I Will Be Back in May!

Hello readers,

A huge apology that I have been away from my blog for a long time…!

Since the beginning of the year, my practice has been growing including a few temporary assignments, which is a very good thing! But the consequence is that my schedule is crazy and I need to keep my blog presence on a quieter side until May when my work schedule becomes more manageable.

As still a new business owner, I am learning a ton of things every day and want to share all with you when I come back to the blog this May!

Thank you for your support and see you again in a few weeks!

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Plant MT Advocacy Seeds for the Future

A question for you, music therapist colleagues– how did you come to know about music therapy for the first time?

I knew the term “music therapy” and the field has existed for a long time, but didn’t really know about it in a more concrete way until Side By Side- My First Music Therapy Moment happened.

Recently I had a chance to think about this question a little differently.

Do you think how many young students may know about music therapy as a career choice? Maybe a lot, but maybe not…

A few months ago, a local music store owner asked me if I am interested in presenting about music therapy for middle school students. Thompson School District in Loveland, CO has an integrated art program for K-12 students.  This optional program is for students who are passionate about learning through the arts including music.  So, I was invited to present on music therapy as a career for the students in the program.

My answer was:  Heck ya!

Music therapists encounter so many different situations to answer to this question “What is Music Therapy?”  Yet the question tends to come from adult audiences.  So, I was excited to share about my passion = music therapy with younger students.

They looked (and sounded) all excited to know about music therapy and participated in body drumming experience and also learned how some NMT techniques can be used for some conditions 🙂

Advocacy comes in so many different shapes. This advocacy opportunity was like planting “MT advocacy” seeds for the future. I will have another opportunity in spring to give a talk at a local high school. I hope these seeds will continue to grow somewhere and beget other seeds in turn!

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Speak Out For Your Passion – MT Advocacy

With the new blog design, you may find the subtitle says “January is a Social Media Advocacy for Music Therapy Month“.  I am so amazed that there have been so many wonderful blog posts about music therapy advocacy by music therapist bloggers– you can check all out here.

So, Music Therapy Advocacy– what is it?


Introduction: Advocacy –> Recognition –> Access

Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists have collaborated on a State Recognition Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this Plan is to get music therapy and our MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can more easily access our services. The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date, their work has resulted in 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011, and an estimated 10 bills being filed in 2012 that seek to create either a music therapy registry or license for music therapy. This month, our focus is on YOU and on getting you excited about advocacy.

But how exactly can I contribute to the “Advocacy”?

As for me, I am still new to the field and felt I do not have much to say that I have done something specifically for “Advocacy”.  But I recalled a blog post by Mundana Music Therapy (thank you!) for last year’s campaign saying “Advocacy = Attitude”.

Then I thought advocacy can happen at any time, any level through speaking out for my passion  = music therapy.

For the rest of this month, I will make some more posts about my thoughts and efforts on MT advocacy.

In the meantime, take this fun MT Advocacy Quiz and find out what type of MT advocate you are!







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New Year, New Blog Address!

Happy New Year to you, dear readers!

Some of you may have been wondering “Where is Megumi? Is she going to update her blog again?”, because I have been away from the blogsphere for the past couple of months…

I was overexcited by a full craze of #AMTA11 in Atlanta before Thanksgiving and then got sick when I came back home from another trip right after #AMTA11. So, December was a little tough for me just to keep up with work and all holiday preps.

Starting a new year, I came back to the blogsphere with new blog design and new blog address (www.MusicallyThinking.com).

I will soon start sharing my posts about Social Media Advocacy Month #MTAdvocacy, which many music therapist bloggers are excited about.

So, Stay tuned!

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Are you listening… with humility?

We just had the first snow blast of the year.  Here is the aftermath in our yard:

Luckily, our house and cars are still intact!  Come see us if you need firewood 🙂

Last weekend before the snowstorm hit the Front Range, I attended the Colorado Association for Music Therapy (CAMT) Fall Conference.  It was with a full of resourceful information and I had a great time with wonderful colleagues! A CMTE was offered by Deborah Spiegel on Dielectric Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and music therapy. Deborah demonstrated how to integrate music therapy with the four concepts of DBT: Mindfulness, Distress tolerance, Emotional Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

In the afternoon, I attended two presentations.  The first presentation was by a psychotherapist Veronica Rivera on cultural competency.  Veronica explained the importance of putting ourselves in other’s shoes to truly empathize with one another because we all have different cultures. The second presentation, “How to be successful in an interdisciplinary environment” was by our Denver colleague Mary Rose, and she emphasized the importance of being nice by considering what our colleagues’ needs are and interacting with them professionally but harmoniously to provide optimal cares for patients.

Each presentation topic was different but I found a common theme behind all presentations: Humility.

Humility is the concept of being modest.  It is without a concrete description of what it is and how we can have it. But for therapy professionals, it is a very important concept in everyday practice.

Why?  We cannot know what one might be feeling and thinking in the same way as she or he does.  However, we try our best to empathize with people to understand how they may feel.  In therapy, we listen to clients or patients so that we can best assist them in alleviating their conditions, whether they are physical or psychological.

In sessions, music therapists “listen” to clients’ needs through musical interactions.  Our “listening” approach may appear to be different in each case.  For instance, a client had a stroke and needs to rehabilitate his gait. In that situation, a music therapist “listens” to his gait pattern during gait training, including whether they can coordinate his gait patterns by entraining to the provided rhythmic cues. Here, “listening” means to observe and understand the clients’ conditions (i.e. impaired gait patterns). While “listening”, a therapist needs to be objective yet empathetic to understand what the potentials AND struggles of patients in recovery. On the other hand, when the same patient experiences depression at post-stroke and needs to find ways to express himself, a music therapist tries to “listen” to his inner voice by sharing and discussing a song that reflects or connects to his emotions.

In work situations, music therapists oftentimes can function as an outside resource who comes to see patients a few times a week. We need to collaborate with nurses, social workers, therapists, and other staff that provide non-stop patient care at the facility.  In that situation, music therapists need to quickly “listen” to their colleagues’ current situations and act accordingly.  “Listening” is quickly assessing the busy and chaotic work situation and fitting right in to perform one’s own duty. 

In many situations for us therapists, listening is an integrated act of “caring” for others. Humility helps us to listen and sincerely empathize with others.

Thank you to all presenters for a great reminder!

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Practice Privately for Public Speaking

Have you felt nervous about your presentation or any public performance? I used to easily feel nervous when any public speaking opportunities came up. It was funny because I am fine doing music therapy in a group setting (some situations can be quasi-public) or any public music performance settings, public speaking was not something I looked forward to. I was tired to being nervous, too, so tried to find ways to overcome my nervousness. As I am preparing for a presentation in a few days, here are some tips to prepare for a presentation in public:

1. Practice your presentation out loud at least 3 times
Steve Jobs, who was (sad to use the past tense…) a master of presentation to bring their new products with enthusiasm. His presentation was simple yet exciting. Behind his successful presentations, though, he was also famous for two full days of practice before the presentation.

For musicians, when a gig, concert, recital is coming up, there will be many rehearsals. Sometimes a dressed rehearsal requires to dress up as in the actual concerts 🙂

And time allows, I would recommend to practice once in front of somebody– family, friends, colleagues, or your children. They are “safe” even if you make mistakes, and can also give you straightforward feedback which you need before a big day.

2. Memorize your script
If you practice your script several times, you’ll probably memorize most of the things you want to say without focusing on memorizing the script. It doesn’t have to be perfectly memorized (otherwise memorizing becomes a task, not the presentation), but if you memorized key points, it definitely helps to organize your speech without relying on a written script. I used to practice memorizing a saxophone music and tried to play from any place in a piece to see if I fully memorized. The same thing can be done with the script.

3. Video or tape record yourself
I used to record my saxophone practice so that I could objectively check on my playing. If you don’t have anybody to provide feedback when practicing, this is particularly a useful method to check your speech style such as the tone of your voice, word choice, or body language (if you use video recording).

4. Rehearse against the clock
Talking in a limited time is not easy. But if you practice by timing how much you can spend on one PowerPoint slide or topic, you can feel you are in control of what you are doing.

Continue reading

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Side by Side– My First Music Therapy Moment

The first real blog post is the hardest, I guess– with what should I begin?

Making “the first” as the theme of my post today, I revisited the beginning of my journey to become a music therapist.

If you are a music therapist, you may have been asked at least once, “Why did you choose music therapy as your career?” Well, this is my story how I encountered my very first music therapy moment…

Almost seven years ago, I was a CNA in Bellingham, WA, working for a dementia unit in an assisted living place. I liked my job interacting with the residents and staff, and was off and on thinking about whether I wanted to go into nursing as my career or not. At that time, I recently moved to the US after studying in Canada for a couple of years, married to my husband, and many things were dramatically changing in a short period of time. Though I was a happy newly-wed and enjoying new phase of my life, there were many things to which I needed to adjust in a new environment.

One day I was assisting a resident with shower. She was a retired nurse in mid-seventies who developed mild to severe dementia due to possible Alzheimer’s disease. She often tried to wander in the unit, almost non-verbal, and her cognitive level were evidently declining. She also occasionally came out of her room to order all unit staff as if she was our head nurse. She was not refusing my assistance for showering, but I was struggling with letting her know each step for showering. She finally sat on a bench, so could started taking shower. I started humming a song “Side by Side”. Why was that particular song? Maybe because I was singing the song earlier that day with an elderly group at an adult day care and it was stuck in my head. All of the sudden, I heard her singing the entire song with lyrics! She even knew the verse which I didn’t know and we sang it together while she was taking shower. After all, she was clearly responsive and able to verbally communicate with me with no problems! It was a significant goose bump moment. I have known about music therapy, but did not know what it really is. Since then, I started thinking about possibilities to study music therapy. My husband and I had many nights and days talking about what is the best option for both of us if I want to study music therapy, because that led him to move out of his teaching job he just landed. With his selfless support and understanding as well as tons of encouragement from my family and friends, I decided to seek my career in music therapy. From that moment, I have been trying non-stop to absorb as much knowledge as I can to help me grow as a future music therapist. Last January, I became a board certified music therapist.

I am one happy and fortunate person who do what I love as my job. The greatest thing I learned through my music therapy training is not only to become a music therapist, but also the importance of believing in yourself. Regardless of what career goals you have, it is the most important asset you can develop through your experience.

How about your story? I love to hear about your stories about what brought you where you are now! And to my music therapist colleagues, if you are reading this post, please share your stories about how you chose your path to become a music therapist!

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It’s Official!


I am Megumi Azekawa, a Board Certified Music Therapist and Neurologic Music Therapist in “Valentine City” Loveland, CO. After the past few months of procrastination, I finally made it to my first blog post today! Here I would like to share with you in the community and beyond about news and resources I found relating to music therapy, my personal interests, and also my small discoveries in everyday life. My topics may go off on a tangent quite frequently (but probably it all connected at least in my mind :)– If that happens, I try my best to be reader-friendly as much as possible by quilting each piece of my stories together!

This past summer, I officially launched my music therapy practice, MusiClinic, and am finding something new every day not only through interactions with my clients and students, but also through searching for the least expensive yet professional-looking option for printing out my business cards to making new connections with local organizations and beyond.

It has been such a fun yet huge undertaking. Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed, but I simply enjoy the fact that I work for what I love — helping people through music therapy!

I will make my very best effort to post regularly. It may take a while for me to develop a new routine, but I will promise to come back next week!

Have a good Monday!

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