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.

Song List Series – Songs with a Catchy Chorus

catchy-chorus

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

tonya

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.

A Golden Moment

golden-moments

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

classic-rock-songswith

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.”

 

Earthtones Spotlight – Patricia Chang

halfway

Earthtones Intern Patricia Chang is the kind of person who you know is passionate about music therapy. Whether she’s sharing her latest awesome iPad app discovery or learning a boatload of new chords for a song, Patricia puts care into everything she does. She is always ready with an easy smile! We were glad to learn more about Patricia and her journey through her internship.

What drew you to music therapy?

Music therapy just sounds so wonderful. How can you not! Originally, I was studying psychology, but it was just not enough. I heard about music therapy when I was 16, and later learned more about the scientific aspects in one of my classes. But our school didn’t have the program. I had never heard of any school that had a music therapy program, until one day I was doing research on something that had nothing to do with music therapy. That led me to the AMTA roster of schools that offered a program.

What population do you work with? 

During my practicum and internship I have worked with babies 0-18 months, 3-5 year olds, teenagers with learning disabilities, adults with mental health needs, older adults with dementia, an individual with autism, assisted living facilities, an eight-year-old with Down Syndrome, adults with developmental disabilities, and an adult oncology unit.

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

[She laughs and frowns at me] All of them! I feel like it’s not so much about working with one population as it is working with these wonderful individuals.

Tell us about a typical day for you.

Wake up, check work email and my schedule, prep time, driving, session, driving, meeting, driving, session [laughs]. And maybe some practice here and there. After work, it would be session planning, progress notes, and learning new songs, learning sign language, customizing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.

What has surprised you the most about your internship?

My clients are full of surprises. No matter how much time I spend with them they can always bring, not just surprises but joy. One client is an example: We have 2 sessions a week and he’s surprising me every session! My client today waited so patiently while I tuned his guitar. Before he wasn’t okay with waiting, but now he really listens to the quality of the music. You could see how he was really listening, not just with guitar, but with autoharp, and recorder. He knew I was tuning his guitar so he could make beautiful music, so he was willing to wait. And the whole time he was still smiling! It’s just… I feel like I can never stop when I talk about him.

Who has influenced you?

Everyone has inspired me in some ways. My instructors, supervisors, peers, clients. In the music therapy world they taught me how to be a compassionate, mindful, patient, loving person. But outside of the music therapy world, there are always new perspectives to teach me to see things differently. For example, I went to a laughter yoga class. I asked the instructor about how her leadership has shaped her as an instructor. I learned from her that everybody has their own styles. I came to the realization that you change and find yourself overtime. You become like water and embrace your environment.

Or the other day I met this lady, just randomly on the road, and we started to talk. She was wearing a name tag from one of my sites. I’d never met her but I felt like I knew her. I felt like there was so much in her. She was very insightful and full of genuine wisdom and life experience. Just being around her I felt like there was so much to learn from her.

I’m also inspired by little humans! They are so joyful, genuine, and expressive. If they like you, they’ll tell you they like you. At the same time they’re so creative, and they help me see things differently. They have no limitations or fear.

Favorite genre of music? What’s your favorite song?

CHINESE POP! And New Age music. One of my favorite songs is Evolution Era by V.K.

Any advice for future interns?

Learn like a sponge! Soak in everything you can and have FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!