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.
For today’s blog in honor of #worlddoulaweek I’d like to share a list of things about me that I feel make me unique as a doula. You know why I became a doula but now it’s time to see how I use my special gifts and talents to provide the highest standard of support for you (my clients) and for all my fellow birth workers reading this who trust me as your mentor.
I am an excellent listener.
I am patient.
I am intuitive.
I accept your feelings, physical and emotional.
I support all of your feelings.
I want the best possible outcome for you and your family.
I can help you understand your choices.
I will present you with all the facts and options.
I can help you weigh the risks and benefits.
I will not make a choice for you or attempt to sway you with my beliefs.
I know when to let you be alone so you can do it on your own.
I can help you understand yourself so you’re more aware.
Last week I was challenged by Julie over at Serenade Designs to consider my favorite quote and write about what it means to me. I didn’t even have to think for more than a second before I pushed back my office chair, rolled across the floor to my bookcase and grabbed the small hand drum that contains my favorite quote. This small hand drum has been in my grasp since the 1995 World Congress of Music Therapy held in Washington D.C. On the hand drum is printed a quote from Dr. John Diamond the founder of the Institute for Music and Health which reads:
One day, well into the future,
Music will at last become
the Great Therapy.
And the drums of this present age
will then be acknowledged
as the first instruments
that helped Music
to ultimately fulfill
It’s long-anticipated promise.
Now, I’m not sure about you, but I see the words “music” and ” the Great Therapy” and I get pretty excited. What’s more exciting is that since 1995 we have gained a much broader awareness and in depth understanding of the applications of music as therapy across the entire spectrum of life. Originally, the author states, “one day, well into the future.” Well, 20 years the future is already upon us and we, as individual music therapists and collectively as a profession, are marching toward the light of day when this future is a reality. Each of us marches to a beat that provides us passion toward this ultimate goal of helping the world better understand the power of music and it’s role in healing and wellness. We hold a large part of the responsibility of bringing that beat back to the forefront of everyone’s awareness.
On his blog on music, John Diamond, M.D. has some interesting things to say about his approaches that rely on the use of music and arts for wellness, healing, and life enhancement. The goal of the enhancing well-being or holistic health in individuals and communities is one that music therapists may find beneficial to review within their own theoretical and philosophical approaches to music therapy. I personally find this holistic approach very useful in my own resource oriented music therapy practice especially how I integrate all of the creative arts when working with a population that is primarily “well”. See, at Creative Childbirth Concepts® pregnancy and birth are not viewed as illnesses to be treated, but rather are as a very normal and natural part of development for many people around the world. In fact, childbirth is one of the most universal experiences across humanity. For even if perhaps we never bear children ourselves, we were all at one time born. So, I’m thrilled when I find resources that challenge my understanding of music as therapy or music as a tool to unlock creativity and support multiple dimensions of wellness like psychosocial, spiritual, physical and emotional. When I was reviewing the information available on Dr. John Diamond for this blog post, I stumbled across one of his books that I can’t wait to explore (pictured here). I’m constantly teaching about the role of voice and song during pregnancy and the benefits lullaby at the time of birth. I was just asking the question to a peer supervisor recently about the clinical role of “love” and “motherly nurturing” in applications of lullabies. I do hope the text Music and Song, Mother and Love will expand my understanding of music and song in the context of mothering and love so that I can apply new understandings into music therapy for childbirth. I’ll have to post a review once I finish.
Book by John Diamond, M.D.
While the specific approaches at the Institute for Music and Health may not match everyone’s specific “definition” of music therapy, it is very important in the context of our discussions as music therapists that we are aware of how the holistic healing professions are using music. This way, we can continue to aspire towards the day in the (not so distant) future, when music therapists will be the ones who help show the world at long last that music IS the great therapy. These words remain a constant inspiration for me to learn, to integrate what others have learned, and to always be willing to redefine how music can be used therapeutically to support universal experiences like childbirth. So now you know how this quote inspires me as a music therapist. How does this quote inspire YOU? How can you help music fulfill it’s long anticipated promise to become the “Great 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
In my line of work as a birth doula, I get asked a lot of questions about very personal topics. Most of the time those questions contain the words: “cervix”, “contraction” or “baby”. But today, rather than revealing my client’s most intimate and urgent questions in preparing for childbirth, instead I offer you my reflections as a perinatal music therapist to the question, “why should I use music for childbirth?”.
Music is the most accessible and adaptable resource available to you for childbirth. Through music sharing platforms like Spotify you can search and share all types of existing playlists, create your own and even follow people (ahem), who can offer insight through expertise on what is the best music for various stages of childbirth. When I’m attending births my smart phone loaded with music, tablet, ipod backup and portable bluetooth speaker literally all fit in one hand. Accessible.
Music can be incorporated into any birth plan, pairs nicely will all childbirth techniques. I collaborate with couples like you to create the most customized and comfortable playlists for birth no matter what type of birth they have planned. As a music therapist, I provide guidance in making the best song choices from preferred and familiar music to shape birth playlists to suit birth plans and personalities while maximizing the therapeutic potential of the music to support birth at home, in hospitals or through cesarean section. Everyone’s birth rhythm is different. This is why the music you choose can and should reflect your goals for birth.
Music can shape the birthing environment. Recently, I asked an expecting mother to consider what she wanted her birthing space to feel like, sound like, and look like. She simply stated, “like my yoga studio.” Later that month as she labored with her professionally designed music playlists, her obstetrician noticed the music and stated, “it feels like I want to stay and do some yoga.” The music you choose, whether it’s your favorite upbeat ballad or a classical chamber selection will help communicate to your partner and assisting staff how you want your birthing environment to feel. So carefully choose the style, message and instrumental arrangements to reflect that personal feeling and mood.
Music will support physiological processes during birth to reduce pain perception, optimize hormone release and steady breathing. I was privileged to attend a birth where the mother, so calm and so peaceful, took deep, slow, controlled breaths and did not need to push her baby into this world. Instead, the power of her breathing and the rhythm of her pulsing contractions, very simply, very gently, guided her baby out. Her vocal and guttural instincts were validated through the singer and supported by her beautiful lyrical mantra. The rhythm of the music helped the mother’s body entrain and progress, to open and release her baby gently into this world.
Music will create unforgettable bonds with baby before and at the time of birth. As a whole brain stimulus, music is a window into great realms of creativity, self-awareness and healing. I’ve witnessed families experience the importance of prenatal sound together prenatally in music, making art, moving through the stages of grief and life and love; all initiated by a song. At the moment of birth the music can become part of your permanent memory landscape. A simple playlist of songs can help you revisit the memories at any time, rejoicing in the happiness or healing from difficulties that were faced in labor. Along with holding the space for the biological imperative of bonding after birth, music can also etch the vibrations of your family birth song in your minds and on your heart, forever. My first child had a carefully curated playlist and at the moment of birth we played a sweet duet called The Moment I saw You. My second child was born quickly and the only song I remember playing was Just Breathe. I’ll save my full birth stories for another blog but wanted to mention how memorable music at birth can be.
It’s been 10 years since my first birth and I still swell with emotion every single time I hear my child’s birth song playing.
If you’d like help designing an effective playlist of music for birth, contact me and we will get started today!
Book your birth music consultation with Kate Taylor, MA, MTBC and receive three customized playlists (a $150.00 value) to use for relaxation as you prepare for birth, as support to cope through labor and for rest in your postpartum recovery. Visit www.birthmusic.net or email email@example.com more information.