Stuck in a rut? …REALIZE what you’re ACTUALLY doing

Once routine becomes comfortable, it can easily turn into what may feel like a “rut”.

In regards to music therapy, have you ever asked yourself, “what am I doing?”.

Take a step back, take a look at what you’re doing from an outsiders perspective. Step outside of what you’re doing in the moment and really allow yourself to see what’s going on.

A personal anecdote: I run three, 1 hour long, adult groups per week, comprised of clients ages 18-46 with mild to severe developmental/physical disabilities. Some goals I have set for the group include autonomy/independence, personal self-expression through music and/or speech, communication with peers, normalization, and overall quality of life.

I find myself singing the same songs over and over again because of client preference, or asking the same questions again and again because that’s how the clients and I communicate best…this begins to feel like a “rut” after 6 months (or more) of routine groups.

Recently in a group, one client was playing piano, another had chosen the song, capable clients were singing, and each individual was smiling. I took a step back (literally and figuratively). I looked “in” on what I was doing from my own, outsiders, perspective.

These individuals were making independent choices; which instrument to play, which song to sing. They were communicating with peers; discussing the song choice, joking back and forth, listening to each other’s voices when speaking and singing. The act of singing provided an outlet for self-expression, allowing the clients to have their own voice heard as well as connecting the group as a whole.

Though my guitar was “leading”, I did not feel the need to act as a leader. The group had become cohesive. The music provided each person the opportunity to express him/herself and communicate with peers independently.  It appeared that group members had a sense of autonomy and normalization that they may not have the chance to experience in other aspects of life, improving overall quality of life.

It’s this perspective, from the outside in, that keeps us routine junkies in check. Never let your mind wander from what the purpose is of each question, move, and sound in music therapy.