Happy Halloween week, all! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love the decorations and the food, but my absolute favorite part of Halloween is dressing up in costumes! When I think about costumes, I remember the costumes I wore when I was involved in theatre. With Halloween coming up I thought it would be a fun time to reflect on how being involved in theatre has impacted me as a musician and future therapist.
My Theatre Background
I don’t have the most extensive background in theatre, but I had many wonderful opportunities to take part in theatre. As far as I can remember I have had an interest in theatre. My first role was as a bell in my elementary school’s Christmas musical. I was involved in my junior high’s musicals, most notably I was a narrator in Aladdin Jr.
When I got to high school I took part in the annual fall plays. During my last two years of high school, my school began doing high school musicals. Through these musicals I had the opportunity to portray Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music and Sandy in Grease. Along with traditional theatre, I took part in speech team in the storytelling and acting categories.
In college I joined the WIU Opera Theatre, where I got to continue performing musical theatre and learn how to perform opera. I was cast in Hansel and Gretel,Le Nozze De Figaro and Venus and Adonis, the latter production was canceled due to COVID-19. Additionally, I performed in 4 opera workshop showcases, where I performed both musical theatre and opera scenes.
Other than the joy I got from dressing up and performing, I learned so much taking part in theatre. Much of what I learned has helped grow my skills as future music therapist.
Going with the Flow
Mistakes can happen a lot in live theatre; its easy to miss a line or forget a cue. In those times it takes some quick thinking and to go with the flow to get the scene back on track. I had a few situations where I had to improv when a line was forgotten. I have had similar experiences in sessions. I’ve had situations where I forgot lyrics to a song, so I improved lyrics until I got the song back on track. Quick thinking is important in other situations during music therapy sessions, especially in fast-paced settings like hospitals. I’m still growing in my quick thinking skills, but I can credit some of the skills I currently have to my time in theatre.
Being involved in theatre, I’ve gotten to portray different types of people. This has given me to the opportunity to walk in other peoples’ shoes so to say. To accurately portray these characters I had to consider their motivations and what issues they are facing. I feel this helped me develop my empathy skills. I use my empathy skills daily when working with clients to help gage how they are feeling and what they need from me as a therapist during music therapy sessions.
When I was involved in theatre, I had my fair share of anxiety and stage fright. However, taking part in theatre helped me develop confidence in myself as a musician and a performer. Additionally, I learned how to efficiently and confidently multi-task. Confidence is important when conducting music therapy sessions. Confidence is one thing that I have currently lacking in since starting internship. I’ve been reflecting on when I have confidence to help myself figure out how to find my confidence again.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have a great Halloween full of fun costumes and yummy sweets!
Fall has been one of my favorite times of year for a long time for so many reasons. Two of my favorite flavors, apple and pumpkin, are in season, which means there are so many delicious treats to eat and make. Nature is so beautiful with the leaves changing colors. Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of the best holidays in my opinion. Some of my favorite people, particularly my parents, have fall birthdays. Additionally, I think I almost like the fall Hallmark movies more than the Christmas ones.
In the past, I have found ways to bring fall into my music therapy sessions. One of my favorite interventions I created for my clinical skills class was a drum circle based around fall topics. I came up with different rhythms based off of phrases that were related to fall. I made a visual with all of the phrases on it that I decorated with leaves from a tree outside of the music building. (pictured below) This intervention is a favorite memory of mine, as it was also one of the first interventions that I felt successful leading.
Until I came to MTC, I hadn’t considered just how much fall could be implemented into sessions. In almost every setting I’m at, I’ve seen my supervisors implementing fall topics and songs. I have gotten to observer fall theme interventions to fall-themed groups. I enjoy seeing how they use the fall season to reinforce their client’s needs and goals.
Counting and Colors
There are many fall themed counting songs that I have come across in the past month. I have found multiple songs that are variations of counting pumpkins. Along with leaf and bat themed counting songs. Fall is such a colorful season, which also gives the opportunity to reinforce colors. The colors brown, red, orange and yellow can be reinforced with leaves, pumpkins and apples. Additionally, I have seen peers use the Halloween song One Eyed, One Horn, Flying Purple People Eaters to reinforce colors and numbers.
I’ve discovered how singable stories are a way to bring fall topics into sessions. I have seen the There Was an Old Lady Who… books used in sessions. Those books have many fall variations with topics like fall foods, Halloween and scarecrows. I look forward to soon using the the book: We’re Going On A Leaf Hunt, which is a variation of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
I’m also discovering the use and fun of fall songs. These songs can give the space to discuss topics like the season change and fall events. Additionally many of the songs I have found also reinforce fall approve clothing and discuss fall foods. These songs can be a place to insert clients’ academic goals and to start discussion. My favorite fall song that I have discovered since starting at MTC is Fall, Fall, Fall from Listen & Learn Music.
For adults, I’ve seen the use of the song Autumn Leaves to be useful for discussing fall. Additionally, the song Over the River and Through the Woods is regarded as a Thanksgiving song, which can be used to discuss holiday plans and baking. I have seen that fall can be a way to narrow the subject for other discussion topics; such as “What is your favorite fall outdoor activity?” Instead of “What is your favorite outdoor activity?”
I’m enjoying seeing how my supervisors incorporate fall into their sessions. I look forward to seeing how I can continue to incorporate fall into my sessions and interventions in the future.
Hello All! I hope your week has been going well; for me here at MTC it been another week of learning! The last couple weeks I have been considering the importance of finding the value in the small things.
Not Everything has to be Big
I remember before starting my first practicum in college, I imagined that the interventions I was going to do would create a big, almost immediate change in my clients. So much of what we see posted online makes it look like music therapy can do that. In reality, therapy is mainly many small changes that build up to create the difference. I remember after my first practicum experience I felt so defeated when I didn’t create the big change I imagined. Little did I know this was just feeding my perfectionism.
This way of thinking stayed with me throughout my time in college. I could see that I was making some sort of impact, but I felt like I wasn’t being effective enough. However, when I started observing the music therapists at MTC, I noticed that the client responses were similar to what I had gotten from clients I had worked with in college. I began to consider that maybe I’m not as ineffective as I thought I was.
During the sessions I have been coleading currently, I find myself falling into that trap again. The clients aren’t responding in the ways I imagined; I have to be failing. However, I’m beginning to see it in a different way. The clients are responding to the music, they are answering my questions, following my prompts and emotionally engaging in the music. These aren’t the big immediate changes that I used to imagine, they are smaller impacts that can add up. I’m realizing that if I focus on wanting the big monumental changes, I don’t get the chance to appreciate the small impacts.
The Impacts are Easier to See when you Change your Focus
During voice seminars in college, after performing my voice teacher would always have us state at least three things we did well during our performance. It was a good way to have us focus on what we did well vs. only thinking about what didn’t go perfectly. I always found this to be difficult, as I view myself with a very critical lens; if I messed up even a little part of the song it practically ruined the experience for me.
One of my supervisors also uses a similar system when we are discussing sessions. Before we start any discussions, she has me tell her what I think I did well. I still have a difficult time answering this; I find myself having trouble coming up with things I did well. Additionally, when I do think I did something well, I find myself questioning if I really did well.
However, I’m beginning to find that in the moment when I focus on what I am doing right and not what I am doing wrong, I feel so much more confident in myself as a therapist and a musician. When I focus less on what I might be doing wrong, I am able to focus more on the clients see the impact on the clients so much clearer then before. I less apprehension and I feel a lot more successful.
Overall, I want to continue focusing more on what I am doing right; that way I can appreciate the small impacts. Thank you for reading!
It’s crazy to think that I have finished my third week of internship already! Internship has been such an amazing experience and adventure so far; however, it hasn’t been without some challenges. My second week of internship I started facing some anxieties and insecurities. I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I felt like I shouldn’t be feeling anxious this early; I’ve hardly even started.
I started feeling some imposter syndrome and insecurities about myself as a student music therapist and musician. Additionally, I began feeling a bit alone. I had spent the last four years having peers around me that were in the same stage as me that I could lean on, as an intern I don’t have that anymore. The most frustrating part was that some old nervous habits of mine started resurfacing.
I figured there was two directions I could go in: I could push the feeling down and ignore them or I could face them. I decided to choose the latter. I wanted to face my feelings and work on them now, not leaving them to be a problem for me in the future like I had done so many times before.
Don’t be Afraid to Open Up
From day one my supervisors told me that I could come to them with anything. I contemplated heavily going to them with what I was feeling, but I’m glad I did. They were able to help validate my feelings, and that it was nothing abnormal to feel anxiety at this point of internship. They also shared about their experiences of being an intern and the anxieties they faced. Additionally they were able to share with me self care tips that they use. Overall, it helped me feel a lot less isolated then what I felt prior.
Read a Book
My first day of internship Katey suggested the book You are A Bad*ss, as it was a book that a majority of the staff at MTC had read. My copy of the book came in at the end of my second week, which was good timing. I have never been into motivational/self help books, but I figured I would give it a try. I am part way through the book, and already it has me deeply analyzing my anxieties and fears. It also gave me some ideas of self care strategies I can do. I have now found myself making note of similar books that I want to read after I finish this one. Overall I would highly suggest finding a book to read that resonates with you and your emotional needs.
Seek Further Help if You Need It
This advice came from a conversation about internships I had with a young professional during my senior year of college. Being in a caring profession, it can be easy to fall into extreme stress and anxiety. There is no shame in seeing a psychologist or counselor to work through some of the feelings you are having. Remember that you are still a student, which means that your university’s counseling services are still available, and especially with the pandemic, many universities’ counseling centers are offering telehealth services.
Don’t get me wrong, these are not over night cure. I am still feeling anxious and self conscious at times, but it helps me feel better knowing I’m facing it instead of avoiding it. Take your time and find self care strategies that work for you. If you are a student or new intern, I hope you know that if you are feeling alone and anxious at the beginning of internship, you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way.
Thank you for reading! I believe in you, and keep having compassion for yourself as you grow.