Leap Day 2016

February 29th, 2016 – Happy Leap Day! Leap Days come around every four years. Neil deGrasse Tyson explained to columnist James Barron that the earth actually takes just a little less than 365 1/4 days to orbit the sun, so we add a day in February every four years, but “one day is also dropped at the turn of every century, except when that year is divisible by 400.” Because time is a construct, time is measured imperfectly. It is difficult to move from abstract to concrete classifications. How can we measure quality of life? Pain? Executive functioning? Social skills? Music therapists must assess each client’s unique situation, skills, needs, preferences, and goals in concrete terms. We must develop smart objectives and produce real results. What an incredible thing this is. So may we remember the beauty of therapeutic relationships. The Truth in music. The power of therapy. Let this Leap Day celebrate how miraculous it is that we can scientifically study, predict, and implement the full efficacy of music therapy.

Time may be our most valuable resource. How do you fill your hours? How do your hours fulfill you? How can we better measure our experience and improve our human condition? (And you know what, sometimes we have to “add an extra day” in our work, few things are perfect, but we can accept that!) Happy TRUE birthday, anniversary etc. to some, and happy Leap Day to all!

Wolfe, J. (2016, February 29). New York Today: Leap-Day Lore. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/29/nyregion/new-york-today-leap-day-lore-neil-degrasse-tyson.html?_r=0


Mission Statements

What is your business’s mission statement? Your professional mission? Personal mission?

Mission statements are 5-second elevator pitches. If everything your entity stands for, accomplishes, and dreams of were a dissertation, your mission statement would be the guiding thesis statement. Mission statements should highlight the most important long-term initiatives of your business, yet fit within a single Tweet. Your statement should be easy to understand. It should inspire support for your cause. It should remind you why you started this initiative, prioritize your daily struggles, and guide your future growth.

A mission statement simply and succinctly summarizes a purpose, goal, niche, agenda, or more. Whereas your vision statement will explore where you want to be in the future, the mission statement says what you will do today to get there. Your mission is the cause, and your vision should be the effect. Your mission is the process, and your vision is the product. A mission statement can be whatever you want it to be. They are not required and they can change over time. They can also be develop for your practice, your career, and your personal life.

What mission statements guide your work and your life? Why do these few, concise words matter? How will you better communicate and enact your ideals?

At the end of every day you may ask yourself: “What did I do today that advanced my business (or career, etc.)?” Perhaps you drafted a new proposal, met with a hospital administrator, or simply provided high quality music therapy and communicated with everyone involved. My professional mission statement reflects my “wide net” of interest, guiding my service to patients and the field:

“To advance music, health, and humanity

Through compassionate, evidence-based music therapy

While continuing education, research, and advocacy.”

This public (yet personal) statement reveals that I am more concerned with experience and service than competition and business expansion. By the end of the day, have I shared the Truth in music? Improved health? Helped humanity? Was I compassionate yet scientific throughout my practice? Did I indulge my curiosity and help my fellow colleagues?

This statement is the one I publish on Music Therapy St. Pete, LLC’s website. It helps people understand what my business is all about. However, I’ve also let myself be guided by a simpler mission statement. My private (but more honest) mission statement is simply, “To provide excellent service and foster authentic relationships.” Good service and communication has brought more business than any blog post or business card.

Finally, I do also think about a personal mission statement, as well as a familial mission statement, but these we can chat about in person. Hopefully over coffee! Cheers!



“Ms. Taylor was a big believer in the idea that creativity comes when two disparate fields crash in one mind, like two galaxies merging in space. She was a big believer in the notion that everybody should have two careers, two perspectives for looking at the world, each of which provided insights into the other. In her case, she was a teacher by day and, less successfully but not less important, a singer-songwriter by night.”

Brooks, D. (2011). The social animal: The hidden sources of love, character, and achievement (pp. 84-85). New York, NY: Random House, Inc.


Shout-Out! New Jersey’s “Music Therapy Clinician” Journal


The New Jersey Association for Music Therapy has begun a really exciting initiative; available for free online is their peer-edited, open access, “journal-zine” called the Music Therapy Clinician. Check out their premier publication here, and given time, you will be able to access future volumes here. For more frequent updates, you might also like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.


SOP 05: Factors Guiding the Treatment Planning Process

Music therapy referrals are based on non-musical needs, such as mental health, behavior modification, academic learning, reality orientation, neurological rehabilitation, or daily living skills. These and many other goals, along with more specific objectives and music therapy strategies, are developed as part of an individualized treatment plan after “systematic, comprehensive, and accurate information” has been collected as part of a thorough music therapy assessment. The individualized treatment plan determines the “appropriateness and type of music therapy services to provide,” and is based on clinical assessment, as well as the best available research, the music therapist’s clinical expertise, and the client’s input. “A music therapist is respectful of, and responsive to the needs, values, and preferences of the client and the family.” Music therapists may collaborate with the primary care provider (PCP) and other professionals to provide integrated care, and will make referrals to other professionals if “faced with issues or situations beyond the original clinician’s own practice competence, or where greater competence or specialty care is determined as necessary or helpful to the client’s condition.”



The Rhythm & Reason Blog is not an authoritative source for this topic. The R&R Blog aims to provide short, simple information for very complex conditions. Please conduct additional research and visit your doctor for more information.

Aphasia is a communication disorder characterized by difficulties with expressive fluency and/or receptive comprehension. Individuals with aphasia may now struggle with speech comprehension, spoken language, word retrieval, reading, or writing, as well as possible issues with articulation, oral motor control, and swallowing. However, intelligence and personality may not be affected if neurological damage is limited. Aphasia often results from stroke, but can also be caused by head trauma, tumor, infection, or progressive neurological conditions. The person’s location and amount of damage to the brain will produce symptoms and severity unique to that individual. Visit MayoClinic.org to learn more about learning to live, or supporting loved ones, with aphasia.

Some medications may help with certain symptoms. Treatments are best which begin as early as possible after injury. Clinical and research-based music therapy is a complementary treatment available to help individuals and groups rehabilitate speech and language skills or develop new augmentative or adaptive communication strategies. Careful control of the elements of live music and musical engagement through a therapeutic relationship  can accomplish tremendous outcomes. Music can activate most parts of the brain and help form new neural connections. Rhythmic entrainment can enhance motor initiation and control. Familiar melodies can help people sing even when they cannot speak. Vocal intonation can exercise speech prosody. Singing can augment traditional oral motor exercises. Preferred music can elevate mood, increase quality of life, and improve the overall treatment process, which can otherwise become repetitive and frustrating. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit mtstpete.org.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Aphasia. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aphasia/basics/definition/con-20027061

Mosheim, J. (2010, November 8). Music Therapy for Aphasia. Retrieved from http://speech-language-pathology-audiology.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Music-Therapy-for-Aphasia.aspx

National Aphasia Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aphasia.org/aphasia-definitions/

Wikipedia contributors. (n.d.). Aphasia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphasia

Wikipedia contributors. (n.d.). Music Therapy for Non-Fluent Aphasia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_therapy_for_non-fluent_aphasia


Shout-Out! Conscious Discipline Songs for Kids

Margie La Bella is a music therapist and educator who regularly updates her website with tremendous songs and resources. She co-facilitates school sessions focusing on “Conscious Discipline” for children, which in her words is “a wonderful philosophy on teaching kids and adults about their feelings… It’s all about dealing with feelings in the moment and using them to foster positive relationships – even when it gets ‘messy.'” She shares several of her songs, which are piggybacked on familiar repertoire, such as “When I’m Feeling Happy” to learn behaviors associated with emotions set to “Apples and Bananas,” noticing and responding to emotions set to “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” and “self-regulation take-a-breath song” set to “Hokey Pokey.” I love them! They were so easy to learn and will be very helpful in practice. Thank you Margie!


Acting One’s Way Into A New Way Of Thinking

While serious long-term depression should be handled by a professional, worry, anger, and other responses are expected in human beings of all ages. They might be acknowledged immediately, not reinforced or worried about, and followed by behavioral techniques to actively change the emotion. Whereas “worry” or “depression” usually represent nothing more than statements to oneself or others indicating that we “feel sorry for ourselves” and, as such are definitely unproductive, the focus becomes one of solving the problems that have produced the worry, anger, or crying (depression), and acting one’s way into a new way of thinking. It is astounding how fast “worry” and “depression” are relieved when no one pays attention and the negative verbal behavior is either punished or ignored while positive solutions are praised. “Tell me what you intend to do; do not give me your problem.” “Is that what you will do next time? That’s excellent. Let’s pretend that I’m the other person and you show me what you will do” (Madsen & Madsen, 1998, p. 9).

Madsen, C. K. & Madsen, C. H. (1998). Teaching/Discipline: A Positive Approach For Educational Development. (4th ed.) Raleigh, NC: Contemporary Publishing Company of Raleigh, Inc.


Thirteen Ways of Looking at Music Therapy

Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” was published in his premiere book of poetry, Harmonium. The founder of of Poetry magazine reflected on the collection: “If one seeks sheer beauty of sound, phrase, rhythm, packed with prismatically colored ideas by a mind at once wise and whimsical, one should open one’s eyes and ears, sharpen one’s wits, widen one’s sympathies to include rare and exquisite aspects of life, and then run for this volume of iridescent poems.”

The selected poem’s thirteen different sections give voice to thirteen different perspectives, somehow relating to the blackbird. Here are some of my favorites line:

“I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after” (V).

“I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know” (VIII).

Perhaps MT-BCs can help their clients articulate 13 different perspectives on something important in their lives, behaviors, futures, treatments, etc. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” evokes the style of haiku, but does not conform to its narrow parameters. Writing poems and songs in therapy sessions may take this imitative but playful approach. Critical thinking skills help us to explore every possibility and more accurately examine an issue. (e.g. “What are 13 different ways I could have handled the situation?” “Which 13 people will help me stay sober?” “Which 13 events most positively shaped my life legacy?”)

Take the intervention further and let the client select 13 songs to match their 13 verses. The trained practitioner may carefully select 13 classical songs to guide mental imagery. Thirteen song lyric quotes might inspire original sentiments. Song lyrics will be analyzed.

As the music therapists, what poems will we write? Perhaps we can explore Thirteen Ways of Looking at Music Therapy. Let your curiosity and critical thinking elaborate on 13 clinical populations, 13 non-musical goals, 13 common misconceptions, 13 key research articles, 13 powerful MT techniques, 13 MT moments, 13 reasons we choose this profession, 13 professions we co-treat with, 13 songs every MT-BC can perform, 13 books that influenced your work, 13 approaches/orientations to MT practice, 13 examples of MT accurately portrayed in the media, or 13 things we will help the field accomplish by 2025!

And here it is, the beautiful “Blackbird” performed live by Paul McCartney in the 1970s. This song is great for lyric analysis, practicing fine motor skills, or music listening for relaxation.