Intern’s Corner – Week 4

Hello All!
I hope your week has been going well; for me here at MTC it been another week of learning! The last couple weeks I have been considering the importance of finding the value in the small things.

Not Everything has to be Big

I remember before starting my first practicum in college, I imagined that the interventions I was going to do would create a big, almost immediate change in my clients. So much of what we see posted online makes it look like music therapy can do that. In reality, therapy is mainly many small changes that build up to create the difference. I remember after my first practicum experience I felt so defeated when I didn’t create the big change I imagined. Little did I know this was just feeding my perfectionism. 

This way of thinking stayed with me throughout my time in college. I could see that I was making some sort of impact, but I felt like I wasn’t being effective enough. However, when I started observing the music therapists at MTC, I noticed that the client responses were similar to what I had gotten from clients I had worked with in college. I began to consider that maybe I’m not as ineffective as I thought I was.

During the sessions I have been coleading currently, I find myself falling into that trap again. The clients aren’t responding in the ways I imagined; I have to be failing. However, I’m beginning to see it in a different way. The clients are responding to the music, they are answering my questions, following my prompts and emotionally engaging in the music. These aren’t the big immediate changes that I used to imagine, they are smaller impacts that can add up. I’m realizing that if I focus on wanting the big monumental changes, I don’t get the chance to appreciate the small impacts. 

The Impacts are Easier to See when you Change your Focus

During voice seminars in college, after performing my voice teacher would always have us state at least three things we did well during our performance. It was a good way to have us focus on what we did well vs. only thinking about what didn’t go perfectly. I always found this to be difficult, as I view myself with a very critical lens; if I messed up even a little part of the song it practically ruined the experience for me.

One of my supervisors also uses a similar system when we are discussing sessions. Before we start any discussions, she has me tell her what I think I did well. I still have a difficult time answering this; I find myself having trouble coming up with things I did well. Additionally, when I do think I did something well, I find myself questioning if I really did well.

However, I’m beginning to find that in the moment when I focus on what I am doing right and not what I am doing wrong, I feel so much more confident in myself as a therapist and a musician. When I focus less on what I might be doing wrong, I am able to focus more on the clients see the impact on the clients so much clearer then before. I less apprehension and I feel a lot more successful.

Overall, I want to continue focusing more on what I am doing right; that way I can appreciate the small impacts. Thank you for reading!


Intern’s Corner – Week 3

Hello everyone! 

It’s crazy to think that I have finished my third week of internship already! Internship has been such an amazing experience and adventure so far; however, it hasn’t been without some challenges. My second week of internship I started facing some anxieties and insecurities. I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I felt like I shouldn’t be feeling anxious this early; I’ve hardly even started.

I started feeling some imposter syndrome and insecurities about myself as a student music therapist and musician. Additionally, I began feeling a bit alone. I had spent the last four years having peers around me that were in the same stage as me that I could lean on, as an intern I don’t have that anymore. The most frustrating part was that some old nervous habits of mine started resurfacing.

I figured there was two directions I could go in: I could push the feeling down and ignore them or I could face them. I decided to choose the latter. I wanted to face my feelings and work on them now, not leaving them to be a problem for me in the future like I had done so many times before.

Don’t be Afraid to Open Up

From day one my supervisors told me that I could come to them with anything. I contemplated heavily going to them with what I was feeling, but I’m glad I did. They were able to help validate my feelings, and that it was nothing abnormal to feel anxiety at this point of internship. They also shared about their experiences of being an intern and the anxieties they faced. Additionally they were able to share with me self care tips that they use. Overall, it helped me feel a lot less isolated then what I felt prior.

Read a Book

My first day of internship Katey suggested the book You are A Bad*ss, as it was a book that a majority of the staff at MTC had read. My copy of the book came in at the end of my second week, which was good timing. I have never been into motivational/self help books, but I figured I would give it a try. I am part way through the book, and already it has me deeply analyzing my anxieties and fears. It also gave me some ideas of self care strategies I can do. I have now found myself making note of similar books that I want to read after I finish this one. Overall I would highly suggest finding a book to read that resonates with you and your emotional needs.

Seek Further Help if You Need It

This advice came from a conversation about internships I had with a young professional during my senior year of college. Being in a caring profession, it can be easy to fall into extreme stress and anxiety. There is no shame in seeing a psychologist or counselor to work through some of the feelings you are having. Remember that you are still a student, which means that your university’s counseling services are still available, and especially with the pandemic, many universities’ counseling centers are offering telehealth services.

Don’t get me wrong, these are not over night cure. I am still feeling anxious and self conscious at times, but it helps me feel better knowing I’m facing it instead of avoiding it. Take your time and find self care strategies that work for you. If you are a student or new intern, I hope you know that if you are feeling alone and anxious at the beginning of internship, you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way.

Thank you for reading! I believe in you, and keep having compassion for yourself as you grow.


Intern’s Corner – Week 2

(left) Me freshman year as an observer; (right) Me now!

These first two weeks of internship I have stepped into a role that I haven’t been in since I was a freshman in college: an observer. In some ways, it feels weird to be an observer again after leading sessions for the past five semesters in school. However, upon reflection, I have found that there are benefits to being an observer at this point in my education.

The Opportunity to Get Comfortable

I have spent the last four years learning from and getting comfortable with the staff at WIU. This is the first time that I’m leaving my “music therapy” home to work on my skills elsewhere with new mentors. Being an observer again gives me the opportunity to get myself acquainted and comfortable in this new setting. Additionally, it also gives me the space to interact and get acquainted with the music therapists I am working with at MTC before the added pressures of co-leading and leading. I’m still working through some nerves, but I have found the music therapists at MTC to be very supportive as I get acclimated to life as an intern.

The Opportunity to Reflect

Observing the music therapists at MTC work has given me the opportunity to reflect on myself and my current skills as a music therapist in training. I have been able to reflect on how I would react to certain situations and compare that to the reactions of the therapists I am observing. There has also been the opportunity reflect on the areas that I feel comfortable and the areas that I need to work and grow in. I have the opportunity to reflect on my work with similar populations in the past and how I can improve upon my skills going forward. One such population I worked a lot with in college was older adults. The past two weeks I have been able to reflect on that experience and how I can improve while watching sessions at Concordia Senior Services.

The Opportunity to Learn

While I have learned about many different populations and experienced some during my time at WIU, there are some populations that I am experiencing for the first time at MTC. I have read about so many different populations, but I haven’t learned all I can about them. I am a very hands on and visual learner; observing gives me the space to learn about new populations in this way.

Pediatrics is one population that has always been of interest to me that I haven’t been able to experience yet. I have spent six mornings so far at St. John’s Children’s Hospital, which has already expanded my knowledge greatly in that area. It also gives me a new perspective to learn about populations that I have been able to work with during my time in school. Finally, it gives me the opportunity to learn more about the clients and spaces I will soon be working with.

The big difference between being an observer now vs. freshman year is that I am able to look at these experiences through a more educated lens. I am slowly starting to do more co-leading activities with the music therapists at MTC. I look forward to seeing how that compares to my co-leading experiences from my sophomore year of college. 

Thank you for reading and remember to have compassion for yourself as you grow!


Intern’s Corner – Week 1

Hello, readers. My name is Lillian Schierbrock, and I am the new intern at Music Therapy Connections!

A Little Bit About Me

I was born and raised in the small town of West Point, IA. I have four older siblings and seven nieces and nephews. Additionally, I have a Tuxedo cat named Wonderful. When I’m not making music, I enjoy crocheting, sewing, watching Hallmark Movies and driving around listening to Taylor Swift songs. 

I recently finished the course work for my bachelors degree in Music Therapy at Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL. During my time at WIU I participated in the Classical Guitar Ensemble, University Singers and the WIU Opera Theatre. I was also a member of the WIU Music Therapy Association, formerly serving as President, and I am currently serving as the Parliamentarian for the Great Lakes Region of the American Music Therapy Association for Students.

My primary instrument was voice and I also play the guitar, ukulele, piano and clarinet. Along with that, I love to collect and to learn a variety instruments. I was also a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, a professional music fraternity. 

During my first week of internship, one of my assignments was to read the AMTA Code of Ethics. The AMTA Code of Ethics is an important resource that serves as a guideline for music therapists on ethical decision making and professional conduct. I‘m glad I took the time to read through the Code of Ethics, as it gave me a lot of food for thought. While reading it, some parts of it stuck out to me as subjects I want to hold onto and work on during my internship.

Have Compassion for Not Only Your Clients, But Yourself As Well

As music therapy is a caring professional, music therapists tend to be caring and compassionate people, especially toward our clients. However, we don’t always extend to ourselves that same compassion. Principle #2: Act with Compassion states: “It is important for music therapists to extend compassion to themselves when confronted with their own human limitations.”

Additionally, Principle #2, Part 2.7 further backs this up “practice self-kindness and mindfulness and extend compassion to self if faced with feelings of inadequacy or failure.” Practicing self kindness and compassion is something that I have struggled with myself. Many times I find that I lack compassion toward myself when I make small mistakes or don’t do something perfectly. During the next six months, I will be working on giving the same compassion that I give to my clients to myself, as well.

Striving for Excellence Does Not Mean Perfection

The first paragraph of Principle #5: Strive for Excellence states “Striving for excellence does not imply perfection, but the ongoing commitment to expand our knowledge and skills in all areas.” This sentence really struck me; as musicians it can be easy to become perfectionists, I know it has made me a bit of one. However, this pursuit of perfection can lead to a lot of anxiety and a lack of self compassion.

I have found myself falling into this trap many times of focusing all my energy into playing a piece perfectly and when I make even the smallest mistakes, I will internally antagonize myself about it. I love this idea of focusing on growth over perfection, and will be working on making that my mind set instead. In the famous words of Hannah Montana: “Nobody’s perfect, I gotta work it, again and again till I get it right.”

All of this is easier said than done. In my first week I have already found myself falling into these traps, but I’m going to keep working at it. My goal for myself this next 6 months is to focus on self compassion and growth over self criticism and perfectionism.

I’m so excited to bring you along on this journey! Have a great week!


Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Eight

Hello everyone!

I hope you have had a wonderful week! This is my final blog post as an intern. Throughout this past week, I have experiences both excitement, sadness, and amazement.

During my first week as an intern, I created three goals for myself. Halfway through, I gave you all an update on my progress on these goals. I thought it only fitting I give you all a final update on my internship goals.

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

Throughout my internship, anxiety has been a challenge I have worked hard to overcome. Although I still deal with it each day, I have not let it hinder my growth. I have become much more confident in my abilities and walk into each situation with more confidence than I ever could have before. As my grandma told me, I am “no longer the scared chicken who was afraid of her own shadow.” I am amazed with how much I have grown as a therapist, a professional, and a person with the support from the MTC team.

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

Although there were some days that I felt I was taking the day one hour at a time, I have improved on preparing myself. Since my first week as an intern, I have improved my diet, water intake, sleep schedule, and self care routines. While I am still no where near where I want to be, I have seen significant improvement over the past few months. I have felt more prepared for my day more often than I did during undergrad. I hope to continue working on this area moving forward to further better myself for my clients and team.

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

There have been many opportunities for me to step outside of my comfort zone throughout this journey. There are many things that I never thought I would have done when I started back in October. I never would have imagine I would lead a successful drum circle nor do a Facebook Live event. Both events were extremely out of my comfort zone but I pushed myself to do my best and learned a lot about myself. As I continue on a new journey as a profession, I will continue to find ways to step outside of my comfort zone. Who knows what else I’ll learn?

Thank You!

For those of you who have been following my journey, thank you for your support! Prior to internship, I had never written for a blog before. With each week, I became more comfortable sharing my thoughts with you. I have appreciated all the feedback I have received throughout this journey. Thank you for reading my thoughts each week!

I would also like to say a special thank you to my professors and instructors who taught me everything during my undergrad. At the end of my senior year, you told my class that we belong among the wild flowers. We would thrive no matter where we are. Although there were rough moments and hard challenges, I could not have made it this far without your guidance.

Lastly, I would like to say thank you to the team here at MTC. From day one, you pushed me in every aspect to improve myself and my skills. Thank you for both the tough conversations and the constant support over the past few months. I couldn’t have made it this far without you all!

Moving forward, I have the opportunity to continue working for this amazing team! I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Seven

Hello everyone!

I hope you have all had a fantastic week and have found time for yourself. This week, I completed my second-to-last assignment as an intern! This assignment consisted of reading and reviewing a book that would improve myself. I chose to read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, with the suggestion from my supervisor. This week, I thought I would share some of the eye-opening revelations I learned from this book.


One thing that especially stood out to me while reading this book was the idea of giving yourself permission. Permission to exist, to take up space, to make mistakes, to take chances, or to be creative. Oftentimes we can be halted in our endeavor to grow or create because we may not feel as though we deserve to.


Throughout this book, Gilbert described Inspiration and Creativity as a magical force that goes through the universe looking for a suitable partner to bring it to life. These ideas go around in search of someone who is willing to work with inspiration to create something beautiful. When an idea pops in your head while you are driving or washing dishes, that may be inspiration paying you a visit. Will you answer the call?


Courage can make or break your success. Pushing through your fears is no easy task but it can be the difference between reaching your dreams or letting those dreams pass you by. No one ever said success was easy. In fact, fear can be your compass towards growth. Are you willing to push through and see what’s in store?


In addition to courage, we have to be persistent in our efforts. Very rarely will you ever be successful on the first try. As many of my professors told me, practice makes progress. The only way to reach your goals is to keep moving forward, no matter what.

Creative Living

Creative Living is the most rewarding way to live. When life becomes challenging, what do you turn to for a distraction or for relief? Music? Television? Books? Each of these are products of creative living. We as humans have the opportunity to spend our lives creating. Why not do just that?

When choosing to live creatively, you open up a world of possibilities. The most important aspect of creating is to create for you. Not for you possible viewers, readers, or consumers but for you. If someone else benefits or enjoys your creation, great! But it’s more than okay to simply create something because you enjoy it.

This week, I encourage you all to find a way to live creatively. You may not have the art skills of Picasso or the musical skills of Mozart, but as long as you enjoy it, that is the only thing that matters. This week, I might try to continue embroidery or crafting. What will you try?

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week.

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Six

Hello everyone! I hope you have all had a fantastic week!

This week, I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something new. I did a Facebook Live Event! This was not something I EVER thought that I would do. I especially never thought I would enjoy it to any degree.

In planning and implementing this event, I discovered a few things that helped make the process a bit easier. With social media becoming more and more important in branding and getting your company name out there, I though I would share a few of my tips and tricks that I discovered.

Make a Plan

Because you will be live, it is important to have a plan. What will you do to fill the silence? What will you do to entice viewers to watch? More importantly, what will you do to KEEP the viewers watching? For me, I chose to select and prepare a few songs that would be widely enjoyed by the adult population. I also selected a song for families for those who may have children watching. This allowed my to continue the flow and keep it fun!

Don’t Rely on Your Plan

With these event being live and real-time, you want to make sure that you are engaging with your audience. Depending on what your intent for the video is, you may engage and change your plan based on your viewers. While I used my prepared songs, I took time to answer viewer questions, as well as engaged with comments about the songs or events. The plan is there for only if you have little to no engagement from the audience.

Think of Your Set

An important aspect of your video is the set. The background should be visually pleasing and enticing. The background should add to your video without taking any attention from you. It can be difficult to find the balance. Important components include the lighting, background decor, and placement of your camera. What would you enjoy seeing in a video?

Invite Others!

Facebook Lives by nature are best when you have an active audience to engage with! The best way to ensure this is to invite others. Make a few posts or tell your family and/or friends. Encourage those you know will come to lead by example by asking questions or make comments. This will encourage others who join to follow and will in-turn, make your event much more exciting to watch.

Just Keep Talking

The most awkward part of a video is watching someone stand in silence. It is important to fill those moments with something, be that music, talking, or making jokes. If you can’t think of anything to say, reintroduce yourself and the event to those who joined later in the video! No matter what, just keep talking.

Have Fun!

The most important part of leading an event of any type is to just have fun. If you are smiling, moving, and have high energy, your viewers will be more engaged and likely to stay on. Find ways to include a bit of yourself in your events! It can be as simple as adding in jokes, common phrases, or briefly discussing something you enjoy. Just have fun!

Although I am in no rush to lead another Facebook Live event anytime soon, I am more open to it than I ever thought I would be. One of my goals for my intern-self was to try new things. In the past two weeks, I certainly have between my drum circle and my Facebook live events. I hope to continue trying new things and pushing myself to try new things in my professional life!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week.

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Five

Hey everyone!

I hope you have had a wonderful week.

As I near the end of my internship, I am beginning to reflect back to my senior year of undergrad. I had begun my search for an internship site while still finishing up my coursework. This was a terrifying task and I felt as though I had no clue where to start or how to navigate this process.

Don’t Procrastinate

Set a schedule for yourself! Give yourself deadlines for when you want to choose where you will apply, when you will put together the materials needed for these applications, or when you want to aim for your first interview. While many of these dates are out of control at the start, these deadlines will help keep you on track.

Know What You Want

Looking for ideal internship cites can be overwhelming. There are a number of factors to consider including location, setting, population, supervision styles, housing, and more. Before you begin searching, make a list of what is most important to you in an internship cite. This will help you narrow down your search.

Be Open

It is important to keep in mind that you are looking for a good fit, not a perfect fit. Know what aspects are non-negotiable versus what you are willing to give up. Is it more important for you to be near family for a place to stay? Or to have the opportunity to work with the population you enjoy most?

Prepare and Practice for Interviews

Interviews are one of the most important aspects of the process. When preparing, remember that it is a two-way interview. While your potential supervisor(s) are determining if you would be a good fit for their team, you should be determining if you would enjoy joining their team. Prepare and practice both questions you might be asked and questions you would like to ask. Make your first impression a good one!

Don’t Let Fear Get in the Way

It can be scary looking at the next chapter in your life. It’s okay and normal to be scared or nervous about what is to come. However, it is important to not let these fears hinder you from opportunities, experiences, and growth. As I stated in my first blog post, “Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compass towards growth.” (Celestine Chua).

I hope that these tips help you in starting the new chapters in your life. Remember that you are not alone and have those around you that can help you out. You will do great things!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Four

Hey everyone!

I hope you have had a wonderful week and have been staying dry during these storms. One of my favorite things to do is listen to the rain while reading, painting, or watching TV. The rain brings me a sense of peace.

As much as I love rain, it can be a bit of an inconvenience at times. I have been planning a drum circle event for the team at MTC over the past few weeks. My initial plan was do play outside in the parking lot to encourage social distancing and enjoy the fresh air. As the date gets closer, the projection of rain has yet to go away. As such, I am working to plan a back-up in case the weather is not conducive for outdoor drumming.

There are a number of things that go into planning an event that can be overwhelming at the start. This has been the first event that I have planned myself. In the past, I have had committees and team members to help cover some of the responsibilities. This time, I am in charge of everything.

Who, What, When, Where?

The first step in planning an event is deciding what type of event you would like to plan and who will be in attendance. Next, you need to decide when and where this event will take place. For my drum circle, I knew the what and who but I needed to know when would be best for the MTC team. I sent out a google form with time options and selected the time that worked best for the majority of the team.


The next step is figuring out why people should come to your event. What will be provided? Why is it important to attend? What will the attendees gain from coming? For my event, I created a flyer with a fun picture, brief information, and the reason for coming. Drum circles are a fun way to spend time with your co-workers and take a step back to simply enjoy making music together.

The Game Plan

One of the most important parts about planning an event is planning the event. This part is the most time-consuming part of the process. To plan the most effective event, it can be beneficial to do research and/or ask professionals. For my drum circle, I researched important things to include in a drum circle and how to be an efficient drum circle leader. I also set up a meeting with someone who leads drum circles as a living. These experiences provided me valuable knowledge to best plan a drum circle.

Setting Up

The last aspect of planning an event is setting up. They type of event you are preparing will determine how long your set-up time can take. It is important to make a plan of action for when you set up your event so that you make sure you have everything prepared. For my event, I must plan how many drums or instruments are needed, how many chairs, and gather plenty of glow sticks.

Planning and event can be overwhelming and stressful but breaking it down into smaller stages can help make it manageable. I personally do best with “To-Do” lists that I can check items off as they are completed. I hope that this helps you determine how to plan your next event!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Three

Hello everyone!

I hope you have all had a wonderful week full of opportunities and excitement! This week, I have been working on putting together a list of apps that are beneficial for music therapy. Finding ways to incorporate technology into sessions can provide further opportunities for success for our clients. This week, I would like to share a few apps I have found that have be beneficial for my clients and a few that I plan to start using!

Guitar Tabs

Guitar Tab is where I store the majority of my music. With the free version, I am able to save songs to my library, create client playlists, simply or transpose songs, and use auto scroll while playing! Additionally, there is an option to listen to a recording of the song while viewing the tabs. I use this app multiple times each day.


This is a user-friendly music recording app. With this, I am able to plug in a microphone (I use the yeti snowball), a keyboard, or any other electric instruments and record multiple tracks. GarageBand can be used to record your own music, music created for clients, or even client created music!


Much like GarageBand, iMove is a user-friendly program that allows you to edits videos that you can later upload to various platforms. This program comes with backgrounds, transitions, titles, and more! A benefit of this program is that you can include images in your videos to give further support to those watching the video.

IncrediBox and SoundForest

Both of these apps are musical games in which clients can create their own music while working on a variety of skills. With a few of my clients, I am able to work on identifying colors and shapes, counting, following directions, and decision making. These apps also provide an opportunity for creative expression.

Sono Flex Lite, Visuals2Go, or Card Talk

Some clients I see are non-verbal and use other forms of communication. These three apps are free that I can download and use to better understand the communication devices my clients may use. While most students who use AAC’s will have their own devices, these apps can give us as therapist more insight for if/when families ask us information about AAC’s.


Dropbox has been a lifesaver since the start of my internship. I am able to store and share resources including sheet music, song recordings, and facilitation guides. With the free version, I am able to store up to 2GB of storage. So far, this has been enough space for my needs.

I hope this list was insightful in the use of apps and technology in a music therapy setting! Thanks for reading!

Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain