Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Under the Big Top: Building a Successful Integrative Care Program

This Powerpoint was presented as part of a concurrent session at the 2014 National Conference of the American Music Therapy Association in Louisville, KY. I invite you to ask questions and make comments regarding the presentation or your own experience with integrative care programs.  I will add notes to key topics on the slides soon in a separate Scribd box.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Deciphering the Affordable Healthcare Act One Year Later: Implications for Music Therapy

This Prezi was presented as part of a concurrent session at the 2014 National Conference of the American Music Therapy Association in Louisville, KY.  I invite you to ask questions and make comments regarding the presentation or the effect of Obamacare on music therapy services.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Buble Draw is Free Today in the App Store!

Look what's free today!  A nifty little music and drawing app!

Bubl Draw

This app is very creative, with three different musical sound sets and lots of colors!  It is also fairly intuitive.  I tried it with a six year old and she had it figured out in seconds!  Go grab it before it's gone!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I Told You So!

The New York Times Explains the Problems with High Deductible Insurance Plans

I really hate to say it, but if you go back a few months and read my post about High Deductible insurance plans you shouldn't be surprised.  You can read my original post here

You really need to read this article from the New York Times!  High deductible insurance plans are the newest fad and are increasingly becoming the norm.  The latest news from the New York Times explains exactly what I had been talking about.  Many people have been choosing high deductible plans on the Bronze and Silver levels from the new Obamacare health exchanges in order to keep their monthly premiums low.  As they are discovering, the premiums may be lower than a traditional plan, but they are not saving enough money to make up the difference in order to pay for services until they meet the large out of pocket deductibles.

This is problematic in several ways:

1. Some people are choosing not to seek medical care because they don't feel like they can afford it, and they likely will not end up paying out $6000 over the year, or whatever very high amount  is in their plan before some insurance kicks in.  And remember -- once you meet your deductible it is not just a free ride after that!  Usually there is still a 10-20% co-insurance that you have to pay.

2. I thought that one of the main purposes behind the Affordable Care Act (AKA: Obamacare) was to get everyone on insurance so as to increase the insurance pool and provide people with medical care outside of the emergency room and promote preventive care??  It sure sounds like this is failing.  Although some people are getting preventive care, they are not following up on problems because they simply do not have the out of pocket money to pay for treatment.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Music and the Magic Show Theory

Photo Credit: Thevacationgals.com

There is a new theory about autism and what may cause the stereotypic behaviors and desires for routine and sameness.  The Los Angeles Times has the full story here
Basically, the researchers are suggesting that people with autism experience the world as if they are in a constant state of wonder and high expectation like most people in the middle of a magic show.  If you think about this, it makes a lot of sense.  The authors of the article even admit that it is a "common sense" explanation for some of the attributes commonly ascribed or observed in people with autism spectrum disorder.
The new theory suggests that people with autism are in a constant state of wonder without being able to establish a connection with previous events and what might come next.  In other words, where did the bunny go? - how did it disappear? - and where/when will it pop out??
If a person is constantly put into a constant state of "wonder" it stands to reason that he or she might develop some coping mechanisms to compensate.  It is enjoyable for most to watch a magic show and do other exciting things like riding a roller coaster (okay! - not everyone likes this!), but likely completely overwhelming to maintain that level of excitement for too long.  
Is it possible that people with autism try to establish order by developing repetitive behaviors in the form of "stimming" (e.g., hand flapping, rocking, etc.) or compulsively trying to establish order on the environment in the form of routines or visual patterns?  Is this a form of compensation for the brain's inability to make connections between events and provide context for social interaction and communication?  
If so, it would explain a lot about music and why so many people with autism are not only drawn to music, but seem to enjoy and respond positively to music interaction.  Music naturally imposes structure to time and Western music especially, provides harmonic, rhythmic and melodic predictability.  
If the researchers are on the right track with their theory, it will be interesting to investigate the brain functions related to the specific cognitive tasks for antecedent details and prediction of future events.  And can music be a vehicle for developing the appropriate brain pathways that lead to the acquisition of these skills?
Interesting stuff!  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Drum Circle Technique: Get Your Groove On!

*note:  A presentation/workshop to students at James Madison University, March 28, 2014.  Much of this Prezi is in outline form and was presented simultaneously with in-depth discussion and experiential drumming.  The material is adapted from the writings of many of the group drumming pioneers and experts in the field, and further developed by my own training from these individuals as well as my music therapy clinical experiences.  Many thanks to Arthur Hull, Christine Stevens, Kalani,  and Bill Matney, to name a few.


Friday, March 21, 2014

App of the Week: Singaling

I love trying out new apps for the iPad. And don't forget...many of the same apps are also available for Android.

Singaling was free one day in the iStore and I snatched it up!  It usually sells for around $2.99.*

This is a fun app just to play around, but I think it also has some good possibilities for use in music therapy.  Singaling is basically a vocal sound processor.  It creates cool effects for vocals.  You can sound like a heavy metal rockstar or add your voice to a classical choir in a cathedral.  It also has some fun effects like "chipmunk" or "outer space." 

 After reading my short review, it is worth your time to take a look at the demonstration video that follows.  The app is incredibly robust with features, but has a clean look and easy to use interface.  This is a great advantage for our clients, their teachers and parents.  
The app's main screen has large buttons and sliders, so that with a simple touch, different effects can be turned off and on even while singing or inputting sound.  The presets are awesome!  There are many different styles presented in a handy scroll list.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Coming to a Health Care Plan Near You...

...an HDHSA, or High Deductible Health Savings Account.

What is behind the rise in these plans?

-although they have been around for a decade, the recent increase in the availability of these plans is due to the Affordable Care Act.  Why?  Because it can save employers money.  That's the bottom line.

So why do employers suddenly need to save money on health plans?

-the affordable care act makes insurance plans more expensive in general.  If you haven't been following the reasons behind this, please start hereIn short, plans now have to cover all kinds of wellness benefits, maternity care (whether you are male or female), etc.  They also cannot deny insurance for pre-existing conditions and there is no lifetime limit on payouts from the insurance company.  So the insurance companies are charging more in order to stay in business.  Hence, companies (and employees) get to pay more for their plans.

 Does an HDHSA plan save an employer money?

-yes.  It basically shifts more of the cost to the employee.   
 Does an HDHSA save YOU money?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Music Therapy and Parkinson's: A Slide Presentation

Here are the informational slides that we used for a presentation to the Winchester Area Parkinson's Support Group.  Dr. Anne Lipe and I would like to extend our thanks to this group for their invitation and hope that we were able to share some valuable information about the latest research regarding music therapy and Parkinson's disease.  

As part of the presentation we also did some interactive music activities drawn from the research literature, but not listed in the slides or this post.  While I am not an expert in using music therapy with this population, I find it fascinating and well worth consideration.  


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Music Therapy Advocacy All Year Round!

Although I officially missed music therapy advocacy month, perhaps I can tie the bow around the effort here on February 1st! 

Kudos to Kimberly Sena Moore for keeping this tradition going every year! This is a great way to remind ourselves of how we must continue the efforts to promote and educate regarding music therapy. I don't think a day goes by that I haven't had the opportunity to explain music therapy to someone! 

Do you have your "elevator" definition of music therapy ready to go?? What about neat stories to tell when you get the chance to talk to someone for a bit longer on a plane or a waiting room? And have you written or called your state and national political representatives recently to remind them about music therapy? 

Here is a message from Dr. Dena Register regarding the theme for music therapy advocacy month in 2014: "We are..." 

Welcome to 2014: Declaring Our Independence 

Dena Register, PhD, MT-BC
Regulatory Affairs Advisor, Certification Board for Music Therapists

The end of the year always brings with it a great deal of reflection. It feels good to look at the accomplishments of the year at its close, set new intentions and imagine new heights for the year ahead. My own professional reflections for this year brought the realization that over the last eighteen years I have enjoyed a rather diverse career in music therapy with roles as a clinician, educator, consultant and professional advocate. One of the most interesting components of wearing so many different “hats” is trying to imagine how those you are working with perceive music therapy.

There is a constant effort to try and imagine how I can best help others understand what music therapy is and the many benefits for our clients. I feel the need to have an analogy for every situation, description, and population. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in this challenge. I know many music therapists that adapt in this chameleon-like fashion when it comes to how we describe our life’s work. We build rapport with our various audiences by searching for some common ground or understanding to use as a point of departure in hopes that they will have that magical “A-ha!” about the many benefits of music therapy. While these experiences help us develop remarkable skills in story sharing and empathy, we are constantly altering the description of our professional identity in order to help others understand us. This task is a complex one for professionals and is one of the challenges that both students and new professionals find difficult to navigate early on in their careers.

I get to teach a class in philosophy and theory of music therapy. Over the last several offerings of this course the students and I have spent hours exploring what music therapy has in common with other therapeutic and creative arts professions. Each semester produces fascinating discussions, diagrams and reflections on the shared aspects of our professions and, more importantly, how music therapy is notably distinct from any other profession or practice. Successful participation in our profession is reliant upon years of skilled musicianship, and a balance of both scientific and artistic knowledge and understanding. It is highly unlikely that an individual who does not have any prior musical training can make their way through varied and rigorous coursework of a music therapy degree and successfully complete the academic, clinical and musical requirements needed.

In the sixty-plus year development of our profession we have learned to be both flexible and savvy in our descriptions of music therapy. These well-honed skills have built a foundation for our profession to grow and expand in ways we didn’t think possible. And, in most recent years, our advocacy efforts have brought us to a place of greater acknowledgement and public awareness than we have ever experienced before. What comes next? It is the era of INDEPENDENCE.

With an increased focus on research about the numerous impacts of music as a therapeutic medium, greater access to quality services by licensed professionals and continuously growing clinical offerings music therapy is positioned for continued, exponential growth. Now is the time for continued clarification to others regarding who we are as a profession as well as our unique qualifications. In 2014, it is imperative that we declare “I am a music therapist” and understand how to articulate our unique qualifications and distinctions from our other therapeutic partners. How will YOU celebrate your ‘independence’ this year?

About the Author: Dr. Dena Register is the Regulatory Affairs Advisor for the Certification Board for Music Therapists and an Associate Professor of Music Therapy at the University of Kansas. She can be reached at dregister@cbmt.org.

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