Wow!  That is the one word I can use describe all that has happened in the last week.  Around 10am last week, my adventure with #AMTA11 started.  Each year, around this time I make what I consider the “pilgrimage” to the American Music Therapy Association National Conference (yes, a mouth full).  Every year it has gotten better and better and this year has most definitely topped them all!  Here are the first five of my Top 10 highlights of #AMTA11, in no particular order:

1. Panel Discussion on Social Media Advocacy

This year I was asked by the lovely Kimberly Sena Moore to be a part of a social media advocacy panel.  What a great experience!  I was able to sit among several social media gurus and share my experiences about how I use social media to advocate for music therapy and early childhood.  Every member of our panel had a different expertise and it was just so wonderful to come together and share these ideas.  The funniest part????  Throughout the entire presentation, we were Tweeting each other!  Hilarious!

2. Tweet-up

It was a record breaking year for Tweet-Ups!  This was the third annual gathering at an AMTA Conference and I am happy to have now attended 2 out of 3.  Last year we maybe maxed at 20 folks who came together to meet for (mostly) the first time face to face.  This year, old and new friends gathered and we had roughly 50 attendees.  We packed a tiny bar and practically scared the bartender.  Needless to say, it was wonderful to once again match the twitter handles and faces.

3. Recording the Music Therapy Roundtable (at a rectangle table)

I have always wanted to be a part of the Music Therapy Roundtable podcast, but it always seemed out of my league.  Last year, I had very little to discuss regarding music therapy practice and basically shyed away from any public interaction.  This year, I have built a strong business in a short amount of time, and really have quite a bit to say.  I was excited to be asked to join in this years AMTA Roundtable Podcast Recording.  I along with Natalie Mullis,, Julie Guy, Ginny Darnell, Dr. Natalie Wlodarczyk, joined the “ladies of the rectangular table” in a wonderful discussion on our conference highlights and current projects.  It really was great to meet with all of these lovely ladies.

4. Being the first guest on the Listen and Learn Sunday Sing-A-Long

I’m not exactly sure how this came about, to be honest.  On Wednesday night of the conference, I was chatting with Rachel Rambach discussing current projects and ideas.  At one point (around midnight), we were discussing a new song I wrote and she said “Hey, I need a Sunday Sing  Long, come and be my guest”.  Apparently, I said yes.  But needless to say it was a blast.  Myself, Rachel and Andrew Littlefield met the next afternoon to record my first YouTube video and Sunday Sing-A-Long!  Rachel has awesome editing skills and managed to remove much of my giggling (nervous habit). Check it out Here!  The original audio format can be found here.  This has inspired me to write more (be prepared).

5. Networking

I met so many new faces (those NOT necessarily on twitter).  The amount of networking you do at a conference is judged by how quickly you loose your voice, in my opinion.  I believe I spoke to people for five days straight (as evidenced by my total of four hours of sleep each night).  There was a Music Therapy Business Owners Meeting on Saturday that I am sorry I missed.  I chose to remain faithful to my home state and discuss the Music Therapy happenings in Illinois.  I did, however, get on the new mailing list and hopeful business owners forum.  This was my back door networking attempt.  I hope it worked!  I love that our community is so willing to provide support for each other.  Networking included dinner with my great friend and colleague Rachel Rambach, where we discussed the next step in both of our Music Therapy worlds.  It’s pretty sad to say that we only live an hour from each other and we never get together to mash our brains together.  I hope this changes soon.

I apologize for the extremely long post.  As you can see, its necessary due to the many many many wonderful things that happen at conference.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Top Ten Highlights of AMTA11! (I promise not to disappoint)