Why I Chose Music Therapy

My college graduation cap!

Hi again! I wanted to take a few minutes today to talk about what brought me to music therapy.

As a high schooler beginning to think about college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. After looking at my passions and hobbies, I settled on occupational therapy. By the beginning of senior year I had a college picked out and was planning on applying for fall 2015.

What brought me to occupational therapy? Throughout high school, the highlight of my weeks during the winter and early spring was volunteering with the local Special Olympics Swim Team on Friday evenings. I attended local meets and even State Games with the athletes, and learned that I had a passion for helping people. Naturally, this led me to occupational therapy.

However, there was always a little voice in the back of my head saying, “But what about music?” I couldn’t ignore that. I was very involved with my high school music department — in marching band, concert band, choir, the spring musicals, jazz band, even going to music camp for a week in the summer. I didn’t want to let that go. I knew I didn’t want to go into music education or performance, so I thought that a career in music just wasn’t possible for me.

As senior year rolled around and I was trying to get excited about a future in occupational therapy, that little voice grew louder. The college I had chosen didn’t have a band, orchestra, or choir and that just didn’t feel right to me.

At some point that fall, someone (perhaps my mom, a friend, or my band director) mentioned music therapy to me. I had no idea what that was but immediately knew that I had to do it. After looking it up, my heart was set!

After touring some colleges, I settled on Molloy College in New York and after applying, auditioning, an interviewing I was accepted as part of the Class of 2019. Four years later, I know I made the right choice. Music therapy is the perfect combination of my two passions: helping people and music.

As always, thank you for reading! I look forward to seeing you around MTC!

Integrating Technology Into Music Therapy Sessions

Hi again! I’m back to talk about the modern marvel of technology. It’s pretty amazing, and can be adapted and used in so many ways within music therapy sessions.

  • GarageBand. This one almost goes without saying. From recording songs for clients to giving them the opportunity to write their own music from scratch, this is an amazing resource for music therapists to have in their technology toolkit.
  • Music games. There are so many wonderful music games available that can help accomplish a variety of goals. Anything from rapport building to fine motor skills can be addressed through interactive music games. Some of my favorites available for iPads include Incredibox, Sound Forest, Piano Tiles, Auto Rap, and Ditty.
  • Organizing repertoire. I almost never rely on physical copies of music anymore. I have everything scanned in to meticulously organized Google Drive folders that I can easily pull up or access in a session, even without WiFi. I also use Guitar Tabs, which has lyrics, tablature, and chords for almost every song under the sun! I don’t have to worry about carrying around binders full of music or forgetting something at home. I can also look up client requested music in an instant.
  • Google Drive. I use Google Drive for EVERYTHING from tracking client and student attendance to documentation to organizing music as mentioned above to coordinating schedules and plans for the week with my colleagues. It’s easy to organize things and access from multiple devices — all password and fingerprint protected, of course.

This is just a small sampling of how I use technology in everyday sessions. Of course there are many other technology resources available for music therapists, but I find these ones to be the most accessible and successful for me.

As always, thank you for reading and have a great day!

~Molly

What I’ve Learned About Myself After Moving Halfway Across The Country

I’ll be honest: moving halfway across the country was not easy. As many of you may know from my introduction post, I grew up in Connecticut and went to college right outside of Manhattan. While I was away from home at college, I was still close enough to go home on the weekends.

Moving to Springfield to work here at MTC has turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have ever made, but definitely one of the hardest. I miss my family, friends, and pets back on the East Coast daily, and I know they miss me too.

However, this has been an amazing learning experience for me in so many ways. Here are a few things I’ve learned about myself in my short time out here:

  • I’m a lot more independent than I thought I was! Going places alone used to be a little scary for me, but since I’ve been living on my own in a new place, I’ve found the joy in it. Taking myself out to dinner, seeing a movie by myself, or even going to a museum alone have been weekend activities I enjoy doing with me, myself, and I.
  • The importance of self care. In the past few months, I’ve really learned what self care is and is not for me. It’s made a big difference both with dealing with the emotional toll my work can take on me at times, and the emotional toll being so far away from my support system can take.
  • Although I’m far away from my support system, FaceTime, social media, and phone calls are wonderful things! I talk to my parents on the phone a few nights a week, and sometimes we FaceTime and they hold the phone up to each of the dogs and cats so I can see them. Although it’s not the same as being there, it really does help a lot to be able to so easily connect with my family and friends.

I’m enjoying figuring my new life in Illinois out, and not a second goes by where I regret my decision. I’m super grateful to the team at MTC for being so amazing and making my transition so smooth, as well as the wonderful families I serve at MTC. And not to leave out my incredible parents, who supported me through this journey — you guys are the best!

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you around MTC!

Learning The Importance Of Self Care

Learning The Importance Of Self Care | Music Therapy Connections

Hi again! I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about something near and dear to my heart: the importance of self care when working in a helping profession.

I knew when I decided to become a music therapy major that it wouldn’t always be easy for so many reasons, but I don’t think I really came to fully understand that until now, as a professional. I knew I would be having difficult discussions with clients and helping them through difficult times in their lives, but the emotional toll of what that would be like didn’t hit me until I began working in the field.

One of my main contract locations is a pediatric behavioral health facility. I work with people ages from 5 to 18 with a broad range of psychiatric and behavioral disorders. I love working with this population, but it can be very emotionally challenging at times.

Coupled with the fact that I have other contracts and a caseload of clients and students at MTC, I can feel pretty exhausted — physically and emotionally — at the end of the week. This is where self care comes in.

When I first began working, and even when I first began internship, I thought I understood the importance of self care. I made sure to do things to take care of myself and treat myself with kindness. Quickly, though, I realized that the things I thought were self care just weren’t working for me. Watching Netflix is great, but doing it for an entire weekend because you think it’s ‘what you need for self care’ isn’t always the answer.

For me, self care has become taking a long walk in the evening and stopping to pet dogs. It’s become cooking a good, healthy, nourishing meal for myself to power my body and brain. It’s forgiving myself when I make a mistake. It’s become minimizing electronic use at night to get a good, solid night’s sleep. It’s making sure I drink enough water.

It’s even become throughly cleaning my apartment or my car out on a Sunday afternoon to have a fresh start for the week. It’s also become finding a creative outlet outside of work — I’m really looking forward to joining the Capitol Area Concert Band when they resume rehearsals in August!

Self care looks different for everyone, and for some, a weekend of laying on the couch watching Netflix might be exactly what you need. I encourage you to take a closer look at your current self care routine and examine what’s working and what might not be. Self care isn’t selfish, and it’s an important part of being a human in today’s fast paced world.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you do something nice for yourself this week!

~Molly

Keeping Busy: My Day-to-Day Summer Schedule

Hello again! I hope you had a lovely Independence Day!

For me, it was a lovely mid-week break. Thursdays are my busiest days between a contract location in the morning and clients and students in the afternoon, so the holiday was a much needed bit of rest. Reflecting (and resting!) yesterday inspired me to write a blog post about my weekly schedule now that I’ve settled into a routine.

Mondays are a good, slow start to the week. I have a contract location in the morning and then I see a few clients at MTC in the afternoon. It’s a great way to ease into the week!

Tuesdays begin to speed up a bit, with a very fast-paced contract all morning, supervision with my colleagues in the afternoon, and a few lessons in the afternoon and evening.

Wednesdays are a nice bit of mid-week quiet for now. I’ll have some Listen and Learn for Little Ones classes starting this week and I’ll begin at a different contract location on Wednesday mornings in the early fall, but for now I’ve just been focusing on office tasks, practicing, and students.

Thursdays are by far my busiest day! I go to the same fast-paced contract location as Tuesday for a few hours in the morning, then I head to MTC for a few back-to-back clients and students in the afternoon. I usually leave the office quite tired at the end of the day, but also quite fulfilled.

Fridays for now are a nice quiet end to the work week. The contract location I’m scheduled to be at is on summer break, so I’ve just been taking Fridays as an opportunity to get things done at MTC like organizing and cleaning, practicing, writing blog posts, doing some general office work and seeing a client and a student. Starting in the fall, though, my Fridays will fill up quickly with contract work and more clients and students at MTC!

This ‘light’ schedule has been a great way to ease into my new job and roles here at MTC. Coming straight from busy weeks of college classes and internship has definitely helped keep me on top of things and in a routine. It’s also definitely helped that my schedule is a bit lighter for the summer as I get adjusted to life as a professional music therapist and living here in Springfield.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read! I look forward to seeing you around MTC.

Molly Robitaille