01
Dec
2014

It’s that time of year again. Registration for the Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT) 2015 is now open and running.

**Now in the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that I’m a founding member, the continuing education director, and the treasurer of OCMT, so keep in mind that most of this post is written from the point of view of someone who is deeply involved in many of the things that happen at the conference. There you go! **

When I answered a post on the music therapy listserv in 2010, I never imagined that I would still be as involved in this conference as I am now. I was nominated by my fellow founding members, John Lawrence (who was the first founder), Aksana Kavaliova Moussi, and Demian Kegotuk, to be the treasurer. I protested. I thought I would be better as the conference organizer, but the simple truth was that I was the only American music therapist, and all of our bills required payment in United States currency, so I got the job by default. Five years later, I’m still the treasurer, so things must be going pretty well.

Anyway, that first OCMT, in 2011, was an interesting experience. We offered two days of online streaming, and I think it went well despite technical difficulties, times when presenters would disappear completely, and the fact that we had no real idea what we were doing. We learned while going along.

OCMT 2012 was smoother. We used a different software platform, found many more helpers to work on the decisions and planning, and became a bit more organized all the way around. We switched to a 24-hour format and off we went! Our participant numbers grew. We started offering CMTEs through one of our sponsors.

The next OCMT was in 2014. Here is where I feel we really came into our own way of doing things as an online conference. Our international participation grew, our organizing committee grew, and our attendance grew. Last year’s OCMT was chock full of interesting presentations, great keynote speakers, and lots of learning! We again offered CMTEs through one of our sponsors, Wellman Therapy Services and music therapists from everywhere started to talk about us.

This year’s OCMT is shaping up to be the best ever. This year, OCMT has become a pre-approved provider for continuing education through the Certification Board for Music Therapists. We are able to offer educational experiences for music therapists under our own provider number. We have two keynote speakers, Michael Thaut and Gerhard Tucek, who will offer their ideas about music therapy. We have 16 presenters coming to us from Russia, Canada, Poland, Australia, Greece, China, and the United States. The topics range from discussions of specific models of music therapy, current practices throughout the world, specific population topics, and general tips for engaging clients of all shapes, sizes, and age ranges in music therapy treatment. The sponsors (I’m one of them!!) assist us in presenting the conference as well as assisting us in advertising. The organizing committee, an international group of music therapists who spend LOTS of time behind the scenes making sure that things happen, run smoothly, and are planned, meet on a regular basis (using our platform, by the way) and make the decisions involved when you are coordinating a conference.

This experience has been a good one for me, both as a professional and as a person. I never really understood all of the nuts and bolts that go into running a conference. We don’t have to worry about finding a hotel or conference space. We trade those difficulties for finding a webinar conferencing program that will support our music therapy committee. We don’t have to worry about making sure that there is food available, but we do have to worry about what we will do when someone’s technical interface stops working (it’s inevitable – it’s technology). We don’t have to think about whether one session will be interrupted by another session, but we do have to plan how to gather all of the interested music therapists into one presentation with limited difficulties for 24-hours! We also coordinate things with CBMT for continuing music therapy education credits. We have to offer access to the recordings of all presentations for those who just cannot stay awake for 24-hours and be coherent enough to finish post-tests! Being involved in this conference has offered me lots of growing experiences, but it has also enriched my music therapy life in ways that I did not expect.

This is my usual view of OCMT

My involvement in OCMT has enriched my view of what music therapy is all over the world. I’ve realized that my education and viewpoint has been VERY much US-centric. I have enjoyed hearing about music therapy in different parts of the world. I have enjoyed figuring out what terms others use for the things I do during my own music therapy sessions. I have also been confused, challenged, and supported by the discussions offered by others. OCMT has been one of the best and most challenging music therapy experiences I have ever had.

Let me finish by encouraging you to think about attending the fourth Online Conference for Music Therapy: Interconnectivity in Music Therapy. It will start at midnight GMT on February 7th and will be finished at midnight GMT on February 8th. (Start and stop times will vary based on your location on the planet. For example, here in the Central Time Zone, the conference starts at 6pm on February 6th and will finish at 6pm on February 7th.) As a conference, it offers a truly global perspective on music therapy right from your very own computer. How can you beat that?

I hope to see you there!

Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC
Music Therapist – Board Certified
Treasurer
Online Conference for Music Therapy

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