Hello everyone! What beautiful fall weather we have been having here in Springfield! I’m quickly rediscovering my love for fall! Hooray for sweater weather!
My internship is quickly coming to a close. I only have about 3 weeks left! Where has the time gone?
One of my very first blog posts was about a fun topic called “perfectionism.” I promised that I would give an update on how I was doing with my perfectionist tendencies later on in my internship, and I figured it’s about time to share that update!
Perfectionism is something I believe I will continue to battle, but I’ve seen some huge improvements over the past 5 months. I’ve learned to avoid over-planning, to take things as they come, and focus on the positives. Here are some things that I have found beneficial in keeping my perfectionist self in check.
At the end of the day, tell yourself one thing that you did really well.
No matter if my day was amazing or the worst day I’ve had, I considered at least one thing I was proud of myself for. I wrote this down in my daily journal or told myself this on my drive home. This forces your brain to focus on a positive for at least a few seconds, and it usually carries over for the rest of the day.
“A finished product is sometimes better than waiting for the perfect product.”
This is a topic discussed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. This has been a game changer for me as I continue songwriting and finish my final assignments and projects. Don’t get me wrong: I have not lowered my standards. Rather, once the assignment is finished, I don’t obsess over it and continue to make changes. If you wait for the perfect product, it may never come.
In 10 years from now, who is going to remember that mistake you made?
This is one I tell myself on repeat. Who is going to remember in 10 years, 10 months, or even 10 minutes the chord you missed or the not-so-brilliant thing you said? No one. To be blunt, they probably didn’t even notice or care in the first place.
Perfectionism is very common in the music therapy world. We want to be the best we can be because not only are we affecting our lives, but the lives of our clients. It’s important to not lower your standards, but keep in mind that it’s okay to not be perfect. The things I talked about above have helped me tremendously throughout my internship. If you have other tips in how to push perfectionism aside, please share them in the comments.
As always, thanks for reading and have a fabulous week!
Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week! I am so happy that the Fall weather has finally arrived. The cool, crisp air in the morning gives me a pick-me-up during this busy time of year.
These past 5 months of internship have gone by incredibly quickly. I’ve learned so much and done so many things, including some things you wouldn’t necessarily expect a music therapy intern to do. In this blog post I will share with you some of the cool things I have done throughout my internship that aren’t really music therapy related!
Over the summer, MTC touched up the paint on the walls in order to give a fresh look to their building. I spent two mornings helping with this project. While painting, this time gave me a chance to get to know the other MTC therapists better. It also doubled as extra supervision time as we would talk about what was going on in my sessions and about music therapy in general.
Mini Therapy Horses
I spend a good chunk of time at a children’s hospital every week. One time while we were there, miniature therapy horses came to visit the patients. I also got to visit the horses! :)
This one is definitely my favorite. The same children’s hospital is beginning to build a brand new NICU. This past week was “Demo Day” and my supervisor and I overheard that they were letting people help knock down the wall. After some investigation, we found the party and got the chance to take a sledgehammer to the wall. This was very fun and a good way to finish out the week!
My internship has been such an amazing experience so far. I’ve learned so much through my music therapy experiences and also have had the opportunity to do some other unexpected things! It’s hard for me to comprehend that I only have a few weeks left!
I would love to hear your fun stories! Have you ever done something unexpected and enjoyable at your music therapy sites? Let us know in the comments!
Hello again everyone! Happy October! I’ve had an awesome week at MTC and I hope your week went well too!
Throughout my time here at MTC, I have had many opportunities to write songs that can be used in my music therapy sessions. I had only written one song prior to my internship, so this was a pretty daunting task at first.
The first few songs I wrote were not the best, but they were functional and appropriate for my clients. My songs definitely got better the more I wrote. It also helped to have feedback from my supervisor, Rachel Rambach, who is pretty well-known for her original songs.
I have truly come to love songwriting and have even started composing songs for myself. I have found that songwriting gives me a healthy and creative outlet to express my emotions. Hmm, who would have ever thought that?! :)
My clients have really responded well to the songs I have written specifically for them and their sessions. As I continue to grow in my songwriting, I wanted to share with you some tips I have found useful!
Pick a Topic
Before you start writing, you should come up with a topic for the song. In a music therapy setting, this could be centered around the goal for the client(s). For example, a big goal for several of my clients is to improve social skills. I have written songs describing appropriate behavior when meeting someone new, using manners, and when to walk/run/tiptoe at school.
Write the Lyrics First
When I first started writing, I tried to do everything at once. Let me tell you, it is very difficult to write lyrics, the melody, and the chords all at once. I have found it so much easier to start by writing the lyrics. The melody will often come to you while you are writing the lyrics.
Having Trouble Figuring Out a Melody?
There have been multiple occasions where I have the lyrics written, but the melody just hasn’t come to me yet. When this happens, I pull out my guitar, pick a chord progression, and start improvising a melody with the lyrics I have written. The chords behind my improvisation help me pick a direction in which the melody should go.
Keep it Simple
Your songs don’t have to be the next big hit. They just have to be applicable and functional. Many of my songs just contain a typical three chord progression. Nothing too fancy!
Make a Rough Recording
After your song is finished, record yourself singing and playing it. I use the Voice Memos app on my phone to do this. This rough recording will help you in the future if you forget exactly how you want your song to sound!
Songwriting is so personal and rewarding. Have fun with the process! It’s always a good feeling to witness your clients respond positively to the song you created for them and watch them grow in their goals. Also, write some songs for yourself!
I have truly enjoyed my songwriting journey and hope to keep growing. I hope these tips help you get started on your own songwriting journey! Those of you who are experienced songwriters, please add to these tips by leaving a comment!
Hello everyone! I hope you have had a fabulous week! These past few weeks I have really been finding myself as a music therapist. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. If I had two words to describe the past few weeks, they would be stress and growth.
As I approach the ¾ mark in my internship, everything is getting real. In just 6 or 7 weeks my internship will be over, and the only thing left to becoming a music therapist is the board certification exam. I’m so excited, but also terrified for what lies ahead.
On top of preparing for professional life and the exam, there are intern duties that I need to complete and regular clinical work that needs to be done. Lots of prep was needed, new classes started, new session plans, etc. Long story short, there was a lot going on.
I felt the stress a lot last week. I was putting everything before myself. I had late nights, skipped meals, and did not take care of myself. I ended up getting sick on Thursday and could not come in on Friday. I truly think that I got sick because I was neglecting self care.
I talked to my supervisors about ways to help combat the stress, and, wow, I immediately felt a whole lot better. I started making daily check lists rather than weekly, which doesn’t seem like a big change, but it has helped. It’s beneficial for me to see the few tasks I need to complete during the day rather than the long list of tasks I need to complete for the week. It simply helps my mindset.
I also will prioritize these tasks. Clients come first, followed by my assignments. I was also encouraged to take a break for even just a few minutes in between sessions when able. These few changes and simply talking it out made me feel so much better going into the final stages of my internship.
The past week wasn’t completely full of stress; great things happened too. The first Listen & Learn classes went great and I had a lot of fun teaching them. My clients also made great strides toward their goals! I also saw growth in myself as, though I was feeling stressed, I did not show it and still had wonderful sessions throughout the week.
I’ve always shown exactly how I feel on my face. I really can’t hide anything. However, this is not always helpful as a therapist. This past week I had to push aside my feelings and focus on my clients during their sessions. My supervisors told me that they could not tell I was stressed based upon how I was interacting with my clients. This is a HUGE compliment, as my affect has been a main area of focus throughout my practicum experiences and internship.
I also learned that I can handle a whole lot more than I think I can. With everything going on, I still had successful sessions with my clients and completed everything I needed to. In reality, the stress I was feeling was not worth it.
I’ve also learned a very important thing: Take care of yourself!
I decided to share how I have been feeling these past few weeks because I know that music therapists, interns, students, and others outside of the music therapy field all have moments of stress. I’ve learned that making time to take care of yourself, despite all of the tasks you feel like you need to complete, is essential to getting through the stressful time. Skipping out on self care may only make it worse. In my case, I got sick and had to miss a day of internship. If something has to give, don’t let it be your self care.
Thanks for reading my thoughts this week. If you have anything to add on this topic, please leave a comment!
Hello again everyone! We are really getting back into the swing of things here at MTC as our Listen & Learn classes start back up. It’s been an exciting week!
A month or two ago, one of MTC’s therapists, Molly, wrote a blog post about her typical schedule. I liked it so much that I thought I would give you a “Week in the Life” of an MTC intern!
My schedule has changed quite a bit since starting my internship, and it continues to change a little from week to week. I will share with you my current weekly schedule, as the school year is in full swing!
On Mondays I spend the morning at one of our school contract locations. I provide group sessions as well as a sing-along. I then head back to MTC and facilitate 2 one-to-one sessions. I have about an hour in between the sessions, so I use that time to work on my weekly assignment, documentation, and other prep that needs to be done. Then I finish out my day by taking a piano and guitar lesson with one of our amazing teachers here at MTC!
Tuesdays look very similar to Mondays. I’m back at the school contract throughout the morning, but this time I have both group and one-to-one sessions, followed by the sing-along. Afterwards, I head back to MTC and have my supervision meeting. This is a wonderful time for me to talk about how things are going and receive supervision from the four MT-BCs at MTC. Then I have a one-to-one session, teach 2 lessons, and practice during the extra time I have.
Now that Listen & Learn classes have begun, my Wednesday mornings are spent leading a class and observing one of Rachel’s classes. I then have a little break that I use to write my blog, do some practicing, and prep. In the afternoon I head over to a contract location, where I provide music therapy for a hospice group. Then I go back to MTC and provide 2 one-to-one sessions and finish off my day teaching another Listen & Learn class. Wednesday is the day I have the most diversity in populations served.
I do a bit of traveling on Thursdays. I start off at a daycare contract and lead one group session and observe the other. I then travel to the children’s hospital and provide music therapy to patients until the mid-afternoon. From there I head back to MTC and have 2 one-to-one sessions and teach a Listen & Learn class!
Fridays are my “short” days. I spend the morning to mid-afternoon at the children’s hospital and then practice and prep at home!
The weekends are my time. I typically travel to Macomb or back home and spend time with the people I love. I do make sure to dedicate some time during the weekend to prepare and practice for the next week!
This is a very generalized version of my weekly schedule as an intern at MTC. I hope this is beneficial for those who wonder what a music therapy intern’s schedule looks like! I love that I have such a range of populations in my schedule and get to work with almost every age. I truly enjoy going to internship every day!
Thanks for reading! Have a great week!
P.S. Here is a screenshot of my schedule on Google Calendar for all of us visual learners out there!
3 Things I Wish I Could Go Back and Tell Myself During Music Therapy Practicum
Hello everyone! It’s been a beautiful week here in Springfield! The skies have been blue, the temperatures warm, and the office has been full of music!
As the school year is now in full swing and music therapy students’ practicums have begun, I’ve been reflecting on my practicum experiences.
For those who do not know, music therapy students are typically placed in different settings throughout the community each semester as their practicum. At Western Illinois (where I have my undergrad training), students provide music therapy once a week to their own clients with supervision from music therapy professors or professionals.
My first practicum experience was as an observer the spring semester of my freshman year. I then co-lead a group the spring semester of my sophomore year. Every semester throughout junior and senior year is solo leading!
I remember practicum being terrifying but so exciting at the same time. This is the chance during undergrad to apply what you are learning in your classes in a real-life scenario. As I look back on my experiences, I want to share with you what I would have told myself back then.
I was a nervous wreck for a lot of my practicum sessions. I wanted to provide the best services I could for my clients, but I was also so scared that I would embarrass myself or do something wrong during the sessions. There was truly no reason for me to get so nervous, though it is normal to feel this way! It’s important to remember that you know more than you think you do, and your supervisors and other staff support are there to help you if something unexpected does happen.
Take It All In
Carefully observe everything you can during your sessions. This can sometimes be difficult as you are also leading the sessions, but it is so important to recognize how your clients respond to the music and interventions you bring. This is your time to try out new interventions, be creative, and see what works for your clients and what doesn’t. I found practicum to be one of the most beneficial aspects of my undergrad experience.
Getting to provide music therapy is such an amazing experience. Enjoy it!
Practicum is such a wonderful time for learning and growth in the real world. It can be scary at first, but know that everyone around you is there to support you as you develop your skills.
Leave a comment if you have any advice for current music therapy students during their practicum experience!