These first two weeks of internship I have stepped into a role that I haven’t been in since I was a freshman in college: an observer. In some ways, it feels weird to be an observer again after leading sessions for the past five semesters in school. However, upon reflection, I have found that there are benefits to being an observer at this point in my education.
The Opportunity to Get Comfortable
I have spent the last four years learning from and getting comfortable with the staff at WIU. This is the first time that I’m leaving my “music therapy” home to work on my skills elsewhere with new mentors. Being an observer again gives me the opportunity to get myself acquainted and comfortable in this new setting. Additionally, it also gives me the space to interact and get acquainted with the music therapists I am working with at MTC before the added pressures of co-leading and leading. I’m still working through some nerves, but I have found the music therapists at MTC to be very supportive as I get acclimated to life as an intern.
The Opportunity to Reflect
Observing the music therapists at MTC work has given me the opportunity to reflect on myself and my current skills as a music therapist in training. I have been able to reflect on how I would react to certain situations and compare that to the reactions of the therapists I am observing. There has also been the opportunity reflect on the areas that I feel comfortable and the areas that I need to work and grow in. I have the opportunity to reflect on my work with similar populations in the past and how I can improve upon my skills going forward. One such population I worked a lot with in college was older adults. The past two weeks I have been able to reflect on that experience and how I can improve while watching sessions at Concordia Senior Services.
The Opportunity to Learn
While I have learned about many different populations and experienced some during my time at WIU, there are some populations that I am experiencing for the first time at MTC. I have read about so many different populations, but I haven’t learned all I can about them. I am a very hands on and visual learner; observing gives me the space to learn about new populations in this way.
Pediatrics is one population that has always been of interest to me that I haven’t been able to experience yet. I have spent six mornings so far at St. John’s Children’s Hospital, which has already expanded my knowledge greatly in that area. It also gives me a new perspective to learn about populations that I have been able to work with during my time in school. Finally, it gives me the opportunity to learn more about the clients and spaces I will soon be working with.
The big difference between being an observer now vs. freshman year is that I am able to look at these experiences through a more educated lens. I am slowly starting to do more co-leading activities with the music therapists at MTC. I look forward to seeing how that compares to my co-leading experiences from my sophomore year of college.
Thank you for reading and remember to have compassion for yourself as you grow!
Hello, readers. My name is Lillian Schierbrock, and I am the new intern at Music Therapy Connections!
A Little Bit About Me
I was born and raised in the small town of West Point, IA. I have four older siblings and seven nieces and nephews. Additionally, I have a Tuxedo cat named Wonderful. When I’m not making music, I enjoy crocheting, sewing, watching Hallmark Movies and driving around listening to Taylor Swift songs.
I recently finished the course work for my bachelors degree in Music Therapy at Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL. During my time at WIU I participated in the Classical Guitar Ensemble, University Singers and the WIU Opera Theatre. I was also a member of the WIU Music Therapy Association, formerly serving as President, and I am currently serving as the Parliamentarian for the Great Lakes Region of the American Music Therapy Association for Students.
My primary instrument was voice and I also play the guitar, ukulele, piano and clarinet. Along with that, I love to collect and to learn a variety instruments. I was also a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, a professional music fraternity.
During my first week of internship, one of my assignments was to read the AMTA Code of Ethics. The AMTA Code of Ethics is an important resource that serves as a guideline for music therapists on ethical decision making and professional conduct. I‘m glad I took the time to read through the Code of Ethics, as it gave me a lot of food for thought. While reading it, some parts of it stuck out to me as subjects I want to hold onto and work on during my internship.
Have Compassion for Not Only Your Clients, But Yourself As Well
As music therapy is a caring professional, music therapists tend to be caring and compassionate people, especially toward our clients. However, we don’t always extend to ourselves that same compassion. Principle #2: Act with Compassion states: “It is important for music therapists to extend compassion to themselves when confronted with their own human limitations.”
Additionally, Principle #2, Part 2.7 further backs this up “practice self-kindness and mindfulness and extend compassion to self if faced with feelings of inadequacy or failure.” Practicing self kindness and compassion is something that I have struggled with myself. Many times I find that I lack compassion toward myself when I make small mistakes or don’t do something perfectly. During the next six months, I will be working on giving the same compassion that I give to my clients to myself, as well.
Striving for Excellence Does Not Mean Perfection
The first paragraph of Principle #5: Strive for Excellence states “Striving for excellence does not imply perfection, but the ongoing commitment to expand our knowledge and skills in all areas.” This sentence really struck me; as musicians it can be easy to become perfectionists, I know it has made me a bit of one. However, this pursuit of perfection can lead to a lot of anxiety and a lack of self compassion.
I have found myself falling into this trap many times of focusing all my energy into playing a piece perfectly and when I make even the smallest mistakes, I will internally antagonize myself about it. I love this idea of focusing on growth over perfection, and will be working on making that my mind set instead. In the famous words of Hannah Montana: “Nobody’s perfect, I gotta work it, again and again till I get it right.”
All of this is easier said than done. In my first week I have already found myself falling into these traps, but I’m going to keep working at it. My goal for myself this next 6 months is to focus on self compassion and growth over self criticism and perfectionism.
I’m so excited to bring you along on this journey! Have a great week!