I have the privilege of providing music therapy services as well as music lessons at Music Therapy Connections. Throughout my internship and my new professional life, I have also been taking lessons. This feels a bit strange, as I am providing lessons and am considered a “teacher,” but also have someone else teaching me skills on those same instruments.
As music therapists, it is our duty to identify areas where growth is still needed and then seek supervision or instruction accordingly. At the beginning of my internship, I told my supervisors that I wanted to improve my guitar and piano skills. Thus, the lessons began!
Yes, it can feel a bit awkward when my own students or clients see me walking into a lesson, but I know that I am doing what I need to do in order to better serve them. It can be hard to get out of the mindset that “I am supposed to be the expert to my students”, but it’s also important to remember that, regardless of whether you are taking lessons yourself or not, they will continue to see you as the trained professional that you are.
I have found that lots of positive things come out of taking piano and guitar lessons. Here are just a few:
This seems to be an obvious one. As soon as I started taking lessons, I saw my accompaniment skills quickly improve. Since I play piano and guitar every day, it was easy to apply what I was learning into my regular practice.
A Second Opinion
Often in my lessons I would bring a piece that I was already working on. In these cases, I sought opinions on what I could change to make it sound better. Should I add more bass notes? What about a different pattern? It was nice to get that second opinion.
Developing New Skills
Since I already had a foundation of basic piano and guitar skills from school, it was great to expand on those and learn some new skills! Recently, I have been working on finger-picking melodies on guitar and adding harmony behind it. This can also easily be used in the music therapy setting for relaxation purposes.
A Creative Outlet
I know too many music therapists and music therapy students, including myself, that only perform or practice material that they have been working on for a client. Throughout my internship, I brought music that I was learning for clients to my lessons. This is not a bad thing, as this was my primary concern for developing repertoire as an intern. Now that I have a good foundation of repertoire for my clients and students, I have been able to select music that I want to learn. It has been an amazing outlet for me to use my skills for my own enjoyment.
The idea of taking lessons can be intimidating, but, if you are wanting to further develop your skills and have a creative experience for yourself, I would encourage you to try it. Taking lessons does not make you any less of a music therapist or teacher!
A big “thank you” goes out to my awesome MTC lesson instructor, Robert Reynolds!
Do you already take music lessons? Please share your thoughts on your experience in the comments!
Thanks for reading,