COVID-19 Cancellations – COVID Music Therapy Ideas Ideas for Music Therapists Working from Home
by Annie Roberson, MT-BC
If you’re a music therapist, you’ve probably been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to feel the impact on your caseload for weeks to come. It can be discouraging to sit at home without your regular workload and schedule to maintain! Along with using this time off for rest and self-care, we’ve put together a list of COVID music therapy ideas and productive things to work on this week even if you can’t see your normal clients.
Prepare for Sessions
1. Explore Telehealth and Distance Options
Telehealth is not a viable option for all clients, but if you’ve ever been curious about remote music therapy, now is definitely the time to learn. Search social media for the hashtag #telemusictherapy to find some ideas, and be sure to share what you’re doing using that hashtag as well.
Music Therapy Ed is offering a free Telehealth Masterclass, and Rachelle Morgan from Soundscaping Source has been kind enough to put together a COVID Coping Kit for music therapists to use.
You might also consider ways to keep the music going with your community even if you can’t offer paid telehealth music therapy. Heart and Harmony is doing twice daily livestream music activities, and McKee Music Therapy Services is offering free online ukulele lessons to give you some ideas.
2. Write and Organize Session Plans
Though we’re not sure when we’ll be back to our typical schedules, we will get back to them eventually. If you have task analyses you’ve been meaning to write out or a particular session idea you just haven’t gotten around to fleshing out yet, now is the time to work on them! Consider writing out and organizing session plans to use once you are able to see clients again.
You can also search for session plan ideas from other music therapists to use in the future! Heart and Harmony regularly posts session plan ideas on our blog – feel free to browse through them and add them to your library.
3. Make Visuals
There is no session plan that can’t be enhanced by the use of visuals! Take a moment to consider how visuals can enhance your future sessions and get that laminator warmed up.
In addition to visuals for specific interventions and activities, consider adding some universal autonomy PECS to your toolkit.
4. Clean (Out) Instruments
If you’re a board-certified music therapist in America, you’re already familiar with infection control protocols per the Certification Board of Music Therapy’s Board Certification Domains, I(5) and have been regularly disinfecting your materials 🙂 Still, when was the last time your instruments – including the ones sitting in storage – got a thorough bath?
Take some time to thoroughly clean all of your instruments, then sort through your instruments and see which ones can be donated or rotated into use.
Build Your Business
1. Organize Your Business Systems
For business owners and private practice music therapists, you now have extra time on your hands to complete those administrative tasks you’ve been putting off. Can you find all of your files easily? Do you know what tasks need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually?
Do a check of your business organization systems and see what needs to be added and restructured.
Tip: Did you know that Google Drive offers HIPAA-compliant email and storage?
2. Plan Social Media Content
Look over your business’s social media presence and develop a strategy for the coming months. Are there videos you want to create, resources you want to share, or local businesses you want to connect with? Make a gameplan and create the graphics, videos, and copy you plan to use.
Resources: Try your hand at Canva for graphics, and Hootsuite for scheduling posts.
3. Make Your Website Accessible
Is your music therapy website accessible to screen readers used by people with visual impairments? Adding image descriptions to your website will not only make your website accessible to more users, it can also increase your Search Engine Optimization. Go through the media used on your website and add Alt Text describing the purpose of each image, ie “Annie Roberson MT-BC Headshot” as well as an image description – the more detail, the better!
An example image description for my own headshot might read:
“Annie Roberson pictured from the waist up seated on a couch. She is smiling at the camera while playing a guitar, wearing a black blouse with short sleeves and long curled brown hair.”
4. Write Blog Posts
If you are using a blog as part of your online marketing strategy, consider using this time to plan out your blogging calendar for the next few months. Some great starter blog posts might answer questions like “What is music therapy?” or “How can music therapy help stroke patients?”
Don’t feel like you have to write 10 posts all at once – even writing a bullet point outline and setting reminders to finish the post at a later date can take some work off of future you’s plate!
1. Complete Online CMTEs
Your certification deadline will not sneak up on you this year! There are plenty of online CMTE opportunities available for you to work on while working from home this week – we’ve gathered a list of our favorite online CMTE’s in this blog post.
You might also head to the Music Therapists Unite Facebook page and use the search bar for terms like “online CMTEs” to find resources that music therapists have already compiled. No need to create a new post asking for resources that are already compiled.
2. Organize Existing CMTEs
Good news – you finally have time to organize your CMTE credits and write those summaries you’ve been putting off! Gather your necessary documents, proof of participation, etc and head on over to the Certification Board for Music Therapist’s fancy updated website to get started.
3. Update Your Resume and CV
When is the last time you’ve updated your music therapy resume? Dust off that hard drive and crack those knuckles. Be sure to highlight conference involvement, committee experience, research, and presentations both in and outside of the music therapy.
If you were scheduled to present but had your presentation canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, still include your presentation on your resume – just add an asterisk with “canceled due to COVID-19 outbreak.” You deserve credit for the acceptance and preparation that went into your canceled presentation!
4. Seek Supervision
There are a lot of music therapists out there with a similar amount of time on their hands. If you’ve been considering seeking supervision for any reason, reach out to your music therapy mentors and see if they’d be interested in conducting video supervision sessions during this time. Offer to pay your supervisor or suggest an exchange of services if appropriate.
5. Read Music Therapy-Related Books
Just because you have a lot of downtime now doesn’t mean you have to spend it all churning out work! If you’re looking for some new reads and want to find something applicable to your clinical practice, now is a great time to get some serious reading done.
Your local library might offer digital books for rent using the Libby app or another service – call or check online to find what their social distance-savvy options are.
Heart and Harmony put together a list of our top reads for music therapists in 2020 along with a public Goodreads list. Feel free to browse the list and add your own suggestions!
Take care of yourself! Be sure you’re finding ways to stay social and active while practicing social distancing. Reach out to your peers and take care of your community. THANK YOU for the work that you’re doing for our field this week and every other week!
Hang in there music therapists! In the immortal words of Troy Bolton,
Much love and healthy vibes,