Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Four

Hey everyone!

I hope you have had a wonderful week and have been staying dry during these storms. One of my favorite things to do is listen to the rain while reading, painting, or watching TV. The rain brings me a sense of peace.

As much as I love rain, it can be a bit of an inconvenience at times. I have been planning a drum circle event for the team at MTC over the past few weeks. My initial plan was do play outside in the parking lot to encourage social distancing and enjoy the fresh air. As the date gets closer, the projection of rain has yet to go away. As such, I am working to plan a back-up in case the weather is not conducive for outdoor drumming.

There are a number of things that go into planning an event that can be overwhelming at the start. This has been the first event that I have planned myself. In the past, I have had committees and team members to help cover some of the responsibilities. This time, I am in charge of everything.

Who, What, When, Where?

The first step in planning an event is deciding what type of event you would like to plan and who will be in attendance. Next, you need to decide when and where this event will take place. For my drum circle, I knew the what and who but I needed to know when would be best for the MTC team. I sent out a google form with time options and selected the time that worked best for the majority of the team.


The next step is figuring out why people should come to your event. What will be provided? Why is it important to attend? What will the attendees gain from coming? For my event, I created a flyer with a fun picture, brief information, and the reason for coming. Drum circles are a fun way to spend time with your co-workers and take a step back to simply enjoy making music together.

The Game Plan

One of the most important parts about planning an event is planning the event. This part is the most time-consuming part of the process. To plan the most effective event, it can be beneficial to do research and/or ask professionals. For my drum circle, I researched important things to include in a drum circle and how to be an efficient drum circle leader. I also set up a meeting with someone who leads drum circles as a living. These experiences provided me valuable knowledge to best plan a drum circle.

Setting Up

The last aspect of planning an event is setting up. They type of event you are preparing will determine how long your set-up time can take. It is important to make a plan of action for when you set up your event so that you make sure you have everything prepared. For my event, I must plan how many drums or instruments are needed, how many chairs, and gather plenty of glow sticks.

Planning and event can be overwhelming and stressful but breaking it down into smaller stages can help make it manageable. I personally do best with “To-Do” lists that I can check items off as they are completed. I hope that this helps you determine how to plan your next event!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Three

Hello everyone!

I hope you have all had a wonderful week full of opportunities and excitement! This week, I have been working on putting together a list of apps that are beneficial for music therapy. Finding ways to incorporate technology into sessions can provide further opportunities for success for our clients. This week, I would like to share a few apps I have found that have be beneficial for my clients and a few that I plan to start using!

Guitar Tabs

Guitar Tab is where I store the majority of my music. With the free version, I am able to save songs to my library, create client playlists, simply or transpose songs, and use auto scroll while playing! Additionally, there is an option to listen to a recording of the song while viewing the tabs. I use this app multiple times each day.


This is a user-friendly music recording app. With this, I am able to plug in a microphone (I use the yeti snowball), a keyboard, or any other electric instruments and record multiple tracks. GarageBand can be used to record your own music, music created for clients, or even client created music!


Much like GarageBand, iMove is a user-friendly program that allows you to edits videos that you can later upload to various platforms. This program comes with backgrounds, transitions, titles, and more! A benefit of this program is that you can include images in your videos to give further support to those watching the video.

IncrediBox and SoundForest

Both of these apps are musical games in which clients can create their own music while working on a variety of skills. With a few of my clients, I am able to work on identifying colors and shapes, counting, following directions, and decision making. These apps also provide an opportunity for creative expression.

Sono Flex Lite, Visuals2Go, or Card Talk

Some clients I see are non-verbal and use other forms of communication. These three apps are free that I can download and use to better understand the communication devices my clients may use. While most students who use AAC’s will have their own devices, these apps can give us as therapist more insight for if/when families ask us information about AAC’s.


Dropbox has been a lifesaver since the start of my internship. I am able to store and share resources including sheet music, song recordings, and facilitation guides. With the free version, I am able to store up to 2GB of storage. So far, this has been enough space for my needs.

I hope this list was insightful in the use of apps and technology in a music therapy setting! Thanks for reading!

Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Two

Hello everyone!

This week, we have had beautiful weather here in Springfield, Illinois! I hope you have had the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. During my supervision this week, the team and I brought bean bags and sat outside in the parking lot! This was certainly an enjoyable experience.

Instrument Care

A few weeks ago, I helped my supervisor change the strings on the guitars in the office. Prior to this, I had only changed guitar strings once. We grabbed the guitars, the new strings, the tools, and pulled up a YouTube video to follow. After successfully changing the strings, the quality of sound improved significantly. For many of our other instruments, we clean them after each use. For instruments that we use less often, we store them in a safe place to keep them organized and protected.

Creating Materials

For many of my sessions, I used visuals for a variety of uses including to provide a sense of structure, provide opportunities for communication, and to include an additional form of sensory input. During my undergraduate practicum, I colored all my visuals. Thankfully, I now have access to a color-printer, cutting the time it takes to create visuals down significantly. The best part about making visuals is the lamination process. This is especially beneficial as it allows my visuals to last much long.


As a music therapist, I have quite a bit of paperwork I am required to fill out each day. After each session, I document how my clients did with their specific goals/objectives as well as write down important details that occurred. This documentation process can look different in different settings. In addition to this daily paperwork, I write up a Progress Report on each client for the treatment period. The paperwork of this profession can be the most challenging aspect for many music therapists.


A big part of music therapy is using what you have and using your materials creatively. When working as a contracting music therapist, you may need to request materials from the company. In order to do this, you need to establish a budget and find the most efficient way to use these funds. This is a skill that is extremely beneficial, whether you are in private practice, contracted, a full-time employee, or any other setting you may be in.

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the biggest aspects of music therapy is knowing a wide range of music. As a music therapist, I may not know if my client enjoys Dolly Parton, Kanye West, or ACDC. Because of this, it is important to know as much music as possible. I am constantly learning new music each week. A music therapist can never know too much music!

There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in the music therapy career. Throughout my internship, I have had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of some of the skills required to be a successful music therapist beyond planning and implementing a session. During my last few weeks of internship, I hope to continue building these “behind the scene” skills needed to be successful.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Week Twenty-One – Intern’s Corner

Hello everyone!

I hope you have been enjoying this beautiful weather we have had lately!

In some of my past blog posts, I have discussed some of my weekly assignments. My most recent assignment was finding instruments and materials to expand our music therapy stock at the hospital. This was quite the challenge as I needed to find products that are COVID friendly and easily cleaned.

With COVID, we are unable to use any of our wooden instruments or instruments with fabric as these materials are not easily cleaned between patients. This restriction makes it difficult to find instruments that do not appear “childish”. For this project, I needed to find products that were appropriate in the hospital setting with a variety of patient ages and diagnosis. In order to best go about this, I came up with four categories that the instruments should fit.

Replacement Instruments

Many of our instruments have received a lot of attention from many of our patients. Overtime, these instruments have begun to crack, break, or become unusable. Some of the instruments I chose to request included a new ocean drum, new castanets, and a new frame drum. These instruments are used often and could use a replacement.

Instruments Educational Instruments

With many of our younger patients, we work on academic skills such as color identification, counting, object identification, and more. To further work on some of these skills, I chose to include additional fruit shakers to continue building our collection. I also found egg shakers that show various emotions to work on emotional recognition. For after COVID, I found wooden animal shakers that could be beneficial for future uses.

Instruments for Older Patients

Many of our instruments and supplies are aimed for younger patients. I wanted to find ways to build our collection for our older patients. This was challenging as many “older looking” instruments are made of wood and other materials that are not easily cleaned. I was able to find a table steel-pan drum and a set of wah-wah tubes. Both instruments are made of metal and would be more appealing to some of our older patients.

Take Home Instruments

The last thing I looked for were instruments that would be small and cost-friendly that we could buy to give to some of our patients to take home. Many of our younger patients are especially drawn to our canary and quack sticks. These instruments are relatively cheap and provide joy and entertainment for our patients.

Finding instruments and materials that are both beneficial and feasible for a hospital setting can certainly be a challenge. COVID limits the types of materials used and makes it challenging to find instruments for older patients. However, an important aspect of music therapy is the ability to adapt, and adapt we shall!

Thanks for reading and stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain