Shake It Up! 3 Things We Love About the Tambourine

Not All Tambourines Are The Same! (1)

  1. They’re adaptable. When you put a tambourine in your hand, the jingles or “zils” practically play themselves. Most tambourines are responsive enough that they require very little movement to play and their bright sound rings through when you shake them in the music circle.
  2. They add sparkle to any song. So many great songs feature the tambourine. Check out our playlist on Spotify for some of our favorite examples. Or, we bet if you give a listen to genres such as rock or classical in your own music library, you’ll be sure to hear it!
  3. They’re easy to sanitize. Music therapists sanitize their instruments after every session. Many tambourine frames are

Springtime in Portland: Songwriting

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At Earthtones we’re always looking for new ways to inspire our clients. This month, intern music therapist Steven Patton rewrote the song “Springtime in the Rockies” with three of his groups. Each group worked together to create a totally unique version of the song, proving that there’s no one way to celebrate Springtime in Portland!

Group 1

When it’s springtime in Portland
I’ll watch the birds and squirrels
There’ll be rain, sunshine and flowers
And I’ll put my feet in the water

Once again I’ll sing with the birds
I’ll smell and pick some roses

When it’s springtime in Portland
I’ll be happy most of the time

 

Group 2

When it’s springtime in Portland
I’ll play tennis and volleyball
Lay in the sunshine and eat Easter candy
And watch basketball and baseball

Once again leaves come back to the trees
Flowers, birds, and bees

When it’s springtime here in Portland
Walking at carnivals and parades

Group 3

When it’s springtime in Portland
I’ll get my garden ready
Pour water on the vegetables
And get the flowers going too

Once again we’ll have sunshine
And spring vacation, too

When it’s springtime here in Portland
You’ll be coming back to me

 

Meet Susie Sample, Intern Horticultural Therapist

 

 

Meet Susie Sampe

 

What drew you to Horticultural Therapy?

I was drawn to the field of gerontology from helping my mom who was living with lewy body dementia. During my coursework at Portland Community College I discovered Horticultural Therapy (HT). Being a lifelong lover of plants and nature I was excited to combine these two passions. I witnessed the value of HT firsthand during an internship at an adult day center when I saw a horticultural therapy session in action. The benefits of HT were apparent and I felt like it was fulfilling a real need.

What populations do you work with?

I work with primarily older adults, many of whom have dementia. All of the adults that I work with have some form of physical or cognitive disability.

What is your favorite part about your work as a HT intern at Earthtones?

My favorite part is sharing nature and plants with people who often do not get other opportunities to engage with the outside world. Sharing these special experiences with people is so wonderful. The spark that people get in their eyes when they are directly engaging with plant material fills me with joy. Being a witness to that moment is truly an honor and I love that I get to increase this type of opportunity for them and can help to fill their basic human need of meaningful activity.

Your Guide to Advocacy Zen

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Note: Earlier this month we found out about Social Media Advocacy Month. It’s been going on since 2013, and this year Earthtones SO EXCITED to take part! Spearheaded by Kimberly Sena Moore, the mission is to empower music therapists to advocate for our profession. So enjoy this guest blog post, and let’s get advocating!  – Emilie Wright, MT-BC

Advocacy can help open doors, produce opportunities for growth, expand your horizons, and grow your personal and professional network.

That said, advocacy is also not without its challenges. Over the course of the past decade, music therapists have been faced with responding to misinformed, potentially damaging comments that can serve to undermine the profession and services we provide, all while striving to continue moving forward with advocacy efforts that make a positive difference. These negative exchanges can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, and stress, and serve to potentially distract us from focusing on our clients and our work.

In light of the contentiousness that seems to surround legislative and policy issues, we propose incorporating a spirit of mindfulness to advocacy efforts. Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This requires an awareness of our attitudes, feelings, thoughts, and actions; an understanding of how they impact our experiences and behaviors; and a willingness to take responsibility for our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.

To that end, we offer the following guide to assist you in your search of an advocacy zen space and ask…when have you been REACTIVE or PROACTIVE in your advocacy efforts?

Scenario 1: When feeling REACTIVE to a misinformed comment, demeaning question, or misleading blog post…

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How to react from an advocacy zen space:

Step 1 – Perceive. Notice the feeling and visceral reaction you are experiencing. Be aware of your physiological response to the situation.

Step 2 – Process. Implement coping strategies to help you process through your reaction and self-regulate. Take a slow, measured breath, count to 10, or walk away from the situation and take a break.

Step 3 – Respond. Be intentional in what you say and do in response to the situation. Redirect the conversation to the main focus: the client.

Scenario 2: When being PROACTIVE by taking initiative in advocating for the profession and our clients…

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How to react from an advocacy zen space:

Step 1 – Visualize. Begin with the end of mind. Imagine what your ideal outcome would be without barriers and challenges. Envision your goal or purpose.

Step 2 – Develop. Focus on the strengths of your current situation as you design your strategy. What is working for you? What’s going well? What do you have that you can build upon?

Step 3 – Accept. Approach your plan with an attitude of acceptance. Though you begin with the end in mind, you may not know the path to get there or the obstacles that may occur. Be open to and accepting of the options and possibilities that are presented to you.

As the music therapy profession continues to move forward in its advocacy efforts, we encourage you to be mindful in your reactive responses and proactive endeavors. We cannot control the vitriol and negativity that seems common to the political climate, but we can control and take responsibility for our own reactions and responses. Let’s continue in our efforts from this  intentional advocacy zen space.

Song List Series – Songs with a Catchy Chorus

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We LOVE a good chorus. It can serve many different purposes, from being a musical container while passing out/collecting instruments, to a springboard for improvisation, or even a base for songwriting! Sometimes though, you remember the chorus but not the title of the song. Well, look no further! Here is a list of 10 songs with a catchy chorus.

  1. “Kids” by MGMT
  2. “The Walker” by Fitz and the Tantrums
  3. “Hey Ya” by Outkast
  4. “Low Rider” by WAR
  5. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
  6. “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
  7. “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees
  8. “Land of 1000 Dances” by Wilson Pickett
  9. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”by Marvin Gaye
  10. “We Will Rock You” by Queen

Click here for this playlist on Spotify!

Earthtones Spotlight – Tonya Fisher

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Tonya Fisher, MT-BC is many things. She is a genealogy enthusiast, a rock fan (both the musical and geological variety), and a karaoke champion. And if that wasn’t enough, she is a wonderful music therapist! She loaned her powerful voice and presence to Earthtones after completing her internship with us last year, and we couldn’t be happier to have her on board.

What drew you to music therapy?

I wanted to find a career that would be rewarding for me, that helped other people, and yet allowed me to make music every day. For a long time I worked in the restaurant industry and was really dissatisfied with that. It was taking a toll on my mental health AND my physical health!

How did you become a music therapist?

I was actually complaining to my therapist in a session one day about how dissatisfied I was. We were listing the qualities that other people had remarked on in regards to me, things that I had noticed, what I love to do… and she’s the one who said, “Have you ever heard of music therapy? I think you would be perfect at it!”

So then I went and did an online search for music therapy to find out what it would take to be a music therapist. I saw that, in my own backyard, there was a program at Marylhurst. I applied, and I got in!

What population do you work with?

Mostly adults with developmental disabilities and memory care.

Do you have one population in particular that resonates with you?

I love them all but I think I love memory care the most. I’m also very interest in working in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), although I’ve only completed the first tier in certification*.

*In order to work with this very fragile population, music therapists must undergo a 3-tier certification training.

Tell us about a typical day for you.

A typical day will have probably 3-4 sessions, and I will be in my car a lot. Depending on my day, I’m probably in the car from noon to 6:30 PM driving to and from clients! I try to plan for a week in advance, then review my plan in the morning to make sure it’s fresh. I usually do something in the evening for self-care, either writing, singing a song, doing research…

Me: Research  for self care?

Well in the evening sometimes I’ll look up something about a population I’m interested in. Like I said I want to keep it fresh, and not do the same things over and over.

After every session I jot down notes in the notebook I carry with me so I can remember the significant highlights and whether goals were met. Which makes it easier when you’re writing 15 quarterly reports!

What has surprised you the most about your work?

Just about every session I have I get to witness little minor miracles…some of them not so minor! I get to see clients with dementia who haven’t spoken in a length of time, suddenly open up and start singling. Or talking to me and having a conversation! Or persons with developmental disabilities who are nonverbal who suddenly starting singing the horn part to “I Feel Good!” [by James Brown] *She sings it and shimmies, before bursting out laughing*

Just, the happiness I have now. I can’t describe it. It’s not work, it’s magic!

Who has influenced you?

There is a myriad of female music therapists in the Portland that have influenced me. Jodi Winnwalker, Laura Beer, Chris Korb, Liska McNally, Emily Ross, Beth Rousseau, Jessica Western…
Another mentor of mine is [Earthtones music therapist] Ted Owen!  He’s so laid back and had such good advice for me. He takes a “Let’s just see what’s gonna happen” approach.
There are a whole bunch of people that influenced me in the field. Then other times my own family experiences will come back, like the song that I sang with grandmother or my mom. I can use my familial knowledge of their generation to connect with my clients. They influenced me too!

Favorite genre of music?

I would say probably rhythm and blues.

What about your favorite song?

Right now it’s Build Me up Buttercup!

Any advice for someone who wants to become a music therapist?

A great way to see if this might be for you is to try a job shadow. I think if I would have had a chance to do that you’ll have a good idea of what you’re getting into. Get to know your music therapy community and learn what it is that we do. Read the AMTA scope of practice. Just do your research!

Make a list of your strengths, and build on them. Know yourself: your interaction style, how you deal with stress, etc! If music is a joyful experience for you then this will probably be a joyful job for you.

If you’re someone who has had life experience and considering going back to school, it’s doable. Don’t be afraid to go back and do this if the calling is there. Don’t let age hold you back! It’s never too late to bring the joy that you deserve into your life and help others.

Come On Baby, Let’s Do the Twist

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If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already well acquainted with how awesome music can be. Maybe you’re a music therapist, or know and love one. You might be an activity director who has seen your residents sing along to Frank Sinatra long after they’re lost their ability to speak. Or maybe you know the feeling of getting in the car after a long day and hearing your favorite song come on the radio. No matter what, nearly everyone has some kind of connection with music. That’s why I want to share this next story with you. If you love music, you’ll understand.

It’s Monday after a weekend of pouring rain. The sun is trying to peek through the clouds. I get called in for an impromptu music therapy session at a day program for adults with mental health needs. I and another music therapist normally have a group here on Tuesday and Thursdays but they requested an extra session this week and I’m glad to step in. When I walk in the door I see a woman beelining towards the exit, staff not far behind. Exit-seeking behavior is a common symptom in dementia, and the staff at this day program are well-versed in redirection, but nothing seems to be working. I make eye contact with the director and she says, “Do you want to go to music?” The woman looks at the director, looks at me, and says, “I don’t think I can.” I approach the woman with my hand extended and introduce myself. She takes my hand and tells me her name. Then I ask, “Do you like rock & roll?” The woman’s eyes light up. Like the sun peeking through the clouds, her affect begins to brighten. She starts humming and moving her shoulders up and down in time, and enthusiastically agrees to walk to my group with me. We hum “The Twist” by Chubby Checker as we go.

A Golden Moment

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Not long ago I had a gentleman join one of my memory care groups. We can call him “John.” For the first few weeks that I saw him, John sat on the periphery of the group and declined invitations to join in. One day he was wearing an Oregon Bach Festival t-shirt, so I naturally struck up a conversation with him. John was soft spoken and kind, and from that point on we bonded easily over our mutual love for baroque music. When I brought my flute to a session and played a sonata by Handel, he lit up. After that it took very little prompting for John to make himself comfortable in the group. He played maracas and sang along to Sinatra. One afternoon John’s wife came to visit and sat in on a music therapy session. She pulled me aside afterwards and said, “I haven’t seen him like that in a very long time. You’re the only one who can reach the real John.”

 

Working as music therapists gives us a special and unique perspective. We get the gift of seeing our clients in a light that is only possible through music. If you believe in magic, this is where it happens. I feel honored to be a part of it!

Song List Series – Classic Rock Songs with Vowels in the Chorus

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This may seem like an oddly specific sub-genre, but music therapists often work with clients that have speech goals. Songs that have sustained or repeated vowels in the chorus can address breath control, word “shaping,” and even self-expression! Plus, in this day and age classic rock is an increasingly popular genre that reaches across generations.

  • “Who Are You” by The Who
  • “Jersey Girl” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
  • “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
  • “D’yer Mak’er” by Led Zeppelin
  • “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns n Roses
  • “Take on Me” by a-ha
  • “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John
  • “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by  Bobby McFerrin
  • “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin
  • “Obla Di Obla Da” by The Beatles
  • “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood
  • “Listen to the Music” by Doobie Brothers
  • “Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
  • “Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills & Nash

 

Tune in next week for songs with great hooks!

Song List Series – Songs About Grief and Loss

Every so often a repertoire-related question pops up in a music therapy forum online. What follows is usually a flood of fantastic song suggestions. We thought, why not compile them? This week our theme is “Songs About Grief and Loss.”

  1. “Work Song” by Hozier
  2. “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” by Flogging Molly
  3. “St. Jude” by Florence + the Machine
  4. “Wanting Memories” by Sweet Honey in the Rock
  5. “Beam Me Up” by Pink
  6.  “Mark’s Song” by EastMountainSouth
  7. “When I See You Again” by Charlie Puth
  8. “Parting Glass” by Wailing Jennys
  9. “To Where You Are” by Josh Groban
  10. “Temporary” by John Bucchino
  11. “Brief Eternity” by Bobby McFerrin
  12. “Hey Kind Friend” by Indigo Girls
  13. “Through My Prayers” by Avett Brothers
  14. “In My Life” by The Beatles
  15. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen (Or Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)

We also highly recommend “Heart Strings Vol. 1”, which is an album written and performed by  Willamette Valley Hospice music therapists Jillian Hicks MA MT-BC, Jessica Western MT-BC & Ivan Caluya (Music Therapy intern). It features original music by the music therapists AND songs that were written and co-written by hospice patients. You can find more info –> HERE<–

Check back next week for another list! The theme is “Classic Rock.”