Hello all! We had a lot of snow this last week in Springfield. I hope you are staying warm wherever you are at!
Snow days are something I thought would not experience anymore after finishing school. However, with the snowstorm that hit Springfield, I had two snow days. As a child, I loved snow days; it was so much fun to have a day to play in the snow and watch movies. Even in college, snow days were a wonderful opportunity to practice selfcare and to get ahead on assignments.
However, I found that I don’t quite enjoy these snow days as much as I did in the past. The past few weeks have been full of cancellations due to COVID-19. I was looking forward to a “normal” week again, something I haven’t had since the December holidays. To quote my supervisor Emma, “No week is normal when working in private practice”. I attempted to make the best out of my two days off. In this bog post I will be taking you through what snow days looked like as a music therapy intern.
Throughout our day at the Hope School, Emma and I heard whispers of the upcoming storm and the possibility of a school cancelation. By the time we left Hope that day, it was confirmed that classes were canceled the following day. When I got to MTC, my supervisors encouraged me to take home anything I would need from MTC and I was advised not to go out the next day. I ended that day grabbing a few extra supplies from Aldi’s before returning to my apartment, where I would spend the next few days.
Snow Day #1: Wednesday
Typically I go with my supervisor, Molly, to SPARC on Wednesday mornings. Due to the storm, SPARC was closed for the day. I spent my morning working on songs for my sessions at SPARC, Concordia, and MTC. I then finished out my morning zooming with my supervisor, Emma, which we discussed how to lead virtual voice lessons. That afternoon, I helped lead a virtual voice lesson and led two virtual piano lesson. I also gave myself some selfcare breaks throughout the day that consisted of watching Grey’s Anatomy and cuddling with my cat.
Snow Day #2: Thursday
I typically start my Thursdays at St. John’s Children’s Hospital with my supervisor, Katey. After assessing the road conditions and realizing my car was stuck in a snow drift (see picture above), I came to the sad concussion that I was stuck another day. I spent my morning similarly to the day before, lots of practicing for upcoming sessions. I attended my weekly supervision and repertoire check via Zoom. I then spent the afternoon working on more songs, taking self-care time, and plotting how to dig my car out of its snowy prison.
I was determined to see my clients at St. John’s and Concordia. I figured out how to use a plastic trash can to scoop the snow away from my car. After about a half an hour of digging, my car was free, I was able to go to my sessions that day, and even grabbed a Starbucks coffee during my scheduled self care time.
Overall, while I didn’t enjoy being cooped up in my apartment, I did learn a few things from my two snow days.
How much I love working with my clients and patients
Interdisciplinary work has been something that has interested me since I started college. During my time at WIU, I took part in the WIU Adapted Motor Clinic. This was a multidisciplinary project that provided physical education services to local students with special needs. During my time working in the Adapted Motor Clinic, I had the opportunity to collaborate and co-treat with students studying to be educators, speech language pathologists, and recreation therapists.
I believe there is much value in collaborating with related professions. Because of this, I was very excited to see that one of my internship assignments was to observe three professionals working in related professions. In the past 20 weeks of my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to observe a physical therapist, an art therapist, and an educator in a pediatric medical setting.
The first professional I observed was a physical therapist at St. John’s Children’s Hospital. I observed the physical therapist work with a patient who was post-surgery and also had developmental delays. It was interesting to watch the exercises the physical therapist did with the patient. Additionally, it was great to observe how the physical therapist interacted with the patient. Even though the patient had limited communication, the physical therapist was very good at asking questions that the patient could answer and still was very conversational with the patient.
This opened my eyes on how music therapy could support a physical therapist’s work with a patient. To encourage motor movement instrument play could used. An example of this would be using a drum to encourage the patient to reach and extend their arm. Additionally, the movements of the exercise could be written into a song or choreographed to the patient’s preferred music.
The second professional I observed was an art therapist at the Hope Learning Academy. I was extremely excited to observe art therapy sessions. I’ve heard and read a lot about art therapy, but have not had the chance to meet an art therapist or observe art therapy sessions. I observed the art therapist lead one individual session and two group sessions with students at the Hope Learning Academy. I was surprised to see that the art therapist was covering a similar topic that my supervisor and I have been covering during our group music therapy sessions at Hope.
This inspired me to think about how a music therapist could continue to collaborate with an art therapist at the in an educational setting. There could be possibilities of collaboration during individual sessions with music and art interventions. Additionally, we could purposely align some of the topics in our respective sessions.
The final professional I observed was an educator with the education services at St. John’s Children’s Hospital. I was familiar with the educator at St. John’s as she is another member of the St. John’s Children’s Hospital Creative Art Therapies Team. My supervisor and I cross paths with her often and I have seen her work from a far, so I was excited to directly observe her work. During patient interactions, the educator would ask patients about what they were doing in school and if they had any school work they needed help with while hospitalized. Additionally, the educator gave out developmentally appropriate books, activities, and toys to patients of all ages.
With educational services, music therapy can support their work by reviewing academic skills during our sessions. Additionally, music therapists can make patients aware of tutoring service and make patient referrals to the educator.
Overall, I am glad I had the opportunity to observe these related professions. It gave me much food for thought on how we can support and work with these related services to best serve our clients, students, and patients. I look forward to possible collaborations with related professional in the future.
Throughout my internship, I have been tasked with writing and recording songs for my assignments. Prior to internship, I wrote a few songs, but they were mainly songs I kept to myself or simple hello/goodbye songs I used in sessions. I was not confident in my songwriting skills, so I hardly ever shared the songs I wrote out of fear that people would dislike them.
My internship at MTC has helped me grow as a songwriter, particularly writing songs for clinical use. Most of the songs I have written, I am now using at the Hope School during our sessions there. Along with writing songs, I was also tasked with recording them on Garageband. Prior to this I had used Garageband on a few occasions, but never to create full songs. This gave me the opportunity to learn how to create percussion tracks, layer instruments, and use a midi keyboard.
For this week’s blog post, I will be discussing the things I have learned from my experience writing songs for my assignments.
Write EVERYTHING Down
This is a lesson I learned the hard way. I would get ideas for songs, but would wait on writing them down until I had time to write the song. However, by the time I got to writing the song, I would forget the ideas I had. I have started documenting song ideas, whether it be lyrics or melody. I have typed lyrics in the notes app on my phone or I have written them on the margin of pieces of paper. Additionally, when I think of melodies, I will record myself humming or sing it on the voice recorder app on my phone. I work similarly during the process of songwriting. When writing, I find that I need to continually record myself to remember the exact melodies I created.
Take Advantage of the Moments of Inspiration
I’ve discovered that inspiration can strike anywhere. If I am in time and space where I am able, I take advantage of that moment. I find my best work happens when I am feeling inspired to write. It’s more difficult to write a song when you’re not feeling into it. Some of my favorite songs I have written came out of following moments of inspiration. I have had times where I have even gotten out of bed and began working on songs because that’s when inspiration hit.
Rhymezone.com Is the Best
When turning my ideas into a song, the website rhymezone.com was so helpful. I was able to insert the words I was trying to rhyme into the website. The website generates multiple words and phrases that rhyme with the word. In addition, this gives me words that I might not typically use in my daily life. This can add more interest and word diversity to the songs.
It is Okay to Write a Bad Song
This was something one of my supervisors told me when I was working on my first songwriting assignment. I was very nervous about creating this song, I was especially worried that my supervisors would dislike it. I have learned during my internship that it is ok to make little mistakes and try new things, because that is how you learn what to do differently next time. When I worked hard on a song and it didn’t turn out to be my best song, I learned what I try differently in the next song.
Experiment and Have Fun
As I stated, this was my first time creating full songs on Garageband. The first few songs I wrote, my supervisors noted that I did not sound excited in the recordings of them. I was so focused on making the songs “perfect” that I wasn’t finding the fun in the songs I wrote. As I wrote more songs, I explored more sounds and instruments on Garageband. I began to find the joy in creating these songs and had some pride in the outcomes. This made my recording become more “fun” sounding and I found more joy when using the songs with clients.
Overall, I have a new love for songwriting. It is so enjoyable getting to use the songs I wrote with clients to achieve their goals. Additionally, it’s exciting to see my supervisors make use of my songs. I look forward using these lessons I have learned when writing songs in the future and when songwriting with clients.