I hope you are all doing well! It’s been an eventful week, as I have added some new clients and classes to my schedule. What a great week it has been!
As my internship continues to wind down, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection. I have quite a long commute every day, and this provides a great opportunity to think about and reflect on all that has happened. Recently I have not just been reflecting on my internship, but on my life and how much I’ve grown. I would like to use this blog post as a way to journal about my thoughts and let you know what I wish I would have told my younger self.
Try new things and do what scares you.
Though I still struggle with confidence, it’s truly amazing to look back and see just how much confidence I have gained during my internship. This is all because I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone. The more experience I gained, the greater my confidence grew. This wasn’t limited to my music therapy experience; it carried over to my personal life as well. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to try new things and do what scares you, because that is what has helped develop my confidence these past 6 months.
Don’t quit piano!
Like pretty much every other kid, I took piano lessons growing up. I also took voice lessons and played multiple sports, and these just took over my priority and interest during my younger years. So, I ended up quitting piano. I truly wish I would have kept up with piano, as now I use it every day. Thankfully, a lot of my piano skills came back, but I could be so much further along if I had just stuck to it. What’s funny is, what used to cause me so much dread has now become my accompaniment instrument of choice. I love the piano!
Say “thank you” more often.
There are so many people who have supported me and guided me to be who I am today, but, in the moment, I had no idea. I wish I would have thanked my parents, my family, friends, teachers, everyone more often growing up as each person has influenced who I am in some way. So, thank you to everyone who has ever spent even just a moment in my life.
Everything will be alright.
No matter what happens, everything will work out. Breathe and take one day at a time.
If I could go back in time and tell my younger self these things, I definitely would. I’ve learned so much in the past 6 months, both professionally and personally. Do you have anything you wish you could tell your younger self? Let me know in the comments!
Hi again! I’m back to discuss some things I find super helpful in my work outside of the music and the instruments. We talk so often about our favorite music therapy songs and instruments, but what are some OTHER things that we can’t live without as music therapists?
Of course, having functional instruments, including a voice, comes first. Without the music, there would be no music therapy! These are just a few of the necessities that help my sessions (and my life!) run a bit smoother.
First, and this might seem like an obvious one: water. Yes, it’s important to stay hydrated especially when you’re singing and talking all day, but to me, water is so much more. When I don’t drink enough water, my body really feels it. I start to get a headache, and when I’m not feeling well I’m not leading sessions well. This impacts my clients just as much as it impacts me!
I also treat water as a bit of in-the-moment self care. I lead very large hour-long groups at a behavioral health center, and it’s a lot! My clients take water breaks during our sessions, so why shouldn’t I? It’s as simple as taking a sip in between interventions, or when clients are picking out which instrument they want to play next. It takes less than 10 seconds, and a sip of cold water along with a deep breath or two really help me to center myself as I jump back in and do my best work.
Number two is twofold: a watch and time management skills. Seriously…these are life-savers. I went into a session a few months ago, realized I forgot my watch and there was no clock in the room, and panicked. I ended up having to pop my head out of the room and ask my client’s caregiver to let me know when there were only five minutes left in the session. Oops!
A watch has helped me more than I even expected. Obviously I need to know when one session ends so the next one can begin, but it’s also super helpful for timing behavior frequencies and being able to plan how much time you’ll have to get through all the other materials in your session plan.
My last helpful non-musical tool is my iPad. I do everything on my iPad, from tracking student and client attendance to storing/accessing music to writing blog posts! It’s much lighter to carry around than a laptop or a big binder of music, and using Google Drive and Guitar Tabs to organize my music allows me to have almost any song under the sun at my fingertips. This is especially helpful for those times I get odd song requests that I don’t know off the top of my head!
My iPad lock screen background also serves as my work schedule. I downloaded the app Power Planner and uploaded my week to week schedule — clients, meetings, lesson students, contracts, everything. It helps me keep track of when and where I have to be with literally just the press of a button. It’s color-coded too, which I especially enjoy!
These are just a few of the many things I find most helpful in sessions. I hope you found these tips to be useful and applicable to your own life. I’d love to hear your music therapy essentials, and how you use them!
As always, thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!
Hello everyone! What beautiful fall weather we have been having here in Springfield! I’m quickly rediscovering my love for fall! Hooray for sweater weather!
My internship is quickly coming to a close. I only have about 3 weeks left! Where has the time gone?
One of my very first blog posts was about a fun topic called “perfectionism.” I promised that I would give an update on how I was doing with my perfectionist tendencies later on in my internship, and I figured it’s about time to share that update!
Perfectionism is something I believe I will continue to battle, but I’ve seen some huge improvements over the past 5 months. I’ve learned to avoid over-planning, to take things as they come, and focus on the positives. Here are some things that I have found beneficial in keeping my perfectionist self in check.
At the end of the day, tell yourself one thing that you did really well.
No matter if my day was amazing or the worst day I’ve had, I considered at least one thing I was proud of myself for. I wrote this down in my daily journal or told myself this on my drive home. This forces your brain to focus on a positive for at least a few seconds, and it usually carries over for the rest of the day.
“A finished product is sometimes better than waiting for the perfect product.”
This is a topic discussed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. This has been a game changer for me as I continue songwriting and finish my final assignments and projects. Don’t get me wrong: I have not lowered my standards. Rather, once the assignment is finished, I don’t obsess over it and continue to make changes. If you wait for the perfect product, it may never come.
In 10 years from now, who is going to remember that mistake you made?
This is one I tell myself on repeat. Who is going to remember in 10 years, 10 months, or even 10 minutes the chord you missed or the not-so-brilliant thing you said? No one. To be blunt, they probably didn’t even notice or care in the first place.
Perfectionism is very common in the music therapy world. We want to be the best we can be because not only are we affecting our lives, but the lives of our clients. It’s important to not lower your standards, but keep in mind that it’s okay to not be perfect. The things I talked about above have helped me tremendously throughout my internship. If you have other tips in how to push perfectionism aside, please share them in the comments.
As always, thanks for reading and have a fabulous week!
Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week! I am so happy that the Fall weather has finally arrived. The cool, crisp air in the morning gives me a pick-me-up during this busy time of year.
These past 5 months of internship have gone by incredibly quickly. I’ve learned so much and done so many things, including some things you wouldn’t necessarily expect a music therapy intern to do. In this blog post I will share with you some of the cool things I have done throughout my internship that aren’t really music therapy related!
Over the summer, MTC touched up the paint on the walls in order to give a fresh look to their building. I spent two mornings helping with this project. While painting, this time gave me a chance to get to know the other MTC therapists better. It also doubled as extra supervision time as we would talk about what was going on in my sessions and about music therapy in general.
Mini Therapy Horses
I spend a good chunk of time at a children’s hospital every week. One time while we were there, miniature therapy horses came to visit the patients. I also got to visit the horses! :)
This one is definitely my favorite. The same children’s hospital is beginning to build a brand new NICU. This past week was “Demo Day” and my supervisor and I overheard that they were letting people help knock down the wall. After some investigation, we found the party and got the chance to take a sledgehammer to the wall. This was very fun and a good way to finish out the week!
My internship has been such an amazing experience so far. I’ve learned so much through my music therapy experiences and also have had the opportunity to do some other unexpected things! It’s hard for me to comprehend that I only have a few weeks left!
I would love to hear your fun stories! Have you ever done something unexpected and enjoyable at your music therapy sites? Let us know in the comments!
Hello again everyone! Happy October! I’ve had an awesome week at MTC and I hope your week went well too!
Throughout my time here at MTC, I have had many opportunities to write songs that can be used in my music therapy sessions. I had only written one song prior to my internship, so this was a pretty daunting task at first.
The first few songs I wrote were not the best, but they were functional and appropriate for my clients. My songs definitely got better the more I wrote. It also helped to have feedback from my supervisor, Rachel Rambach, who is pretty well-known for her original songs.
I have truly come to love songwriting and have even started composing songs for myself. I have found that songwriting gives me a healthy and creative outlet to express my emotions. Hmm, who would have ever thought that?! :)
My clients have really responded well to the songs I have written specifically for them and their sessions. As I continue to grow in my songwriting, I wanted to share with you some tips I have found useful!
Pick a Topic
Before you start writing, you should come up with a topic for the song. In a music therapy setting, this could be centered around the goal for the client(s). For example, a big goal for several of my clients is to improve social skills. I have written songs describing appropriate behavior when meeting someone new, using manners, and when to walk/run/tiptoe at school.
Write the Lyrics First
When I first started writing, I tried to do everything at once. Let me tell you, it is very difficult to write lyrics, the melody, and the chords all at once. I have found it so much easier to start by writing the lyrics. The melody will often come to you while you are writing the lyrics.
Having Trouble Figuring Out a Melody?
There have been multiple occasions where I have the lyrics written, but the melody just hasn’t come to me yet. When this happens, I pull out my guitar, pick a chord progression, and start improvising a melody with the lyrics I have written. The chords behind my improvisation help me pick a direction in which the melody should go.
Keep it Simple
Your songs don’t have to be the next big hit. They just have to be applicable and functional. Many of my songs just contain a typical three chord progression. Nothing too fancy!
Make a Rough Recording
After your song is finished, record yourself singing and playing it. I use the Voice Memos app on my phone to do this. This rough recording will help you in the future if you forget exactly how you want your song to sound!
Songwriting is so personal and rewarding. Have fun with the process! It’s always a good feeling to witness your clients respond positively to the song you created for them and watch them grow in their goals. Also, write some songs for yourself!
I have truly enjoyed my songwriting journey and hope to keep growing. I hope these tips help you get started on your own songwriting journey! Those of you who are experienced songwriters, please add to these tips by leaving a comment!