Intern’s Corner – Week 7


Hello! I hope you’ve all had an amazing 4th of July!

This week I am reflecting on rapport. This is SO important in the therapeutic process and in building a therapeutic relationship. We talked a lot about this in school, but I didn’t realize just how important building rapport is until recently.

Over the past couple weeks, I have begun leading lots of new sessions. Most of these clients had already been seeing one of my supervisors, so when I started leading I just jumped in where they left off. 

This wasn’t always successful. I couldn’t figure out why clients would participate with my supervisor, but not with me. My supervisor pointed out that they don’t know me very well yet and I hadn’t built rapport with them. So, my next session I simply focused on building this therapeutic relationship.

It’s amazing what building trust and rapport does. In that next session, I gave the client choices and was not strict about what we would do. They immediately opened up to me. Giving them a choice and a sense of working together did marvelous things.

Though the client had choices and directed where the session went, we were still able to address their goals. I need to continue building this rapport, and as time goes on, the relationship I have built with the client will allow me to challenge the client in different ways.

Here are some ways that you can build rapport in your sessions:

  • Give the client lots of choices (i.e. what instrument to play or what song to sing)
  • Ask questions to get to know the client
  • Let the client choose the order of the interventions
  • Use client-preferred music

Therapy is a process, and that process right now includes building rapport with most of my clients. This will help immensely now and in the future. Though I want to focus on building the therapeutic relationship, this doesn’t mean I’m not also finding ways to address their goals. It’s all a balance. 

If you’re a student or intern working with new clients and things just don’t seem to be working, try taking a step back and building rapport. It’ll do wonders for you and your client!

I have been building rapport with my clients by giving them lots of choices during sessions; how do you build rapport?

Thanks for reading!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 6


It’s been a busy week at Music Therapy Connections! Full of new clients, new interventions, and new songs! My assignment for this week was to create a “Most Popular Songs” binder, and I wanted to share with you a little bit of what went into that binder.

At one of the sites at which I intern, I do a sing-along three days a week in addition to the regular music therapy sessions. This is an opportunity for the clients to sing what they want and just have fun! During this time, I’m not necessarily worried about fulfilling goals, but rather, it is an opportunity for them to work on social and communication skills.

The clients at this site range from children (about age 5) to young adults. I wanted to share with you the top 5 most requested songs I have received during sing-along! If you will be working with an age group like this, I would highly recommend you add these songs to your repertoire.

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” – Toy Story

This is definitely a favorite, especially with Toy Story 4 just coming out in theaters. This song also presents good opportunities to use signing within it (especially on the “you’ve got a friend in me” phrases). I can also see it being used in song discussion about who their friends are and who they trust.

“Firework” – Katy Perry

This isn’t one of the newest pop songs, but the clients still love it. This song could also be used in regards to emotional expression and talking about feelings. Recently, I actually piggybacked this song for social situations.

“Let it Go” – Frozen

This one isn’t too much of a surprise, as Frozen is still popular with most kids. It’s a fun song to belt out with the clients at sing-along.

“True Colors” – Trolls

I have still not seen the movie Trolls, but apparently I need to because the clients request it a lot! Thankfully the movie soundtrack features some well-known popular songs, including “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper. 

“Reflection” – Mulan

This is an older Disney movie that gets requested quite often. This song can be used to talk about self-identity and self-worth. Not to mention, the song is just beautiful in itself.

There are so many other songs that get requested every week, but these are the 5 that are requested most often. As you can see, Disney is a common theme as well as music from movies. If you are a student, intern, or professional starting to work with this age group/population and don’t know where to start, this is a good jumping off point!

Though there are common themes, don’t be fooled. I have had plenty of requests that have surprised me. Some clients request songs that their parents or friends listen to, and some just like music you wouldn’t expect. It’s been fun getting to know all of my clients!

Thanks for reading and happy singing!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 5

Self Care

Hello again! I hope you’ve had a fabulous week!

This week I am reflecting on self-care. We talk about self-care a lot in the music therapy field. I’ve known that self-care is important, but now I am really learning just how important it is.

Lots of things are new and different when you start your internship. For me, I moved to a different area, I hardly knew anyone, and this is my first full-time “job.”

The first month of internship also brought me new challenges, new environments, and new clients. Not to mention, most MT interns get more experience in their first two weeks of internship than in all four years of college combined! All of this can add up to be a lot of stress!

To help me cope with this stress, I have implemented daily and weekly self-care. Let me tell you, doing things for yourself on a regular basis really helps you combat the stress of the week.

Everyone’s self-care looks different, but I thought I would share with you what new self-care practices I have added to my everyday life!

Things I Do On a Daily Basis:

  • Make My Bed: I never did this growing up, and I’m sure my mom wasn’t happy about it (sorry Mom!), but, since starting my internship, I have been making my bed every morning when I wake up. It is a great feeling to curl up in a made bed every night.
  • Essential Oil Diffuser: I have this on when I get ready in the morning as well as when I get ready for bed.
  • Pack Lunch the Night Before: This saves me time in the morning, so I can sleep a few minutes later!

As a part of my internship requirements/assignments, I also need to do an hour of weekly self-care. Preferably, it should be something new! A lot of what I have been doing are things I used to do, but didn’t have time for in college.

Here is what I have done so far:

  • Crochet: Call me old-fashioned, but I love to crochet! All I know is how to make blankets, but it’s a good activity to keep your body busy and your mind empty.
  • Read: I used to read for fun all the time, but all I had time to read in college was textbooks. Reading takes me into another world and out of this one for a bit!
  • Cook: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an awful cook. One night I simply made myself some pasta noodles, and that was good enough for me!
  • Date Night: I went to the mall in Springfield with my boyfriend. We didn’t even buy anything, but it was nice to simply walk and be with someone I know cares about me. This doesn’t have to be done with a significant other! Just simply spending some time with someone you know cares about you, like a family member or friend, can be so refreshing.

I think that self-care was something that I took for granted before starting my internship, but I’m learning very quickly just how important it is. To paraphrase a common saying: you must first help yourself before you can help others. Remember this and maybe even try a new self-care activity!

What are some of your favorite ways to practice self-care?

Thanks for reading this week’s blog post!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 4

A session (or your day) can go in a million different directions, you can’t plan everything.

Hello again!

It’s hard to believe that I am finishing up my fourth week at MTC! Time has flown by, but it also feels like I’ve been here for longer than that…in a good way!

This week has definitely tested my skills as a future music therapist. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was given the opportunity to fully lead all of my sessions this week (with supervision). When I got to my internship site Monday morning, I had no idea that this was going to happen. This week became another chance for learning that sometimes you have to just “go with the flow.”

We’ve all heard this phrase at least once in our life. Though people may say it jokingly, this phrase can also be completely accurate and needed in the professional world, especially as music therapists.

I am very much a planner. I like to plan out my sessions as well as my everyday life. It took me a long time to be even a little bit comfortable with not planning every detail in a session. This internship is really pushing me to feel okay with “going with the flow” as some of the sites I am at require sessions that are full of improvisation and clients deciding what to do in the sessions.

There is a concise word for “go with the flow”: flexibility. Now, I’m not talking about touching your toes without bending your knees, because I definitely can’t do that. I’m talking about taking things as they come. I’ve learned that flexibility is a valuable skill to have as a future music therapist.

How often does your day go exactly as you pictured? How often does a session go exactly the way you planned? I know my answer to these questions: hardly ever. Though I like to plan as much as I can, something I did not expect always happens and “upsets” the plan.

Session plans are a wonderful tool. They provide structure and a direction for each session. They also are often my “security blanket” during sessions. However, I have to be careful about not overplanning.

Be open to taking the session in a different direction as the session goes on. Be open to following the client’s direction. Be prepared for unexpected things to occur. A session (or your day) can go in a million different directions, you can’t plan everything.

Here are a few things I have learned about being flexible:

Flexibility is often a learned skill.

I definitely have not always been flexible, and am still working on this skill. It takes time and practice.

Flexibility can be difficult.

It can be hard to get away from the session plan. Go with your gut and trust it. It’s often what the client needs.

Sessions often go better when you are flexible.

At least I have found this to be true. When I don’t have time to overthink, the session goes much smoother.

These past four weeks I have been “thrown into” a lot of sessions. Some I knew about a bit beforehand, and some I didn’t. Though it can be scary, I especially encourage students and interns to be willing to “go with the flow.” If you practice it now, it will help you in the future.

I will be continuing to work on improving my flexibility while still being very prepared for my sessions. Hopefully I find a happy middle ground! What are you? Are you a planner? Do you go with the flow? Are you somewhere in the middle? Let me know!

Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous rest of your week!

Emma Kovachevich

Special thanks to my sister, Sophie, and my cousin, Jennifer, for helping me out with this week’s blog pic! :)

Intern’s Corner – Week 3

Hello again!

This week has been a challenging one for me. I am leading sessions more and more, getting to know clients, learning repertoire, and writing songs, and it can be a little overwhelming at times.

However, I am learning so much through these experiences. I am seeing areas where I am growing, and areas that still need a lot of work. It is good to know these qualities about myself, but, unfortunately, I tend to focus on the “negatives.”

The people close to me, as I do,  consider me a “perfectionist.” Everything needs to be absolutely perfect. I tell myself that the music in sessions needs to be perfect, the songs I am writing need to be perfect, my social skills need to be perfect, I need to get an A on everything, etc. I am quickly learning that these thoughts are not actually helping me. In fact, these “perfectionist” tendencies are holding me back.

I have come to the realization that I keep focusing on where I need to be, instead of where I am at now. I thought that this was benefiting me, but in reality, it is not. I am not a professional yet. I don’t have to have all the answers (and never will, even when I am one of the  professionals). I am still a student. I am still learning, and will continue to learn for the rest of my life. I need to take one day at a time and focus on the growth I am making day to day.

Perfect is a nasty word.”

This is something one of my supervisors, Alisabeth, told me this week. She said that this is not a word we should say to our clients, and definitely not to ourselves. This puts a false expectation in our heads. In therapy, we should not strive for perfection, but improvement.

You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be effective.”

This is another thing I was told this week, and it has really stuck with me the past couple of days. A client isn’t going to care if you play the wrong chord or mix the words up. What matters is how you handle yourself when these things occur (because they will) and continuing to be effective in the therapeutic process.

As I am sitting here writing this blog, I have been contemplating these questions. Here are some questions for thought:

  • What is “perfection”?
  • Who decides what “perfection” is?
  • Is “perfection” even achievable?

I know I am not the only one who struggles with perfectionism. This seems to occur in many music therapists as well as musicians in general, and likely every career imaginable. I am starting my journey in getting over this mindset. In a later blog, I hope to update you all on how I am getting over my “perfectionism.” In the meantime, I would love to hear from those of you who are also “perfectionists” and what has helped you get past this mindset!

Have a great weekend!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 2

Hello! I hope you have had a wonderful week! This week I have been working a lot on my musical skills. As I was practicing, I reflected on my own musical skills and how important these skills are to music therapists.

When someone hears “Music Therapy” for the first time, two somewhat obvious things probably pop into their head: music and therapy. As music therapists or future music therapists, we learn so much about both musical skills and clinical skills in our education.

Both musical skills and clinical skills are incredibly important in this profession. Since we are therapists, some may place a greater emphasis on the clinical skills aspect, but we can’t forget about our musical skills.

Throughout our education, we take so many classes that play into our musical skills. These include music theory, aural skills, classes on various instruments including guitar, piano, voice, and percussion, and ensembles on our primary instruments. If you think about it, we may even spend more time on our musical skills throughout college than our clinical skills.

Being a musician is HARD. A lot of musicians may be drawn to a certain instrument. For me, that is voice. I’ve spent my whole life singing. Thus, this part of my education came easy to me, but learning new instruments is difficult, especially when you’re a young adult.

Piano has always been a struggle for me. I took piano as a young child, but quit after a few years, as I really preferred my voice lessons. I also never imagined I would enter a field of work where piano skills would be helpful. If there was one thing I could change in my life, I would go back and continue those lessons.

In regards to guitar skills, I had never even touched a guitar until my sophomore year of college. I went through the blisters and calluses, and continue to do so, as a beginner guitar player. Some say that this is one of the easiest instruments to learn, but it sure was difficult for me.

As my first two years of college were jam-packed with the classes previously listed, my musical skills began to develop. It can be rather easy to feel “comfortable” with your musical skills after those first two years; I know I did. However, it’s important to remember that we are always learning and should strive to know more and get better, just like with our clinical skills. Let’s consider the following points:

Music is how we reach our clients.

Sometimes clients see us because nothing else is able to reach them. Music can speak to a client in ways that nothing else can. Not to mention, using client-preferred music builds great rapport between the client and therapist. This strengthens the therapeutic relationship and trust. Music can build connections.

The music needs to enhance the session, not distract from it.

Our musical skills are so important as we use music in each and every session. We want our skills to be functional enough that they engage the client and enhance the session. If the therapist doesn’t know his/her music or is not confident, that distracts from the therapy session. This may result in not achieving, or even preventing the chance in achieving, the clients’ goal(s). Musical skills are important!

Music is what makes us unique.

It’s in the name: Music Therapists. No other profession has the knowledge and skills regarding music and using it effectively in a therapeutic setting like we do. It’s important to not let go of the musical skills that make us so unique.

By no means am I stating that musical skills are more important than clinical skills, or vice versa. Rather, we simply must not forget how important both sets of skills are.

Thank you for reading and have a great rest of your week!

Emma Kovachevich