Self-care: Practice What you Preach

I cannot believe we are almost in August that we have a new intern starting on Tuesday!!  My oh my, how time does fly. Both Rachel and I have had so much going on the past few months, on top of everything exciting happening at MTC, that we have felt a serious need to get back in touch with our mantra for this year: simplify, streamline, self-care

major goals

We developed our mantra in late December of last year and have been actively working toward all three aspects.  We’ve talked a lot about this mantra and ways we’ve been working toward those goals in several blog posts I’ve linked to below.  Simplifying and Streamlining have been huge and exciting areas of focus and things we talk about almost daily as we continue to grow our team and expand our services.  But with all of the hustle to achieve those goals, self-care has sometimes taken a back seat.

We value our team members, student, clients, and families and want to be our best for them every day.  We also value our interns and understand that internship is a very stressful time and a huge transitional period from being a student to a practicing professional.

We want to lead by example.  Putting focus on and implementing our own self-care routines helps us to be our best selves in all we do.  It allows us to be more present, provide a positive example for those around us, stay balanced in work and in life, and simply be accountable. Self-care is a continual journey and something we really want to practice.  

Rachel and I spent time on Tuesday talking about the importance of self-care and sharing some of the ways we practice self-care in our live Facebook video.

As we continue this self-care journey and as Sammy begins her internship, we’d love to hear some of the ways your practice self-care and what helps you to find balance in your daily life. Looking for other ideas to jump start your self-care journey? Check out the other blog posts we’ve written on this topic:

Three Words for 2016

Simplify, Streamline, Self-Care

The Intern’s Corner (Week 23)



I Want to Try Music Therapy, But…

So you have heard about Music Therapy online, through a friend, or even on Facebook and you are interested in services for you or a family member but you have a few questions first. We completely understand and we want to help you to determine if Music Therapy is right for you and your family!

Here it is, these are the three big concerns we hear when asking about Music Therapy services.

1. I can’t play an instrument!– This is a big one and I’m going to keep it short and sweet. A client does not need to understand music, or know how to play an instrument to be successful in Music Therapy! Between the three Music Therapists I have the opportunity of collaborating with I know that we have Music Therapists working with people from infancy to older adulthood. You need only to be open to a new experience and growth!

2. I don’t think I can afford it if insurance does not cover it. – Unfortunately, at this time there are not many Music Therapy practices in Illinois in which you can bill insurance for services. But don’t let that keep you from pursuing services! Our owners here at Music Therapy Connections are conscientious of the cost and purposely price our services at the cost of a co-pay. That’s right, you are paying the same rate as you would if you were billing insurance. It is important to us that those who need services have access to them.

3. I don’t know if Music Therapy can help me.– As Music Therapists we assess and treat goals which are academic, psychological, motor, speech, memory, and work with people who have diagnoses such as Autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, Depression, Anxiety, and the list goes on. The bottom line is that, if you’re interested go ahead and see a Music Therapist. Do an assessment and give it a try. You may just find a fantastic resource for you and your family!

Click here to learn more about Music Therapy for you and your family!

What is an Adaptive Lesson?


Put simply an adaptive lesson is a lesson where an adaptation is necessary for the student to thrive in their lesson environment. Typically, we think of adaptive lessons as being directed to students with disabilities and diagnoses. Yes, we have students of all ages and abilities, and when we say all we mean all!

That being said, there are many students who may benefit from adaptive lessons who do not have a diagnosis, or may not have a lifelong diagnosis. The easiest way to think about this would be if a student wanted to learn piano, but was recovering from a severe hand injury, we would adapt the material provided so that the student is progressing regardless of the inability to use their hand.

You may be wondering… but, can’t any music teacher do this? What makes your lessons different? Well, it is true that there are many fantastic teachers out there. Our approach is a bit different in that we place our adaptive lessons with our music therapists! Our board certified music therapists have studied how music affects our brain, bodies, and how to apply it to induce a positive change. We have training in diagnoses and have an understanding of counseling skills. We can apply our non-musical training to any lesson to better help that child to succeed regardless of any other limiting factors.

We all carry around labels, positive or negative that affect how others see us, and how we see ourselves. But at lessons our students are students. With or without a diagnosis we are there to help them achieve their goals. Period.

Register here!

4 Mobile Apps for Team Communication & Organization

4 Mobile Apps for Team Communication and Organization

This week on Facebook Live, Katey and I talked about how we communicate and collaborate with one another and as a team of 10 here at Music Therapy Connections. We shared 4 mobile apps that we rely on for these purposes, which I’m outlining below so that you have the direct links at your fingertips.

As we mentioned in the video, Katey and I have very limited time to powwow together in the studio, which is why these apps come in so incredibly handy. The essentials in our technology toolbox include:

  • Google DocsWe use Google docs and spreadsheets to collaborate on meeting notes, schedules, and various spreadsheets. The coolest feature is that you can edit a Google doc at the same time and see each others’ changes happening right in front of your eyes. 
  • Dropbox – this is our go-to tool for sharing and working on files together. To make this process as streamlined as possible, we use the same programs, apps and templates (such as Pages for Mac) so that there are no formatting issues.
  • Trello – We are in LOVE with this project management app, which allows us to organize projects, ideas, and checklists.

When it comes to communicating as a team, our #1 tool is Slack. Some of the features include:

  • group channels to talk about certain topics with specific team members
  • file sharing within a group
  • direct messaging & group messaging

Slack works very similarly to texting, because it shows up on your mobile device as well as within the web app. But what sets it apart is that it is searchable — so convenient! Slack has greatly reduced the amount of email we send within our team.

What are YOUR favorite tools for communicating and keeping all of your collaborative projects organized?

9 Tips for Overcoming Songwriting Blocks

Songwriting is a huge part of everything we do here at Music Therapy Connections.  Wether we are writing new songs for our Listen & Learn for Little Ones Classes, composing original tunes for our individual clients, or encouraging our students to create their own compositions; songwriting is engrained in what we do.

 Sometimes, the hardest part of songwriting is simply getting started.  I remember sitting down to write some of my first songs as a new professional and feeling so self-conscious that I could barely put pen to paper.  Even now, developing materials to suit the needs of my clients can sometimes seem like a daunting task.  Overcoming that self-doubt and learning how to let it flow can be a tricky process, so Rachel and I took a little time today to talk about our favorite methods for getting past those songwriting blocks and challenges.

Below are ALL 9 tips in our Facebook Live video earlier today along with some extra ideas to get you started.

Morning Pages – In the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, the author describes the practice of morning pages: taking time every morning for free writing.  Creating the practice of setting aside time and putting all of your thoughts on paper every morning without editing.  This free flow of thoughts can be an excellent bridge to songwriting. 

Topic Journaling – Pick a word or single topic to write 10 lines or sentences on.  You do not have to write complete thoughts or sentences and can use any number of lines or sentences you choose.  Selecting a single topic for free writing can be a helpful way to get started on song ideas.  (BONUS: other methods I love using are word associations and mind mapping to get my creative juices flowing).  The primary goal here is to open yourself up to ideas and just jot them down.  Save the editing for later. 

Going back to music you enjoy – Is there a song that makes you feel amazing?  Are there songs you simply love? Go back and give them a listen.  See if you can find out why you love them or what feels good.  Use them as your inspiration.  OR simply take time to enjoy music other people have created.  Create a playlist for your life or put together a set of songs for how you are feeling.  Spotify is a great resources for this adventure.

Enjoy Yourself – My best songs almost always come from positive experiences in other parts of my life.  Go do something you love and enjoy your life.  Keep your voice recorder handy though because you never know when that inspiration will strike.

This little app is my best friend.

This little app is my best friend.

Think of Songwriting as a Conversation – Talk with someone about your songwriting or say your lyrics out loud like you are talking to someone.  Sometimes, even just talking through why you are struggling will help you get over that hump.

Go for a Walk – Get outside. Get some fresh air. Clear your mind.  Walk away for a minute and change your scenery.  

Don’t Force It – If you start to get frustrated, put it all aside and come back later.  Literally, walk away.  Thinking about something else for a little while can be just the solution you are looking for.  Sometimes, a good night’s sleep is also incredibly helpful.

Be Present – Clear both your physical and mental space of clutter and create the space to be present in songwriting and creating.  This is your time to be in the moment and create.  

Share Your Song –  Share what you’ve written with someone. ANYONE.  This can be a single client, a co-worker, your child, a friend, your significant other, a family member, or even your pet.  Sharing your creation out loud with someone provides new perspective and a sense of accomplishment.  

(bonus) Record your creation. The method could be  a video, a simple voice recording, a full recording, etc.  How you record does not matter. Capture what you have accomplished so you can listen later, remember what you’ve done, and visit your work in the future.  Take a moment to listen and appreciate what you’ve created.  Take pride in your accomplishment and give yourself some praise!

What are your favorite tips for starting the songwriting process? We’d love to hear from your and share your ideas with everyone!