each tiny change in any of these elements creates changes in me and my music and in the music makers who join me.  Effective music therapy means knowing how to include, exclude, vary or expand each of these ingredients.

 The Music Cook

No matter how precise a person might be, there is always an individual imprint on everything we do. Research itself really struggles with this uniqueness of humans.  Each and every one of us, thankfully, is an independent variable! The cook then, becomes a critical mechanism of change, no matter how much we try and control the ingredients.  Music as we know it is created by humans (yes, even humans program the music generating programs).  So the music cook, or the music maker, cannot and should not be left out of the equation when figuring out how music and music therapy works.  As a composer, I know that even though others re-create my music with young children, it never is an exact replica of my musicing. The cook matters.

Cooking the Music

I might be out on a limb here, but I believe that music only exists as a process. Because music (we are not talking notation) only happens across time and within experience, the process of musicing is the third mechanism of change.  It is within the process of making the music (whether receptive or expressive) that the music becomes a human experience.  Research has given us a lot of background on the process of the human music experience including sensory and emotional progressions. However, I think that music process is the mechanism that is the least understood and studied by music therapists. We often look to other disciplines and professions to help us understand changes within our clients when we should be immersed in understanding the process of music making. Our real soup is bubbling right beneath our nose!

Eating the Music

I might have taken this analogy a little too far, but visualizing music making the same way we visualize eating might help to understand the ‘eater’ as being vital as the final mechanism of change.  I love parsnips in my chicken soup. My husband hates them.  It doesn’t matter that he knows that they are really healthy, or that they add to the flavor, or that they make the soup look more like his mother’s. He still hates them.  Without a music ‘eater’ who wants the soup, or the music, the way it is made, there is no way that the chicken soup experience will happen.  He just won’t eat it.  In my music therapy groups, there are kids who love melody and kids who seem to care less. There are kids who only get excited or calmed through rhythm. As music therapists, I think we have given far too little attention to the individual’s personal proclivity for music ingredients and the music process. Yes, we do ask about musical preferences, but this often becomes more about a list of songs or a specific genre than a thorough understanding of the very individual nature of musicing.

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There you have it. So as I go to work every day as a clinician, I look toward the day when the graphs and charts and journal citations will empirically recognize what I think is already happening in my practice. I will not stop reading the cook books, but I will continue to make the soup in the way I learned from my music and music therapy ancestors.  And I will make sure that the soup is one that all of my children and families will want to eat.  And if I am asked for a recipe….I’ll  tell them to first read the cookbooks, but then take what they learned and just put in ‘a little bit of this, and a little bit of that’.

Oh… always remember that if you are having guests, you need to make sure you ask them how they like their soup. That way you can all sit down together for a satisfying meal.

Enjoy the soup and the music!

Beth

Making Merry When Joy is Elusive

Earlier in December I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the National Training Institute of Zero to Three – an amazing organization that “provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development” (www.zerotothree.org). There was an incredible display of expertise and action and it was so invigorating to be a part of it. Speaker after speaker drove home the point that good developmental outcomes are built on good, solid early relationships. Most interesting to me were the reports by neuroscientists about the biological and neurological underpinnings supporting the critical need for bonding and nurturing in the early years.
The one thing that rattled me though, was to walk outside of the conference center to blue skies, ocean swells and palm trees covered with Christmas lights. Being from the North, I never could rectify the idea of Christmas and summer-like weather. How could everyone be so nonchalant about Santa in a bathing suit while I felt so weird and out-of-touch? How come nobody else noticed that something was just not right?

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Fast forward to the next week, going back to the therapeutic preschool where I work as a music therapist. The school had made plans for a ‘Holiday Party’ and invited families to come in for the day to celebrate with their little ones. The hustle and bustle of the holidays is often a whirlwind for typical children, but can be totally overwhelming for our kids with developmental disabilities and autism. Partying within the safe confines of our school gives them a chance within the familiar structure to experience some of the holiday without too much stress. Of course, one of the biggest parts of the day is the family sing-a-long. We do songs and instruments that the children already know and we invite the parents, grandparents and siblings to join along. The children seem so excited to share their music with Mom or Dad, and they look toward them with the spoken or unspoken command to ‘sing along’.
As I sat up front, though, and looked at the sea of little and grownup faces, I couldn’t help but linger on those few grownups (mostly Moms) that had that same look that I must have had on my face when seeing the Christmas displays on the beach. The look said ‘Why do I feel so weird and out of touch? Why is everyone else so joyful and merry when I am just not feeling it?’ These are just the parents and caregivers that I had been learning about at the Zero to Three conference. The ones that wanted to be a good Mom or Dad, but just couldn’t find the energy or resolve to respond to their child with joy and happiness. Those are the grownups I know I need to reach out to if I really want to help their child.

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So my resolve for the New Year is to work harder at including the entire family system into my work with young children. Here are some thoughts that I hope will guide me and perhaps will help you in your practice.

Understanding the Disconnect

There are many reasons why a disconnect happens between parents and children, especially those with disabilities. Here are a few:

Depression

Maternal depression is more common than you might realize and makes it difficult or maybe impossible for Moms to pick up on and respond to the signals of their child.

Denial

Diagnosis of developmental disabilities is often a long, drawn-out process. Many of the signature symptoms don’t manifest until later. Some parents deny that a problem exists. Holding on to that denial is often exhausting and the work it takes to keep it up prevents parents from responding to their child.

Disappointment

We live in a society that values achievement and success. Sometimes having a child with a disability feels like a failure. The feeling of failure can become overwhelming and can block a parent from being able to respond to their child’s strengths and positive personality.

What Can I Do to Help?

Again there is much that we can do to help parents. A few things to keep in mind:

Recognize

Learn to recognize the signs of depression. Understand from a parent’s perspective the challenges that they face every day. Know how those struggles impact how they respond to their child or to you.

Relate

Although my job is to help the child, I can go a long way in helping the child by creating a relationship with the child’s parent. Reach out to parents as people and work to show respect and understanding.

Refer

As professionals, we have access to information about available services in the community that can help parents. Once you have created a relationship with a parent who might be struggling, share information on resources.




What does any of this have to do with music? Well, within music we can give parents an opportunity to be in a safe environment; to learn simple ways to play with their child in a way that all can respond to; and we can use music to create a respectful and mutual relationship.
Thanks for taking to time to think about being ‘ in’ and ‘out’ of touch in this holiday season.
Beth

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

This month Raising Harmony turns 2! It was a crisp, sunny February day in Boston when Meredith and I shook hands and signed the documents that began the journey of creating a place to support, share and celebrate early childhood music therapy.

Like any two-year-old, Raising Harmony is growing and moving fast.

Who has nurtured this growth? You!

It is through your backing and encouragement that we have been able to train almost 100 board-certified music therapists in understanding and serving the children and families of their communities. The seeds that these trainings have planted are coming into bloom with a growing number of Sprouting Melodies Providers all around the country. Read about your colleagues who have already launched a program on Sprouting Melodies Find a Class Page.

Here is a Birthday gift for you!

You Play A Little Download

This has been one of my most popular song interventions. Some of you may have heard me present it at conferences. It is one of the songs from “You and Me Makes…We: A Growing Together Songbook”.  I am so happy to be able to share it with you a birthday present and I hope that you will pass it along to your children and their families. 

And make sure you visit www.RaisingHarmony.com and click the link on the right to get five free song downloads.  Each song comes with full notation and some ideas on how to get the most meaningful interactions as you sing them with young children and families/

Here’s to another great year of transformation and growth!

Beth

 
 

 

Sprouting Melodies® Training is Coming to the Great Lakes Region!

GLR 2014Early Bird Registration for the Conference is open now until February 26th.

2014 GLR Conference Registration

Whether you are from a big city, small town or rural area in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio or Wisconsin, Sprouting Melodies can be a chance for you to grow your music therapy practice and provide a valuable service to the families of your community.

 

Pre-Conference Institute: Sprouting Melodies Training

22 CMTEs      $440

Wednesday, March 26,2014    8:30am -12:30pm & 1:30pm-6:00pm

Thursday, March 27, 2014      8:30am -12:30pm & 1:30pm-6:00pm

 Friday, March 28, 2014      7:00pm-9:00pm  

What is Sprouting Melodies®?

Sprouting Melodies® is a unique, award-winning early childhood music program in which young children and their grownup sing, play, and move to music that is specially designed to promote healthy early development.

Who runs Sprouting Melodies® classes?

Every Sprouting Melodies Provider™ is a Board-Certified Music Therapist who has received specialized training in early childhood development and early childhood music. As a qualified professional, the Sprouting Melodies Provider™ is skilled at making the early music experience a successful one for all children and families. At Sprouting Melodies® we have the extensive training and experience to create and lead musical adventures that meet every child’s needs and move the whole group forward developmentally on a weekly basis. We also have the clinical training and judgment to modify classes to meet unique individual needs.

Why Sprouting Melodies®?

The Sprouting Melodies® program offers music therapists a chance to use all their education, skills and experience to bring the best possible early childhood music experience to families in the community. Sprouting Melodies® also offers you, the Board-Certified Music Therapist, with an opportunity to expand your practice and enhance your career.

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The Sprouting Melodies® Provider Training provides comprehensive, research-based and clinically relevant information and resources on:

•        Early childhood development

•        Early music development

•        Treatment planning for early childhood music therapy

•        Creating and adapting developmentally appropriate music

•        Theoretical and practical guidelines for music therapy based parent/child groups in     the community

•        Specific strategies for successful business practices in providing early childhood community groups

 

Completion of the Institute will allow the participant to be eligible to become

a Sprouting Melodies Provider™.

 

Here’s what our course participants have to say about the training.

“…the Sprouting Melodies training has given me a strong base to stand on as my base of young clients grows. I definitely recommend it!!” 

“The material and information was so well organized.” 

“I really enjoyed seeing how Sprouting Melodies™ can benefit my community and my music therapy practice.” 

“All of it was wonderful! I loved the discussion the most –brainstorming and discussing these ideas with Music Therapists is so valuable.”

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 Please join us in this exciting new program designed by music therapists,

for music therapists!

 Register Now!

2014 GLR Conference Registration

Early Childhood Sessions at AMTA 2012

CHANGING WINDS: INNOVATION IN MUSIC THERAPY

The AMTA National Conference is a great place to learn and share. We have put together a list of Continuing Education Courses and Concurrent Sessions on early childhood topics that might be of interest to you. There are so many amazing presenters and such a variety of topics, that we thought this list might help you negotiate the program. I would be happy to share my picks with you….but certainly Marcia Humpal, Petra Kern and Helen Shoemark would be on the very top of my list of ‘not to miss presenters’. (Of course, I would love it if you would join me on Thursday morning for Tones, Tunes, and Timbres.)
For those of you who can’t make it to the conference this time around, please let us know which courses you would like to see sponsored on-line through Raising Harmony!
Beth  [Read more…]