One semester in…

Here are some things I learned this semester from my classes:

Guitar:

I can’t play bar chords. But, I can play and sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in front of 15 older adults successfully, which was my final exam. p.s. when I was done one of the gentlemen told me “Judy would be proud.”

Special Education:

Teachers have a hard job. (I really already knew this, but having a night class half-filled with tired teachers confirmed it.)

There are 3385 administrative and legal hoops to jump through for any special education need for a child, followed by 952 pieces of paperwork. Despite this (or because of it), the United States by far has the best, most progressive special education legislation and procedures in the world. I read an article about learning disabilities in Japan and to this day, teachers believe the reason for the learning disabilities is their poor teaching skills, not a cognitive deficit in the mind of the child.

Music Therapy:

I could write a year-long series of how much I’ve learned about music therapy, so I’ll just stick with a few things…

We are hard-wired for music. Our brains have specific areas that comprehend melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, duration, pitch, and tempo.

Mother-infant bonding creates crucial pathways in an infant’s brain that cannot be created in any other way. Mothers, sing to your babies.

The reason that music helps so much in the field of mental health is because it is a normal activity that draws people back into reality. Music is a temporal art. It’s not like a painting where you can look at it, leave, and come back. To listen to music, you have to be in the moment. And that is important for someone who isn’t grounded in reality.

A music therapist can change physiological processes in someone by matching their breathing/heartbeat/blood pressure/etc. in the tempo of a song and then slowing the tempo, thus slowing the breathing/heartbeat/blood pressure/etc. This lowers anxiety, stops panic attacks, helps with respiratory, and is much cheaper than medication.

Musical Response Stimulation is a method used with people who have lost the ability to speak (stroke, Parkinson’s). In this method, the music therapist will use “overlearned” verbal interactions, such as “How are you?-I’m fine” or “Silent night, holy ____” in song form. Because the responses in these interactions are so common, the client may respond naturally in song form – and SPEAK.

For a music therapist working in Hospice (where I am focusing), they must learn to be in the moment, because it may be the client’s last.

Sometimes the only result a music therapist may get during a 30 minute session is one smile at the very end.

And finally,

I LOVE MUSIC THERAPY!

Here are some things I’ve learned as a second-time college student who’s lived in the real world:

Life is not as dramatic as it was the first time around.

I still procrastinate, but the meaning of the word has changed.

I don’t know how I did college the first time around without a laptop and Google.

This generation of undergrads is addicted to their phones. Like, seriously addicted.

The food on campus is terrible. I’ve vowed to myself never to eat there again.

I’ve gotten really good at using transition words, such as nevertheless, moreover, and furthermore.

BS isn’t necessary when you actually know what you’re talking about.

Skipping class is wasting money. A lot of money.

Theater majors are the same no matter what year it is.

Professors seem more like friends than superiors. But I still highly respect them.

I fit in tremendously with my love of Harry Potter. Holy crap, the first Harry Potter movie came out when I was a freshmen in college.

I feel old. But apparently I look young. The average age people think I am is 24. Must be the bangs.

So this is what having experience feels like. It’s kinda nice, finally.

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