Regular readers of my blog know that many items influence my posts. By providing you these reflections I hope to share more about myself and my profession.

Last week I participated in the American Music Therapy Association Midwestern Region Conference. Held at the University of Iowa, it was a wonderful gathering of people from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado Wyoming, and Montana along with some guests from other states.

Our theme, captured in the logo shared here, was: “Music Therapy Advocacy: Research, Recognition, Reimbursement”. Many of the sessions which I attended had an advocacy theme. Looking back, here are five take-aways from this conference.

1. Being a presenter is rewarding work. Friday morning I presented my first music therapy continuing ed course along with Rachelle Norman, MA, MT-BC on “Ethical Issues in Private Practice”.  Our presentation dealt with the unique ethical dilemmas music therapists may face being both a clinician and a business owner.  Part of advocating for our clients involves our realizing the significance our actions have in the lives of our clients. Our Code of Ethics helps bring the public conformity of expectation. Presenting helped me to grow as a professional and to strengthen my knowledge in a way just as important as being a participant/learner.

2. Smiling during challenges is easier with friends. I enjoy smiling and have often read of the power of a smile. Two experiences brought this to mind during this conference.

  • Having Rachelle to co-present made it much less work & much less stress for me. Having receptive participants made me feel relaxed.
  • Sirens sound my last night there. Many hotel guests gathered on the ground floor in p.j.’s. While we refrained from singing, we had a special chance to visit for a few minutes.

3. Memories can be made of many things. Again, this is something I know on a personal level. For me, our conference has lots of memorable moments. The sirens previously listed were one. Other included:

  • Seeing and hearing the University of Iowa Afro-Cuban Drum and Dance Ensemble.
  • Participating in a  town hall meeting discussing important issues for our profession.
  • Having breakfast with AMTA President Mary Ellen Wylie.

4. There are some amazing, giving people in the world. Conference participants were invited to a reception by West Music at their Distribution Center. The people at West were so welcoming and sharing. I met some wonderful people too numerous to list who shared stories and experiences. Having time to reconnect with classmates and one of my favorite professors from my college days is such an honor.  Presenters at all the sessions I attended provided some gem or thought for me to take home. And, my family was willing for me to attend even though it meant missing some of their important events.

5. Coming home is wonderful. As much as I relish being with other music therapists, I love my family. Being able to hug them, to look directly in their eyes and to share reflections on our week is a true joy.

What are the things you take-away from conference experiences? Share them in the comments below.