Music Therapy & Back to School
Oh yeah! It’s that time of the year again. The summer has flown by and it is time for all things back to school. For me, looking at the start of a new school year can be very exciting. I think about all the possibilities that the fresh school year may hold. But! I can also get very intimidated thinking about all of the plans, organization, prep work, and so on that it all entails. Last year, I began my first year of employment with Groovy Garfoose very close to the start of the school year. This year, I’ve had some more time to mentally prepare for how to support myself as I get into this new school year. I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you to perhaps inspire or provide some comradery as we get back into things.
Thanks, Past Me!
So…admittedly in the past, I have not always been the best culprit in helping future me. And what I mean by this is, I will come up with session plans or specific ideas that groups or individuals end up connecting and engaging with. Woohoo! But I have yet to create a solid system to consistently write down the details of those plans which ends up making more work for me in the future. Specifically when I need to think of a session idea that I could have just taken out of my toolbox from a previous plan. It pains me to think of all the ideas that I have created that are just lost in my brain because I didn’t take the time to write them down.
BUT NOT THIS YEAR!
This year to help future me, I have created a calendar document on google drive where I have a place to streamline writing down my ideas and their details. I’m anticipating that starting the school year with a designated place to put my plans will help in the organization of things and keep me accountable for consistently taking time to write them down. Also by setting up my document in a calendar format I am able to best see the progression of the themes we are using, the instruments we have used, and how I want the year to progress with the flow of my session plans. I would say that the most essential piece of advice to anyone who is thinking of also doing this is to write down your plans in a place that will be accessible to you no matter if your phone, computer, or flash drive breaks. My favorite place to do this is google drive. But no matter where you decide to organize your thoughts. We can do this! We can help out our future selves!
For my personal views and philosophy as a music therapist, I believe that we should care for and respect the individuals we meet BECAUSE of all the different aspects and experiences that make them who they are. I believe that this includes things such as gender identity, culture, ethnicity, family structures, traditions, ect. I have been trying to seek out resources to prepare myself to be more mindful of inclusion and language that I use when I’m in session spaces (and everywhere in general). Even now I feel pretty vulnerable writing on this topic since it is so vast and subjective to each person. But I take comfort in knowing that I am not perfect and will make mistakes and that is okay but that I’m open to learning new things to grow. Language, for example, is ever-changing and depends on each person that you encounter. So if and when appropriate I always like to ask for preferences of pronouns, names, diagnosis-related language, ect. I have noticed that in the past, I have not always been the most mindful, specifically relating to the use of gender-neutral language when I wasn’t certain of a person’s preferences. I always think back to when I used children’s books for sessions. I think of how I would sometimes just assume a character’s gender because of images that I saw on the page. Just because a character is wearing a pink bow or a suit doesn’t tell me anything about how to gender them and by assuming I am just reinforcing constructs that are made up! Dang.
The topic of mindfulness brings up memories of music that I have used in sessions. Last year, I remember checking extensively to make sure songs were school appropriate, that they didn’t have curse words or explicit themes to them but not putting equal emphasis on doing my research to check into the background of a song. When I was taking the course “Empowering Little Leaders” by Music for Kiddos, I was shocked at just how many songs had histories that were rooted in racism and hatefulness and whose words were changed slightly and remained in mainstream rotation. I think that maybe making a conscious choice to NOT use these songs and explain why could be a great way to advocate for the intentionality of music therapy and the respect that we want to convey to those that we work with. All of this makes me think of how big of a topic this is to cover and that writing this only scratches the surface. But I remember hearing a great quote that used the word “cringe” in a way that made sense to me (since cringe seems to be the hip word to use at the moment). It went something like “If you don’t look back at your past self and cringe, it means you aren’t growing”. So here’s to your fresh start and best wishes to you!
This blog post was written by Chelsea Falatic, MT-BC. Chelsea attended Cleveland State University and provides music therapy services to groups and individuals through a humanistic and strengths-based approach. In her free time, Chelsea likes to participate in community theatre shows, knit, bake, and share the products of her baking with friends.