Monday, August 1, 2011

The Bare Necessities

What are your bare necessities in your work as a Music Therapist?

I was recently talking to another music therapy friend of mind, and the topic of our conversation was how different our bare necessities are on a daily basis. The populations and age groups of the clients really do influence which instruments and extras we pack to take along.

So, I thought it would be interesting to share this discussion and hopefully get some feedback and sharing going on.

I think any feedback could be beneficial to music therapy students, in terms of helping them to plan ahead and know what kinds of rhythm instruments they should start purchasing while they're still in school. Starting early sure makes growing a rhythm instrument collection easier, and in some ways cheaper!

So, to start us off, my bare necessities are:

My guitar!
A set of egg shakers (12 shakers at least, variety of colors helpful)
A set of adapted wrist egg shakers (at least one set of 2)
A set of lummi sticks/rhythm sticks (again, 6 pairs at least)
1-2 hand drums (10 or 12" preferably)
Bells (therabells preferrably, set of 6)
Cabasa (at least 2 of them)
Clatterpillar (at least 2 of them. Believe me-they are popular with most clients!)

There are tons of extra things you can pack as well (extra visuals, books, pictures, communication cards, voice output devices,etc.), but those are my bare necessities.

What are your bare necessities?


  1. I had to chuckle as I read your post, Amanda. When I did my graduate internship in a teaching hospital, I showed up the first day just to meet one of the psychiatrists who would be supervising me. Well! He was rounding with a whole collection of doctors, residents and students, and he invited me to join them. Five minutes later, they walked in to deal with a person who presented a complex case (mind you, I'd never worked in a hospital before and don't have a lot of experience with adult psych) of a guy who refused to speak. The psychiatrist turned to me, and he said, "Roia, you're a music therapist, why don't you do an intervention here so we can get a sense of your work." Ack!

    I had NOTHING with me but my voice, and I was so shocked to have medical doctors being respectful of music therapy that I was darned if I was going to loose this opportunity. So, I sang about what was happening, and I sang about what it must be like to have a whole crowd of people come in and I hummed to follow his breathing. The psychiatrist seemed happy enough, and we got along quite well after that. But, good grief!

    That would be my very (very) long-winded way of saying that I think my bare necessity would be my voice (which is why losing my voice this past week has been a real pain!).

  2. Wow Roia! That would definitely classify as an on the spot music therapy intervention! :) I work with groups of students in a public school setting now, but I also did my training in a psychiatric hospital setting.
    I think more than anything else, I need my voice and my guitar as well!
    Hope your voice returns soon!

  3. Thanks for the good wishes. Actually, it was a medical hospital but a psychiatric patient. Definitely my life is happier with a guitar as well (especially since that's my main instrument). It's one of the many things that makes me grateful to be a music therapist!