Think of all the times you assess during the day. You assess:

  • A new resident in a senior living community.
  • The current status of an individual as you enter a room for a session.
  • The energy and needs of a group with which you are about to share music or lead an experience.
  • Your own energy and focus as you go through the day.
  • How people are responding to an experience/song.

The list could go on and on. Whether a formal assessment or just a mental note while you are in process, we assess much of the time.

6 things to do before you assess

But, before you assess you need to step back and do 6 things.

#1. Realize how you see them matters.

See the person and not the diagnosis. A diagnosis isn’t the person. It doesn’t define the person. Rather, it is a condition which the person is dealing or with which they are living.

Focus on what a person CAN do. It is easy to get into the trap of loss. Having a balance of both perspectives provides a more full picture of that person now and potential outcomes in the future.

#2. Be true to your training.

You are here because you are a music therapist or because you have an interest in incorporating music. To that end, assessing the music preferences and background of the person are part of your assessment intent.

However, asses what you are trained to provide. Your background will inform what needs to happen.

#3. A community that plays together stays together.

How you can facilitate connecting them to others with and through music?  A key word is “play”. When it is appropriate, a little levity, a little freshness, just plan old grooving with a song can go a long way to creating community.

#4. Remember good things come in small packages.

Sometimes assessments need to happen in a series of small chunks of time. Just be sure to complete the process within the designated time period of your profession and your setting for service.

When possible see the clients alone or in small groups. This allows you to focus on the person. Plus, for some living with dementia or other conditions, four or eight is a big group. (Yes, we need to keep educating folks to this.)

#5. Go where the current takes you.

Sticking to a script may be needed in research or in some settings. Follow the stories shared by the person can provide greater depth of information.

Sometimes life happens and our session needs to adjust. Energy can be high or low. Moods can be up or down.

Other times, a song or music memory resurfaces. Go with it!

#6. Make remarkable music together.

Making, sharing and experiencing music can and should be a part of the process. That is why you need to know, really know the music. (Yes, this is why I nag you about session planning. So you have actual time to learn new music!)

Yes, we will all have times we make mistakes, forget lyrics… We need to be secure enough that we can focus on those we are serving and not on the music.

Are you ready for your next assessment?

If you’ve considered these 6 items, you are well on your way.

Now, how about assessing your session plans? Be sure you know these 9 hacks.