Hi again! I want to share something I’m very proud of: this summer, I successfully passed the CBMT exam and officially became a board-certified music therapist!
For those of you who are not familiar with the exam, it’s a three-hour test consisting of 150 multiple choice questions. 130 of those are scored, and you must get 95 or more correct to pass. Upon passing, you are able to use the MT-BC title, standing for Music Therapist Board-Certified. It can be very stressful!
For this blog post, I’m sharing some of the unique study tips that really helped me conquer this exam.
Confession: I’ve always had bad test anxiety. Tests have always scared me and this test was absolutely no exception. Since so much was depending on me passing this, I knew I needed to conquer this test anxiety and develop some unique study habits.
The first and most impactful thing I did was see a counselor in my area who specializes in test anxiety. She really changed my mindset going into the exam and even though I only had two visits, I really owe so much of my success to her!
Next, I broke down all the info I wanted to brush up on down into flash cards. I meticulously color coded these, using colored flash cards and coordinating colored pens. I gathered the information from the New Music Therapist’s Handbook by Susan Hanser as well as several websites and journal articles, depending on what I needed to study. This all seems like pretty common study stuff, but wait…
I recorded myself repeating the flash cards and ‘teaching’ myself this information. I did about one recording a day, and listened to them whenever I could- on my commute, when out for a walk, while cooking dinner, anytime I had some free time.
Then, I transcribed these recordings into a notebook. Hearing myself and writing it down incorporated different learning styles and helped me to solidify this information.
Almost every night, I called my mom and ‘taught’ her what I had reviewed that day. Since she isn’t a music therapist this was all new information for her, and she asked questions that helped me solidify the information even better.
I made sure that I stopped making new flash cards about a week and a half before the exam. For the rest of the time I focused on listening to recordings, transcribing, and really getting that information down in my brain.
If you are taking the CBMT exam soon, I hope some of these study tips can help you. If you aren’t taking it soon, I hope these tips can at least help you for other exams in your life, no matter how big because these strategies can be applied to so many other subjects and situations.
To all MT students and interns: I wish you nothing but the best of luck! This exam is absolutely passable, so please don’t get discouraged. You know this information- it’s just a matter of refreshing it.
As always, please feel free to reach out with any comments, concerns, or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!
Hello everyone! I hope you have had a fabulous week! These past few weeks I have really been finding myself as a music therapist. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. If I had two words to describe the past few weeks, they would be stress and growth.
As I approach the ¾ mark in my internship, everything is getting real. In just 6 or 7 weeks my internship will be over, and the only thing left to becoming a music therapist is the board certification exam. I’m so excited, but also terrified for what lies ahead.
On top of preparing for professional life and the exam, there are intern duties that I need to complete and regular clinical work that needs to be done. Lots of prep was needed, new classes started, new session plans, etc. Long story short, there was a lot going on.
I felt the stress a lot last week. I was putting everything before myself. I had late nights, skipped meals, and did not take care of myself. I ended up getting sick on Thursday and could not come in on Friday. I truly think that I got sick because I was neglecting self care.
I talked to my supervisors about ways to help combat the stress, and, wow, I immediately felt a whole lot better. I started making daily check lists rather than weekly, which doesn’t seem like a big change, but it has helped. It’s beneficial for me to see the few tasks I need to complete during the day rather than the long list of tasks I need to complete for the week. It simply helps my mindset.
I also will prioritize these tasks. Clients come first, followed by my assignments. I was also encouraged to take a break for even just a few minutes in between sessions when able. These few changes and simply talking it out made me feel so much better going into the final stages of my internship.
The past week wasn’t completely full of stress; great things happened too. The first Listen & Learn classes went great and I had a lot of fun teaching them. My clients also made great strides toward their goals! I also saw growth in myself as, though I was feeling stressed, I did not show it and still had wonderful sessions throughout the week.
I’ve always shown exactly how I feel on my face. I really can’t hide anything. However, this is not always helpful as a therapist. This past week I had to push aside my feelings and focus on my clients during their sessions. My supervisors told me that they could not tell I was stressed based upon how I was interacting with my clients. This is a HUGE compliment, as my affect has been a main area of focus throughout my practicum experiences and internship.
I also learned that I can handle a whole lot more than I think I can. With everything going on, I still had successful sessions with my clients and completed everything I needed to. In reality, the stress I was feeling was not worth it.
I’ve also learned a very important thing: Take care of yourself!
I decided to share how I have been feeling these past few weeks because I know that music therapists, interns, students, and others outside of the music therapy field all have moments of stress. I’ve learned that making time to take care of yourself, despite all of the tasks you feel like you need to complete, is essential to getting through the stressful time. Skipping out on self care may only make it worse. In my case, I got sick and had to miss a day of internship. If something has to give, don’t let it be your self care.
Thanks for reading my thoughts this week. If you have anything to add on this topic, please leave a comment!
Hello again everyone! We are really getting back into the swing of things here at MTC as our Listen & Learn classes start back up. It’s been an exciting week!
A month or two ago, one of MTC’s therapists, Molly, wrote a blog post about her typical schedule. I liked it so much that I thought I would give you a “Week in the Life” of an MTC intern!
My schedule has changed quite a bit since starting my internship, and it continues to change a little from week to week. I will share with you my current weekly schedule, as the school year is in full swing!
On Mondays I spend the morning at one of our school contract locations. I provide group sessions as well as a sing-along. I then head back to MTC and facilitate 2 one-to-one sessions. I have about an hour in between the sessions, so I use that time to work on my weekly assignment, documentation, and other prep that needs to be done. Then I finish out my day by taking a piano and guitar lesson with one of our amazing teachers here at MTC!
Tuesdays look very similar to Mondays. I’m back at the school contract throughout the morning, but this time I have both group and one-to-one sessions, followed by the sing-along. Afterwards, I head back to MTC and have my supervision meeting. This is a wonderful time for me to talk about how things are going and receive supervision from the four MT-BCs at MTC. Then I have a one-to-one session, teach 2 lessons, and practice during the extra time I have.
Now that Listen & Learn classes have begun, my Wednesday mornings are spent leading a class and observing one of Rachel’s classes. I then have a little break that I use to write my blog, do some practicing, and prep. In the afternoon I head over to a contract location, where I provide music therapy for a hospice group. Then I go back to MTC and provide 2 one-to-one sessions and finish off my day teaching another Listen & Learn class. Wednesday is the day I have the most diversity in populations served.
I do a bit of traveling on Thursdays. I start off at a daycare contract and lead one group session and observe the other. I then travel to the children’s hospital and provide music therapy to patients until the mid-afternoon. From there I head back to MTC and have 2 one-to-one sessions and teach a Listen & Learn class!
Fridays are my “short” days. I spend the morning to mid-afternoon at the children’s hospital and then practice and prep at home!
The weekends are my time. I typically travel to Macomb or back home and spend time with the people I love. I do make sure to dedicate some time during the weekend to prepare and practice for the next week!
This is a very generalized version of my weekly schedule as an intern at MTC. I hope this is beneficial for those who wonder what a music therapy intern’s schedule looks like! I love that I have such a range of populations in my schedule and get to work with almost every age. I truly enjoy going to internship every day!
Thanks for reading! Have a great week!
P.S. Here is a screenshot of my schedule on Google Calendar for all of us visual learners out there!
3 Things I Wish I Could Go Back and Tell Myself During Music Therapy Practicum
Hello everyone! It’s been a beautiful week here in Springfield! The skies have been blue, the temperatures warm, and the office has been full of music!
As the school year is now in full swing and music therapy students’ practicums have begun, I’ve been reflecting on my practicum experiences.
For those who do not know, music therapy students are typically placed in different settings throughout the community each semester as their practicum. At Western Illinois (where I have my undergrad training), students provide music therapy once a week to their own clients with supervision from music therapy professors or professionals.
My first practicum experience was as an observer the spring semester of my freshman year. I then co-lead a group the spring semester of my sophomore year. Every semester throughout junior and senior year is solo leading!
I remember practicum being terrifying but so exciting at the same time. This is the chance during undergrad to apply what you are learning in your classes in a real-life scenario. As I look back on my experiences, I want to share with you what I would have told myself back then.
I was a nervous wreck for a lot of my practicum sessions. I wanted to provide the best services I could for my clients, but I was also so scared that I would embarrass myself or do something wrong during the sessions. There was truly no reason for me to get so nervous, though it is normal to feel this way! It’s important to remember that you know more than you think you do, and your supervisors and other staff support are there to help you if something unexpected does happen.
Take It All In
Carefully observe everything you can during your sessions. This can sometimes be difficult as you are also leading the sessions, but it is so important to recognize how your clients respond to the music and interventions you bring. This is your time to try out new interventions, be creative, and see what works for your clients and what doesn’t. I found practicum to be one of the most beneficial aspects of my undergrad experience.
Getting to provide music therapy is such an amazing experience. Enjoy it!
Practicum is such a wonderful time for learning and growth in the real world. It can be scary at first, but know that everyone around you is there to support you as you develop your skills.
Leave a comment if you have any advice for current music therapy students during their practicum experience!
My Personality Traits and How They Impact My Role as a Future Music Therapist
Hi everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful week and had a great Labor Day Weekend!
This week on the blog I’m talking about my results from the Enneagram Personality Test. I’ve seen this test all over social media and discussed amongst my friends, so a few weeks ago I decided to take the test.
For those of you who do not know what the Enneagram Test is, it is a personality test that tells you which of 9 personality types you fit into. There are lots of personality tests out there, but this one seems to be the most popular right now.
I haven’t done a ton of research on this topic, but I wanted to share with you what my results were and how I see these personality traits impacting me as a future music therapist.
So, my Enneagram personality results were 6w5, in other words I am “The Defender.” Some of the traits of this personality type include intelligent, introverted, serious, self-doubting, problem-solving, and rule-following. Here are how I see some of the personality traits of a 6w5 in my work as a future music therapist:
I know what I need to do and do whatever I need to get it done. I also tend to just say things as they are, and sometimes I’m a little too blunt. However, I see this serious trait being beneficial in my music therapy work as I know when to get down to business.
If you have read my previous blogs, you know that this is something I struggle with. This is mostly seen as, perhaps, a negative trait. On the bright-side, this trait can help guide me through my limitations in the music therapy setting and establish what I need to work on.
This trait is so helpful in so many instances, whether it’s helping out a friend, talking with family, or in the music therapy setting. I think that this trait helps spark my creative side of deciding on adaptive materials, visuals, etc in how to best engage, communicate with, and help my clients.
I will be the first person to say that I am not the smartest person out there. I know that I have a lot of knowledge in my brain, but communicating that knowledge is difficult. The knowledge I do have helps me so much when planning as well as thinking on my feet during music therapy sessions.
These are just a few of the personality traits that I see influencing my work in the music therapy setting. I by no means am advocating for this test, but simply find my results incredibly accurate and helpful in understanding myself better.
Have you taken any personality tests? How do you see your personality traits influencing your practice? Let me know in the comments!