As we wrap up another awesome week of music therapy at MTC, I wanted to tell you a little more about how we’ve been advocating for music therapy this week. If you follow our Facebook page, you’ve probably heard that it’s Illinois Music Therapy Week. To celebrate, we are working even harder to put out the word about music therapy.
On a weekly basis, Rachel and I record live videos on Facebook with songs, resources, and ideas for music therapists, students, and teachers. This week we covered the topic of being an advocate by simply talking to anyone and everyone about music therapy and getting out in the community.
Whether it is the chatting with a cashier at Walgreen, informing the doctor in a hospital, answering your waitress’ question at lunch, speaking at a community event, having coffee with a friendly neighbor, etc, the more people you talk to about music therapy, the more word spreads and curiosity grows. Think that for every one person you tell, they possibly tell another five, ten, or a dozen people.
We also challenged our intern, Sammy Springer, to share her own definition of music therapy and how she is becoming more of an advocate every day. She explains in her video the importance of having an elevator speech and being able to be concise in talking about music therapy.
On top of everything else this week, we had the incredible opportunity to be featured on our local news! What says advocacy more than the words MUSIC THERAPY being said or shown on the local news multiple times!!!! What a blessing and a joyful moment in our week.
We hope to see you advocating for music therapy and are always happy to answer any of your questions! Happy Illinois Music Therapy Week!
Things are always busy at MTC, but the past few weeks have felt even more intense as we continue to move through our season of transition and change. School starting back in August is like the start of our new year. With that new year comes new students, new policies, new contracts, and tons of awesome new ideas!!
I know that it can get confusing for everyone (myself, team members, and families included) because we are shifting things around and have several balls in the air. So, I wanted to share a few ways we stay organized and on the same page as a team and share some ideas you can implement as well.
- Know Your Role – I say it time and time again. Rachel and I make a great team! We work constantly to clarify and simplify our roles so that we can each play to our strengths and accomplish more within our company without repeating work. Knowing that I handle most of our internship details and HR topics while Rachel handles more of the PR and family contact/communication allows for us to easily designate who needs to handle new tasks and gives all of our team members a better idea who to talk to about certain topics.
- Write It Down – I was out of town last week and was without Wi-fi for an entire week. Coming back on Monday was a little bit of a shock to my system after having been away but it was made easier by the fact that Rachel kept a running list of what happened each day. Reading through that document was a quick and easy way to brief myself for the upcoming week and get back in the swing of things. This is a practice we started over a year ago that I am so thankful for! We also keep pretty detailed meeting notes and communicate throughout the day via Slack
- Honest, Clear, and Concise Communication – Being truthful and timely helps us to keep things moving. Even though we have a scheduled Tuesday meeting to talk about business matters, you will find Rachel and I in and out of the office using whatever little face-to-face time we have to quickly answer each others questions or have small discussions. I write down what we need to talk about so that we can communicate more effectively and move forward as quickly as possible. We also encourage regular communication with all of our team members and have an open door policy so we can address most issues and celebrate victories as they occur.
- Check out our facebook live video from earlier where I share secret number four and delve further into how we keep things running smoothly.
We are looking forward to sharing more of the projects we are working on in the very near future! Stay tuned by following us on facebook or becoming a VIP member!
This week on Facebook Live, Katey and I talked about how we communicate and collaborate with one another and as a team of 10 here at Music Therapy Connections. We shared 4 mobile apps that we rely on for these purposes, which I’m outlining below so that you have the direct links at your fingertips.
As we mentioned in the video, Katey and I have very limited time to powwow together in the studio, which is why these apps come in so incredibly handy. The essentials in our technology toolbox include:
- Google Docs – We use Google docs and spreadsheets to collaborate on meeting notes, schedules, and various spreadsheets. The coolest feature is that you can edit a Google doc at the same time and see each others’ changes happening right in front of your eyes.
- Dropbox – this is our go-to tool for sharing and working on files together. To make this process as streamlined as possible, we use the same programs, apps and templates (such as Pages for Mac) so that there are no formatting issues.
- Trello – We are in LOVE with this project management app, which allows us to organize projects, ideas, and checklists.
When it comes to communicating as a team, our #1 tool is Slack. Some of the features include:
- group channels to talk about certain topics with specific team members
- file sharing within a group
- direct messaging & group messaging
Slack works very similarly to texting, because it shows up on your mobile device as well as within the web app. But what sets it apart is that it is searchable — so convenient! Slack has greatly reduced the amount of email we send within our team.
What are YOUR favorite tools for communicating and keeping all of your collaborative projects organized?
We regularly get asked by the parents in our Listen & Learn for Little Ones classes if an older sibling can sit in on the class. We don’t have a problem with them joining but I often feel bad because the session is geared toward a younger audience. The older siblings will sometimes join in with the instrument playing or helping their little brother/sister, but their needs aren’t the focus in the Little Ones class.
So what better way to address those needs than to add a class just for the older siblings at the same time. This session we are adding a Little Ones class on Thursday evening at the same time as the Explorer Class so both young children and older children have a class designed for them but parents only have to worry about being in one place!
We’ve also added a couple classes for older kid and even teens and adults on Wednesdays afternoons/evenings. As we continue to grow, we are looking for new opportunities for all of our community members. If there is a class you would like to see, just let us know! We would love you input.
Check out what’s new on our classes page! We’d love to see you in the upcoming session!
We took a GIANT step in putting ourselves out there when we opened up our own studio this past summer. Our name is on a sign that is visible from a busy road, which has been wonderful for business. Yes, it’s a giant step, but only the first of many.
As our business and team have grown, we’ve started stepping up our game in terms of building a community presence. Just recently, we hosted a booth at a huge local event called KidsFest. We met hundreds of families and helped children make their own egg shakers in addition to networking with other local businesses. We’re sponsoring another event in a few weeks, where we hope to make new contacts and educate even more people about music therapy.
Putting yourself out there can be challenging, time consuming, and draining. There’s a lot of prep involved, from designing and printing marketing materials, to standing on your feet for hours at a time, to dedicating evenings and weekends that you’d probably prefer to spend with your family.
But we’re already seeing our hard work pay off in terms of new students and clients, as well as recognition from people who have already heard of us. We’re not a household name in Springfield just yet, but we’re steadily taking steps towards that goal.
Based on our experiences so far, here are a few quick tips for putting yourself out there and building your local presence:
- Develop quality print materials. We make our own business cards, brochures and fliers fairly inexpensively by using software like Pages and Microsoft Word and then having them printed locally.
- Participate in local fairs, exhibitions, and community events. Get yourself a sign or banner (we ordered ours for less that $100 from Vistaprint) and register for your first booth, if you haven’t already. Doing so is usually affordable, depending on the size of the event, and sometimes you can even snag a small business discount.
- Collect info from people you meet. Giving out fliers and business cards can be effective, but more often than not, they are tossed aside or lost. Have an email list signup or registration form handy so you don’t miss out on a potential new client or student.
- Host your own events. Last summer, we organized a Midsummer Music Celebration and invited the community via mail and social media. Not only did we have a blast, but we recruited quite a few new families!
Of course, don’t try to do everything at once; take your time, experiment, and see what works the best for your business. We are having fun doing that ourselves — it’s a learning experience, for sure!
A few weeks ago my cousin tagged me (and about a hundred other people) in a post on Facebook. The post contained a video entitled “what’s your why?” I liked the video and its inspirational message but didn’t think much of it at the time.
Over the past couple weeks, it became more apparent though that “what’s your why” has been a kind of underlying theme the past few weeks without my even noticing it.
Intention is a huge topic we’ve been tackling in all areas at MTC. If you caught our post about goals for the new year, it would make sense that figuring out intentions is essential in reaching those goals. Recent “why” questions include: Why are you providing that intervention? What is the purpose of this class? Why do you want to be a music therapist? What do you want to learn? What goals are you achieving through this song? Why do you want to be here? Why are we using this process? Why are we doing this?
Why? Why? Why?
So I started thinking… as a leader, business owner, etc… What’s my why? Why am I doing this job??? Why am I here?
I could stop and think of the negatives. I could bring myself down with all the things that haven’t worked out, the long nights, early mornings, and sometimes stressful days. I could get caught up in my never ending to-do list and simply give up…be knocked out and taken down…
BUT my why is stronger. It easily trumps everything and keeps me energized and in the game. My why means that I don’t think about most of the downs sides or hard days. My why keeps me smiling nearly all day every day.
So why??? WHY???????
Because I LOVE IT!!!!!! I love seeing the excited look on a moms face when her son crawls for the first time in my class. I love the “ah ha!” moment when one of my students gets it!! I love writing new songs and hearing the kids I work with sing them. I love teaching an intern and working with people. I love writing, finding solutions, and constantly learning new things. I love seeing the families who come in the door week after week. I love the behind the scenes work that makes everything run smoothly. I love trying to make all the pieces fit. I love finding the answer to a problem. I love trying new things. I love watching people grow and knowing that I had a small part in it. I simply love it. I truly love it. That’s why.
So, what’s your why??