Friday, May 30, 2014

Why Musicianship???

Thanks for visiting 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 one of the opening videos I speak 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. Similarly, this past week, I realized that on Wednesday alone I had played on my guitar classical music by Matteo Carcassi, Let It Go from the hit movie Frozen and had to learn Needle And The Damage Done by Neil Young for an song writing project (not to mention all the music styles in between that I played for other MT work that day). The point is NOT to alarm you if, at this time, your repertoire is small and/or you knowledge of various styles of music is limited. The point is that you are aware of your limitations and that, over time, you continuously work on expanding your knowledge and repertoire. Know that I did not wake up one day with all of this covered. I've been playing guitar professionally since 1980. But that lets me now share with you the benefits of an expanded repertoire, knowledge of various styles, etc...

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 Autism 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 Video Guitar Lessons for Music Therapy Students (and others of course). 
The new site is

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 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/musicianship/health and wellness related blog posts.

My prescription this week??? Grab your guitar, learn a song in a new genre for you and don't forget, is there for support.

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