Saturday, June 26, 2010

Could iTunes & Amazon be dealing...drugs?

I read a very interesting article that talks about MUSIC being used to get "high." The effects of "digital drugs" have been compared to the chemical effects that actual illegal drugs have on your brain.

There is an I-Doser software available that allows you access to different tracks like "peyote," "alter-x," and "first love." It works on the idea that on biaural beats in which two different frequencies are played. The article I read explains, "The mind creates a hum that's a balance between the two."

There is a lot more interesting information about I-Dosers in an article put out by the Seattle Times. The I=Dosers software is available on, and tracks can be found on iTunes and Amazon.

There is a lot of skepticism out there about whether these biaural beats can actually have chemical effects on your mind. But all the same, there is a lot of concern out there. Some are worried that digital drugs can be the gateway to illegal drugs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday five: singing traditional hymns versus gospel

I loved my experience in hospice. I'm not one that knew much about spiritual music when I went in, but I sure know a lot about it now. In fact, I really love some of the songs my patients enjoyed. One of the biggest challenges in hospice was understanding how to sing in a style that was authentic to the music your patient preferred. Here, I discuss singing in a traditional church style versus singing in a gospel style (which can be difficult to master).

Traditional hymns use a classical, church-singing voice. Everything you see on the sheet music is taken very literally.
1. No note embellishments. Straight-forward melody line. Limited vocal range.
2. Solemn, majestic tempo.
3. Use a very smooth voice, sing notes cleanly and exactly as they are on the page.
4. Play rhythm as it is written.
5. When playing guitar, finger pick or use a straight strum.

There are many different styles of gospel music, so I will speak very generally.
1. Notes can be embellished, repeated, etcetera, etcetera. Do almost whatever you want to make the melody "flashy." Uses a wide vocal range.
2. Songs are animated and enthusiastic!
3. Again, you are free to do almost anything you want with the melody. Add some "whoa's" and "oh yeah's" anywhere you see fit. Repeat, repeat, repeat words from the melody when you can. Many families that listen to gospel even create their own verses that are unique to that family. Learn them or create some of your own. Good opportunity for song-writing, p.s.!
4. Rhythms can be lengthened, shortened, widened, flattened, etcetera, etcetera.
5. Use mostly down-strums on the guitar.

Theses examples are extremes: either very traditional, or very gospel-like. Remember that different religions can be anything in-between. The best thing you can do is listen as your patients sing along. Take clues from them as to how they prefer to hear their spiritual music sung.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Again, self-concept...but now we have a plan!

Man, I suppose I've been doing a lot of posts on self-concept lately. It seems only natural because we've had some patients lately at the BHC that really need to address this.

I am posting a plan today that utilizes the Who I Am video posted yesterday. This is a plan that I prepared for the BHC for a 50 minute session. As you read it, it no doubt sounds a little silly. Rather than posting a task analysis like normal, I wrote down talking points for my own personal use. One thing I've really been working hard on at my internship is flowing smoothly between activities. No awkward jumps in conversation. Writing these talking points really helps me in this. In the left column you'll see what the activity is. Most of it is song discussion. There is also a worksheet (that I discuss below), a video discussion, and Who I Am sign making (a little bit of crafts).

There is a worksheet (which I do not have available on the computer) full of positive fill-in-the-blank statements. You can definitely make one of these yourself. Positive affirmation statements might be:
I'm really good at_____________________________.
I look by best when_____________________________.
My best personal trait is_____________________________.
My friends like me because I_____________________________.
The worksheet I used had 20-25 of these statements.

One more important thing... this plan was used for a group of girls. If you have boys in your session, rethink the songs used for song discussions and some of the talking points that I listed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who I Am: video for self-concept

I love this video. It is great for addressing self-concept with adolescents. Questions we typically ask include:
+What signs did you see in the video and who was holding them?
+Were you surprised by any of them? (Usually kids are shocked that the gothic girl could be an honor student)
+If you had a sign to describe who you are, what would it say?
+If you had a sign for Who I Am with family, friends, and alone, would they be different?
+What would they say and why do you think these signs would be different?