The last couple weeks, I’ve been sharing a lot about the process of becoming a board-certified music therapist. It really wasn’t that long ago, however, that I was a beginning music therapy student, taking introductory courses in music therapy, and wondering how my head knowledge of music therapy content could eventually translate into skills and application with real clients.
In this post, I hope to share insight as to what being a music therapy student really is like, and also talk about the things I wish I had known along the way.
Know your blind spots, and make a plan.
This is a big one. First of all, music therapy requires so much more than one straightforward set of skills. Music therapy is a blend of several major fields, involving:
- Music theory
- Music performance
All of these involve a high degree of discipline and self-awareness. As you start out in your studies, what areas listed above are you avoiding or make you tense up? Know that it’s okay to not be where you want to be right now. You’ll get there. Be honest abut where you are right now, and be proactive about how you can practice, study, and get more comfortable with the things that scare you.
It’s not always about the grades.
One of the most important things you will learn to appreciate about being in a school environment is that it is a place where a lot of personal growth happens, critical thinking is encouraged, and opportunities to go beyond your comfort bubble can occur.
That being said, take time now, before you graduate, to explore your identity: who you are, both as a student and outside of school. Part of being a music therapist is being able to have a strong identity, to be aware of self-biases, and to be open to other cultures outside your own.
Perspective is key.
You might not get into all the classes you want, you may not have enough hours in the day, and it might be easy to compare yourself to others. Know that you may not have control of every step in your journey, but what you can control is an attitude of gratitude. Take a step back, and remember, you have the best major in the world. Then keep going.