MAR Conference: Away we go to Pittsburgh

Last weekend I attended the MAR-AMTA Regional Conference in Pittsburgh, PA; for those who don’t know that’s the American Music Therapy Association Mid-Atlantic Region.  This was the third conference I’ve attended- last year’s regional was in Richmond, VA and the national conference this past November was in San Diego, CA! Conference is basically the opportunity to hear from other professionals in your region, network, attend sessions that provide some insight into what you are doing yourself, and of course be surrounded by people who actual know what your talking about when you say, “I’m a Music Therapist.”

The hotel accommodations, although appearing to be clean and refined, had more problems than the surface revealed.  Not more than an hour after check-in did the toilet begin spewing out buckets of water and pieces of … dare I say it?…. crap.  One morning when I got locked out of my room, I took notice that the ceilings in the hallway were dripping some brown goo, and our balcony had a gigantic random light ball on it… with no “on” switch?  I’m not sure whoever booked the hotel was thinking, or perhaps there was a surge on last minute conference registrations, but the hotel was not fit to “fit” a conference this large.  The rooms were small and cramped- O.K, so I understand that one session may be more popular than all the others, and that some people (like a few-as in 5), would have to sit on the floor or stand- NO! Every single session was jam packed, and at least 15-20 were on the floor or squeezing into the doorway to get a glimpse of the presenter and their holy grail- the PowerPoint presentation!  It was either hot, and sticky or someone would crack a window and all your sweat would freeze. Although the weather was drizzly and wet for most of the trip (with the exception of both rides there and back home), the conference soon proved itself to be worthwhile.

Sessions, Sessions, Sessions! – They were great! Although I obviously couldn’t be in 6 places at once during each concurrent time, I got all around good vibes from everyone, and of course I loved all the sessions I chose to attend.  Just to throw a few names around:

*Peter Jambel, who’s with the Baltic Street band in Brooklyn, NY gave an engaging presentation on his progressive Music Therapy program working with the Baltic Street Band (a band made up of his various clients that are diagnosed with various psychiatric disorders).

*A pilot study that was formed to give victims rescued from human trafficking an aftercare, a way to connect with one another, and build trust through music therapy.

* The Bethany House, located in NY state presented on a specialized group of adolescent girls that used various creative arts therapy techniques to build their self –esteem- including: chanting, drumming, art, and poetry.

*Kelly Meashey gave an interactive presentation on how vocalizing and making any kind of vocal sounds is therapeutic in itself because most of us don’t have to opportunity to use our voices.  Sing! Sing! Sing!
*Although I wasn’t a part of the experience- many students attended an interactive GIM experiential session.  Apparently the experience was extraordinary, and truly eye opening to the effects Guided Imagery can have on clients.

*Pediatric Music Therapy in a hospital- my aspiration.  Deborah Benkovitz talked about the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, various case studies of her clients, and techniques she uses for pain management, relaxation, and procedural therapy situations.

Now on to the fun stuff! Swing Dancing, Live Band Karaoke complete with a “do it yourself” sundae bar, a booze bar, and the infamous exhibition hall for all your musical goodies.  Did I mention to the hotel had a pool and Jacuzzi? –A+.  The only disappointment with extra activities was the conference proclaimed, “Internship smorgasbord” that consisted roughly of about 4 sites: Bring on the internship booths- that’s what the students come for!

So I would just like the leave you with a recording of a great activity that I picked up in conference.  It’s quickly becoming a favorite of many of the students at Naz.  It’s called “I.M.4.U.” You read it as the letters and numbers and it sounds like a love song.  This would be great to use with older children working on letters, and numbers, speech and language clients, and I think that older adults would eat it up in a group therapy session! That’s all for now. Thanks for checking back!

I-M-4-U S-I-M S-I-M
I-M-I-N-U U-R-I-N-2
S-E-Z-2-C B-B- U-N-I-C-I-2-I O
I-M-4-U S-I-M S-I-M

“Simply put, music can heal people.”



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Filed under Activities, Music Therapy, Student Life

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