Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Meaningful Music

Becky Wellman, PhD, MT-BC, DT is a nationally board certified music therapist and Illinois state certified developmental therapist. She has a private practice in the Chicago suburbs providing services for young children with special needs and older adults with memory loss. Dr. Wellman is also an adjunct professor of Human Services at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana.

 
 
 
 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

Daddy-Daughter Inclusion

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It’s the truth of our work that there are just some kids and their families who touch our hearts more than others. They present special challenges or responses to music that simply make a bigger imprint than others. McKenna is one of these clients. I first met McKenna and her awesome family when she was about 18 months old. She has a rare disorder which causes seizures, problems with hearing and vision, muscular-skeletal issues, cognitive delays, and limited growth. She tried going to school,

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Going with the Flow

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Kids crave structure. We know this from our training and experience. Some days, the structure just makes it more challenging. This can be especially true with come of our children with special needs. Leaning to go with the flow while still keeping control is a skill that can help all of our sessions go more smoothly. Here are some ways to work through this.

Give choices: Kids love to be “in charge”. Allowing choices gives them this freedom and power within our own structure. I’ve used

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Autism Awareness/Acceptance

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Over the years I’ve worked with some fabulous children and families with autism. For this Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month I feel compelled to share a little of what I’ve learned from them.

There is comfort in repetition and routine: Many of our children with autism engage in repetitive behaviors. While some see this as distressing, it really can bring comfort to our kids. On a whim one day I matched the tempo of my song to my client’s movement. He stopped for a minute smiled and went back

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Getting to Know You

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I spoke with a family about attending one of my sessions the other day. They were excited to start music with me and I was excited to meet them. Things were going great until I mentioned that I wanted some time with them prior to our first session to get to know them. Suddenly our conversation changed.

Why do I need to do this? I typically only see kids with special needs. Part of being a music therapist is that I do an assessment before I start treatment. With my families, this means that

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Embracing Change

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 As many of you know, most of my work is with children in early intervention. This is a federally based and state run program for children with special needs from birth to three. As the kids approach their third birthday they transition into early childhood/preschool programs. This is a big change for the kids and an even bigger change for the parents. Here are a few ways we can help our families make transitions less stressful.

Talk about it early: I start talking about transition about a

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Knowing When We’re Not the Right Fit

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Someone asked me a while ago about some of the children with special needs in their music group. They wanted some advice as to how to work with them with their sessions. After listening for a while and asking a bunch of questions I gave them my final answer: these children were not ready to be in a group with their “typical” peers.

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while you are probably gasping in shock as you already know my stance of including as many kids with

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Squirmy Wormies!

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Tis the season! Tis the season for kids to start feeling antsy from being inside too long. We all know that kids are really movers and shakers, but some times we really need them to sit, focus, and listen as well. Here are a few ideas to make your sessions a little less squirmy.

Interval Work: As a runner one of the things I do is intervals. I run at one pace for a while and then step it up for a while before returning to the original pace.  This can go on for miles. Kids can do well with

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Embracing Generosity

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As I mentioned in my last post, I recently moved across the country. We’re settling in to our new “digs” and making the connections needed to move forward in creating the fulfilling practice I want to develop here.

During this process I have been overwhelmed with the offers from others to help us. Folks are offering to loan us tools, supplies, whatever to take care of things in our new home. Folks are offering to introduce us to people who can guide us to ideal jobs (for my husband) and

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Experiencing Holiday Overwhelm

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As I spend the last full day in my home in the Chicago area I am acutely aware of how many of my kids must feel this time of year. My schedule is “off”, I can’t find any of my things, I have too many commitments in too many places, and many of the people around me are voicing their feelings and appear concerned that mine don’t match.

Scheduling: We’re generally creatures of habit. We like consistency. Even in my “no two days are alike” world, there is some routine to it which makes me

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Families for the Holidays!

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'Tis the season for all kinds of merriment. It may also be a time of year when family dynamics take center stage when they decide to attend our classes and sessions or in our attempts to share the awesomeness of our kids in performances. Here are a few ways to get through without others stealing your joy!

Set Limits: I’ll be honest. I’m not as good at setting limits with the adults in my life as I am with the kids, but when it comes to my music events I’m not as shy in stating what I want

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Presumed Competence

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I was at the American Music Therapy Association conference last week. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. I get to see my friends, learn more about music therapy, and recharge my professional batteries (so to speak). My roommate has a fantastic practice in Maryland where she works with individuals with autism (and is quite passionate about it). This is one of her platforms so as I listened to her go on about it I thought I’d share it with you!

Presumed competency is something I have

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The ABCs of Behavior Management

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I was asked to share more about autism and behavioral issues in music groups. Before I get started, I want to state (as I do in most of my posts) that there are support systems out there for you if you are encountering children who are presenting these concerns. You can find a music therapist by searching the AMTA or CBMT website, talk to teachers and families, or find behavioral specialists in your area who are willing to help!

That being said, one of the first things I recommend is

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Foreign Languages, Songs, and Avoiding Miscommunications

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I got to thinking after my last post about signing and it reminded me of a story. Actually, two. I worked in a very large public school system for a while. About half of my caseload there spoke Spanish so we needed to sing and give direction in Spanish as well. Generally I worked out a script and song translations with someone before I went in, but in time I felt strong enough to “riff” as needed. Needless to say, in both situations I can think of another therapist and I each used a

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Signs, Songs, and Avoiding Miscommunication

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While I was at the convention in June I noticed plenty of folks using hand motions while they were sharing songs and dances with the participants. This is great and made them much more fun. It was also entertaining as some of their movements intended to emphasize the songs they were sharing utilized signs which mean something completely different in American Sign Language (ASL).

I’ll be honest, I’m not fluent in ASL. I know enough to communicate with my kids who use signs as a bridge to

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Awesome Start for a New School Year

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I may have mentioned to you that I am a runner. I’ve been nursing a tweaky knee for the past few weeks so I’ve spent more time on the treadmill. This means I’ve also spent more time watching TV. This means I’ve been able to watch more commercials as well. Lately there have been a bunch about going back to school. While I get it’s all about marketing and sales, the message behind some of them really bothered me.

One in particular this morning showed a child who would have been left out if

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Bad Influences

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I was working with a child recently who is on their way to preschool. The mom expressed her concern about the “bad influence” of the other kids in their class. I hear this frequently from parents of children who are entering a blended or even special education preschool classroom. While it’s not the first time I’ve heard this concern, it sadly most likely won’t be the last. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about influence and how we can help guide better experiences in our music sessions.

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Top 10 Reasons Why I’m Excited about My First ECMMA Convention: Update (Part 2)

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Here's more of my recap from convention!

5. I DID get to see some of my friends, but even better, I made a bunch of new ones. Like I said, it’s the connections that we make at convention that are the best part (just don’t tell all of the people who worked so hard on everything else).

4. Be warned, I have a bunch of new blog ideas. Some came from recommendations from people I talked to, but most came from things I heard during sessions. A comment, slide, or song would prompt a topic that

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Top 10 Reasons Why I’m Excited about My First ECMMA Convention: Update (Part 1)

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Well, I’m finally home from a super busy, but super fun few days with my fellow ECMMAers. Here’s the update on my list!

10. I finally got to meet the members of the ECMMA board that I was hoping to see and met a good number of the new board as well. Fasten your seat belts folks. These guys are ready to hit the ground running! It sounds like there are some great things coming for ECMMA!

9. I went to plenty of sessions, met new people, heard speakers I’ve only known by reputation, learned

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Top 10 Reasons Why I’m Excited about My First ECMMA Convention (Part Two)

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As promised, here is the second half of my list as to why I am so excited about attending the ECMMA Convention in Atlanta!

5. Seeing some of my music therapy, music education, and music performance friends. My favorite part of these types of events is getting to know new folks and reconnecting with old friends. Don’t tell, but I think I like it even better than the learning. It will be our little secret.

4. Finding new blog topics. Many times blog topics fall in my lap. A family asks me a

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Top 10 Reasons Why I’m Excited about My First ECMMA Convention (Part One)

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This June I’ll be attending my very first International ECMMA Convention. I’ve attended a regional convention a few years ago, but never one on such a grand scale. Here are my top ten reasons to be excited!

10. Finally getting to put names to faces of fellow ECMMA members. Having been a blogger with ECMMA for a while now I’ve “chatted” with various folks through the internet but have met very few in person. It will be fun to finally spend some face-to-face time with them.

9.

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