Saturday, December 11, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

New Paths - Important Goals

I made a decision yesterday that will change my career path. In the past when I've thought about leaving music therapy I have been very sad, which led me to believe it was not the right decision. At least, it was not the right decision at the time. Maybe it was simply because I was not ready to give up on my dream (this is what I've wanted to do for a very long time) or maybe it was because I had not discovered the right place for me; where it was I supposed to go after music therapy. I believe I have found it.

As a music therapist my favorite population to work with has been the PPCD classes. For those of you not familiar with the Texas educational terms that means Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities. The children in this group are aged 3-5 with a wide range of needs, from severe autism to needing just a little extra instruction before going on to the general population. I've worked as a music therapist with children in these classes that will, in all likelihood, be in special education classrooms the rest of their school careers and I've worked with children that went into regular kindergarten classes afterward. I even worked with a young boy who only said "hello" when I met him at age 4 and was speaking in full sentences and ready for general ed by the end of that same year. I am good with this age group and am most comfortable doing "my thing" as a therapist and some time teacher.

If you've read my posts in the past you know that right now I am not working this age group. Right now I am doing music therapy with elderly with Alzheimer's. While I find that I get some satisfaction from working with this group, I also find I am simply drained by the end of the day in a way I never was when working in the schools. I am drained in a way that tells me I was right to believe I am not truly equipped to be working in this population. It is not right for me. I've been working on getting a program off the ground in the town I live in that will be private therapy for children and young adults with disabilities. I've been working on this program for more than 6 months now and have exactly 0 clients. It going nowhere and I am getting frustrated. Frustrated to the point that I have been having visions of taking any fulltime job I could find just to be able to have a fulltime job. 

My first thought was just to go find a job at one of the universities here. That would mean secretarial type work but I can do that. I haven't been happy doing what I love for awhile now so I'm sure I would fine doing something I don't love if I knew I could save money to do the things I do love. Then I had lunch with a friend yesterday and my world changed.

She said she had considered leaving music therapy too. She had gone to the extreme of getting her certification in Special Education and even applying to the different school districts around here. In the end, her job situation changed and she decided to stick with music therapy. It got my brain rolling. One of the things I had considered doing in the past was getting my certification as an elementary music teacher. I even went to the orientation meeting for the alternative certification program to see what I needed to do. I decided it wasn't for me as I KNOW I simply wouldn't make a good music teacher. But I also know I would make an excellent SPED teacher. I don't know exactly why I know this but I am sure of it and suddenly that's what I wanted to do. It's all I could think of as I left my lunch with my friend. I went to see a piano student (the one I got instead of an actual music therapy student in the place where I'm building my new program) and as he was 10 minutes late I stood there and thought about this program. How it's going nowhere. I know that programs can sometimes take years to get off the ground but I have put my all into this for more than 6 months and have seen no return. That's extremely discouraging. My first thought was to take on more private clients outside the area. I've done that before and the driving is horrible but the pay is good. "Ok," I thought, "get those clients so you are working and seeing a little income and let this program build as slowly as it's going to need to." But I still wasn't satisfied. "So this contract thing is going to be life?" No, I am not happy with that.

I sat through my student's lesson and was really irritated that he had not only not practiced but had been playing "Chopsticks" all week and wanted to show me. I said to him, "It's wonderful that you are having fun with the piano, but just because everyone else in your family knows how to play Chopsticks that doesn't mean that's what you should be practicing. Hopefully, if you practice what I give you, you'll be able to play much better than all of them someday." Hopefully, my extreme irritation did not come through. Trying to live compassionately after all! :)

Then I was driving home and it came to me. I WILL take on those extra clients, but not just to make money while I wait for this program to kick in to high gear. I will do it so I will have the money for alternative certification. I am going to become a SPED teacher. And I was relieved. I was happy about it.

I think that means I've made the right decision. I know it will take a couple years for this to come to fruition, but I have a goal.

This morning it came to me why this made me so happy. Goals are important. I haven't really had a set goal for awhile now. Oh yeah, build the program to make it a fulltime position but that wasn't really something I could see as goal for some reason. THIS is  goal. And goals make us strive to be important.
Friday, December 3, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

It's The Most Terrible Time Of The Year...

Does anyone else just want to shut themselves up inside their homes during the holiday season and not see people until it's all over? Seriously the craziness of shopping for gifts this time of year is just more than I can handle sometimes. I DON'T do Black Friday unless there is something I need so bad that I would be buying it anyway no matter what time of year it is and just happens to have the most amazing deal EVER on Black Friday. I am not going to buy a 4000" flat screen tv just because it is 10% off. Guess what? I'll save money by not purchasing something I don't need. Thank you. Done. Money saved. I DON'T go to the mall during the holiday season unless there is NO WHERE else I can find what I need. And then I am in and out as soon as possible. I do not wander around in those crowds. Of course, I avoid Wal-Mart like the plague as much as I can at anytime of year because it's always like the day before Christmas in there.

Does this mean I am anti-people? No, it simply means the materialistic-money-hungry society in which I live makes me want to puke sometimes and I can't stand to see my fellow humans reduced to lions in a feeding frenzy in a slaughter house of gazelle.

On the other hand there is also a wonderful sense of community this time of year if you know where to look. I've been in Texas for about 9 years now and for most of that time I've lived in this wonderful town of Denton. In all that time I have never been to the annual holiday lighting on the square. We have one of those old timey downtown squares. Literally and square plot of land with a courthouse in the center with four connecting streets. Businesses surround the courthouse on those streets. Unlike a lot of towns, our square is not only vibrant but new businesses scramble to get in if one leaves, instead of many closing down.

Here's a couple pics I found on google:

There are so many things I love about this town and this is just one of them. The two colleges provide new blood in every year. There is a bohemian quality to most of the town. And people enjoy being out in the town, instead of driving off to Dallas or Ft Worth which are both fairly close (though of course we all do that on occasion!). 

So I decided to check out the holiday lighting festival this year on the square. Everything I hate about this time of year was still present but it was muted by the wonderful community atmosphere. The square was filled with people. The streets were blocked off so people could roam free through the streets without worrying about cars. And we have Denton's own Brave Combo. To be honest, I've never really cared to much about Brave Combo. They're entertaining and they are certainly wonderful musicians but I'm not the kind of person to put on some Brave Combo music at home. Sure they've won 2 Grammys but Beyonce won 16 and Ella Fitzgerald only won 13 so I'm thinking the musical taste of the Grammy committee is a little off. I'm more likely to throw on some Pixies or The Clash if I want to dance like a maniac anyway! :) They had the crowd from the first note though and everyone had a good time. Crowd surfing even!! Here's a little video of the same festival from a couple years ago.

I ended the night by playing open mic with friend David at a little coffee shop just around the corner from all these activities. We had a great response and I am itching for more. So I guess it's not such a terrible time of year after all. :)

Now if only I can avoid any type of shopping until Jan 2.