Intern’s Corner – Week 25

Hi everyone! I hope you have all had a fabulous week! This week was my last week of internship! I’ve definitely experienced a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the week as I look both backwards and forwards to what is next. 

I am so thankful for all of my internship experiences. I worked in settings I never pictured myself in, and ended up loving them. I did songwriting and recording for the first time. I now improvise willingly! It’s interesting to look back and see the changes in my perspective, attitude, and abilities. I remember literally holding back tears during my first supervision. Not one of my finest moments, but all part of the learning process.

Internship has truly been a most rewarding experience, and my gratitude for the opportunity to be here at MTC cannot be overstated. Yes, there is, and has been, a lot to do and learn and it can get stressful, but there is really nothing else quite like it to confirm that this is where I should be and that music therapy is what I should be doing. 6 months seems like a long time, but it really isn’t with all the information and experience you gain. 

Those of you who are looking for internships or are an intern right now: don’t take this time for granted. It goes by so quickly. Before you know it, it’s time to take the CBMT exam and work as a professional. Take one day at a time and learn as much as you possibly can.

As I said before, I am so thankful for all of the experiences I had in internship, but I’m even more grateful for each person that helped shape me throughout this experience. My supervisors, Katey, Rachel, Laura, and Molly, have been a true blessing to me. Thank you for guiding, supporting, teaching, and helping me throughout my internship.

The entire MTC team has been so caring throughout this process. My clients have helped me just as much as I hope to have helped them. My family and friends have always been just a phone call away. It has been such a gift to have these people supporting and believing in me.

And, thank you for reading my thoughts each week! This was my first experience writing a blog, and I really enjoyed it! Thank you for supporting me each week!

I have enjoyed my internship so much and am sad to see it end, but I am looking forward to what lies ahead!

As always, thanks for reading and have a great week!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 24

Hello! I hope everyone had a spooky Halloween! It was lots of fun at MTC!

Halloween was definitely interesting this year because it snowed here in Springfield! I had some sessions at a daycare center that morning, and the kiddos were saying “It’s almost Christmas!” as they were so excited to see the snow. It brightened my morning to see their joy, as I myself was not too thrilled about the weather.

The children’s joy for Christmas made me realize that the big holiday season is right around the corner! I wanted to share some of my favorite songs to use during this wonderful time of the year! 

Halloween (Maybe you can use these ideas next year!)

  • Lollipop, Lollipop“: Rachel Rambach created this adaptation of the well known song. We play the lollipop drums and work on following directions and motor skills. This is a great intervention for both kids and adults.
  • Halloween Stew” by Rachel Rambach: This song is a great way to work on the alphabet! We create a stew together, but all of our ingredients have to start with the same letter.
  • Thriller” by Michael Jackson: This is a fun one to get up and dance to, let some energy out, and work on motor skills!

Thanksgiving

  • The Colors of Thanksgiving” by Rachel Rambach: This song talks about all the delicious food we get to eat at Thanksgiving while also identifying colors.
  • Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw: The main theme of this song is to take time out of your day to be humble and kind. Be thankful for all that is around you and don’t take anything for granted.
  • Thankful” by Josh Groban: I hear this song a lot around Christmas time, but you can simply tell by the name that it’s also appropriate for Thanksgiving.

Christmas

  • My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music: This song is not specifically a Christmas song, but it tends to be lumped in with other Christmas music. This is a great way to discuss coping skills. Rewrite the song with your client’s favorite things!
  • Jingle Bells“: This is always a favorite! Hand out those jingle bells and create group cohesion! You could also work on motor skills, following directions, and social skills.
  • “The 12 Days of Christmas”: A fun song to work on sequencing and counting skills!

I am so ready to jam out to Christmas music, but I’m making myself wait until after Thanksgiving. Planning for sessions doesn’t count though, right? :)

I hope some of these song ideas are helpful! Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 23

Hi everyone!

I hope you are all doing well! It’s been an eventful week, as I have added some new clients and classes to my schedule. What a great week it has been!

As my internship continues to wind down, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection. I have quite a long commute every day, and this provides a great opportunity to think about and reflect on all that has happened. Recently I have not just been reflecting on my internship, but on my life and how much I’ve grown. I would like to use this blog post as a way to journal about my thoughts and let you know what I wish I would have told my younger self.

Try new things and do what scares you.

Though I still struggle with confidence, it’s truly amazing to look back and see just how much confidence I have gained during my internship. This is all because I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone. The more experience I gained, the greater my confidence grew. This wasn’t limited to my music therapy experience; it carried over to my personal life as well. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to try new things and do what scares you, because that is what has helped develop my confidence these past 6 months. 

Don’t quit piano!

Like pretty much every other kid, I took piano lessons growing up. I also took voice lessons and played multiple sports, and these just took over my priority and interest during my younger years. So, I ended up quitting piano. I truly wish I would have kept up with piano, as now I use it every day. Thankfully, a lot of my piano skills came back, but I could be so much further along if I had just stuck to it. What’s funny is, what used to cause me so much dread has now become my accompaniment instrument of choice. I love the piano!

Say “thank you” more often.

There are so many people who have supported me and guided me to be who I am today, but, in the moment, I had no idea. I wish I would have thanked my parents, my family, friends, teachers, everyone more often growing up as each person has influenced who I am in some way. So, thank you to everyone who has ever spent even just a moment in my life. 

Everything will be alright.

No matter what happens, everything will work out. Breathe and take one day at a time.

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self these things, I definitely would. I’ve learned so much in the past 6 months, both professionally and personally. Do you have anything you wish you could tell your younger self? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Emma Kovachevich

My Most Helpful Non-Musical Tools

Helpful Non-Musical Tools for Music Therapists | Music Therapy Connections

Hi again! I’m back to discuss some things I find super helpful in my work outside of the music and the instruments. We talk so often about our favorite music therapy songs and instruments, but what are some OTHER things that we can’t live without as music therapists?

Of course, having functional instruments, including a voice, comes first. Without the music, there would be no music therapy! These are just a few of the necessities that help my sessions (and my life!) run a bit smoother.

First, and this might seem like an obvious one: water. Yes, it’s important to stay hydrated especially when you’re singing and talking all day, but to me, water is so much more. When I don’t drink enough water, my body really feels it. I start to get a headache, and when I’m not feeling well I’m not leading sessions well. This impacts my clients just as much as it impacts me!

I also treat water as a bit of in-the-moment self care. I lead very large hour-long groups at a behavioral health center, and it’s a lot! My clients take water breaks during our sessions, so why shouldn’t I? It’s as simple as taking a sip in between interventions, or when clients are picking out which instrument they want to play next. It takes less than 10 seconds, and a sip of cold water along with a deep breath or two really help me to center myself as I jump back in and do my best work.

Number two is twofold: a watch and time management skills. Seriously…these are life-savers. I went into a session a few months ago, realized I forgot my watch and there was no clock in the room, and panicked. I ended up having to pop my head out of the room and ask my client’s caregiver to let me know when there were only five minutes left in the session. Oops!

A watch has helped me more than I even expected. Obviously I need to know when one session ends so the next one can begin, but it’s also super helpful for timing behavior frequencies and being able to plan how much time you’ll have to get through all the other materials in your session plan.

My last helpful non-musical tool is my iPad. I do everything on my iPad, from tracking student and client attendance to storing/accessing music to writing blog posts! It’s much lighter to carry around than a laptop or a big binder of music, and using Google Drive and Guitar Tabs to organize my music allows me to have almost any song under the sun at my fingertips. This is especially helpful for those times I get odd song requests that I don’t know off the top of my head!

My iPad lock screen background also serves as my work schedule. I downloaded the app Power Planner and uploaded my week to week schedule — clients, meetings, lesson students, contracts, everything. It helps me keep track of when and where I have to be with literally just the press of a button. It’s color-coded too, which I especially enjoy!

These are just a few of the many things I find most helpful in sessions. I hope you found these tips to be useful and applicable to your own life. I’d love to hear your music therapy essentials, and how you use them!

As always, thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions!

~Molly

Intern’s Corner – Week 22

Perfectionism Update

Hello everyone! What beautiful fall weather we have been having here in Springfield! I’m quickly rediscovering my love for fall! Hooray for sweater weather!

My internship is quickly coming to a close. I only have about 3 weeks left! Where has the time gone?

One of my very first blog posts was about a fun topic called “perfectionism.” I promised that I would give an update on how I was doing with my perfectionist tendencies later on in my internship, and I figured it’s about time to share that update!

Perfectionism is something I believe I will continue to battle, but I’ve seen some huge improvements over the past 5 months. I’ve learned to avoid over-planning, to take things as they come, and focus on the positives. Here are some things that I have found beneficial in keeping my perfectionist self in check.

At the end of the day, tell yourself one thing that you did really well.

No matter if my day was amazing or the worst day I’ve had, I considered at least one thing I was proud of myself for. I wrote this down in my daily journal or told myself this on my drive home. This forces your brain to focus on a positive for at least a few seconds, and it usually carries over for the rest of the day.

“A finished product is sometimes better than waiting for the perfect product.”

This is a topic discussed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. This has been a game changer for me as I continue songwriting and finish my final assignments and projects. Don’t get me wrong: I have not lowered my standards. Rather, once the assignment is finished, I don’t obsess over it and continue to make changes. If you wait for the perfect product, it may never come. 

In 10 years from now, who is going to remember that mistake you made?

This is one I tell myself on repeat. Who is going to remember in 10 years, 10 months, or even 10 minutes the chord you missed or the not-so-brilliant thing you said? No one. To be blunt, they probably didn’t even notice or care in the first place. 

Perfectionism is very common in the music therapy world. We want to be the best we can be because not only are we affecting our lives, but the lives of our clients. It’s important to not lower your standards, but keep in mind that it’s okay to not be perfect. The things I talked about above have helped me tremendously throughout my internship. If you have other tips in how to push perfectionism aside, please share them in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading and have a fabulous week!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 21

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week! I am so happy that the Fall weather has finally arrived. The cool, crisp air in the morning gives me a pick-me-up during this busy time of year.

These past 5 months of internship have gone by incredibly quickly. I’ve learned so much and done so many things, including some things you wouldn’t necessarily expect a music therapy intern to do. In this blog post I will share with you some of the cool things I have done throughout my internship that aren’t really music therapy related!

Painting

Over the summer, MTC touched up the paint on the walls in order to give a fresh look to their building. I spent two mornings helping with this project. While painting, this time gave me a chance to get to know the other MTC therapists better. It also doubled as extra supervision time as we would talk about what was going on in my sessions and about music therapy in general. 

Mini Therapy Horses

I spend a good chunk of time at a children’s hospital every week. One time while we were there, miniature therapy horses came to visit the patients. I also got to visit the horses! :)

Demolition

This one is definitely my favorite. The same children’s hospital is beginning to build a brand new NICU. This past week was “Demo Day” and my supervisor and I overheard that they were letting people help knock down the wall. After some investigation, we found the party and got the chance to take a sledgehammer to the wall. This was very fun and a good way to finish out the week!

My internship has been such an amazing experience so far. I’ve learned so much through my music therapy experiences and also have had the opportunity to do some other unexpected things! It’s hard for me to comprehend that I only have a few weeks left! 

I would love to hear your fun stories! Have you ever done something unexpected and enjoyable at your music therapy sites? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 20

Songwriting

Hello again everyone! Happy October! I’ve had an awesome week at MTC and I hope your week went well too! 

Throughout my time here at MTC, I have had many opportunities to write songs that can be used in my music therapy sessions. I had only written one song prior to my internship, so this was a pretty daunting task at first. 

The first few songs I wrote were not the best, but they were functional and appropriate for my clients. My songs definitely got better the more I wrote. It also helped to have feedback from my supervisor, Rachel Rambach, who is pretty well-known for her original songs.

I have truly come to love songwriting and have even started composing songs for myself. I have found that songwriting gives me a healthy and creative outlet to express my emotions. Hmm, who would have ever thought that?! :) 

My clients have really responded well to the songs I have written specifically for them and their sessions. As I continue to grow in my songwriting, I wanted to share with you some tips I have found useful!

Pick a Topic

Before you start writing, you should come up with a topic for the song. In a music therapy setting, this could be centered around the goal for the client(s). For example, a big goal for several of my clients is to improve social skills. I have written songs describing appropriate behavior when meeting someone new, using manners, and when to walk/run/tiptoe at school. 

Write the Lyrics First

When I first started writing, I tried to do everything at once. Let me tell you, it is very difficult to write lyrics, the melody, and the chords all at once. I have found it so much easier to start by writing the lyrics. The melody will often come to you while you are writing the lyrics.

Having Trouble Figuring Out a Melody?

There have been multiple occasions where I have the lyrics written, but the melody just hasn’t come to me yet. When this happens, I pull out my guitar, pick a chord progression, and start improvising a melody with the lyrics I have written. The chords behind my improvisation help me pick a direction in which the melody should go. 

Keep it Simple

Your songs don’t have to be the next big hit. They just have to be applicable and functional. Many of my songs just contain a typical three chord progression. Nothing too fancy!

Make a Rough Recording

After your song is finished, record yourself singing and playing it. I use the Voice Memos app on my phone to do this. This rough recording will help you in the future if you forget exactly how you want your song to sound!

Have Fun!

Songwriting is so personal and rewarding. Have fun with the process! It’s always a good feeling to witness your clients respond positively to the song you created for them and watch them grow in their goals. Also, write some songs for yourself!

I have truly enjoyed my songwriting journey and hope to keep growing. I hope these tips help you get started on your own songwriting journey! Those of you who are experienced songwriters, please add to these tips by leaving a comment!

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

Emma Kovachevich

Conquering the CBMT Exam

Hi again! I want to share something I’m very proud of: this summer, I successfully passed the CBMT exam and officially became a board-certified music therapist!

For those of you who are not familiar with the exam, it’s a three-hour test consisting of 150 multiple choice questions. 130 of those are scored, and you must get 95 or more correct to pass. Upon passing, you are able to use the MT-BC title, standing for Music Therapist Board-Certified. It can be very stressful!

For this blog post, I’m sharing some of the unique study tips that really helped me conquer this exam.

Confession: I’ve always had bad test anxiety. Tests have always scared me and this test was absolutely no exception. Since so much was depending on me passing this, I knew I needed to conquer this test anxiety and develop some unique study habits.

  • The first and most impactful thing I did was see a counselor in my area who specializes in test anxiety. She really changed my mindset going into the exam and even though I only had two visits, I really owe so much of my success to her!
  • Next, I broke down all the info I wanted to brush up on down into flash cards. I meticulously color coded these, using colored flash cards and coordinating colored pens. I gathered the information from the New Music Therapist’s Handbook by Susan Hanser as well as several websites and journal articles, depending on what I needed to study. This all seems like pretty common study stuff, but wait…
  • I recorded myself repeating the flash cards and ‘teaching’ myself this information. I did about one recording a day, and listened to them whenever I could- on my commute, when out for a walk, while cooking dinner, anytime I had some free time.
  • Then, I transcribed these recordings into a notebook. Hearing myself and writing it down incorporated different learning styles and helped me to solidify this information.
  • Almost every night, I called my mom and ‘taught’ her what I had reviewed that day. Since she isn’t a music therapist this was all new information for her, and she asked questions that helped me solidify the information even better.
  • I made sure that I stopped making new flash cards about a week and a half before the exam. For the rest of the time I focused on listening to recordings, transcribing, and really getting that information down in my brain.

If you are taking the CBMT exam soon, I hope some of these study tips can help you. If you aren’t taking it soon, I hope these tips can at least help you for other exams in your life, no matter how big because these strategies can be applied to so many other subjects and situations.

To all MT students and interns: I wish you nothing but the best of luck! This exam is absolutely passable, so please don’t get discouraged. You know this information- it’s just a matter of refreshing it.

As always, please feel free to reach out with any comments, concerns, or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Molly Robitaille, MT-BC

Intern’s Corner – Week 19

Hello everyone! I hope you have had a fabulous week! These past few weeks I have really been finding myself as a music therapist. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. If I had two words to describe the past few weeks, they would be stress and growth.

Stress

As I approach the ¾ mark in my internship, everything is getting real. In just 6 or 7 weeks my internship will be over, and the only thing left to becoming a music therapist is the board certification exam. I’m so excited, but also terrified for what lies ahead.

On top of preparing for professional life and the exam, there are intern duties that I need to complete and regular clinical work that needs to be done. Lots of prep was needed, new classes started, new session plans, etc. Long story short, there was a lot going on.  

I felt the stress a lot last week. I was putting everything before myself. I had late nights, skipped meals, and did not take care of myself. I ended up getting sick on Thursday and could not come in on Friday. I truly think that I got sick because I was neglecting self care.

I talked to my supervisors about ways to help combat the stress, and, wow, I immediately felt a whole lot better. I started making daily check lists rather than weekly, which doesn’t seem like a big change, but it has helped. It’s beneficial for me to see the few tasks I need to complete during the day rather than the long list of tasks I need to complete for the week. It simply helps my mindset.

I also will prioritize these tasks. Clients come first, followed by my assignments. I was also encouraged to take a break for even just a few minutes in between sessions when able. These few changes and simply talking it out made me feel so much better going into the final stages of my internship.

Growth

The past week wasn’t completely full of stress; great things happened too. The first Listen & Learn classes went great and I had a lot of fun teaching them. My clients also made great strides toward their goals! I also saw growth in myself as, though I was feeling stressed, I did not show it and still had wonderful sessions throughout the week. 

I’ve always shown exactly how I feel on my face. I really can’t hide anything. However, this is not always helpful as a therapist. This past week I had to push aside my feelings and focus on my clients during their sessions. My supervisors told me that they could not tell I was stressed based upon how I was interacting with my clients. This is a HUGE compliment, as my affect has been a main area of focus throughout my practicum experiences and internship.

I also learned that I can handle a whole lot more than I think I can. With everything going on, I still had successful sessions with my clients and completed everything I needed to. In reality, the stress I was feeling was not worth it. 

I’ve also learned a very important thing: Take care of yourself!

I decided to share how I have been feeling these past few weeks because I know that music therapists, interns, students, and others outside of the music therapy field all have moments of stress. I’ve learned that making time to take care of yourself, despite all of the tasks you feel like you need to complete, is essential to getting through the stressful time. Skipping out on self care may only make it worse. In my case, I got sick and had to miss a day of internship. If something has to give, don’t let it be your self care.

Thanks for reading my thoughts this week. If you have anything to add on this topic, please leave a comment!

Emma Kovachevich

Intern’s Corner – Week 18

A Week in the Life

Hello again everyone! We are really getting back into the swing of things here at MTC as our Listen & Learn classes start back up. It’s been an exciting week!

A month or two ago, one of MTC’s therapists, Molly, wrote a blog post about her typical schedule. I liked it so much that I thought I would give you a “Week in the Life” of an MTC intern!

My schedule has changed quite a bit since starting my internship, and it continues to change a little from week to week. I will share with you my current weekly schedule, as the school year is in full swing!

Monday

On Mondays I spend the morning at one of our school contract locations. I provide group sessions as well as a sing-along. I then head back to MTC and facilitate 2 one-to-one sessions. I have about an hour in between the sessions, so I use that time to work on my weekly assignment, documentation, and other prep that needs to be done. Then I finish out my day by taking a piano and guitar lesson with one of our amazing teachers here at MTC!

Tuesday

Tuesdays look very similar to Mondays. I’m back at the school contract throughout the morning, but this time I have both group and one-to-one sessions, followed by the sing-along. Afterwards, I head back to MTC and have my supervision meeting. This is a wonderful time for me to talk about how things are going and receive supervision from the four MT-BCs at MTC. Then I have a one-to-one session, teach 2 lessons, and practice during the extra time I have.

Wednesday

Now that Listen & Learn classes have begun, my Wednesday mornings are spent leading a class and observing one of Rachel’s classes. I then have a little break that I use to write my blog, do some practicing, and prep. In the afternoon I head over to a contract location, where I provide music therapy for a hospice group. Then I go back to MTC and provide 2 one-to-one sessions and finish off my day teaching another Listen & Learn class. Wednesday is the day I have the most diversity in populations served.

Thursday

I do a bit of traveling on Thursdays. I start off at a daycare contract and lead one group session and observe the other. I then travel to the children’s hospital and provide music therapy to patients until the mid-afternoon. From there I head back to MTC and have 2 one-to-one sessions and teach a Listen & Learn class!

Friday

Fridays are my “short” days. I spend the morning to mid-afternoon at the children’s hospital and then practice and prep at home!

Weekend

The weekends are my time. I typically travel to Macomb or back home and spend time with the people I love. I do make sure to dedicate some time during the weekend to prepare and practice for the next week!

This is a very generalized version of my weekly schedule as an intern at MTC. I hope this is beneficial for those who wonder what a music therapy intern’s schedule looks like! I love that I have such a range of populations in my schedule and get to work with almost every age. I truly enjoy going to internship every day!

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!

Emma Kovachevich

P.S. Here is a screenshot of my schedule on Google Calendar for all of us visual learners out there!