Friday, May 30, 2014

Why Musicianship???

Thanks for visiting David Putano's topics and conversations. Here I want to address music therapy issues and concepts as they relate to education, musicianship and health and wellness.

In the past I've done blog posts with the theme “Why Music?” For this post I'd like to speak to music therapy (MT) students about playing guitar and musicianship and pose the question “Why Musicianship?” Actually, it's for anyone wanting to raise their level of guitar playing and musicianship, including beginners, entertainers and music teachers.

In a recent blog post I spoke of a hospice family where the son told me that “over the past many months the only joy my mom has experienced was during the music therapy sessions...” The patient was a piano player who loved church music and popular music of “her day,” i.e, music from the 1930s-50s. In the video I went on to say that if I was not a competent musician those times would not have been possible. Also, I mentioned that I (have the privilege to ) play various styles of music every day. We all have to be aware of your limitations and that, over time, you continuously work on expanding your knowledge and repertoire. Let me now share with you the benefits of being a good musician, of having an expanded repertoire and knowledge of various music styles...

Those benefits are:

Job Satisfaction. As a music therapist in private practice I love working with various populations. My hospice works lets me play wonderful popular and church music by the worlds best composers as well as being able to engage in song writing/recording projects with patients and families. Also my hospice work allows me to write music for clinical purposes such as pain management and relaxation. My ASD/Special Needs school work gives me the opportunity to write and record music with specific educational and developmental goals to complement what the teachers provide. And I love to write this music in the styles of today's popular music. My adolescent psychology work keeps me up on popular music as well as getting to play classic rock music. Those are some scenarios that I get a lot of satisfaction from, and that is just speaking about playing guitar. I'll blog another time regarding the interesting and exciting work that is involved when I and other music therapists engage in educational presentations, research, treatment team meetings, teaching, counseling, etc.

Job Security. Here, I'll make my point in two parts... First, the health care field is very “fluid” where things are change all the time. This happened to me, where my first job out of school that was at a regional medical center changed programming one day and dissolved our department. But because of my MT and music (guitar) experience up to that point I had no trouble working with “new” populations such as autism, hospice, etc. And second... recently I have been involved with a hospice case where a middle aged man with very fragile health wanted to engage in an involved song writing/recording project. He has “written many books of lyrics over the years and has always wanted to have someone put music to his song lyrics...” With each song lyric he gives me a well known artist's song to listen to to then write original music somewhat in that style. Some of the artists have been Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, etc. This has been a very successful project for him prompting him to say that “this project is keeping me alive...” and the hospice RN characterizes our MT times as his “medicine.” So when this kind of report gets back to the treatment team, including the hospice doctors and administration, music therapy is looked on as being very valuable, and in some cases, essential. So again, being a competent musician and being familiar with many styles of music is very good for job security.

All of what is described above requires me to call on my music and clinical experience. Clinical experience will come with time but again, during that time, continuously work on expanding your (music) knowledge and repertoire.

 So, "Why musicianship??"... For job satisfaction and job security.

And don't forget about guitar CMTE courses from The Creative Clinician and Video Guitar Lessons for Music Therapy Students (and others of course).

As a reminder my second music album, i.e., Modern Music Learning For The School Aged Child will be out very soon. This is music for child development, autism and special needs.

In upcoming posts I will continue with other music therapy and musicianship related blog posts.

My prescription this week??? Grab your guitar, learn a song in a new genre for you and don't forget, The Creative Clinician and are here for support.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Augmented and diminished chord intervals... Ahh, very interesting...

This is a new area for my blog space that has to do with musicianship, particularly for you guitar players who are music therapy students and professionals. Actually, it's for anyone wanting to raise their level of guitar playing and musicianship, including entertainers and music teachers.

A while back, on, I introduced augmented and diminished chords. I talked about how to play them on the guitar and I also talked about how the chords are spelled, particularly about their note intervals. Their intervals produce something interesting regarding the guitar. Both augmented and diminished chords have the same amount of (steps) space between each note. For example, each note of an augmented chord, spelled 1-3-#5, has a major third between each note and similarly, each note of an diminished chord, spelled 1-b3-b5, bb7, has a minor third between each note. So what does that have to do with the guitar? Grab the augmented chord that is taught on (go to the Login/Videos tab then go to the Chords/Harmony category under the Professional Membership videos). With the augmented chord notice two things, first, if you move the chord up a major 3rd (the interval of each note in the chord) you have the same notes and chord. And second, any note in the chord can be the root. Check for yourself. Same goes for the diminished chord, except move that chord up or down a minor 3rd (the interval of each note in the chord) for the same notes and chord. Again, any note of this chord can be the root. Cool huh? That's why we (at least I) don't need many augmented and diminished chord forms to use on the guitar, because we can move them up and down the neck by major or minor 3rds.

When you purchase a guitar course from the The Creative Clinician you also receive a FREE, one year professional membership to, featuring 250 guitar lesson videos, with many music therapy clinical tips. Lessons are video based, able to be accessed 24/7.

So, as you improve your guitar playing, benefit from a wide variety of pertinent, interesting and professional courses offered by The Creative Clinician, receive CMTEs. Join us!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why Music??? part 14 Cognitive Comprehension Speed, a Vital Consideration

Thanks for visiting topics and conversations. Here I want to address music therapy issues and concepts as they relate to education, health and wellness.

This is part fourteen of my blog posts where I describe music therapy interactions I've had that are indicative of why music is so healing, meaningful, enriching and sometimes life changing!

This post describes a music therapy session that is fairly common where I have to take into account the client's cognitive comprehension (or processing) speed, i.e., through assessment, first identify how slow I need to speak to individuals for them to fully understand and then, very importantly, determine how slow I have to play the music to have them fully comprehend the experience.

I'll discuss this concept by describing sessions I have with a music therapy client named Freda. What a blessed privilege and honor to work with her. I say a blessed privileged because Freda is 104 years old! She sings beautifully and has her mental faculties relatively intact.
When I visit Freda she welcomes me with the cutest high pitched voice and a big smile. After a number of visits I know now what songs she knows the words to, and we enjoy singing and video recording the sessions. Very fun... when I video a song on my phone and we watch it she exclaims “look, we're on TV!”

When I play a song that I know she knows, I watch carefully how comfortable and with how much ease she is able to sing. When needed, I slow down when she has trouble getting some words out. It is common when singing with Freda (and those similar) that when a second or third verse comes up, that might not be as well known as the first verse, she slows down to remember or correctly sing the words. Being able to accompany and support her singing with precisely her needs in mind is the wonderful thing about live music and music therapy. I'll remind us that my favorite definition of music therapy is: using music to support and achieve non-musical goals. The primary goal is not to make beautiful music. The primary goals are to provide an opportunity for positive reminiscence, to be a positive diversion from stress and worry and to support hopefulness. The fact that we are making beautiful is simply “icing on the cake.”

These kind of experiences are so precious. Again, what an honor to experience live music with Freda and witness the precious responses that she has. Wow!!

So, "Why (live) music??"... To again be in the privileged position to experience live with others, i.e., supporting them, performing with them, witnessing and recording their responses and sharing these experiences with their family and others.

I'm excited to report about progress made on my new offering, Video Guitar Lessons for Music Therapy Students (and others of course). The new site, will open before my next blog post. And is still progressing nicely. Right now there are three offerings, i.e., two music albums available, David's Basics in Education and Lyrical Imagery and one educational lecture titled The Purposeful Use of Music From Pregnancy Through Toddlerhood (including Labor and Delivery). The second album, Lyrical Imagery, and the childbirth lecture are a free download for the time being.
As a reminder the main thrust of the music therapy/childbirth lecture is to support moms (and dads) as they put together their own music listening playlists or CDs to support rhythmic breathing, act as a positive diversion from pain and stress, etc., to be used during labor and delivery.
Also, I'm looking forward to recording my second music album early this year. This is music for child development, autism and special needs. As a reminder, one song, “High 5,” from David's Basics in Education (music album #1) is still a free download for a limited time.

In upcoming posts I will continue with other music therapy/health and wellness related blog posts.

My prescription this week??? Sing and experience music with those you love and others!
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