Magical Moments

Stopping, and starting

I stopped writing here more than 2 months ago.  Not on purpose to be sure, but more out of the need to focus in and take care of important business.  It has been an incredibly busy and lovely summer here at Oak Park Music Therapy with LOADS of music, new students, band performances, solo gigs, conference planning, running groups and individual sessions, and filling summer days with meaningful experiences – making memories.  I felt myself trip over the intention to write again, mostly out of the feeling that what I have to say may be of little importance to anyone else.  Maybe a little vacation-itis.  Isn’t that the case though in life, when we find ourselves stopping, and then restarting?  The key I think, is to remember to restart.  Whether that is taking guitar lessons as an adult, remembering to say thank you and I love you every single day, or stopping unhealthy habits and replacing them with healthy ones.


Whatever you may have found you stopped doing lately, may you find your way back with a sense of purpose and determination.

Enjoy the moments of reflection.

Magical Moments, Music Therapy

Coping with Hospitalization

Katy Perry's show in Berlin (This file was edi...
Katy Perry in Berlin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From time to time I get to share my patient’s work.  I do this with express permission from the patient/client and/or their parent.  This is the case with “Madeline” – a teen hospitalized with a halo contraption to stretch her spine in preparation for spinal surgery in two or three week. Later, she would experience two weeks of healing and therapy.

After our first meeting, we decided a good way to get to know each other was by singing through some familiar tunes. She sang Katy Perry’s Firework.  It’s a great inspirational song about keeping going when you feel less than your best self.  This young teen, removed from her regular social and academic environment, was missing her regular life.

After we went through a few options, Madeline chose to re-write the lyrics and create a version that reflects her advice on how to get through tough times.  These are the re-written lyrics she wrote with my assistance.  I share this as an example of the power of music to inspire and facilitate health.  Hum the tune to yourself as you read her words.

"When you are alone, and have no where to go, 
A friend can help you through, You don't have to be alone.
There's always someone who's there to comfort you, 
To hold your hand through the rough time.

When I'm feeling weak, and losing control
I'm not sure how I can make it through
But then I turn to friends, and they boost me up
Make me feel I'm strong, so I can carry on.

Baby I'm a firework..."

Remembering home, remembering friends, remembering what is important can make all the difference to help someone cope with hospitalization or a series of medical procedures.  Madeline is now equipped with a catchy song she can sing to herself in moments of struggle to remind her of the important things — her friends.

Magical Moments

Loving Yourself and Maintaining Balance.

January was a crazy month for me — I feel like I am just emerging from the mayhem of the holidays then a very busy professional month. I found myself watching the work of my colleagues via YouTube, Facebook, Blogs and websites. We MT-BCs were very active. Me personally, I did an internet radio show, a presentation for a music fraternity, wrote a wellness article for my employer, co-lead an important planning meeting with colleagues, and gave a lecture plus experiential workshop for an Intro to Creative Arts Therapy class at a local university. On top of all of that I also directed a women’s choir in two soulful songs I arranged for a church service post MLK Day. I’ve realigned my schedule to accommodate new clients, and have been posting for another blog about music for young children. I kept moving forward with my regular job and contracts too of course. I guess I mention this because I have not been writing/blogging much lately.


In honor of this work, I am going to treat myself well and take a bit of a retreat this next weekend to re-energize and recharge my batteries. Between that and the love of my family, I can think of no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

May you find a way to love yourself deeply this week. Happy Valentine’s Day.


Image courtesy of

Magical Moments, Music Therapy

Mood Booster

Another incredible week of making music with and for people has come to a close.

Today we rewrote the lyrics to Heartbreak Hotel, made famous be Elvis Presley. On our first run through an older gentleman in my group for persons with depression and anxiety broke into song and ROCKED IT OUT! He laughed afterward and said that was the first time he had sung in front of others since his school days. He was so thankful for the chance to explore some in-the-moment joy. I congratulated him on accepting my invitation to sing.

Afterward a staff member let me know the gentleman had entered my group quite grumpy and distressed. He came out with a bounce in his step that shaped the rest of his day. This is HUGE for persons battling depression.

How blessed I am to be the ambassador for change. How very blessed I am to bring music to others.

What do you listen to when you need a boost? Comments are welcome!

Magical Moments, Making Music

Moments of beauty and meaning

Since my last post many weeks ago, I have been blessed to be a part of so many incredible moments of transformation and healing. As a music therapist, I have held moments of connection with the clients I serve. As a musician and performer, I have been transformed by the act of sharing music with audiences. It has been an incredibly rich spring, where the buds turned into huge musical blossoms.

In April and May I performed the music of one of my favorite songwriters/composers for intimate gatherings in incredible halls that held the sound so gracefully. I also revisited the art of playing in a hand bell ensemble. Somehow I could feel my brain working in different patterns, isolating the tones, coordinating my movements, and striking the bells at the right time along with my bell-mates. I had forgotten how much fun this was. In May and June I met and guided some incredible children along their journey of discovering their abilities through the experience of making music together. Folk music and campfires have been joyful visits, and the adolescents in my life continue to turn me on to new artists with new inspirations to explore. The women and men in the groups I lead continue to inspire me with their perseverance and desire for greater health.

I am anticipating this summer will spark growth in my one to one work with clients in my studio. A few weeks from now will be marked with a stream of performances, so these days are filled with rehearsals. In the fall I have several speaking engagements, so am excited about the preparation for these exciting events.

At moments of thanks and reflection I wonder, how did this come to be?

By always saying yes to music. Always allowing my love for music to be the guiding force in making decisions about how to spend my time, where to share my energies, how to not over commit myself.

I was not always so diligent, in fact, this is a bit of a new focus for me. I have resolved myself of the guilt of not being involved in every committee that I think is interesting or worth the investment. I found a focus that allows for all of my activities to revolve – it’s music. My work, my private practice, my hobby, my spirituality, my reading, and even my family life — so much of it revolves around being a musician and music appreciator and consumer. What a joyful decision.

What is your passion? What is your focus? How do you choose to spend the precious days we spend on this planet together? What guides you in how you spend you time?

Until next time – enjoy this musical world.

Magical Moments, Music Therapy

Drumming and Depression

I recently led a group drumming experience with about 30 adults, most struggling with issues of depression or anxiety.  It was amazing to see the mood shift of the group from when we started to where we ended.  The music directives required the group members to focus their attention on each other, to actively participate in the group, to be involved.  Without everyone, our musical “machine” would clunk rather than flow.  By the end of our time together, the challenges I had presented to the group were accomplished.  We were making music together, many were smiling and encouraging others, and becoming known to each other in a new way.

There are so many times in life that I have been able to pull metaphors of being in an ensemble, ripe with leadership opportunities and supportive relationships, to the success of a group or team.  I am always amazed when I am reminded of this time and time again.  Although we can’t all be soloists or conductors in this life, we have a place, an important part, that which adds to the whole.  Without those extra voices the beauty would be muted.  Even the smallest voice, even the one who may say nothing at all, is a part of the ensemble to both participate, but also to bear witness to our experience, to hear our song.

I love music.  It makes us matter.

Magical Moments

Coping with hospitalization

I met with a child earlier this week.  My goal was to help her cope with being in the hospital after her surgery.

It became quickly apparent to me that this child had a great sense of rhythm, so we spent a good deal of time playing the hand drums together.  Call and response, echoing, having a musical conversation….  Then we found a rhythm together and sang a repeated phrase back and forth while drumming.  I invited her mother to join in the music making with us, and we discussed the drumming traditions her mom grew up with in Africa.

At the end of the session her mother commented that she had been nothing but stress for three days now.  This was the best she had felt since her arrival.

Funny how my goal of “coping” may have been even more effective for this child’s mom.  I was happy to help this family find a few precious moments of laughter and connection together.