Hi again! I’m back to discuss some things I find super helpful in my work outside of the music and the instruments. We talk so often about our favorite music therapy songs and instruments, but what are some OTHER things that we can’t live without as music therapists?
Of course, having functional instruments, including a voice, comes first. Without the music, there would be no music therapy! These are just a few of the necessities that help my sessions (and my life!) run a bit smoother.
First, and this might seem like an obvious one: water. Yes, it’s important to stay hydrated especially when you’re singing and talking all day, but to me, water is so much more. When I don’t drink enough water, my body really feels it. I start to get a headache, and when I’m not feeling well I’m not leading sessions well. This impacts my clients just as much as it impacts me!
I also treat water as a bit of in-the-moment self care. I lead very large hour-long groups at a behavioral health center, and it’s a lot! My clients take water breaks during our sessions, so why shouldn’t I? It’s as simple as taking a sip in between interventions, or when clients are picking out which instrument they want to play next. It takes less than 10 seconds, and a sip of cold water along with a deep breath or two really help me to center myself as I jump back in and do my best work.
Number two is twofold: a watch and time management skills. Seriously…these are life-savers. I went into a session a few months ago, realized I forgot my watch and there was no clock in the room, and panicked. I ended up having to pop my head out of the room and ask my client’s caregiver to let me know when there were only five minutes left in the session. Oops!
A watch has helped me more than I even expected. Obviously I need to know when one session ends so the next one can begin, but it’s also super helpful for timing behavior frequencies and being able to plan how much time you’ll have to get through all the other materials in your session plan.
My last helpful non-musical tool is my iPad. I do everything on my iPad, from tracking student and client attendance to storing/accessing music to writing blog posts! It’s much lighter to carry around than a laptop or a big binder of music, and using Google Drive and Guitar Tabs to organize my music allows me to have almost any song under the sun at my fingertips. This is especially helpful for those times I get odd song requests that I don’t know off the top of my head!
My iPad lock screen background also serves as my work schedule. I downloaded the app Power Planner and uploaded my week to week schedule — clients, meetings, lesson students, contracts, everything. It helps me keep track of when and where I have to be with literally just the press of a button. It’s color-coded too, which I especially enjoy!
These are just a few of the many things I find most helpful in sessions. I hope you found these tips to be useful and applicable to your own life. I’d love to hear your music therapy essentials, and how you use them!
As always, thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!