Session planning is one of my favorite things about being a music therapist.
I love the process.
We start out with a client need and corresponding goal. Then we use our creativity to see how we can address that goal musically.
I love everything that goes into that process – writing original songs for my younger clients, learning new pop songs for my tween clients, finding books that work well for a singeable story, creating visuals.
It’s my jam.
But sometimes I do get stuck during my session planning. I know I have a certain session in the upcoming week and just can’t think of new musical experiences to bring in. Ever happened to you?
Fortunately, since the dawn of my career as a music therapist (11 years ago!) I have done one thing that has helped saved me time AND boost my creativity when it comes to session planning.
I write down and save all my session plans.
Sounds simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve jotted down a session plan on a post-it note and then never saw it again after that session.
Now I make it a point to type up the plan for each session I led at the end of the day. I then save each plan in folders organized by population (more about this in my online video course Tune In To Teens).
This method helps me in two ways:
First, the next time I plan to see that individual client or group (which could be the next day or the next month) I can go back and remember what I did with them in the past. This avoids repetition of the exact same songs if that’s not therapeutically necessary. This also helps me remember what songs or musical experiences I haven’t used with them in a while that I could bring back.
Second, If I get to the point with an individual client or group where I feel like I’m in a creative rut, I can look back at past musical experiences I’ve used with that client population. This ALWAYS triggers my memory of songs or musical experiences that I’ve forgotten about that I can bring back.
Here’s a great example.
I provide group music therapy services for tweens and teens through a program called Friendship Circle. A few weeks ago some of the group members were having trouble with flexibility if the schedule was changed or if they had to attend a session in a different room.
As I was looking back through my past session plans for another teen group, I saw that I had facilitated a musical experience where I taught them a rap called “Be Flexible.” I taught them the rap about ways to be flexible and asked them to insert specific ways they can be flexible in different situations.
I brought that musical experience in the following week for the tweens and teens and it worked so well. Just a quick glance back at some previous session plans helped jog my memory and I was able to bring in a musical experience that perfectly targeted the clients’ needs at that time.
Hope this little tid bit helped!
(Be sure to check out Tune In To Teens – course participants get a PDF of the “Be Flexible” rap with lyrics and instructions, as well as an MP3 with the looped hip hop back beat. Plus TONS more ~ check it all out here.)
Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net