Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Reflections, 2011 Aspirations

It's that time of the year.  Christmas has come and gone and we're on the brink of the New Year.  While I indulge in Capital One Bowl Week, I take time to reflect on the year gone by and make plans and goals for the year ahead.

When I reflect on this year with CODA MTS, the most significant thought is that this has been a year of growth, despite the significant economic struggles of our area. At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, the Ingham Intermediate School District was forced to cut a number of programs, due to budget.  The CODA MTS contract was on the chopping block, but only very briefly, as the Special Education Director came forward and vouched for the importance of our program.  Unfortunately, the middle school ASD program we were servicing as a small portion of our existing contract was cut and the majority of those students transferred into classrooms at Heartwood School.  Luckily, those service hours were added on to the Heartwood music therapy/adapted music education program (contracted by CODA MTS), rather than being eliminated.

This fall, a series of circumstances led me to the decision to implement an Early Childhood Music & Movement (ECM&M) program and the perfect location for those classes essentially fell into my lap.  A true blessing!  I spent the fall preparing for the new program and I look forward to classes starting in a few weeks.

As I was working on preparations for the ECM&M program, I received a call from Clinton County RESA, expressing an interest in contracting bi-weekly services at their special education center.  A mere three weeks into the contract, they proposed increasing the contract to weekly services for the remainder of the school year!

I am so very grateful for all this growth and am thrilled others' are seeing the many benefits and rewards of music therapy.  As I look ahead to 2011, I am very excited to get the ECM&M program running.  It is my goal to have at least six full classes by the end of the year.  Additionally, I want 2011 to be the year I am finally able to make strides in implementing a NICU MT and/or pediatrics music therapy program in at least one of our local hospitals.  All the corporate "red tape" has made this a daunting challenge, but - I am putting it in writing - I will see progress with this task by this time next year!

Wishing everyone a safe and very happy New Year.  LET'S GO STATE!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a safe and very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

I have had a wonderful Christmas celebrating with family and friends.  Among my presents I received the following:

20 Maracitos, 20 Baby Bells & 12 ft. Parachute

Organza for scarves and a new sewing machine to make them.
Bean bags are another sewing project-to-be.
Let the Early Childhood Music & Movement fun begin!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ten Instruments to Satisfy Sensory Needs

With holiday gift giving on everyone's mind, perhaps a special instrument would complete your holiday shopping.  Instruments satisfy a variety of sensory needs.  Obviously, as musical instruments, they will all make some sort of auditory sound.  However, many of the following instruments also appeal to tactile/vibrotactile, visual, or some other sensory need.  In no particular order, here are some of my favorite sensory instruments.

1. Cabasa - Great for vibrotactile needs.  It can be used like an OT sensory brush by playing along arms, legs, back, etc.  I have also found that many students with autism are fascinated by the beads and being able to spin them around the base.

2. Rainstick - A traditional rainstick is constructed of cactus, which provides a very unique tactile experience.  Additonally, the feel of the seeds as they pass through inside tends to be calming for many. Also, there are a variety of children's rainsticks available, which feature a clear exterior and provide interesting visual stimuli.

3. Ocean Drum - This drum really does sound like the ocean, especially if it is held over your head.  The soothing sound of the ocean, combined with the vibrations and the visual appeal of the beads moving inside makes the ocean drum a triple threat.

4. Q-chord - A q-chord is equivalent to an electric autoharp.  It is played by pressing a button to create a particular chord and then strumming the finger plate.  Some advantages to the q-chord over the autoharp are that they don't require tuning and also there are song cartridges available, which make playing your favorite songs even easier.  I have found that many clients enjoy the vibration of the instrument and it is quite common for them to place their hands over the speaker as a means of receiving even more sensory input.  On the other hand, the strings of the autoharp provide a different tactile experience. 

5. Radiant Tambourine - One look at this instrument and you'll know why it made my list!  It's always fun to watch my students as they discover their reflection and the way the light reflects off the surface of the tambourine head.  I've even had severely visually impaired/legally blind students be able to visually track this instrument.

6. Gathering Drum - Gathering drums provide a substantial vibrotactile experience.  It is usually possible to even feel the drum through the floor!

7 & 8. Buffalo Drum & Paddle Drum - I like these drums because the way in which you hold each drum results in the vibrations actually traveling down your arm towards your core.  For some, this is too much stimulation, but others - myself included - love it!

9. Canary Sticks, Quack Sticks, Gobble Sticks, Etc. - I include these as sensory instruments because I have quite a few students with autism who carry "flappers" as a means of providing themselves with stimulation.  These instruments provide the same sensation, but also produce sounds and allow my students to successfully participate in the music.

10. Acoustic or Classical Guitar - Between the vibrations of the body, the movement of the strings and the many distinct textures, the guitar fascinates and satisfies many sensory needs with its widespread appeal.

Does my Top Ten match yours? What other sensory instruments would you add to this list?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Allow me to introduce myself...

My name is Kellee Coviak. I am a Board-Certified Music Therapist, a certified teacher of Early Childhood Music & K-12 Music, and the Owner/Director of CODA Music Therapy Services, LLC (CODA MTS).  CODA MTS is based in Lansing, MI and we specialize in music therapy/adapted music education within schools/special education; medical music therapy within hospitals, including NICU; and early childhood music & movement classes.  CODA is an acronym for our mission: providing Creative Opportunities for Developing Abilities.  Currently, we are only providing music therapy/adapted music education services, but my vision for the company involves expanding to include other creative arts therapies, as well.  For additional information about CODA MTS, I invite you to explore our website at http://www.codamts.com/.

Additionally, I do contribute to the Lansing edition of Examiner.com as the Lansing Music Therapy Examiner.  You may find articles I have posted on there of interest. 

My intention for this blog is to use it to expand public knowledge of and as a resource for creative arts therapies, particularly music therapy.  I encourage your active participation through comments, discussion and questions. Welcome to the CODA community!