Hi again! I wanted to take a few minutes today to talk about what brought me to music therapy.
As a high schooler beginning to think about college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. After looking at my passions and hobbies, I settled on occupational therapy. By the beginning of senior year I had a college picked out and was planning on applying for fall 2015.
What brought me to occupational therapy? Throughout high school, the highlight of my weeks during the winter and early spring was volunteering with the local Special Olympics Swim Team on Friday evenings. I attended local meets and even State Games with the athletes, and learned that I had a passion for helping people. Naturally, this led me to occupational therapy.
However, there was always a little voice in the back of my head saying, “But what about music?” I couldn’t ignore that. I was very involved with my high school music department — in marching band, concert band, choir, the spring musicals, jazz band, even going to music camp for a week in the summer. I didn’t want to let that go. I knew I didn’t want to go into music education or performance, so I thought that a career in music just wasn’t possible for me.
As senior year rolled around and I was trying to get excited about a future in occupational therapy, that little voice grew louder. The college I had chosen didn’t have a band, orchestra, or choir and that just didn’t feel right to me.
At some point that fall, someone (perhaps my mom, a friend, or my band director) mentioned music therapy to me. I had no idea what that was but immediately knew that I had to do it. After looking it up, my heart was set!
After touring some colleges, I settled on Molloy College in New York and after applying, auditioning, an interviewing I was accepted as part of the Class of 2019. Four years later, I know I made the right choice. Music therapy is the perfect combination of my two passions: helping people and music.
As always, thank you for reading! I look forward to seeing you around MTC!
Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a fabulous week! I’m sure it’s been a busy week for lots of you with the new school year starting.
This week I had my midterm evaluation. It’s amazing to think that I am halfway through my internship! I was so happy to hear from my supervisors that I am where I need to be. As expected, I am excelling at some things and need some improvement in other areas. One big thing we talked about during this meeting was confidence.
This topic may sound similar to my perfectionism blog post at the beginning of my internship, but I wanted to dive a little deeper this week. I can’t say that I’ve ever been a confident person. I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses, but tend to dwell on the things I’m not so great at. I think that this is a normal human thing to do, but it doesn’t necessarily help me in the therapeutic setting.
During sessions, I’ve been able to develop this “fake it till you make it” attitude. This doesn’t mean I come to sessions unprepared; this attitude just helps me take things as they come during the session. It helps me get out of my own head. My supervisors even tell me I look “cool as a cucumber” during most sessions. It’s the before and after that get me.
Before sessions, I tend to doubt my skills and knowledge. I get worried that I’m not going to be what my client needs. After sessions, I think “I should have done this,” or “I could’ve said this better.” Basically, I get in my head and it’s hard to get out.
I think these things, but in reality the sessions always tend to go pretty well. It’s my lack of confidence before and after sessions that are keeping me from fully succeeding. My supervisors and I talked about how if I gain more confidence, all the other skills that are still developing will fall into place.
The start of confidence is beginning to focus a little more on your strengths than on your weaknesses. So, this week for my self care I have been taking time throughout the week to write down some of my strengths. I feel a little strange doing this, but I think it will help in the long-run.
I know that I’m not the only one that struggles with confidence in themselves. I would love to hear how you pump yourself up and get into a confident mindset! Please feel free to leave a comment; it may help me and others reading this blog.
Thanks for letting me be real every week and for reading my blog posts. I appreciate it more than you know!
Hi again! I’m back to talk about the modern marvel of technology. It’s pretty amazing, and can be adapted and used in so many ways within music therapy sessions.
GarageBand. This one almost goes without saying. From recording songs for clients to giving them the opportunity to write their own music from scratch, this is an amazing resource for music therapists to have in their technology toolkit.
Music games. There are so many wonderful music games available that can help accomplish a variety of goals. Anything from rapport building to fine motor skills can be addressed through interactive music games. Some of my favorites available for iPads include Incredibox, Sound Forest, Piano Tiles, Auto Rap, and Ditty.
Organizing repertoire. I almost never rely on physical copies of music anymore. I have everything scanned in to meticulously organized Google Drive folders that I can easily pull up or access in a session, even without WiFi. I also use Guitar Tabs, which has lyrics, tablature, and chords for almost every song under the sun! I don’t have to worry about carrying around binders full of music or forgetting something at home. I can also look up client requested music in an instant.
Google Drive. I use Google Drive for EVERYTHING from tracking client and student attendance to documentation to organizing music as mentioned above to coordinating schedules and plans for the week with my colleagues. It’s easy to organize things and access from multiple devices — all password and fingerprint protected, of course.
This is just a small sampling of how I use technology in everyday sessions. Of course there are many other technology resources available for music therapists, but I find these ones to be the most accessible and successful for me.
As always, thank you for reading and have a great day!
We have been busy at MTC getting ready for the new school year. That doesn’t just include preparing session plans and getting materials ready. We even have a fresh look with fresh paint on the walls and new furniture! Lots of exciting stuff!
As the new school year approaches, I thought I would focus on music therapy students for this blog post.
Being a college student is so exciting, so difficult, and so rewarding. You constantly have new information thrown at you. You have more freedom to do the things you want and take the classes you like. You get so many opportunities with ensembles and clubs. The world is yours (or at least the campus is).
I personally found college to be the best time of my 22 short years. There were some hard times, but also great times. Here’s some things I learned during my 4 years on campus:
This is your time to explore things that you are interested in. College also gives you so many different opportunities that you may not get anywhere else. Join the clubs, intramurals, or fraternity/sorority. Do what interests you.
…But not too involved.
It’s great to explore and experience new things, but then before you know it you’re in 10 extracurricular activities. It’s important to remember that you’re in college to pursue a degree. It’s also important to remember that once you join something, you don’t have to stay in it all 4 years. So, do the things that will add to your learning and the things that make you the happiest.
Go to class!
This is a biggie. It’s tempting to stay in bed and skip that 8 am class, and, believe me, as a music major you will have a lot of them. Get out of bed and get to class. Not only are you missing out on important information, but you’re also letting money go to waste as you’ve already paid for the class.
Being a music therapy major is difficult…
Let’s be honest, there is a stereotype that music majors don’t have to do any real work, but wow is that wrong. You will have sleepless nights. You may have more classes in a day than you did in high school. It’s a lot of work and takes determination.
…But it is so worth it.
Seeing the progress your clients are making during your practicum session after a long week of school work, and knowing that one day you’ll get to do this all day every day, makes it all worth it.
If you’re nervous about the coming school year, it’s okay to be nervous. Know that you chose this major for a reason, and you are taking the steps to being a great music therapist every day.
Here’s my #1 tip: Take everything in and enjoy every moment.
I’ll be honest: moving halfway across the country was not easy. As many of you may know from my introduction post, I grew up in Connecticut and went to college right outside of Manhattan. While I was away from home at college, I was still close enough to go home on the weekends.
Moving to Springfield to work here at MTC has turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have ever made, but definitely one of the hardest. I miss my family, friends, and pets back on the East Coast daily, and I know they miss me too.
However, this has been an amazing learning experience for me in so many ways. Here are a few things I’ve learned about myself in my short time out here:
I’m a lot more independent than I thought I was! Going places alone used to be a little scary for me, but since I’ve been living on my own in a new place, I’ve found the joy in it. Taking myself out to dinner, seeing a movie by myself, or even going to a museum alone have been weekend activities I enjoy doing with me, myself, and I.
The importance of self care. In the past few months, I’ve really learned what self care is and is not for me. It’s made a big difference both with dealing with the emotional toll my work can take on me at times, and the emotional toll being so far away from my support system can take.
Although I’m far away from my support system, FaceTime, social media, and phone calls are wonderful things! I talk to my parents on the phone a few nights a week, and sometimes we FaceTime and they hold the phone up to each of the dogs and cats so I can see them. Although it’s not the same as being there, it really does help a lot to be able to so easily connect with my family and friends.
I’m enjoying figuring my new life in Illinois out, and not a second goes by where I regret my decision. I’m super grateful to the team at MTC for being so amazing and making my transition so smooth, as well as the wonderful families I serve at MTC. And not to leave out my incredible parents, who supported me through this journey — you guys are the best!
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you around MTC!
I hope you all have had another great week! It’s been an eventful one for me! This week has been the end of summer session groups with Listen & Learn classes and some of our contracts. Lots of stuff has happened!
I’ve most recently discovered the importance of “short-term” self-care. As therapists, we talk about self-care a lot. In fact, I’ve already done a blog post about what I do for self-care. When I think of self-care, I always think of it occurring at night or the weekend when the work day is over. What about during the few minutes you have in between sessions? I’ve recently discovered how important these few minutes are.
These are the moments you have to center yourself, to prepare for the next session, recover from a previous session, or even simply to have a quick meal or snack. I’ve noticed that my mindset during the few minutes in between sessions carries over to my next session.
I didn’t realize how important these moments are until this week. I have five sessions back to back one day at the beginning of the week. During one of these sessions, something unexpected happened and I had five minutes before my next session to let my emotions out and recover. This may have been the fastest cry I’ve ever had, but I had a job to do and I knew I had a short amount of time before the next clients needed me.
These five minutes of letting my emotions out in our office with my supervisor helped me recover from a hard session and prepare myself to best serve the clients I was seeing next. I let myself cry for a few minutes, talked to my supervisor, and then wiped my eyes and led the next session. This “short-term” self-care is a rather extreme example, but it is what I needed in that moment.
Here are some other examples of “short-term” self-care that I do or have heard that other music therapists do:
Sit in silence
Listen to a song of your choosing
Read inspirational quotes
Write down one thing that went well in the previous session
Do nothing/Sit back and relax
We talk about self-care a lot. In college, I didn’t really take it seriously. It’s amazing how quickly I am learning in the “real world” just how important it is. Self-care should be taken seriously.
I would love to hear from you! What do you do to take care of yourself during those few minutes in between sessions?
Thank you for reading! Have an amazing week and happy August!
I hope you have had another amazing week! I had a great week at MTC. It’s crazy to think that I am finishing up my 10th week of internship! This week I want to lighten up the blog a bit. I’ll tell you a little bit more about myself as well as summarize a few points that I’ve learned in the first ⅓ of my internship!
I wrote an intro blog post a few months ago, but I didn’t really go deep into much information about myself. I thought it would be cool to share some fun facts that you maybe don’t know!
Here it goes:
I’m from a western suburb of Chicago, but I can count on one hand how many times I’ve actually been to the city.
I’m definitely not a city girl. Lots of my friends go to Chicago for the day just for fun, but it’s never really interested me, unless it’s for a musical, of course.
My primary instrument is voice.
I sang in University Singers, Madrigal Singers, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and Concert Choir throughout my 4 years at Western Illinois.
I’ve also dabbled in a little bit of oboe.
You know how in fourth grade you get the exciting opportunity to pick a band instrument? Well, I picked oboe. I played it 4th-8th grade and then picked it up again for band my junior year of high school. I haven’t touched it since, so please don’t ask me to play you anything.
I’m very clumsy.
It’s really quite amazing that I’ve never broken a bone. I’m the person who trips over cracks in the sidewalk.
I didn’t know I wanted to study music therapy until the second semester of my senior year of high school.
I know, that’s cutting it pretty close. I had to decide between music therapy and athletic training, and I am so happy with my decision.
Alright, now let’s get to a few things I’ve learned so far at MTC! These aren’t all necessarily things that are specific to music therapy. I feel like I have grown so much as a music therapist and as a person these last 10 weeks. I’ve written about some of these points in previous blog posts, but I find it beneficial to remind myself of these things over and over again.
Get out of your head.
I’ve learned that my mind is my best friend AND my biggest enemy. The brain stores so much information that is so useful. I spend too much time in my head which makes me second guess myself. It’s easier said than done, but I have to get out of my head in order to be the best therapist I can be.
Go with your gut.
This kind of goes along with getting out of your head. If you aren’t sure what to do, go with your gut. It’s usually right.
We are all still learning.
I will never know it all, and that’s okay. It’s important to recognize that you don’t know it all, but also be confident in what you know so far.
Be yourself and decide what works best for you.
Getting to have 4 different supervisors is such a blessing. I get to learn from 4 different people with 4 different experiences. Every MT has their own philosophy of music therapy, their own background, and different “expertise.” It’s okay to be different. Don’t mold yourself after one person.
If you aren’t having fun, why are you doing what you’re doing? Live in the moment, do the silly things, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
I’ve completed ⅓ of my internship! I enjoyed being more laid back this week with the blog, and I hope you enjoyed reading it! I would love to hear how other interns are enjoying their internships as well. So if you have something to add or share, please do!
Hi again! I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about something near and dear to my heart: the importance of self care when working in a helping profession.
I knew when I decided to become a music therapy major that it wouldn’t always be easy for so many reasons, but I don’t think I really came to fully understand that until now, as a professional. I knew I would be having difficult discussions with clients and helping them through difficult times in their lives, but the emotional toll of what that would be like didn’t hit me until I began working in the field.
One of my main contract locations is a pediatric behavioral health facility. I work with people ages from 5 to 18 with a broad range of psychiatric and behavioral disorders. I love working with this population, but it can be very emotionally challenging at times.
Coupled with the fact that I have other contracts and a caseload of clients and students at MTC, I can feel pretty exhausted — physically and emotionally — at the end of the week. This is where self care comes in.
When I first began working, and even when I first began internship, I thought I understood the importance of self care. I made sure to do things to take care of myself and treat myself with kindness. Quickly, though, I realized that the things I thought were self care just weren’t working for me. Watching Netflix is great, but doing it for an entire weekend because you think it’s ‘what you need for self care’ isn’t always the answer.
For me, self care has become taking a long walk in the evening and stopping to pet dogs. It’s become cooking a good, healthy, nourishing meal for myself to power my body and brain. It’s forgiving myself when I make a mistake. It’s become minimizing electronic use at night to get a good, solid night’s sleep. It’s making sure I drink enough water.
It’s even become throughly cleaning my apartment or my car out on a Sunday afternoon to have a fresh start for the week. It’s also become finding a creative outlet outside of work — I’m really looking forward to joining the Capitol Area Concert Band when they resume rehearsals in August!
Self care looks different for everyone, and for some, a weekend of laying on the couch watching Netflix might be exactly what you need. I encourage you to take a closer look at your current self care routine and examine what’s working and what might not be. Self care isn’t selfish, and it’s an important part of being a human in today’s fast paced world.
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you do something nice for yourself this week!
It’s been a great week at MTC. Lots of learning and growing as always! This week’s blog post is primarily for music therapy interns and students, as I know that this is a popular time of the year for internships to be starting, but I think it is also applicable for everyone!
Heads up: this might get very real. It is coming from someone in the first few months of her internship. I understand that everyone has different experiences, and I appreciate you reading my thoughts this week!
“You think you know everything until you start your internship.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this sentence. This sentence has A LOT of truth to it, but at the same time I’m not certain that it is 100% true. Also, it’s really scary to hear.
As someone who overthinks and self-doubts, hearing this sentence only made me more nervous for my internship. Here’s what I got from this statement: I had gone through 4 years of college classes on music therapy and so much more, but yet I actually know very little.
I do think that it is important to reinforce that students don’t know everything, but also important to remember that not all students really think that they know everything.
A lot changes during internship. It’s all music therapy all the time. There are no ensemble rehearsals or theory, English, and history classes. An intern gets more hands-on experience in his or her first 2-3 weeks of internship than in the entire 4 years of practicum. It’s a lot of change, but all that you learn in your coursework prepares you for this next step.
It’s true. You don’t know everything, but then again, who does? One of my supervisors likes to say that we’re all still learning. This is also true. We are all still learning. It’s why we have 4 years of college classes, a 6 month internship, a board-certification exam, graduate level classes, and continuing education requirements. There is always more to learn.
It’s true. You don’t know everything, but you do know more than you think you do. From experiences I have had with MT students and interns, most of us don’t put ourselves on a pedestal. In fact, I’ve seen more of us tear ourselves down and doubt ourselves. I know I certainly do.
There is so much to learn about music therapy, so much that we will never know it all. However, this self-doubt does us no good in the music therapy profession. It gets in the way of what we need to do to help our clients. So no, you don’t know it all, but during sessions you apply what you do know.
Whether you’re a student or intern, you ARE the professional in your clients’ eyes.
Internship is a hard 6 months. Entering the internship process can be very daunting. Hearing “You think you know everything until you start your internship,” can just make it more scary and as if the last four years of your life didn’t mean anything.
Instead of saying this, maybe we should say, “You’ve learned a lot so far, and you still have a lot to learn,” or, “You have learned what you need to know up until this point, and you will continue to learn so much more.”
Music therapy students and interns: you’ve got this! Music therapy professionals: thank you for educating students, interns, other professionals, and yourselves every day.
We are all still learning!
This blog post did get real, and thank you for reading my thoughts this week. Have another great week and happy learning!
Hello again everyone! I hope you all have had a wonderful week!
Last week I wrote about building rapport with clients, and this week I would like to expand upon that topic. More specifically, I am reflecting on building rapport with staff, parents, guardians, and caregivers of clients.
Throughout these first 8 weeks of internship, I have been focusing on building rapport with clients, learning their names, and simply getting to know them. As the weeks have gone by, I realized that I know very little about the people who care for them. Of course, I will continue to build rapport with all of my clients, but I now will be more active in engaging with and getting to know the people around them.
I can be very shy, so talking to people is definitely not one of my strengths. However, stepping out of my box and reaching out to the people who care for my clients can go a long way.
It is important to consider these points when getting to know staff, parents, guardians, and caregivers:
These are the people who bring the clients to sessions.
In a residential facility or school, staff are the people who bring the clients to you, or, if you go to them, get them ready for the session. If you have your own space and clients come to you, parents, guardians and caregivers are often the people who make this happen. It is important to build a relationship with these people in order to make them feel comfortable, welcome, and recognized.
These people are important to your clients.
Odds are, these people probably have a strong relationship and connection to the clients we are seeing. Getting to know them will also help us better understand our clients.
These are the people who provide necessary materials.
Funds, payment, instruments, books, etc. It sometimes takes a lot of materials to get music therapy going. Parents, guardians, and caregivers pay for our services, and in turn help provide the other necessary materials. In residential and school settings, there is administration that decides where money funds go. They can make or break a music therapy program.
Perhaps the most important: these are the people who support music therapy.
The field of music therapy is growing, but it still is not known everywhere. Parents, guardians, caregivers and sometimes staff are the people who have heard of music therapy, believe that it works and is beneficial, and signed up for services.
These people advocate for us. These are the people who witness first-hand the changes in the clients and how the skills learned transfer to everyday life. Staff, parents, and guardians are SO important to music therapists.
As I move into the end of my second month of internship, I really want to put some focus on noticing, appreciating, and thanking the people who support music therapy.
So, if you are a parent, guardian, caregiver, staff, friend, or supporter of music therapy, thank youfor all you do. We appreciate you more than you know.
I encourage my fellow MT students, interns, and professionals to reflect on these people in your life and clients’ lives this week.