As a young child I loved to play in the dirt. That love has developed into a LOVE for gardening.

Gardening is a process. Finding colors and plants to combine ignites my creativity. Reading about square foot gardening and plant combinations informs my selections. It doesn’t happen over night. Plants grow to fill in space.

Where others see a lot of work, I see an opportunity to take out my frustrations while I till or hoe. Weeding has never been my favorite thing to do, but I find ways to make it tolerable.

Gardening connects me with others. I’m an odd duck that has my garden in the front yard. It affords me the chance to visit was neighbors walk by while I weed and water. It gives me something to discuss with other gardeners I meet.

Sharing the harvest, the products (the flowers and vegetables) I grow is a smile producer. Herbs and veggies can help feed my neighbors. Letting children pick some flowers brings smiles and giggles.

Dirt is part of gardening. It determines which plants will succeed.  Some plants like sandy soil. Others need constant moisture.  And, true to form, I end up wearing some of it when I work in the garden.

Gardening is not always a bed of roses. Master gardener, I’m not. I have lots of plants die. Bugs have eaten others. Trying to be organic, I’m off mixing concoctions to see what will save my plant and keep them away. Hail, heat and drought can end my efforts to produce beauty.

Take time to enjoy. Sit and read a book, sip your coffee. Empty the dregs from your cup on the soil. Take time to appreciate and to be.

The lessons from my garden are much like my experiences as a music therapist.

The dirt on growing as a music therapistHere is the “dirt” on growing as a music therapist (as I see it).

It is a process.

As music therapists we must be open to research informing and changing our practice. We continue to learn about those we serve. We need to find the correct support and the proper mix of interventions for each of person. Sometimes the addition of a particular song or instrument in a session lets beauty be created. And, each of those people needs their space to fill.

It is a lot of work.

From our first lesson as a child throughout our life, our life as a musician needs to grow and develop. We must continue to work on expanding our repertoire.

It can be a lot of work hauling instruments, cleaning instruments, charting, planning,…. It is WORK!

And the weeding. Weeding out the songs that no longer serve our clients. Weeding out the broken instruments. Weeding out the clients we are not meant to serve.

We aren’t meant to be master gardeners for all populations, a one stop service for all. Let’s be honest – we become specialized. Sure, we can change our specialty, but we DO tend to specialize in a few (or one) area.

It is connecting.

We work with people. We are in a therapeutic relationship with them. (Read this as: We are connected.)

It is also helpful to connect with other therapists, other musicians, others with passions similar to our own.

In many ways, life is about connections. (I’ll save that conversation for another day.)

There is a product.

There may not be something a person physically carries away as a product from a session. The product is the satisfaction of meeting a goal, developing a skill or whatever outcome is desired.

Dirt and rose beds…

Schlepping instruments and cleaning instruments isn’t for the faint of heart. Just like other health care professionals, we get sneezed upon, vomited on, yelled at, and punched.

Those of us working in eldercare are asked how we deal with death, the declining health of our clients, or something else person views as difficult.

We know the right dirt care will bring moments of progress, smiles, laughter, and even tears. We know it is about quality in and around the moments of life.

Take time to enjoy.

We know it is important to stay connected to our love of music.We all know it is important to practice self-care. Take some time to sip and really taste that cup of coffee, to enjoy that note, to take pride in your work. Consider this essential advice for the gardener:

“…grow peas of mind, lettuce be thankful, squash selfishness, turnip to help thy neighbor, and always make thyme for loved ones. ” ~Author Unknown

The essence of the dirt on growing as a music therapist is this:

  • Continue to grow your knowledge and skills.
  • Do your best for those you serve.
  • Be a master of a few and not the many.
  • Connect with others. Ask for and offer support to them.
  • Make time for yourself and those you love.