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Episode 143: Taryn McKinnon

Taryn McKinnon of Music Together of Kitchener-Waterloo is a music therapist with extensive experience working with children.

On Bonn Park with Sara and Marshall, McKinnon shares insight into her special interest in speech and language development, her combined love of music and passion for working with kids, and her belief that all children are musical.

Episode 143: Taryn McKinnon

Sara: Welcome to Bonn Park.

Sara: I'm Sara Geidlinger.

Marshall: And I'm Marshall Ward.

Taryn: And I'm Taryn McKinnon.

Taryn: I'm a music therapist and Music Together teacher in KW.

Taryn: And I'm here to talk with Sara and Marshall today.

Sara: Taryn McKinnon, thank you so much for joining us today.

Taryn: Thanks for having me.

Taryn: I'm excited to be here.

Sara: We're very excited to talk to you.

Sara: And we connected from a past guest, Ian Whitman.

Taryn: This is true.

Sara: I think Ian was the season opener for our Season 2.

Sara: And we were very excited to get to know him and hear some of his music.

Sara: And immediately after, he said, I know who you have to talk to.

Sara: He sent us your contact info.

Sara: And then, of course, with COVID, there were a few hiccups, and we're finally meeting here.

Sara: We are a quote unquote meeting by Zoom today.

Sara: So why don't you tell us a little bit about your work?

Sara: This is a fascinating field that you're in, and I have to imagine, incredibly rewarding it is.

Taryn: I think I'm pretty lucky.

Taryn: I have a lot of fun at work most days.

Taryn: I'm a music therapist first and foremost, I think, and that's a very broad profession.

Taryn: There are music therapists who work in a lot of different places, long term care, mental health, palliative care, childbirth, like the prison system.

Taryn: I work exclusively with children.

Taryn: I do a lot of work with children in the vein of speech and language development.

Taryn: That's kind of my area of interest, my area of specialty at this point.

Taryn: So, yeah, I've come to that.

Taryn: And I work generally with children under the age of ten.

Taryn: And I see them in their homes.

Taryn: I see them in their schools, and I've seen them in group settings as well.

Taryn: And then when I take that hat off, I'm a Music Together teacher.

Taryn: And so four or five times a week, I get to make music with amazing families and their young children.

Taryn: And it's just like a dance party, making music with a bunch of people who don't mind making animal noises and being a little bit silly and having fun with their kids.

Marshall: Is that similar to art therapy in the way that somebody does an arts degree, a fine arts degree, and then they go off to do a program, in music therapy.

Marshall: Graduate work after you've done a music program.

Taryn: They're both, so I have an undergraduate degree from Wilfrid Laurier.

Taryn: I have a four year honours, Bachelor of Music Therapy with a major in Psychology after I finished there.

Taryn: They have since added a master's program to Laurie.

Taryn: And there are two options.

Taryn: You can go into the Masters program with an undergraduate degree in music therapy, or you can go into the Masters program.

Taryn: It's a two-year program then with a related, like an allied degree.

Taryn: So you're coming in with some kind of knowledge that's going to be applicable to you in your music therapy career.

Taryn: And in that one year, you kind of get the hyper focus.

Taryn: There is a PhD.

Taryn: There are PhD programs, but not here in the city.

Sara: I have a question about the speech and language portion.

Sara: I mean, sure, just as a human who likes music, I find it's so easy to learn a little song in another language, a nursery rhyme or something else, or we've all seen gosh, I wish I remembered her name right now.

Sara: I almost want to Google it so I don't screw it up.

Sara: There's a Dutch singer who has a debilitating stutter, and when she sings, she does not have it.

Sara: And it is shocking.

Sara: And her voice is gorgeous.

Sara: And I, of course, hadn't thought about her for years and years until right now.

Sara: And I can't think of her name at the moment.

Sara: But music can do these things for us.

Sara: How can we learn little melodies?

Sara: And why can we do these things when we can't normally or we don't necessarily speak the language?

Sara: Right.

Taryn: That's a super great question, and I hope I can do the answer justice.

Taryn: There's a few reasons.

Taryn: One of them is music is something that goes all over your brain.

Taryn: So speech is generally generalized in one half of your brain.

Taryn: And they follow this with functional MRIs.

Taryn: They can see what lights up when you're talking to someone and then what lights up when you're singing or playing music to someone?

Taryn: And there's a lot more areas.

Taryn: So you've just got more surface area that's activating, and so more parts of your brain are engaged.

Taryn: So if you think about how you learned the alphabet, I can almost guarantee you learned it from that song.

Taryn: And that if I even hum that song, either those words or took a little star or one of the other, because there's like five different sets of lyrics to that song, but those words will play.

Taryn: I can't sing that song to you without your brain.

Taryn: It doesn't shut off.

Taryn: So our brains link those things, and it's really motivating.

Taryn: If you're left hanging at the end of a phrase of a song, you might not know the words to your favorite song.

Taryn: But if someone stopped it at the last word of a phrase, you could probably fill that in or even the last couple of words.

Taryn: And that's where kids will start to sing as well.

Taryn: Repetitive phrases and songs or songs that they've heard.

Taryn: Lots of times they'll start to sneak in.

Taryn: If I pull back and I don't sing the last few words, they'll start to fill those in.

Taryn: Does that answer that question?

Sara: Oh, it totally does.

Sara: I was just listening to a soundtrack this morning that I haven't listened to since I was maybe a late teenager, maybe 18 or 19, and it was all right there right in the front of my mind.

Sara: And I was shocked, wild.

Taryn: Hey, the Music Together program that I teach it's from birth up to age five is the mixed ages program.

Taryn: And it's a three-year cycle story of classes, of curriculum.

Taryn: And so if your child does it from birth to age five, they're going to repeat curriculum.

Taryn: And parents will always say, I've already done this.

Taryn: And then we say, you have to see the magic, though.

Taryn: Like that child who learned this music at maybe six to nine months of age, it comes back and they're a four year old now.

Taryn: And as much as you don't think it's in there, like, it's tucked away in a drawer.

Taryn: And once they've heard it again, they're so quick to jump in and play with it, and they can do things with it, and they really own it then because they're like, I know this song.

Taryn: This is part of me, and they can just jump right into it.

Taryn: Music therapy didn't have a lot of quantitative research behind it for a long time.

Taryn: And now with things like functional MRIs, we're able to show a lot more what's happening in the brain and why the things that we do that we know are effective in engaging clients, why they work, and it's because of what we're seeing in those fMRIs.

Marshall: This must be an amazing time for you as well.

Marshall: I think about in the last year, just how many sensory toys and little things to play with.

Marshall: They're in toy stores, actually.

Marshall: They're in all sorts of different kinds of stores.

Marshall: They're in the record store in the mall this past year.

Marshall: I'd say they've really blown up.

Taryn: Yeah, they're everywhere.

Taryn: Everyone wants to have a little something, too.

Taryn: I usually have a guitar right when I'm sitting here.

Taryn: And so when I sat down, I went, oh, I'm going to fidget like crazy.

Taryn: I better grab a little something because I don't have a guitar to grab onto.

Sara: While we're chatting, feel free to play us music.

Marshall: One of my kids just got this plastic slug in the mail and it says to help calm you.

Marshall: And she plays with it.

Sara: Is it just like something rubbery?

Sara: Kind of.

Marshall: It's more plasticy?

Marshall: It's hard to explain, but it's like movable parts.

Sara: Well, that's neat.

Sara: Why don't we backtrack a little bit and talk about how you got into this work?

Taryn: I have to credit a family that I used to babysit for as a teenager.

Taryn: There was a family down the street from us that had four young kids, and the eldest child had a lot of different needs.

Taryn: I don't know what his diagnosis was.

Taryn: I didn't, as a teenager know those things.

Taryn: And his mum just said to me one day, this is what you should do.

Taryn: You're going to take him to his music therapy appointment?

Taryn: Because I think this is what you should do.

Taryn: I was like, okay, let's do what I'm told.

Taryn: So off I go and we go to this thing.

Taryn: And I sat there and and I was just like, yeah, this is totally I had kind of thought maybe I'll go teach kindergarten.

Taryn: I love working with young kids, but I also enjoyed the musical side of my life.

Taryn: And when I saw it put together, it just clicked.

Taryn: And so that I just did what I was told.

Taryn: Someone said, this is what you should do.

Taryn: And I did it.

Taryn: So I went to Laurie and did the program there.

Taryn: And then I did an internship at some schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board.

Taryn: That was a program that was around then.

Taryn: And then I went out on my own for my own practice in 2002.

Marshall: That Laurie program is held in such high regard.

Marshall: What is it once you're inside that space that makes it so special?

Taryn: The terrific program.

Taryn: I can't speak to what the feeling is there now, the feeling when I was there many years ago now, it was so encompassing.

Taryn: Like I said, music.

Taryn: There will be such a broad field, and there's room for all of us there.

Taryn: And it was a very international teaching faculty.

Taryn: And they all brought these vastly different experiences and working lives and fields of knowledge.

Taryn: And we had access to everything.

Taryn: You could ask any question and someone would know the answer or someone would help you find out.

Taryn: And I think it's a really solid program built with high standards.

Taryn: There's a lot of expected of you, but there's a lot of opportunities given to you, too.

Taryn: They want you to experience all the different ways that you could be in this profession.

Taryn: And I think it's working.

Taryn: Yeah.

Sara: For anyone listening who says, oh, like I was thinking, this sounds cool.

Sara: Maybe this is something I want to do when I know someone.

Sara: What was your musical knowledge going into this program?

Taryn: Where were you at?

Taryn: Yeah.

Taryn: So to get into the music therapy program, you do first apply an audition for the music program.

Taryn: So the first two years of the music therapy degree, you're in the regular music degree program.

Taryn: So I had taken piano lessons for many years as a child.

Taryn: I had my grade eight Royal Conservatory and some theory, history, harmony, and I taking cello.

Taryn: I had learned cello in elementary school and high school and took lessons for a few years from a KW Symphony cheese to be able to audition and go to Laurie on that instrument.

Taryn: So I have a pretty solid background coming in, I think, and it just builds on that.

Taryn: So those first two years, it's your basic program, and then there's an intro to music therapy program in your second year, of course, in your second year, and you re audition and reapply for the year three and four, which are then solidly music therapy programming.

Marshall: When something as broad as music comes into play with autism and education, that's like two very big worlds coming together.

Marshall: The learning curve for you must just be something huge.

Taryn: Yeah.

Taryn: Like, I think it could be a ten year degree if I'm very honest, and I know people that I've talked to agree with that because you only get a few short, possibly lectures on something as diverse as autism, and you can't possibly learn much from that.

Taryn: You have a lot of practicum experience in this program.

Taryn: So you have group practicum where you're working with another music therapist and your clients are a group.

Taryn: And then you also have an individual client where you're working one on one with a supervisor, but with that client.

Taryn: So you do have those practical experiences.

Taryn: But if you've met one person with autism, you've only met one person with autism.

Taryn: They're not the same.

Taryn: So I think it's something that having the internship after you graduate, you really start to develop those skills and figure out where you want to work.

Taryn: And I think a lot of it is having to reach out and find yourself continuing education in field that you're interested in.

Taryn: So for me, I've been able to work with a lot of speech language pathologists and doing joint sessions, and that's how I've garnered all of my knowledge about how to work with kids and where to step up expectations.

Taryn: Okay.

Taryn: If we're here, what's the next logical step for that child to develop into if we're making no sounds?

Taryn: I don't start with these sounds that are harder to make versus these are your beginner sounds.

Sara: Oh, that's a great answer.

Sara: So when you were talking about something specific, like speech, where does that process begin?

Sara: Like, how do you begin to help?

Taryn: That's a great question.

Taryn: Most of the children that I work with, I will connect with their parent, and I'll say, what are their speech and language goals?

Taryn: Most of them are working already with a speech language pathologist, whether through school or through private practices.

Taryn: And they'll say, well, these are the things we're working on, XYZ or that sort of thing.

Taryn: I'll also take into account and the parent says, you know what?

Taryn: They're really interested in this, and we wish they could tell us more about it.

Taryn: We wish we could talk to them about it, or we wish that they had the words to tell us when they're cold or they're hurt or they're you can work on and different ways of telling that you can work on sign, you can work with verbal language, and you can work with assistive communication devices.

Taryn: And I've worked with all of those in music therapy.

Taryn: I think for me, it's just working with what the client needs, where they are at that moment, and how we take the next step with them.

Marshall: Are there these moments where something is suddenly awakened to something where you're trying to work towards and wondering, I wonder if this can get us to where we're trying to get to, and then suddenly something happens and you're like, wow, I love to hear about those experiences.

Taryn: There are moments where especially if you're in a group and you've been working with several kids and there's some that have more to say than others.

Taryn: And then from out of nowhere, someone pipes up with something and you're like, I haven't heard you say anything in six months, and now you've got something to tell me.

Taryn: I think honestly, though, my favorite moments are when there's no talking and that communication that happens when they realize that I'll follow them in the music.

Taryn: So if they're playing something on a drum and I somehow incorporate what they're doing either by matching or imitating or just replying to what they've done with my instrument, whether I'm on a guitar or also on a drum, and they get it, and they look at you like, really?

Taryn: And then they'll do something else to test you, and then you reply again or respond again.

Taryn: And then they're like, okay, mom.

Taryn: And I love that moment because they don't need any words.

Taryn: We're on the same level, and we're in that moment.

Taryn: And that's a really special thing that I think you can only get from music like that.

Marshall: I feel like you could spend your whole life in your field and never understand the mystery of it all, though, especially if you're looking at language and music together.

Marshall: You know, when I go see a rock band live in concert, I can't figure out how those four people can make that all happen and know how to communicate with each other and do what they do.

Marshall: But we're talking about something on another level now.

Marshall: What you're doing is that what you talk about a lot with your colleagues is the mystery of trying to unlock how this all works.

Taryn: I mean, we're such a diverse field.

Taryn: Everyone's trying to unlock those pieces.

Taryn: So there's people who are working in dementia care, and they're like, hey, these are things that I've learned that unlock doors or that engage people or that might be useful to you.

Taryn: And then there's people over and here, hey, I've learned this about.

Taryn: So it's hard because I feel like we're a really big tree with broad branches and we don't all spend a lot of time in the trunk in the roots talking about just that basic piece.

Taryn: I think functional MRIs have been a great thing.

Taryn: I don't want to say that they're the blend, but that was an exciting thing for me when I started to see research come out that actually showed me what was going on and then helps me figure out, OK, how can I use this information to more efficiently use music with my clients?

Taryn: And so I think we're starting to get there.

Taryn: We're taking steps towards it, but it's a hard thing.

Taryn: We're still a relatively new profession.

Taryn: As jobs go, we'll never be as old as a baker.

Sara: It's a lifelong, necessary type of work, I think, because you spoke about babies and children and adults and patients with dementia.

Sara: And I know I think we've all seen that video, the viral video of a very elderly woman with dementia, non communicative, sits down at the piano and just goes for it.

Sara: Just absolutely starts playing hits as though it was yesterday.

Sara: I think taking out to the ballgame was one of them, and there was two other ones, and it's in there.

Sara: It's in that mapped brain somewhere hidden in there, tucked away, waiting to be opened up.

Taryn: Yeah.

Taryn: It's an astonishing visual.

Taryn: I think I've seen lots of different videos of music therapists working with clients in long term care settings who you just see the physical changes in their body, in their posture, when something connects with musically.

Taryn: And sometimes that's the big win that day, it's like, oh, they sat up and attended to what was happening in group, and that's a big deal.

Taryn: That's a big thing that happened.

Taryn: And it's just amazing that music can have that effect on someone's whole entire being.

Taryn: Right.

Taryn: Their body has set up, their brain is engaged, their face, their body is engaged.

Taryn: Right.

Taryn: With what's happening in that moment.

Taryn: And that takes a lot from someone who is struggling with dementia.

Taryn: And so it's a really neat thing.

Taryn: It's how deep in your brain that music is, those musical memories that we have from our younger years that don't seem to leave us.

Marshall: And what other instruments do you specialize in that you can play?

Sara: Well, you've told us about the piano and the cello, but you keep talking about guitar, and I'm like, when does it these are different animals.

Taryn: Well, a piano is really hard to carry around in your car and engage with clients on and ditto a cello that it's a big thing in between you.

Taryn: And there's a bow that I would definitely have poked somebody's face with at this point in time.

Taryn: Guitar is something that's required in the program at Laurie.

Taryn: You'd have a guitar techniques class because it is something that a lot I would almost say every single one, but someone will prove me wrong, that there's some music therapists out there that doesn't play guitar, but almost everyone does have because it travels.

Taryn: You can play so many styles of music on it.

Taryn: You can be so engaging and you can be very I mean, this is cobbt so not close, but in olden times, you can be very close.

Taryn: I haven't played the guitar with a child in my lap between me and the guitar.

Taryn: I have played with them on the other side of the guitar.

Taryn: I play with them facing me on a guitar.

Taryn: It's more easy to just have that physical closeness.

Taryn: And over time, I've developed my guitar skills.

Taryn: They'll probably never be where my piano ones are because they took so many years of lessons on that.

Taryn: But I get through with it.

Sara: But the piano is that bass, too, right.

Sara: Once you get that musical theory and obviously you went through the Royal Conservatory up to greedy, once you get that Basin there, I don't want to dissolve their instruments.

Sara: I realize they're all very difficult, but that's sort of the line where you start.

Sara: And once you get that knowledge in there, you can apply that elsewhere.

Taryn: For sure.

Taryn: I've had that conversation with my kids.

Taryn: I just want you to get the basics, and I want you to be able to look at the music and kind of figure out what it means and what you do with it.

Taryn: From there, it's up to you.

Taryn: If you want to go play a French Horn, if you want to go not play anything.

Taryn: If you want to go sing about it, you want to go dance, whatever you've got that foundation of what does this stuff on the paper mean?

Taryn: How does it translate here?

Taryn: And then you can take that and put it other places.

Taryn: I think it is a great base instrument, as far as I'm concerned, to you.

Marshall: Sometimes I hear classical musicians talked a bit about how when they hear pop music, they think about how simple the chords are sometimes and just how something that can go right to the top and make people's millions and millions of dollars is actually quite simple, of course.

Marshall: Yeah.

Marshall: But at the same time, obviously, not everybody can be David Foster and write a song for Celine Dion or Adele or anybody like that.

Marshall: There's certainly some mystery there, right.

Marshall: To what some of these people are able to do and why so many of us can't do that.

Taryn: Yeah.

Taryn: If we could figure out the mathematical magic behind that, we'd all be very rich individuals.

Taryn: Piano is a fun one.

Taryn: When I was still at Laurier and I had individual clients there, there was a piano in the space, and I've improvised those clients as I talked about using a drum or a guitar and having that moment of meeting in the music.

Taryn: I've had that on a piano, too.

Taryn: And it's just as special.

Taryn: I think sometimes, though, for some people, there's an awareness of the piano and what it's supposed to sound like and what it's not.

Taryn: And I don't know which notes are right or wrong.

Taryn: There's, like, air quotes around that for people listening to the podcast are right or wrong, because there aren't right or wrong notes.

Taryn: That's my job is to make them sound good, whatever the client is playing.

Taryn: But I think what's the word I'm looking for?

Taryn: That mystique of the piano.

Taryn: That it's for fancy.

Taryn: It's for classical trained musicians to use.

Taryn: And I'll just tap over here on my drum or my guitar, and I like breaking that down and saying, no, we can bang on the piano all you want.

Taryn: You want to just only play black notes?

Taryn: Let's only play that.

Taryn: You want me to play white notes.

Taryn: Okay.

Taryn: You want to play with our elbows and we'll see what happens.

Taryn: So I think breaking down that stigma piano is fun, but it's really hard to carry on my back.

Taryn: So I'll continue to use my guitar most of the time.

Sara: I love that you're saying that, because I've actually heard some contemporary, modern, successful musicians say, like, I don't know how to read music or play the piano.

Sara: I just sort of have figured out what sounds good to me.

Sara: And a few friends have shown me some tips, and I make that work for me.

Sara: Right.

Sara: And they're accidentally or non accidentally tapping into theory and melody.

Sara: That's going to work anyway because they hear it.

Taryn: Yeah, they pick it up.

Taryn: I think our culture, especially in North America, music is like for the gifted.

Taryn: That's how it's viewed to be young.

Sara: And you have to be gifted.

Sara: You can't just start any old time.

Sara: That's what the get the golden ticket.

Taryn: On the reality show or I'm sorry, you should never sing again.

Taryn: You can only buy tickets and experience music from the audience perspective.

Taryn: And I think that's wrong with all the capital letters.

Taryn: I think every person on the planet is born with the capability of being musical.

Taryn: Maybe they don't want to be a concert violinist.

Taryn: Maybe they don't have the opportunities to become a concert violinist, but they have the capacity within them to make music and to find joy from that.

Taryn: And we're so performance oriented and product oriented that this is something that is supposed to be perfect and it's supposed to sound good, and there are right notes and there are wrong notes, and there is good music and there is bad music.

Taryn: And I wish we could just dump all of that and just have music.

Marshall: And when you graduated from your program, you made a decision to stay here in Waterloo region.

Marshall: What was behind that decision?

Marshall: Did you just see it as a place that was going to support you.

Taryn: In your career having Gloria here?

Taryn: There's a concentrated group of music therapists here because some of us didn't go very far.

Taryn: After I graduated, as I said, I had to do a thousand hour internship, and I did that in Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo area.

Taryn: And then once I had done that internship, I had also made some connections that became private clients.

Taryn: And so I started to develop my own business from that.

Taryn: I also got married, and my husband's job was here.

Taryn: And my family is not that far away, and his family is not that far away.

Taryn: And I think this is a terrific region.

Taryn: I can't say city because we're a bunch of cities joined together.

Taryn: And I like the vibe of it.

Taryn: I like that it's a small town that I'll run into people and go, oh, I know you're from my kids swimming lesson, or I've seen you at that thing, and then you see them somewhere else and you're like, oh, our lives intersect in more than one way, but it's also a big enough city that there's a lot of exciting things happening all the time.

Taryn: There's live music and there's theater and there's restaurants and all that.

Marshall: Now, in your case, you went into music therapy, but if somebody graduates from Laurie's music program, is there anything to prepare them for the world after.

Marshall: What I mean is I'm familiar with both the University of Waterloo and prior Wilfrid Laurier University’s Fine Arts Program before that closed.

Marshall: And in that case, you go through a program to be a visual artist, and that's kind of like, now what are these what are these supposed to do?

Taryn: Now?

Taryn: Nobody should agree by yeah.

Marshall: There's no courses, and this is how you're going to hustle.

Marshall: Right.

Taryn: And how to have a business.

Marshall: Yeah.

Marshall: Is there anything in place there in the music program to get you ready, or are you kind of on your own and in your case, you went for music therapy.

Taryn: Yeah.

Taryn: I'm thinking back because I'm old and it was a while ago, but I know that the association of Music Therapists, like they're in the Ontario Association and the National Association, have done things for interns that talk about how to run your business, how to start a business, how to structure your fees, because those are our organizations for that.

Taryn: At Laurier, we had visiting music therapists that would come in and lecture on a topic.

Taryn: And my memory might be fuzzy on this, but I'm really sure that I remember one of them being on private practice and just about this person's business and how they started a private practice and what they did and kind of how they structured it.

Taryn: Again, like I said, it could be a ten year program, and this one lecture is all the information that you need.

Taryn: But it was a start to get you thinking about those things.

Taryn: And I think probably I got more of it from the association after I had graduated.

Marshall: I was really intrigued when I heard you mentioned prisons and music therapy.

Marshall: How does that work?

Marshall: I have some idea on how visual arts in prisons works and the great things that can come of that.

Marshall: But what does that look like, music therapy in prison?

Taryn: I've never done it, so I can't tell you exactly what it looks like.

Taryn: That's a hard question.

Taryn: I think it can look like a lot of different things.

Taryn: It might look a lot like songwriting.

Taryn: That's something that I can see that would be useful in that population.

Taryn: Drawing circles, possibly, or using percussion, body percussion in different ways, learning to be in music with someone in a group format or even one to one.

Taryn: It's a give and take.

Taryn: So you do have to learn how to take turns and you're learning to communicate in that.

Taryn: And there's a lot of skill development that can happen there.

Taryn: So without having ever been there, Disclaimer in big, bold font.

Taryn: Those are the types of interventions I can see being used in that population.

Sara: And I have to imagine you work with baby music for young children.

Sara: There has to be some comments.

Sara: It's like, really?

Sara: Because I know you mentioned earlier, people are wondering, OK, what are they really getting from this?

Sara: And then they realize, but how do you deal with those comments that are like, you really teach music to babies, you're not going to have a baby, Beethoven here, that type of thing.

Taryn: Yeah.

Taryn: The hot secret would be that I don't even tell this to all the families of my classes, but the parents are the students.

Sara: Right.

Taryn: My job isn't to teach music to their children.

Taryn: My job is to make music with them, to empower them, to help them get rid of what we talked about earlier with our society, placing all the value in music on performance and on product, and to just enjoy the process of making music and to teach them all the valuable things that their child can get from being in this immersive experience.

Taryn: So our Music Together program is an immersion based philosophy.

Taryn: Your eight month old is not going to do all the songs, and I don't want you to take their hands and make them play the drum the same way I do.

Taryn: I want you to play the drum the same way I'm playing the drum.

Taryn: And they're going to see twelve adults doing the same thing, and they're going to hear twelve adults doing the same thing.

Taryn: And if they're sitting on the floor and we're playing drums, they're going to feel twelve adults doing the same thing.

Taryn: And if we get up and dancing, you're carrying them.

Taryn: They're feeling the music through you that way.

Taryn: So it's that immersive experience that's the goal for the children, especially at that baby age.

Taryn: Right.

Taryn: They're taking in everything in their environment, and they learn through play.

Taryn: So, yeah, they're going to chew on the instruments, but they're still taking in what we are doing.

Taryn: So my job is making the music fun for the parents.

Marshall: Yeah, of course.

Marshall: And you're creating an experience for them.

Taryn: And hopefully giving them the confidence to take that home and continue to make music with their child.

Taryn: Because a music education can't happen in 45 minutes once a week for ten weeks.

Marshall: There's a pattern behind you.

Marshall: It's very colorful.

Marshall: It's all vertical lines.

Marshall: It makes me think of a xylophone.

Marshall: And when you spoke about percussion earlier, I don't think I've ever been in the presence of a real xylephone, just a toy, I think.

Marshall: But the percussion must play a really big role in music therapy.

Marshall: I imagine something that you can put in the hands of somebody if a client, and they can get an instant sound out of it, and it can be quite gratifying.

Taryn: Yes.

Taryn: I have a pretty fun collection of different kinds of shakers and bells and things that you tap and things that you rub that have bumpy surfaces.

Taryn: So as you rub a stick across it, it makes a different noise and just all those different Timbers and tones and sounds and physical experiences, too.

Taryn: Quite often you can feel an egg shaker vibrating in your hand.

Taryn: You can feel what's inside that moving around.

Taryn: You can feel when you're playing a drum, those vibrations as well.

Taryn: So it's offering a variety of musical experiences through sound and feel and texture is a really important thing.

Taryn: So I try to balance a lesson plan when I'm working with a client to make sure that okay.

Taryn: They've had things that have done this and they've had things that done that and things where we're not holding anything and making it tick.

Sara: All those boxes, I guess, offer all.

Taryn: Those opportunities for them to experience and then find what they gravitate to because for sure, they're going to prefer certain instruments over other instruments.

Taryn: And I'm not always going to offer the preferred choice, but it's nice to know.

Taryn: And then when you want to work on something that's maybe challenging for them and kind of pair it with something that you know is motivating and they're going to hang in there a little bit longer because that's a motivating instrument or a motivating activity.

Marshall: You opened our conversation by talking about how pretty much every day is really rewarding, and it's a fun journey you've been on.

Marshall: Do you want to wrap up by talking about just how fun it is just being in these spaces with your instruments and all these clients?

Marshall: And no day, two days must look the same.

Marshall: It just must be a blast just being surrounded by color and excitement and sound.

Taryn: I mean, it is most of the time there are days when I have a headache and I could think of other things I'd rather be doing as anyone has with their job.

Taryn: But 99% of my days are just watching little faces have fun and knowing that I'm kind of at the front of the fun.

Taryn: And sometimes they're mad at me because I'm making them do things they don't want to do or I'm pushing them to do something that's challenging.

Taryn: But we always get to a point where we get to an end where we're back on the same page, we're back on the same team.

Taryn: Yeah.

Taryn: I hear a lot of giggles and I hear a lot of little voices make sounds and see people light up and sometimes get to see parents light up when they see their child or a teacher.

Taryn: If I'm in the classroom setting a teacher light up when they see a kid do something that they're like, I didn't know that was in there.

Taryn: I haven't seen that yet.

Taryn: And that's really exciting and be like, oh, we did that here.

Taryn: We did it in music.

Taryn: So, yeah, I'm really grateful that I get to do this fun job.

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