Intern’s Corner – Week Six

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well!

The past few weeks, I have been talking a lot about things that I want to work on or change. I have been working hard to make those changes so far. This week, I want to share some of the things I have recently accomplished that I am proud of!   

During my last supervision, I spent about 20 minutes improvising songs. The first song was with one of my supervisors’ husband. We improvised a song about how he was feeling and how he could make himself feel better. The second song was a song for myself about how I have been feeling about the world. The last improv exercise was a relaxation activity for my supervisors.

Now improvisation has been something that I have never been a fan of. I tend to get very stressed in the moment and feel like whatever I have come up with and played is terrible. However, I felt proud of myself after this improv experience!

This week marks my sixth song I have written! Now songwriting is something that always intimidated me. When I have attempted in the past, I have always struggled with thinking my songs were “good enough”. While my songs may not be the next big hits, they are functional and can help clients accomplish their goals and that is what is important. With each song I write, my confidence level grows.

In addition to songwriting, I also recorded and edited and entire music therapy video for one of our schools myself! Until this week, I had been doing 1-3 of the songs and editing about half of the video. While editing, I also found it easier to listen and watch myself. Although I still do not enjoy it, it has gotten easier with each week.

Another thing I am proud of is my barre chords don’t sound like absolute garbage anymore! They still aren’t what I would consider “good” but they are getting much better. I have been pushing myself to practice them multiple times a week and I am really beginning to see a difference. While I may not be a big fan of using barre chords, I am beginning to see the benefits of using them.

Overall, I am super proud of myself for the past few weeks. I am working hard to make sure that I am stepping out of my comfort zone, pushing myself to better my skills, and finding the balance between criticizing and congratulating myself. Although I am still nowhere near where I want to be in my skills, I am seeing lots of improvement.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Five

Hey everyone! I hope you are all are doing well.

This week has been full of challenges but still a good week. I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone a few times. I also have been pushing myself to work on skills that I especially struggle with. While working on some of these skills, I have had a lot of feelings come up.

Something I struggle with is being okay with not doing something perfectly. If I know something is not absolutely 100%, I tend to think that it is not good. Like I mentioned last week, I tend to really focus on what I am doing wrong, or what is “bad”. I have difficulty finding what I am doing well.

This past week, one of my rep check challenges was to do a children’s song in all barre chords. Now, I hate barre chords. I avoided them every chance I had during undergrad and learned them just enough to pass my guitar competency, then never looked at them again. As a result, barre chords are something that I majorly struggle with.

To prepare for this rep challenge, I went up and down the neck of my guitar practicing the different chord shapes. I would practice until my hand began to cramp. After a week, they sill were not “good” which made me quite frustrated. One of my supervisors asked me how my rep songs were coming along. I told here that my barre chords were still terrible and that I wasn’t sure how it would go. She reminded me that they are not looking for perfection by rather progress.

This got me thinking: how many times have I given up on certain skills or techniques because I’m not perfect? Even if I was making progress, I would get frustrated and decide that it’s just not something I was good at. As a result, I would then find ways to avoid it, like barre chords.

In a way, this is a form of self-sabotage. If I don’t think I am good at something, I want to avoid it meaning I won’t give it my all out of fear of failure. In turn, this leads to me not doing well which reinforces the idea that I am bad at it and the cycle continues. This is definitely not a healthy mentality.

Internship is about learning, growth, and progress. I’m not supposed to be perfect. It’s okay to need help, to have questions, to be corrected, and to need to practice or work on skills. One of my new goals is change my mindset; to tell myself that progress is more important that perfection.

Although this mentality will not change overnight, I am going to try to remind myself that the important part is not being perfect, but rather the progress I am making. Trying to be perfect is an impossible goal that will just hinder my growth. I am human, which means that I will never truly be perfect at anything and that is okay.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Four

Intern's Corner - Week 4 | Music Therapy Connections

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well and have had something positive happen during your week!

For many of my assignments, I have to write songs for various goals. So far, I have written a hello song (which I have already begun using!), a piggy-back folk song, and a re-written pop song. In addition to writing these songs, I also have to record them. This has been a fun challenge.

During my first attempt at recording, my supervisor and I attempted to figure out the program “Audacity”. This was quite the challenge as it was a very old program. Thankfully, I had saved enough to be able to get an iPad the following week. At that point, I was able to begin using GarageBand to record. This program is much more user-friendly.

Although GarageBand is easier to use, it still takes a while to get understand. I have spent my week creating all sorts of “music samples” in an attempt to learn how to record. There are so many options to choose from! It’s hard to find what you want or need.

My first attempt at recording was far from perfect. It took me a while to figure out some of the settings and modes. Even after recording, it was hard to figure out how to do what I wanted, such as adding a fade out. Google has been a great friend this week!

One of the biggest challenges of recording is having to listen to myself. As I am sure many of you can relate, it is almost painful listening to myself sing or play. I tend to only pick out what I did wrong or what sounds bad. While it is important to be critical and find ways to improve yourself, it is also just as important to find things that you did well.

This is something that I struggle with, not just with recording. One of my supervisors this week told me that when I say something positive about myself or something I did well, I need to say it with confidence (even if I am not confident). Sometimes it is hard saying “I am good at this” or “I did that well”. This is something that I hope to improve on over the next few months.

Although learning how to record can be frustrating, it is also super fun! There are so many options to choose from! I have had a lot of fun messing with different settings and instrumentation options. While I may not be utilizing these options quite yet, I am trying to familiarize myself with them in the hopes of using them in the near future!

In a few weeks and months, I will be much more proficient at using GarageBand and the recording equipment. I also hope that I will be more confident in my abilities to make quality music for my clients. For now, I will continue experimenting and learning! Maybe in a few weeks, I can give you all some tips and tricks I have learned along the way!

Thanks for reading!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Three

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful week and are staying healthy!

I am three weeks into my internship and boy are there a lot of things I am getting used to. Although there are similarities between being a student and an intern, there are many differences as well.

During my four years in undergrad, I generally took 19-21 credit hours as well as participated and had leadership positions in a few organizations. I took lessons for two instruments and was never in less than three ensembles. I thrived on my busy schedule and enjoyed the challenge. I thought I’d be prepared for the busy life of an intern.

While I had a full schedule in school, I had many half-hour to hour-long breaks between classes, rehearsals, or meetings. There was plenty of time for me to catch up on homework, talk to friends, of just stare at a wall while my mind took a break throughout the day. In internship, while I am able to take mental breaks here and there, my schedule is much more condensed and is much more go-go-go.

Despite having full days in school, I tended to stay up until midnight on average and be just fine the next day. While I’m not really a morning or a night person, I tend to lean more towards night. Since starting my internship, I am waking up only 30 minutes earlier but I am ready to go to bed much sooner. I try to be in bed around 9pm and fall asleep somewhere between 10-11pm. This time continues to get earlier each week! Even though my weeks have less packed into them, I am requiring much more sleep to stay functional.

Starting in my sophomore year, I only needed to prepare to lead one session per week. At the time, this seemed like such a huge task. Now, I have four to ten sessions a day five days a week. While I am not leading any full sessions myself yet, it is still a big adjustment.

Throughout school, my fellow music therapy classmates tended to have similarities in their schedules. As a result, I almost always had someone who was “in the same boat” as me. I always had someone I could talk to who had the same expectations. In internship, I am the only one. It does help having two supervisors who were in my shoes about a year or two ago, but it is certainly different from school.

Being an intern is certainly different from being a student. However, not all these changes are bad. Although I feel more busy and have way more sessions, I get to spend my week learning how to do something that I love. I may be the only intern, but I have four supervisors that are guiding and instructing me to be the best music therapist I can be.

Thanks for reading! Stay happy and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Two

I have just finished my second week of internship! It has been a little bit different that what I expected, mainly due to COVID-19 procedures, but it has been very exciting! Being an intern during a global pandemic certainly makes for an interesting time.

Throughout these two weeks, I have had a few unexpected circumstances come up. The weekend before I was scheduled to start, I was informed that I had possibly been exposed to COVID-19, which is not unexpected during these times. As a result, my first week was spent at home where I began via Zoom and online classes. During my second week, one of the locations where I was supposed to observe decided to remain fully remote rather than going back in person. Therefore, a good portion of my schedule was put on pause.

As this pandemic does not look like it is going to end any time soon, I am choosing to find the good. It can be really hard to not worry about how the pandemic can and will be affecting your life for the next six to seven months. There are certainly some days where I can get wrapped up in my head. During those times, it is important to find the good. I found three things to help me navigate these tough times.

Be Flexible

I am so fortunate to have a team that is supportive and understanding of the situation. When I was possibly exposed, my supervisors adjusted my first week to make sure I could still get hours even though I was unable to come in. During my second week, one of the locations I was going to observe decided to stay remote until further notice. As a result, my schedule changed once again. Hopefully my schedule will begin to settle out in the next week or two but until it does, I am ready for whatever life throws my way!

Enjoy Current Opportunities

This past week has been a big adjustment for me. Some of my days are fairly full and I have a lot of music to learn and assignments to complete. While I currently have a lot of free time in my schedule, I know that this will not be the case in a few weeks. Because of that, I am taking advantage of the free time I have to learn as much music as I can, work ahead, and adjust to being an intern. Although I am excited to (hopefully) meet some new clientele in the next few weeks and months, I appreciate the free time I have in my current schedule.

Find the Good

While I am unable to spend full days with clients in-person, I am learning how to do music therapy in other ways. Two methods I am learning are music therapy via Zoom and recorded videos. Both methods have their pros and cons, and I definitely prefer Zoom over recordings. However, both methods are great ways to provide telehealth services during the pandemic.

Even though my internship is looking differently than I expected a few months ago, I am excited to see what it has in store over the next few months.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all stay healthy this upcoming week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week One

Hello everyone! My name is Cicely McCain and I am the new music therapy intern here at MTC! I am so excited to start my journey with this group. As this is my first blog post, I should probably tell you all a little about myself.

I am from the small town of Petersburg, IL. I have a younger sister and two little brothers. I also have a pet gecko named Lil A (his full name is Alexios). In my free time, I like to paint, play piano, and watch TV shows. My favorite to watch is anything Star Trek.

For the past four years, I attended Western Illinois University, from which (pending completion of internship) I will graduate with a major in music therapy and a minor in psychology as a Voice/Trumpet primary. During my time there, I was a member of multiple ensembles, including University Singers, Concert Band, Marching Band, and even Steel Band for a bit! I was also a member of WIU’s Music Therapy Association and Mu Phi Epsilon.

As I am a fresh intern, there are PLENTY of areas in which I can improve, such as improvisation, song writing, and overall confidence. During my first week, I have written three goals to help me be the best me I can be for myself, the MTC team, and my clients. Those goals are:

1. I will not let my anxieties and nerves get in the way of my growth.

I tend to allow my anxieties and nerves hold me back from experiences. Often times, I will avoid pushing myself to the next level because it is “new” and I am scared of failing. However, you cannot grow if you never try new things. Author Celestine Chua said, “Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compass towards growth.” I plan to remind myself of this each day of this journey.

2. I will fully prepare for each day as best I can physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Throughout high school and college, I tended to “wing it” a lot. I did not have a proper sleep schedule, struggled to remember to eat or drink regularly throughout the day, and generally just went through the motions. Looking back, I wish I would have taken better care of my mind and body. I cannot give to my team or my clients in the way they need if I start my day half empty. During internship, I plan to take better care of myself so that I can be there for those who need me.

3. I will force myself to step outside of my comfort zone in all aspects that arise.

As stated in my first goal, I tend to avoid “new” or “scary” things. There are many skills that I am nervous about learning, such as improvisation and songwriting. I have minimal experience with both, but I know that these are very important skills for music therapists to have. Throughout these six months, I am going to avoid shying away from anything that is scary, but rather push myself to get as much out of internship as I can.

I look forward to everything I will continue to experience and learn during my internship. In six months, I hope to look back on these posts and see how much I have grown.

Thanks for reading!

Cicely McCain