{Intern’s Corner} Week 2: “Topsy Turvy”

Image result for topsy turvy disney

Hello Friends! Happy Friday!

I hope you all have had a wonderful week! Mine’s been pretty interesting…well, if I’m being honest, I don’t really remember the majority of this week. Like my title suggests, it’s been a very Topsy Turvy sort of week! For those of you not familiar with your Disney, this means it was an upside down sort of week!

Unfortunately my body decided to shut down on me and I got a weird cold that was fully equipped with chest congestion, sore throat, and runny nose. I was showering in hand sanitizer and devouring vitamin C drops, and cold & allergy medicine all week. Thursday got pretty bad and I was FORCED to take the day off and rest.

Yeah, I know, right?! I was like, body how dare you!? How dare you force me to sleep all day, watch Netflix, and just relax. What is this word relax??? I don’t know what it means?!?!? Who are you?! HOW DARE YOU GET SICK IN THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST!!?!?!?!?!?

During this week, while I carried around my own personal tissue box and drank what might have been my 2000th cup of tea, I realized how important self-care actually is. The topic of self-care has boomed over the past year, especially in the music therapy community. It’s a wonderful idea and I wish more people took it seriously.

While reading various blogs and posts about different methods of self-care, I also stumbled upon comments or blogs arguing that self-care is an excuse for those who are just lazy. It truly baffled me. I thought to myself: why is it considered weak or lazy to take care of your body so that you can perform at 100% all the time?

Unfortunately, we live in a world where meeting deadlines and accomplishing a million and one things within a second has become the norm and has become the definition for success. Even if that means that we end up compromising our own personal well-being. We forget to take a step back, take a moment to ourselves, and also take time to just enjoy whatever is happening in the moment.

Earlier this week I walked into a Starbucks to grab some tea and all I saw were people with headphones in, hunched over screens and piles of books. It made me sad. Granted, I’m the worst person to talk about how important self-care is when I myself don’t even follow good self-care techniques. If it was a year ago, heck even if it was just last semester and I had gotten this sick, I would try and plow right through my week.

I would come up with excuses like “I have to practice”, “I have a big exam”, “oh there’s this project”, or ” oh it’s just a silly cold, I’ll be fine”. I would have made every excuse in the book and figured out a way to keep working, not realizing that if I just took one day off to heal, I wouldn’t be miserable for 10+ days while my body struggled to recover. In high school and college I would have thought, “I’m the only one suffering, and as long as I get my work done it’s alright.” But this week I realized that if I don’t take care of myself, people around me would also be affected.

I also think that this lack in self-care stems from the fact that we as humans are so concerned with what other people think about us. We are afraid that if we aren’t accomplishing enough or doing what everyone else is doing, we won’t be good enough, we won’t be smart enough, we won’t be liked enough, etc.

How many times have you done something not because you wanted to do it, but because you were afraid of what others might think of you if you didn’t? I know I have. In high school I was the kid that took every single AP class, was a competitive athlete, as well as an active musician because others had labeled me as one of the smart kids and an overachiever, and I thought that this was what I was supposed to do.

During my first supervision meeting, my directors and I talked about confidence levels, being more authoritative, and having faith in myself. At one point in this meeting Katey had me stand up, do a power pose, and scream one thing that I was proud of this week (by the way, it was killing a spider for the first time — a big step for me for those of you who know my fear of spiders). This didn’t just push, but shoved me out of my comfort zone. The number one thought that went through my mind was what are people going to think of me? I’m going to look ridiculous; I can’t do this.

Then I realized that I used the word can’t. Last week I was raving about how much I hate the word can’t, and yet here I was using this word on myself. The number of times I use the word can’t on myself is crazy. I can’t be a soprano (Katey so lovingly proved me wrong), I can’t run, I can’t lift weights, I can’t dance, I can’t do this, I can’t do that. And all because I was worried what other people would think of me if what I did wasn’t done the “right” way.

I finally told myself this vicious cycle of thinking needs to stop. If there’s going to be one big thing that I change during my internship, it’s going to be the way that I think about myself. I am going to build my confidence. Everything I do will be done because I WANT to do it for myself.

One of my personal goals I set for myself during this new stage in my life is to read more books again. I just finished reading Ellen Degeneres’ book Seriously…I’m Kidding last night and her chapter “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” really resonated with me and fueled my topic for today’s blog. In this chapter she talks about how we should be happy. She acknowledges that good days and bad days happen. They have to; it’s all part of human life.

Here’s her advice:

“The thing everyone should realize is that the key to happiness I being happy by yourself and for yourself…… Happiness comes from within. You have the power to change your own mind-set so that all the negative, horrible thoughts that try to invade your psyche are replaced with happy, positive, wonderful thoughts……. However  you choose to live your life, just try to enjoy it as much as you can. Fill yourself with joy. And except what life throws at you, the good, the bad, the ugly, the awkward, the fun…”

So what I’m trying to say after this long rant is that self-care is important. Take the time to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually. Do whatever it takes, whether it’s going to the gym, watching a movie, talking to a friend, sitting in silence, or indulging in one extra cookie after dinner. Do it because it makes you happy and don’t worry about what other people think.

I will openly admit that I have purposefully themed my outfit for the day around a Disney princess just to help me boost my confidence, give me energy, and make me feel motivated. (Please visit my Instagram if you would like examples!)  When you are in a good place mentally, physically, and spiritually, you not only benefit yourself but you also benefit EVERYONE that encounters you.

So dear readers, go out, have fun, accomplish everything your heart desires, love everything about yourself, and be the best version of yourself that you can be!

Thank you for reading! I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! See you next week!


{Intern’s Corner} Week 1: “That Was Totally Wicked!”


Hello Friends!

My name is Rachel Pinto and I am the third intern to work at Music Therapy Connections. I HAD AN AMAZING FIRST WEEK!! But before we dive into that, I wanted to introduce myself and let you all get to know a little bit about me.

I was born in India and came to the United States when I was four years old. My family and I settled in Bloomington/Normal (about an hour north) and I lived there until about two months ago when I moved down to Springfield for my internship.

I attended Illinois State University as a music major and graduated this past May. My music background is primarily in piano. As a pianist I have worked as a store pianist, church pianist, accompanist, and piano teacher. I taught as a local piano teacher in Bloomington/Normal for about 10 years and am extremely excited that I get to continue that role while interning at MTC. Two important things to know about me:

  1. I am a child at heart and I refuse to grow up! (I think that’s part of the reason of why I work so well with children!) If you didn’t get the hint from the title of this post and the picture, I am a HUGE Disney fan. I shamelessly have Disney art/decorations tastefully placed around my apartment and I have a lovely collection of Disney plush toys!
  2. I love taking pictures! In high school and college I was the resident photographer among my group of friends. I think they are one of the best and most beautiful ways to capture memories. You know how they say pictures are worth a thousand words? Well I completely believe in that! I can tell you stories about each and every picture that I have taken. They tell about happy, fun, exciting events with amazing and wonderful human beings in my life. So along with all the Disney in my apartment I also have wonderful pictures hanging up everywhere.

If you would like to know anything else about me, just ask! I’ll be more than happy to include fun facts in my later posts during my time at MTC.

Now on to my totally awesome week at internship! I don’t even know how to begin to describe or explain the events of this week. There were moments that were mind blowing, moments that touched the heart, moments that pushed me out of my comfort zone, and moments that made me trust and believe in myself and my skills.

Another thing to know about me is that I love lists, so I’ve decided to explain this past week and it’s events, the thoughts that went through my mind, and my feelings about this week in list form! Here goes:

History and making a full circle:

Katey made the realization earlier this week that I actually have a decent history with Music Therapy Connections and have witnessed their amazing transitions and transformations  over the past few years. I first met Katey my freshmen year of college when I observed her while she  was a traveling Music Therapist in the Springfield area. The client I observed at that time is now going to be a client that I get to work with during my internship!

I met Rachel my Sophomore year while observing one of her classes when she was running Music Therapy Connections out of a local music store. Later that year I invited Rachel to be our guest speaker for an advocacy event at school. Now I’m interning at Music Therapy Connections! How awesome that I get to work somewhere that I have been introduced to and become comfortable with over the span of a few years?!

 Keeping a journal:

I’ve never really been a big person to journal or keep a diary. When I was a teen I tried keeping a diary but that lasted for two days and never progressed after that. However I did jam out to Britney Spears “Dear Diary” song as a teen. This past week I’ve learned that I actually do enjoy journaling. As a requirement for my internship I have to journal my feelings, thoughts, experiences, and ideas about each day.

When each day is so jam packed and full of crazy, weird, amazing events, I find that journaling is a great way to process everything. The next few points are courtesy of journaling and being able to process everything!

Don’t be afraid of challenges and surprises! Believe in yourself and that your skills will get you through them!

Coming into this week, I was fully prepared to work on paperwork, go through initial tours and orientation, and sit in the back and observe sessions. Little did I know, that there would be MANY moments where a guitar would get thrown at me and I would be leading an intervention, singing one of the songs a patient requested, or coming up with an entire session plan and implementing it.

Rachel and Katey decided to start with these surprises from day one with that lovely live video introducing me on their Facebook page. I apologize for my awkwardness! Another thing to know about me is that I like to be well prepared for situations. I’m very capable of adapting and going with the flow during an event, but I still walk into those situations with some sort of plan in the back of my head.

For every moment that occurred this week there was no preparation at all and that freaked me out. When the guitar was handed to me mid-intervention or mid-session I had a minor freak out! My mind was like I don’t know this song, I don’t know the chords, wait what are the words?!?!?! But then all of a sudden my skills kicked in and I made it through.

I’ve been a musician for 18 years and 4 of those years were spent researching and fine tuning skills for therapy. Those lovely semesters of aural training helped me figure out the chords on the spot, my countless hours of jamming out in the car or with friends helped me remember words, and my many years of training as a musician reminded me to just breathe and enjoy the music!

I hate the word “can’t”

When reviewing my journal entries for the week I found a reoccurring theme of how I hate the word can’t. Through my observations of sessions this week, I saw so many amazing things! So many clients were achieving and accomplishing goals and tasks that some people in society would say that they just “can’t” do because they don’t learn it or accomplish it in the “traditional” way.

That got me thinking, who gave us the right to determine whether or not a person is capable of doing something and who said that there is only one correct way to accomplish something? Just because someone doesn’t do something the “typical” way doesn’t mean they can’t do it, they are just either using an alternative method or choosing not to do it.

I’d like to think that a person is capable of doing just about anything, it’s just the matter of do they want to or not. This week I watched clients that society would usually say “No, you aren’t capable of doing that” play piano, sing entire songs, express their emotions, and accomplish many behavioral, social, and communication goals through music therapy. And this is where I love this profession so much! We don’t listen to those people who put limits, and instead we provide alternative and unique methods to turn the “can’ts” into “cans”.

So there you have it. There’s my week! I wish I could post about everything, but then this would probably turn into a mini chapter book. It’s really great to know that I have a community of people, friends, and family following me on this journey over the next 6 months. I hope you enjoy reading my adventures and stories!  I’m excited for the challenges, surprises, and wonderful moments that are to come! I can’t wait to keep sharing!

Have a wonderful week!

Pintobean (I shall be signing off with my nickname since there are two Rachels!)



Intern’s Corner-Week 28

Well, this is my last blog post of my internship.The last six and a half months have flown by and I’m so happy that I got to spend my internship here at Music Therapy Connections. It’s been a fun journey of learning, growing, and meeting new people that have changed my life in so many positive ways. As I look back at who I was in August of last year, I realize that I’m a completely different person now. Even though it was hard at times and there good and bad moments, I wouldn’t change a thing about my internship experience. I’m so incredibly thankful for Rachel and Katey as well as the other team members here at Music Therapy Connections for welcoming me, challenging me, and loving me, especially when I didn’t know anyone else here in Springfield. My internship is an experience that I will surely remember for the rest of my life.

After this next week, I will be off to a new place to start another journey at my first job as a music therapist. I haven’t exactly absorbed or accepted the fact that I’m moving next Friday and finally starting my life after college, but know that all will be alright in the end. I don’t know where life will take me after next week, but I do know that it will be wonderful as long as I keep a positive mindset. It may be hard at times, but with a positive mindset, I will be able to conquer anything. I also have no doubt that I have the tools necessary to be an effective entry-level music therapist.

Finally, thank you for letting me share my thoughts and opinions with you each week. Blogging has been a great way for me to stay reflective and challenge myself to change my mindset whenever I needed it. I may be a sentimental person, but if you are just starting out your internship or will be in the next few months, I want you to remember to soak in every moment of your internship because it goes by fast.

Have a wonderful week!

Sammy Springer

Intern’s Corner-Week 26


Throughout the course of my internship, I’ve written several original and piggy-back songs and recorded them; I’ve learned a lot from the process and now believe that I have the tools and knowledge necessary to write songs specific to my client’s goals and objectives. This week, I’ve been working on one of my final projects for the end of my internship. I’ve decided to take all of my songs that I have written and recorded, put them into a book and analyze them to see how I can adapt them for different client populations and goals. This has had me reflect on three songs I use on frequently and how I adapt them daily for different client needs.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star 

I use this song a lot in the hospital setting, especially with younger children. Just this week, I improvised piggyback lyrics for a patient who wanted to sing about seahorses and starfish. I kept the melody of this song, just added different lyrics, encouraging the patient to engage in songwriting with me in order to allow them to express themselves in a positive constructive way. Since this is such a familiar melody to so many young children, you can rewrite the lyrics for any purpose or goal!

Twist and Shout-The Beatles

I’ve used this song throughout practicum as well as my internship for a variety of purposes. One can change the lyrics to this song to promote movement, encourage the learning of directional changes and opposites, make smooth transitions, and even promote speech. The melody is catchy enough to use with younger children and most older adults know this song as well!

Shake Your Sillies Out-Children Song

This song is a favorite of mine, however, I never sing it the way that it was originally written. I usually adapt this song in the hospital setting for when a patient is playing the drum or a shaker. I change the words based on their actions in the moment; for example, if they’re tapping the drum, I sing about tapping and replace the lyrics accordingly. If they’re playing a maraca or using an egg shaker, I sing about opposites and directional changes (up, down, etc.). Like the previous two songs, it’s such a great song because it’s easy to sing along with and great to adapt!

What are some of your favorite songs to adapt? I’m always looking for new songs and would love to hear from you!!

Have a great week!

Sammy Springer

Intern’s Corner-Week 25

Never say never. I have the bad habit of saying “I’m never going to (insert comment here) because I just don’t like it.” I use this phrase frequently, almost daily, about various aspects of my life. I’ve proved myself wrong over and over again because I’m currently doing things that I said I would “never” do in life. For example, I said I would never teach lessons. At my internship, I teach music lessons for piano and over the past six months, I am realizing that I LOVE it; now I’m considering teaching piano and flute lessons after my internship because it’s something that I enjoy doing and I love working with students.

I’ve heard myself say “in the future, I never want to do this” so many times in the past few months so I wonder why do I say it in the first place? It might be because something seems uncomfortable at first, but after practice and experience everything does get easier and more comfortable. Part of growing as a person is realizing that your tastes, likes, and dislikes change over time. Looking five years into the future, after learning and practicing, I might enjoy an activity that I absolutely dislike right now. The truth is that by saying “never” to something, it limits my outlook and prevents me from expanding, learning, and growing. The brain is a powerful thing and it hears me saying to myself that I will never do something, which causes me have a general negative attitude towards that situation. However, I’m very fortunate that I’m surrounded by people who push me despite hearing me say that “I never want to do” something.

Keep an open mind when trying new things. Always. Also, stop saying never! I’m striving to take that word completely out of my vocabulary. It’s a toxic word that prevents growth and limits a person from finding their true potential. That’s the lesson that I’ve learned this week and probably one that I will keep learning throughout my life. Just because something is hard right now, doesn’t mean that it won’t get easier over time; I might find myself to actually enjoy it!

Thanks for reading!

Sammy Springer

Intern’s Corner-Week 24

Last week I wrote about three reminders that I would tell myself in the past in order to help overcome challenges. This week I would like to reflect and share with you three things I would like to keep in mind as I continue practicing as a board-certified music therapist after internship. If you are in this stage of life as well, finishing up internship and deciding what is to come next, I challenge you to think about what you could possibly remind yourself in the future, especially when times get tough or seem difficult.

1. Keep an open mind.

When I continue on through my career, I need to remind myself to continue keeping an open mind about any situation I may encounter. This has been my theme of the past week; just because I may not fully enjoy something right at this moment, it doesn’t mean that, in the future, I won’t enjoy it or have developed the skills to be effective in a particular situation. This can apply to all aspects of life including clinical situations, certain foods, and other activities.

2. Trust yourself.

As Katey always says to me, “You’re the expert! What is there to worry about?” So as I enter into my career, I need to believe and trust in myself more than ever. Even when I feel that I don’t know what I’m doing, I do know because I’ve received excellent training and guidance in the past. You CAN do it because you ARE the expert!

3. Take care of yourself!

This is probably the biggest reminder that I need to tell myself everyday after my internship. I’ve been experiencing multiple problems that have stemmed from muscle weakness. I haven’ t been taking care of myself the way I should and it has effected my guitar playing and overall personal health. When I start my new job, I need to be proactive about strengthening my muscles so that it medical problems don’t get in the way of my clinical skills.


Sammy Springer