Trains have left tracks in many and varied ways in my life including session planning. Fact is there are a lot similarities between train travel and our sessions.
What do trains have to do with music session planning? Let me take you on a mini trip into the answer.
The train left its tracks
During my young years living outside Chicago, I have memories of boarding a train with my mom to travel to Kansas to see family. I loved those trips as I didn’t have to sit still in the same way I did on car trips. (And, this was before there were seat belts and seat belt laws. ) I loved the click clack and the sway of the train. It was hard to be patient and wait to board.
When I was completing kindergarten, my mom had managed to get us tickets for the following fall to see the filming of Bozo the Clown in Chicago. I was so excited! We moved to southern Indiana as I started 1st grade. The morning of the trip the fog was heavy. The train was delayed so much so we ended up not going. That moment marked a transition from a little child believing all our dreams come true to one who realized there are sometimes barriers to those dreams.
In the early 1990s my husband and I took a train trip from Winter Park, FL to Boston, Massachusetts. We had fun planning the details of the trip, leaving space for exploring and hiccups along the way. Our first train was so delayed to the point we missed our connection. However, it meant a free meal in DC and an upgrade to a first class sleeper car. (Sometimes delays turn into a good thing.) Our plans had left enough room for flexibility for us to have a great time.
Thought track 1: Guides from my train experiences
Many questions can be formed from my experiences. There are no single right answers to these questions across all groups or situations. Yet, these 3 guides are worthy to consider.
Guide 1: When is the best time for you to start “onboarding” things into your sessions?
Guide 2: How do you transition in your sessions?
Think about how you assist new clients into a groups. Consider how you transition in and out of sessions. How about the transitions during sessions. Are they done in a way that benefits the clients? In a way that makes the best use of your time together?
Guide 3: When do you need to get onboard making those plans?
Thought track 2: Roles in a session
Early in my carrier I thought I was the conductor and the clients were the passengers. The therapist guides the client towards the desired goal.
But I’ve learned those roles aren’t so pure. Being responsive in the moment means a need to take a side track. It may mean allowing the client to take a larger role. Maybe your clients would benefit by helping select songs or experiences for an upcoming session. Ever let a client conduct an ensemble?
Thought track 3: Personal and community tied history
Consider sharing memories of rail travel or work. Each locale will have its own rail history. Gather a few facts to help structure the conversation. For example:
I live about the half way point between Kansas City and Denver. In October 1867 the Union Pacific rail line reach from the east to us. It wasn’t until 1870 until rail service to and from Denver was possible. The first transcontinental railway, completed in May 1869, ran from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California.
Older area folks talk of a time when one used a narrow gauge rail to get from one small town to another. Sadly, passenger rail service is no longer an option here. Yet, we do experience freight trains traveling through with loads of coal, grains and other good.
Concerned about poor memories? Create an original story.
Any model train enthusiast in your group? Let them shine.
Of course there are train songs.
Here are a few to get you on track.
- I’ve Been Workin’ On the Railroad
- Nine Hundred Miles
- Down By the Station
- This Train is Bound for Glory
- Gentle On My Mind (Glenn Campbell)
- Folsom Prison Blues
- Petticoat Junction
- Last Train to Clarksville (The Monkees)
- Mystery Train (Elvis Presley)
- The Gambler
- Chattanooga Choo Choo
- Wabash Cannonball
- King of the Road
- Peace Train