Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Two

Hello everyone!

This week, we have had beautiful weather here in Springfield, Illinois! I hope you have had the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. During my supervision this week, the team and I brought bean bags and sat outside in the parking lot! This was certainly an enjoyable experience.

Instrument Care

A few weeks ago, I helped my supervisor change the strings on the guitars in the office. Prior to this, I had only changed guitar strings once. We grabbed the guitars, the new strings, the tools, and pulled up a YouTube video to follow. After successfully changing the strings, the quality of sound improved significantly. For many of our other instruments, we clean them after each use. For instruments that we use less often, we store them in a safe place to keep them organized and protected.

Creating Materials

For many of my sessions, I used visuals for a variety of uses including to provide a sense of structure, provide opportunities for communication, and to include an additional form of sensory input. During my undergraduate practicum, I colored all my visuals. Thankfully, I now have access to a color-printer, cutting the time it takes to create visuals down significantly. The best part about making visuals is the lamination process. This is especially beneficial as it allows my visuals to last much long.


As a music therapist, I have quite a bit of paperwork I am required to fill out each day. After each session, I document how my clients did with their specific goals/objectives as well as write down important details that occurred. This documentation process can look different in different settings. In addition to this daily paperwork, I write up a Progress Report on each client for the treatment period. The paperwork of this profession can be the most challenging aspect for many music therapists.


A big part of music therapy is using what you have and using your materials creatively. When working as a contracting music therapist, you may need to request materials from the company. In order to do this, you need to establish a budget and find the most efficient way to use these funds. This is a skill that is extremely beneficial, whether you are in private practice, contracted, a full-time employee, or any other setting you may be in.

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the biggest aspects of music therapy is knowing a wide range of music. As a music therapist, I may not know if my client enjoys Dolly Parton, Kanye West, or ACDC. Because of this, it is important to know as much music as possible. I am constantly learning new music each week. A music therapist can never know too much music!

There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in the music therapy career. Throughout my internship, I have had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of some of the skills required to be a successful music therapist beyond planning and implementing a session. During my last few weeks of internship, I hope to continue building these “behind the scene” skills needed to be successful.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Week Twenty-One – Intern’s Corner

Hello everyone!

I hope you have been enjoying this beautiful weather we have had lately!

In some of my past blog posts, I have discussed some of my weekly assignments. My most recent assignment was finding instruments and materials to expand our music therapy stock at the hospital. This was quite the challenge as I needed to find products that are COVID friendly and easily cleaned.

With COVID, we are unable to use any of our wooden instruments or instruments with fabric as these materials are not easily cleaned between patients. This restriction makes it difficult to find instruments that do not appear “childish”. For this project, I needed to find products that were appropriate in the hospital setting with a variety of patient ages and diagnosis. In order to best go about this, I came up with four categories that the instruments should fit.

Replacement Instruments

Many of our instruments have received a lot of attention from many of our patients. Overtime, these instruments have begun to crack, break, or become unusable. Some of the instruments I chose to request included a new ocean drum, new castanets, and a new frame drum. These instruments are used often and could use a replacement.

Instruments Educational Instruments

With many of our younger patients, we work on academic skills such as color identification, counting, object identification, and more. To further work on some of these skills, I chose to include additional fruit shakers to continue building our collection. I also found egg shakers that show various emotions to work on emotional recognition. For after COVID, I found wooden animal shakers that could be beneficial for future uses.

Instruments for Older Patients

Many of our instruments and supplies are aimed for younger patients. I wanted to find ways to build our collection for our older patients. This was challenging as many “older looking” instruments are made of wood and other materials that are not easily cleaned. I was able to find a table steel-pan drum and a set of wah-wah tubes. Both instruments are made of metal and would be more appealing to some of our older patients.

Take Home Instruments

The last thing I looked for were instruments that would be small and cost-friendly that we could buy to give to some of our patients to take home. Many of our younger patients are especially drawn to our canary and quack sticks. These instruments are relatively cheap and provide joy and entertainment for our patients.

Finding instruments and materials that are both beneficial and feasible for a hospital setting can certainly be a challenge. COVID limits the types of materials used and makes it challenging to find instruments for older patients. However, an important aspect of music therapy is the ability to adapt, and adapt we shall!

Thanks for reading and stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty

Hey everyone!

I hope you have had a wonderful week full of opportunities and excitement while enjoying the warmer weather.

Throughout this week, I have been focused on gaining a better understanding of who I am as a therapist and what my role with my clients is. As a music therapist, I can use music to connect with my client wherever they are and help them reach their full potential.

Connection within Music

One aspect that drew me to music is the connection is leads to. The connection to the music, to your instrument, to your feelings and emotions that the music invokes. When creating music with others, you create one sound, one thought, and create something beautiful.

For me, music is a way to further connect with my family. Throughout the years, I have been able to create music with my grandparents and my sister. We formed a little band with my grandma on piano, my sister on flute, and my grandpa and I on trumpet.

During these moments, I am reminded just how beautiful the gift of music is. Not everyone has the ability to connect with others through music making. Being a music therapist allows me an opportunity to give others the ability to connect through music, no matter their musical background.

Connection within Therapy

When I think about therapy, the first thing that comes to mind is connection. In therapy, a relationship is formed between the therapist and the client(s). As time goes one, this connection grows deep and trust is formed.

It is important to provide a safe space in order for this bond to form. Without trust between the therapist and the client(s), the client(s) cannot maximize their potential during the sessions.

Connection within Music Therapy

Connection is an integral part to both music and therapy. When working with my clients, I can use music to help form that initial connection. Once this connections is formed, it can continue to grow and deepen as we move through the therapeutic process.

Music is a tool that can be used with a multitude of populations including those with Autism, those with dementia, those with mental health concerns, and so many more. Although not everyone has a musical background, music therapist can use music to empower clients and help them reach their full potential.

As I further grow in my professional career, my understanding my role and my therapeutic process will continue to evolve. I look forward to deepening this understanding of myself.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!


Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Eighteen

Hello everyone!

I hope you are doing well! This week, I have been asked how my internship is going, where I work, and how many clients I see per day. I thought I would share with you a glimpse into the life of an intern, or rather my experience as an intern.

Since the start of my internship, I have had many changes to my schedule. Many of these changes have been due to the ongoing pandemic. Some sessions have gone between in-person and virtual depending on what the family or school decides is best. While there have been many changes, I have had a fairly regular schedule now.


I start my mornings at SASED. Here, I lead a mix of individual and group sessions with a number of students. After lunch, I have a meeting with my supervisor, Rachel, in which I have the opportunity to learn more about the business side of music therapy. In the afternoon, I teach a piano/guitar lesson followed by my own vocal lesson to improve my non-classical singing styles.


On Tuesday’s, I have begun working at HTDA where I lead two group sessions. These students are the newest addition to my case load. In the afternoon, I lead a virtual session followed immediately by my supervision. During supervision, I start with a rep check to continue building my skills. I then have the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback from my supervisors about my progress. The last thing I have is an in-person session!


In the morning, I virtually attend a meeting with the teachers and staff at Hope. I then record and edit a music therapy video for the students at Hope as we are not able to see these students in person yet. These videos are sent to the staff the following Monday to be played during their school day. In the afternoon, I have two virtual individual sessions and a virtual guitar lesson. Teaching guitar via zoom is quite the challenge!


On Thursdays, I spend my morning on the pediatric floor at St. John’s Hospital! I never know what to expect when I enter the building but I look forward to each opportunity. I then return to MTC leading a virtual individual session before lunch. After eating, I prepare and lead two back-to-back in-person sessions that are followed by a piano/voice lesson.


I also spend my mornings at the hospital on Friday’s! Every day at the hospital is a unique experience. No two days here are the same. In the afternoon, I lead another virtual individual session. I then have about two hours to plan, work on assignments, and catch up on work before leading an in-person individual session.

On average, I am able to see between 10 to 20 clients depending on the day. The days I see the most are the days I am at the hospital. It has certainly been a big adjustment going from one session a week in undergrad to multiple sessions a day. I have experienced and learned so much working with these clients and students.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Nineteen

Hello everyone!

I hope you stayed safe during the extreme winter weather, and are enjoying the warmer temperatures.

Today, I want to share with you one of the challenges I have being a music therapist. I am very much an introvert. I love having time for myself and feel the most energized after a night in. I much prefer my bed and Netflix compared to small talk at the store or going to a Superbowl party. Although I am an introvert, I chose an extroverted career.

There are many aspects of this profession that can take use up most or all of an introvert’s social energy. This can include talking to care teams, leading group sessions, networking, and advocating for the profession. If you are an introvert like me, these aspects can be very draining. However, there are ways to work around this obstacle and thrive in this profession!

Understand Your Needs

What makes you feel the most energized? What can you do throughout your day to recharge your social bar and energy level? Understanding what you need can be extremely beneficial on the days that are the most draining. For me, it is finding time to spend by myself between sessions, lessons, and meetings. If I feel especially drained after my day, I will spend my afternoon in my room and take time for myself to recharge before my next day.

Self Care, Self Care, Self Care

When we get busy, we can forget to take time for ourselves. Often, people think that self care is doing face masks, taking a bubble bath, or lighting candles. While it can look like this, it can also be small things throughout the day. Recently, I have begun sitting in my car a few minutes before and after social interactions. This allows me to prepare for my next social interaction. This is a small thing that I can do for myself to help make the day less taxing.

Find the Things You Love!

In anything you do, it is important to find what you love most! No matter what job you have, there will be tasks that you enjoy and tasks that you would love to never do again. If your days are filled with the tasks you dislike, it can take a toll on your mental health. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, breaking up the tasks you dislike with takes you enjoy can help make your job more enjoyable. As time goes on, you may reach a point where you can delegate some of the unpleasant tasks to someone who does enjoy them!

Don’t Let Your Introversion be a Hindrance

Being a music therapist comes with many opportunities such as giving speeches and/or presentations, giving performances, and attending conferences. If you are like me, these opportunities send a chill down my spine. However, it is important to push yourself to try new things! Giving a presentation may lead to a job opportunity. Giving a performance may open the door to further advocate for your profession! While it is okay to say no, don’t let your introversion hold you back from your own growth.

As a music therapist, I see so many beautiful people and make many connections each day. This profession is not easy and it takes a lot to be successful. It is important to remember that being an introvert or and extrovert does not make you a better therapist or person. Instead, these traits can shape how you make decisions or what opportunities you choose to pursue. Finding ways to balance your social needs and the needs of this profession is key to being successful.

No matter what profession you go into, be you and be awesome!

Thanks for reading, and stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Seventeen

Hey everyone!

I hope you are having a fantastic week! This week has been wonderful for me. I have had many opportunities to grow as a therapist, a professional, and a person. Throughout the week I have pushed myself in many areas of my development.

Last week, I really thought about where I need to grow most. The biggest areas are confidence and professionalism. These are challenging areas to work on. Practicing these areas looks different from practicing guitar or piano as they are more internal changes.

To work on improving my confidence and professionalism, I have set goals for myself with my supervisors. Some of these goals include communicating with care teams, using more professional verbal and written language, and complimenting strangers. In addition to these specific goals, I have worked on three other areas.

1. Be Personable

This week, I have been working on my professional communication and being personable. One way I have been working on this is by complimenting others, especially strangers. This is a way to work on speaking to those you don’t know in a low risk way. The worst that can happen is that someone gives you a weird look or ignores you. The majority of the time, it will brighten someones day and make it easier the next time you give someone a compliment!

2. Have Confidence in Your Body

In many situations, I do not feel overly confident, especially in settings where I am in a “professional” or “leadership” position. This lack of full confidence is shown through my body posture and presence in the room. As a professional, it is important to appear confident in what you are doing. Although I may not always feel confident, I can pretend to be by standing taller and speaking louder.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something

This week, I experienced new things during my sessions that I was not 100% sure how to handle. During these situations, I pushed through my anxieties, used my training, and trusted my gut. Internship is the time for me to try things and get help to learn how to improve. I can only improve if I try things and gain experience.

There are many areas that I want and need to improve in the next few months. At the end of my internship, I will be ready for the real world and I will be placed in positions where I will be the expert in my field. These next few months will bring further growth in myself as a therapist, a professional, and a person. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Cicely McCain