Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen… I give you… The HAPI drum.

Have you heard about the HAPI drum? If you have, great. If not… you have to check this thing out.  I’ve been shamefully hoarding it from my co-interns for the last month.  I’m constantly blown away by it’s sound, meditative abilities, portability and most   importantly- client responses to it.  It has great versatility between individual sessions and groups and is easily adapatble to all sorts of interventions.  I’ve been primarily using it for relaxation, imagery and bonding among group members.  It’s a wonderful tool to have in your cart and totally worth the investment.  The HAPI drum (pronounced ‘happy’) is made out of molded steel and comes in a variety of keys (I use the A-minor).  The slim model is much lighter than the original drum and is easier on the music therapists back.  It is struck with rubber mallets one at a time or simultaneously (I’ve seen it played with fingers but I don’t recommend it- ouch!).  You can find more information about the HAPI drums here:

I had a wonderful experience with a client who loves the HAPI drum. Here is their story.   

C is a delightful woman with a pleasant personality and an inviting smile.  She welcomed music therapy right away and spoke of how much she loved music.  After our initial session C had opened up about many family memories certain songs evokes, shed a few tears, and reminisced about her favorite childhood memories. 

When I came in for my follow-up session with C, she was out of breath; irregular breathing, very shallow.  I introduced the HAPI drum to her and said I thought it would be beneficial for us to do a deep breathing, relaxation exercise to help regulate her breath and bring her to a more relaxed state.  C took to the sound of the drum right away; she closed her eyes and entrained her breath with the drum and followed my verbal ques.  I noticed her rate of breathing slowing throughout the exercise.  At the conclusion of the intervention, she smiled and said, “Wow, that really works.”  She spoke slower and it was observably noticeable that her body and breathing had relaxed and normalized.  As part of the facilitation, I took C through some imagery.  At the conclusion of the session she spoke of vivid colors of red and gold she visualized.  She disclosed that the colors began to move in until they were the pattern on her favorite sofa at home.  The sofa sits in the middle of her house, and when family or friends come to visit, they all gather her around her in this common area.  We joked about how she was “the queen” sitting on this couch in the middle of the room.  She smiled and said how she could feel how the couch felt and how it felt to lay/sit on it and how it was so great to get out of the room for a while.  C said she would love to share the sounds of this instrument with her daughter… we made plans to record different sounds/songs during our next session.  As I was charting in the nurses station, C’s nurse came right over to me.  She said that while I was in C’s room, she was watching her vitals.  She noted excitedly that her heart rate and blood pressure decreased throughout our session and stabilized by the time I left.  She turned to me and another RN and said “that’s crazy how that works.”    

(all names and information have been changed to product client confidentiality)


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If At First You Don’t Succeed.

Let’s talk for a moment about the scariest things we can think of…. spiders? heights? the boogey man?… how about walking into a session with 30 brand new clients…with a flawless session plan… opening your guitar case, and realizing your A-string has totally kicked the bucket… and you have not a single spare.  You know that really uncomfortable feeling when the room is dead silent, and everyone is waiting for you to start… and all the while your brain is sweating trying to come up with a last minute plan of attack.

Yes, this happened to me. How did you guess?

“Take a chill pill! You totally got this.” That’s what I tried to tell myself as I rummaged through my collection of intruments.  But you know what?  I did.  

Music therapists have a little bit of a stigma attached to them.  We always have that shadow following behind us (yes, i’m referring to the guitar that proudly stands a good foot taller than us on our back).  It’s literally our life support in many cases (pun intended).  Now don’t get me wrong- the guitar is a wonderful, powerful tool that we utilize… but would it hurt to step outside of the box and explore other things we have to offer.  For new professionals and especially students this sounds TERRIFYING.  But trusting in our therapeutic ability AND in our musicianship is KEY.

Did I feel exposed and vulnerable without my guitar for 50-minutes? YES

Did it force me to step out of my comfort zone and explore some new ideas and techniques. YES

Did I crash and burn? NO!

Some lessons I learned:

  • Always carry a spare set of strings in your case. (Although I probably would not have had time to even change them- there is nothing like getting glared at by a group of older adults).
  • Challenge yourself to try something new- the results just might surprise you.
  • Trust in yourself and your abilities.  I think you’ll surprise yourself.
  • You may get WAY different reactions and outcomes from your clients by trying something non-traditional. Kimberly Sena Moore, MT-BC, talks about stepping outside of the rule book here

I hope my terrifying moment has encouraged at least one other to step out of the box ( I even pulled out my iPad- the ladies thought it was a riot!). If you try something new- let me know how it went! I’d love to hear your stories.

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