They’re called CMTEs and for many music therapists these letters are the gold standard for continuing education. 100 CMTEs are required to renew board certification status every five years. After re-certifying three times now, I’ll tell you those five years pass too quickly! As a growing field of allied health professionals, music therapists are constantly seeking innovative ways to earn credits while learning about the newest, most effective applications of music therapy.
If I had to name just one thing that made my daily life as a music therapist easier it would have to be music, of course. Music is a resource that can enhance most experiences, particularly childbirth. As leaders in health care, music therapists have demonstrated how accessible and enriching music can be for improving quality of life, rehabilitation and healing. As a doula and music therapist, I’m entrusted to bring the music to the birth environment. So every time my phone beeps or buzzes in the middle of the night, I make sure my bluetooth wireless speaker is charged, packed and ready to help deliver the most precious cargo in my birth bag….the music.
First let me say, music for birth can come in many forms. I use my voice, my body, and at times various instruments through live musical interactions whenever appropriate, which can be often. Yet, most times during the labor and delivery stage, music enters the space as pre-recorded playlists. To deliver this experience I rely on a few important pieces of equipment. As a music therapist, the days of lugging around a giant case book of CDs, and a boombox bungee corded to my instrument cart are over. Music is more portable and higher quality than ever before. I use my mobile phone/ipod or tablet and streaming or downloaded music to organize and execute the applications of music. But without a speaker, much quality and application may be lost. So for the birth worker, music therapists and parents out there who may be seriously considering adding music to your birth plan, I’ll share a few specifics about the speaker I’ve had the most success with and a few reasons why it may be a useful tool for you to shape your birthing experience.
It has just the right balance between size and sound and is an excellent travel speaker with charging capabilities, aux and USB ports. The website boasts 7 hours of charge time but honestly I’ve used it for nearly 10 without having to recharge. I do notice the bass sound to diminish a bit as the battery life is low. Usually I carry a USB led charge pack with me and as soon as that is connected, the sound quality seems to return to normal until I can fully charge again.
The Sound Kick is designed with two 2.3 inch custom drivers and a XKICK™ chamber that pulls out of the back and supports the speaker. The expansion of this rear compartment at first glance appears to be a kickstand yet it serves a more important function to enhance the lower-frequency sound giving it a much fuller range than other portable speakers.
I recently saw the Bose Sound Link Mini in action at a outdoor party and was impressed with it’s ability to cut through the party volume. However it seemed to almost challenge conversation at times. I think I might explore it due to it’s extremely compact size. Yet, I hesitate that speakers of notable brand and portable mini size “disappear” more easily from the unit or birth place if left unattended. I tried for years to love the Sony SRSBTX300/BLK Bluetooth Wireless Speaker. But alas, I had to leave the relationship. The kickstand kept falling when on the hospital tray would wheel and it would turn off the speaker. The Sony bluetooth reception was spotty resulting in interruptions like a skipped CD and the weight is rather heavy for a birth bag. Doulas, as you know, every ounce counts when packing a bag to use while hauling a birth ball in tow. The size of the SoundFreaq Soundkick really is convenient and it’s weight is ideal.
Music Therapists, you’ll also love how light and compact the Soundfreaq speaker is.
I’ve always been able to discreetly set it up on the window ledge or bedside table at birthing centers. I have even slipped the speaker and ipod into the pocket of a dad’s scrub attire as they headed into an emergency c section birth (with his permission of course). I love the variety of reactions I get when I pull out the speaker in prenatal visits too. In fact, one time during a prenatal education class, I pulled out the speaker, popped up the sound chamber a husband reacted with wide eyes and nervously asked, “what is that?!” He admitted he was scared it was a contraction stimulator and that I was planning to hook him up to it for childbirth education class. (Apparently, he’d watched too many youtube videos). Needless to say, he was relieved when the speaker started playing his wife’s favorite Latin tunes, instead of stimulating contractions on his abdomen.
Often when I set up the speaker, I get some oohs and ahhhs as well. Not just because of the speaker’s quality of sound, but it’s unique in aesthetics. You see, I have branded my business with two colors: a bright fresh green grass color and a soothing teal/aqua. Conveniently for me, the speaker comes in these amazing chromatic colors called Ocean (seen here), Sunset and Twilight. Nurses have come to recognize my speaker in the birth rooms and associate it the effects of the music therapy assisted childbirth. It just so happens that colors also affect our mood, memory and help with identity branding. So browse the variety of colors and styles offered by SoundFreaq speakers and see what fits your brand and the mood you wish to create in your birth place.
So whether you’re a music therapist, a doula or a couple preparing for birth, you can add music to your birth bag or tool kit with a small portable bluetooth speaker like the Soundfreaq Soundkick and a mobile device that streams music. Please consider that you may need some additional support in executing or implementing the most effective application of music in the birth environment. Certainly, you, your partner or your clients will be able to help assess some good musical choices. Ideally your preference is key to music being supportive and relaxing for you or doula clients. But with the collaborative guidance of a well trained and experienced music therapist, your ability to apply music effectively and your confidence in using music for birth will greatly be enhanced. Stay tuned for several more posts in response to Serenade Design’s Music Therapy Blogger Challenge and more in an upcoming series on creative resources for childbirth. Kate
Music in the operating room and a doula by your side can make your c-section calmer, more memorable and family centered. Although brief, this article mentions the importance of music in the operating room for creating a calm, relaxed and patient centered environment. As a music therapist, I’ve witnessed the power of music during transformative moments like this. Imagine: you are a first time mom, about to go into the OR for a c section. You are anxious about surgery, what to expect as a parent. You do not know what to expect. However, you know that your partner is by your side. You know that your doula is your family advocate. You hear some music begin to play as you are wheeled into the operating room. The music is familiar. You know this music will support your emotions and physiology. You have practiced relaxing to this playlist before. You know what song is next. You and your music therapist designed this playlist and used it to prepare for birth. Music therapy was used to prepare for this exact moment when you become “mother.” You breathe deep and the cello plays andante. A new life enters the world. His cries echo with the female voices chanting. A drum beat mimics his beating heart.
This moment, the music, the baby, the parents: all bonded together. I’ll be so bold to hope that through an expansion of family centered c-sections or gentle c-sections like the ones mentioned in the Fox News link here, that perhaps a new level of mindfulness may come to those staff involved in surgical births also. A new level of awareness of environmental music therapy perhaps. I believe in the power of music at the moment of birth, the prenatal experience that promotes bonding through creativity and using music therapy to process fears, address anxieties and embrace the transformative power of birth.