Babatunde Olatunji, the musician and highly-regarded musical diplomat originally from Nigeria, once noted that his mission was to see “a drum in every household.”    What a noble consideration……an MTD colleague once extended this idea to state his own mission, to see “a drummer in every person,” by awakening the knowledge of percussion in people, because the power of the drum is really the power we put into it!   How can we make that happen for ourselves, and for our clients?

Let’s face it…… many music therapists run tight schedules.   Many of us do a bit of driving, popping in and out of facilities to provide quality services to our clients.   When it comes to maintaining and evolving quality music therapy service, music practice is a necessity!  When it comes to time, music practice often feels like  a luxury!

On any given day, the cargo found in my automobile can be dramatically different.  My back seats are filled with various instruments, visuals, manipulatives, and so on.  I like a “big bag” of resources to pull from, so that I have both the common and the novel on hand.  I find that my “tool kit” allows for a diverse range of possible music experiences for and with my clients.

Also on any given day, one may find a different instrument sitting in my passenger seat.  The most recent side-car drivers have included a pandeiro, an all-purpose, headed tambourine, and a mbira.   Other occupants have included all sorts of various frame drums, smaller hand drums, and various shakers.

Since I drive a bit to provide services in a large school district, and since school parking lots can be a place to spend part of my time, I appreciate my passengers. When I stop at a stop light, I take an opportunity to grab a small instrument and play for a minute.   When the light turns green, I can place the instrument back in the passenger seat, and be on my way.  When I am waiting for ten minutes in a parking lot before a session, I have a chance to work on a quality sound or new rhythm, or to sing a new song while accompanying myself with the instrument.

So, we have the opportunity to use one of the strengths of percussion, that being portability, to our musical advantage.    We often hear that many short spurts of focused practice are often better than one large lump of practice time.    I have found this type of “passenger seat” practice to be a simple way of integrating music into a larger portion of my day, and I’ve learned so much in the process.

What’s in your passenger seat?