I had a great time at the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association conference last week and am now recovering from the travel and getting back into my routines. Usually, I look back and think about what would have made post-conference recovery easier and attempt to incorporate it into the next conference. This time, I actually did a pretty good job of pre-conference preparation which makes post-conference recovery easier. It helped that my husband and kid left on Tuesday to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and I left late Wednesday, so I had a day and a half by myself. I used that time to clean the house, drink coffee while it was still hot, and relax.
On Thursday, March 31, I taught a CMTE on Music Therapy Private Practice with Debbie Dacus. She and I were a great team and we got a lot of great feedback from our course. We started with an introduction to our businesses and asked each participant about their businesses and goals for this course. Then we discussed developing a business plan, how to find clients, and how to develop contracts with agencies. In the next hour, we covered the basics: who, where, when, how much, and why for each business. Then we talked about what to do once you have your plan: What supplies you need and what forms to create and how to get them. We also covered how to expand your services with contractors or employees and using community resources. Finally, we discussed dealing with burnout and stress. If you need any help with any of these, I offer coaching that is very reasonably priced to help with that. One of my clients worked with me for 6 weeks and then landed her dream contract. Contact me if you’d like more information about coaching services.
Next I got to meet my family for dinner and attend the opening reception. A former student of mine, Kamica King, sang mostly cover songs as we had hors d’oeuvres and she was amazing! Opening session included several award presentations, a State of the Association address by the president of AMTA, an overview of the State Recognition Operational Plan by Kimberly Sena Moore, and SARA HICKMAN! She’s such a great performer and a wonderful advocate of music therapy. She still says she’s been doing music therapy since she was 14, so there’s still some work for us to do, but that doesn’t stop her from being a valuable ally for music therapy. I left early to stuff packets for an advocacy breakfast hosted by the Texas State Task Force the next morning, so I missed my students up on stage with her, one of them even free-style rapping.
Friday morning started early with the Advocacy Breakfast, where we recognized those who are helping us achieve State Recognition in Texas. Then sessions began. Since I had my conference planner, I never actually opened the program until I got home. Also, since I knew which sessions I was attending, I never actually looked at my planner. I just looked over the shoulder of other people looking at their schedule to find which room I was supposed to be in. I did appreciate hearing from folks who told me they were using my planner!
There were lots of good sessions at this conference and many I wanted to attend that were scheduled at the same time–always the sign of a great conference! First, I presented on behalf of CBMT on Paths to Recertification: Making Your Credits Work for You, where I helped people understand the recertification manual and talked about inexpensive ways to get continuing education credits. Next, I attended the State Recognition and Legislative Process: A Legislative Panel that included two Texas legislators, a lobbyist, and music therapists from the Task Force, and highlighted effective strategies for achieving state recognition. I was pleased to see so many music therapists attending this.
After a Task Force lunch, I attended Passages–a conference for students and new professionals where they get feedback on their presentation and gain experience presenting professionally in a nurturing environment. In SWAMTA, we host this during our regular conference during one time slot. I attended a wonderful presentation given by my students on Music Therapy in the Medical Setting. They were so well prepared and had a nice mix of lecture and experiential music-making as they discussed their practicum experience in an adult cancer unit and a pediatric hospital.
Finally, I attended a fantastic presentation by Jennifer Townsend on Music Therapy for Depression Post Suicide Attempt. Jenn presented a case study of some work she did with a teenager suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She emphasized how important supervision was and said she sought supervision daily from a music therapist and from a psychologist while she worked with this patient.
Friday night, I attended the SWAMTA business meeting and had dinner with my roommates before we returned to our room and sang songs and played guitar together. Saturday morning started early again, with a closing session breakfast. Then I attended a presentation on getting the most out of Google Docs. They made me a believer and am going to work on incorporating some of the information I learned into teaching documentation to my students next year. Next, I attended a presentation on Music Therapy with Orff-Schulwerk, which sparked a few ideas for me, and then Nicki Cohen’s report on a two-part study of The Effects of University Vocal Training on the Vocal Health of Music Therapists and Music Educators. There is a big disconnect between what Vocal Educators think they are teaching music therapy and music education students and what those students perceive they are learning. Finally, I attended Ming Yuan Low’s presentation on Arts Based Research (ABR). I loved his presentation as he showed clips and discussed a project on which he collaborated with drama therapists to create a one hour play that revealed and celebrated the complexities and challenges involved in relationships with people living with disabilities and those who care for them. I still didn’t see how it was research, as opposed to a musical product that was therapeutic, so I still have some work to do to understand ABR. It was a lovely presentation of the therapy process and the song-writing process, though.
So now that conference is over, how am I recovering? Well, I started with establishing some strong routines prior to conference and have returned to those routines this week. These routines for my morning and evening and work day are written down, so I didn’t have to think about them–I just followed the directions as written. It also helped that regional conference ended on a Saturday, so I had Sunday to sleep, do laundry, and set myself up for success by checking my calendar, completing my evening routine, and going to bed early.
When I got home, I unpacked my suitcase and started laundry right away. I put all of my conference items into the conference swag bag and scheduled time by booking an appointment on my calendar to process all of that. I sorted through all the pens and business cards and handouts and things I bought and am putting them where they belong. I wrote this blog post to remind myself about what I learned and how I want to use the information. I’ve scheduled time and made a list of who I need to contact for networking follow ups. And I’ve scheduled time to log my continuing education credits into the CBMT website.’
How do you recover from conference?