#AMTA15: Conference Recap (With Pictures!)

Music Therapy Round Table Booth at Conference

Another year, another wonderful national conference under my belt. I can’t believe this was my 7th — it seems like just yesterday I was a new professional attending #AMTA09 in San Diego.

This was my second time attending conference with a baby in tow, and I was extremely fortunate to have my mom with me as well to help. I did make sure that Mia made at least a few appearances, since there was a long list of music therapists waiting to hold her :)

Music Therapists & Mia

The Music Therapy Round Table hosted a booth in the exhibit hall as usual, and we were lucky to have wonderful neighbors once again (Metro Music Therapy, Music Therapy E-Books, and Music Therapy Book Club). I spent quite a bit of time manning our booth, which meant I got to connect with lots of fellow professionals, interns and students.

Music Therapy Connections Owners at Conference

Katey and I attended the Music Therapy Business Owners meeting on Friday and were inspired by all the amazing things happening in private practice. We all introduced ourselves and shared our biggest successes and challenges this year as business owners. It’s awesome to be a part of a community filled with like-minded, supportive colleagues.

Maria Carron Cavanagh

Another highlight was running into my former internship director, Maria Carron Cavanagh. I hadn’t seen her since completing my internship at Midwest Music Therapy Services in May 2007, so we were able to catch up and I told her how influential she was in my decision to start a private practice.

I also ran into quite a few of the music therapists I’ve interviewed and gotten to know through my podcast, Guitars and Granola Bars. I feel like I know them so well after hearing their stories, so it was really nice getting to meet them face-to-face. Jennifer Whitlow, who was featured in Episode 41, also had her daughter with her!

Babies at Music Therapy Conference

I always look forward to recording our live episode of the MTRT podcast right at our booth in the exhibit hall, which we did on Saturday morning. We also drew winners of our raffle and shared the results of our fun little survey.

Music Therapy Round Table at Conference

This was my shortest conference experience yet, since I didn’t arrive until Thursday afternoon and then left on Saturday. I’m looking forward to next year when I’m neither pregnant nor will I have a child with me; it will be the first time in 4 years I can fully immerse myself without fighting morning sickness or taking breaks to feed the baby.

Mia on a Roadtrip

Happy baby getting ready to hit the road! This was Mia’s first roadtrip, and overall, she did wonderfully in the car. Towards the end, we were both anxious to get home to Zach and Parker (who had a great time during their “boys weekend” together).

See you at #AMTA16 in Sandusky, Ohio!

Thanksgiving Sensory Feast

The following is a guest post by Marilyn Webster. After Marilyn told me about this activity she created and led, I mentioned that I would love for her to share it here on the blog. I’m so glad she took me up on it!

Thanksgiving Sensory Feast

Hi, my name is Marilyn Webster, and my daughter has been a client of Rachel’s for years! As my daughter with autism grew, we found it harder and harder to find fun activities that we could enjoy as a family. Her interests and abilities were not the same as her peers, and she was too old to join preschool groups anymore.

And so, I started my own group with the support of my church! We call them family fun nights, and all families with special needs kids are welcome to attend. Our group serves a few functions for our families: it provides us with a sense of community, provides fun activities which our kids are able to fully participate in, and gives families who often feel isolated “something to do”.

As I plan events, one question I challenge myself with is: how can I find ways to take situations which either I personally or others in the group shared have been difficult to access for our kids, and make it accessible? Some of the most commented on events that families find difficult are holidays. Parents desperately want their kids to be able to enjoy these important cultural and family events and participate in the traditions, but our kids can find it overwhelming and confusing.

Now, you’ve probably jumped quickly to the melee of Christmas or the raucousness of Halloween, and you are right, those are struggles. But the one holiday that comes up in conversation more often than you might think is Thanksgiving, and if you give it a moment of reflection, this makes sense.

First of all, the whole idea of Thanksgiving is very abstract. Some of our kids can’t grasp the idea of gratitude yet, and this isn’t a holiday with a lot of concrete symbols like Santa, pumpkins, or eggs that our kids might be able to enjoy. In fact, the only physical symbols of Thanksgiving are foods! And food is one area where our kids tend to struggle immensely! New foods are frightening, and many of our kids have very narrow diets.

So, how to make Thanksgiving a fun and welcoming experience? I created a sensory Thanksgiving feast! This way, kids could explore the smells, textures, and appearances of traditional Thanksgiving foods in a fun, non-threatening way, and maybe build a connection to what we mean when we talk about the holiday.

Our feast included:

playdough

Pumpkin pie playdough: You can use whatever basic play dough recipe you prefer, but add pumpkin pie spices to it and color it to look like pumpkin pie filling.

Cranberry sauce playdough: The texture of this was a bit weird, and most kids didn’t really like it. I think a simple activity with whole cranberries might have been more fun. But here is the recipe.

Dry corn sensory bin: We filled a water table with that dry corn you throw out for the birds. It was a huge hit!

Dry stuffing sensory bin: two bags of dry store bought stuffing in a wide, low bin. I think this bin was responsible for making the whole room smell like Thanksgiving!

Potatoes and “gravy” stamp painting: I cut a few potatoes in half to stamp with. Then I mixed a dry turkey gravy packet into some plain yogurt to use as paint. It looked and smelled like real gravy! This was most definitely “process art” as opposed to “product art”.

While kids explored the feast, we sang a few songs having to do with turkeys and saying thank you.

Our kids had a blast playing with all the Thanksgiving goodies, and their parents had fun being able to enjoy traditional holiday foods with them, albeit in a very unusual way! I know when we sat down to our Thanksgiving feast, and my daughter had her usual plate of spaghetti while the rest of us dug into the turkey, I was thankful that she had at least enjoyed a sensory Thanksgiving meal of her own.

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 43

GGB Episode 43: Mallory Even

This episode is super special, because it’s the first in the entire series to be recorded in person! I spent the past several days in Kansas City at the 2015 AMTA national conference, and my guest this week just happened to be there as well.

Interview with Mallory Even

I got to spend a good amount of time with Mallory Even, because her booth was in the exhibit hall right next to mine. It was so enjoyable interviewing her face to face, and I know you’ll enjoy hearing her story.

Mallory talks about how her twin pregnancy shaped the course of her career, the health challenges her son faced immediately after birth, and running a business while staying home with her children in Episode 43 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

Be sure to check out the show notes page for more information about Mallory, along with links to the resources she mentions in the episode.

This episode is sponsored by Serenade Designs, which is owned by board-certified music therapist Julie Palmieri. Julie helps her fellow music therapists create, enhance, and rock their online presence.

Through Julie’s website design services, social media and online marketing services, and virtual assistance, she’s here to help you rock your online presence — while making it all feel effortless. She assists music therapists in having a strong representation on the web so that they can focus on working in the field they love — music therapy.

Julie understands what it’s like being a busy business owner as well as a Momma. :) You can learn more about how Julie can help you with your online presence at serenade-designs.com.

iTunesClick here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Guitars & Granola Bars” in the podcast app on your Apple device.
Subscribe on Stitcher
Click here to listen and subscribe on Stitcher, or download and search the app on your mobile device.

Better When I’m Dancing

Better When I'm Dancing Album Cover

My business partner Katey recently shared with me a video of Meghan Trainor’s song “Better When I’m Dancing” from The Peanuts Movie and asked if I had heard it. I hadn’t, but I loved it and knew immediately I wanted to adapt it for use in music therapy sessions and classes.

I might have had just a little too much fun with the instrumentation and vocals on this recording — and by that I mean I was literally dancing in my chair while I worked (it kept my baby entertained, at least!).

As much as I enjoy writing completely original songs, I love to throw in a good cover every once in a while, especially one from a popular artist that many of my kiddos will recognize.

Listening to this song is an instant mood lifter and will hopefully inspire my students and clients to dance along, too. Can’t wait to sing it with them this week!

Members of Listen & Learn Plus! have access to all of these songs (along with tons more) right inside the Dropbox folder I share with them — come over and join us!

Learn more about Listen & Learn Plus

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 42

GGB Episode 42: Jodie Ross

I soooo enjoyed interviewing this week’s guest, and it wasn’t just because of her fantastic southern accent :) Jodie Ross has a thriving career as a music therapist, and her enthusiasm for her work comes through in our conversation.

Jodie also has some wonderful insight to share when it comes to parenthood, despite being new to motherhood. She offers a fresh perspective that I found to be very inspiring!

Jodie talks about becoming an internship director shortly after completing her own internship, her readiness to return to work at the end of maternity leave, and how she relates parenting styles to music therapy approaches in Episode 42 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

Be sure to check out the show notes page for more information about Jodie, along with links to the resources she mentions in the episode.

This episode is sponsored by Serenade Designs, which is owned by board-certified music therapist Julie Palmieri. Julie helps her fellow music therapists create, enhance, and rock their online presence.

Through Julie’s website design services, social media and online marketing services, and virtual assistance, she’s here to help you rock your online presence — while making it all feel effortless. She assists music therapists in having a strong representation on the web so that they can focus on working in the field they love — music therapy.

Julie understands what it’s like being a busy business owner as well as a Momma. :) You can learn more about how Julie can help you with your online presence at serenade-designs.com.

iTunesClick here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Guitars & Granola Bars” in the podcast app on your Apple device.
Subscribe on Stitcher
Click here to listen and subscribe on Stitcher, or download and search the app on your mobile device.

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