Intern’s Corner – Week Three

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful week and are staying healthy!

I am three weeks into my internship and boy are there a lot of things I am getting used to. Although there are similarities between being a student and an intern, there are many differences as well.

During my four years in undergrad, I generally took 19-21 credit hours as well as participated and had leadership positions in a few organizations. I took lessons for two instruments and was never in less than three ensembles. I thrived on my busy schedule and enjoyed the challenge. I thought I’d be prepared for the busy life of an intern.

While I had a full schedule in school, I had many half-hour to hour-long breaks between classes, rehearsals, or meetings. There was plenty of time for me to catch up on homework, talk to friends, of just stare at a wall while my mind took a break throughout the day. In internship, while I am able to take mental breaks here and there, my schedule is much more condensed and is much more go-go-go.

Despite having full days in school, I tended to stay up until midnight on average and be just fine the next day. While I’m not really a morning or a night person, I tend to lean more towards night. Since starting my internship, I am waking up only 30 minutes earlier but I am ready to go to bed much sooner. I try to be in bed around 9pm and fall asleep somewhere between 10-11pm. This time continues to get earlier each week! Even though my weeks have less packed into them, I am requiring much more sleep to stay functional.

Starting in my sophomore year, I only needed to prepare to lead one session per week. At the time, this seemed like such a huge task. Now, I have four to ten sessions a day five days a week. While I am not leading any full sessions myself yet, it is still a big adjustment.

Throughout school, my fellow music therapy classmates tended to have similarities in their schedules. As a result, I almost always had someone who was “in the same boat” as me. I always had someone I could talk to who had the same expectations. In internship, I am the only one. It does help having two supervisors who were in my shoes about a year or two ago, but it is certainly different from school.

Being an intern is certainly different from being a student. However, not all these changes are bad. Although I feel more busy and have way more sessions, I get to spend my week learning how to do something that I love. I may be the only intern, but I have four supervisors that are guiding and instructing me to be the best music therapist I can be.

Thanks for reading! Stay happy and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Two

I have just finished my second week of internship! It has been a little bit different that what I expected, mainly due to COVID-19 procedures, but it has been very exciting! Being an intern during a global pandemic certainly makes for an interesting time.

Throughout these two weeks, I have had a few unexpected circumstances come up. The weekend before I was scheduled to start, I was informed that I had possibly been exposed to COVID-19, which is not unexpected during these times. As a result, my first week was spent at home where I began via Zoom and online classes. During my second week, one of the locations where I was supposed to observe decided to remain fully remote rather than going back in person. Therefore, a good portion of my schedule was put on pause.

As this pandemic does not look like it is going to end any time soon, I am choosing to find the good. It can be really hard to not worry about how the pandemic can and will be affecting your life for the next six to seven months. There are certainly some days where I can get wrapped up in my head. During those times, it is important to find the good. I found three things to help me navigate these tough times.

Be Flexible

I am so fortunate to have a team that is supportive and understanding of the situation. When I was possibly exposed, my supervisors adjusted my first week to make sure I could still get hours even though I was unable to come in. During my second week, one of the locations I was going to observe decided to stay remote until further notice. As a result, my schedule changed once again. Hopefully my schedule will begin to settle out in the next week or two but until it does, I am ready for whatever life throws my way!

Enjoy Current Opportunities

This past week has been a big adjustment for me. Some of my days are fairly full and I have a lot of music to learn and assignments to complete. While I currently have a lot of free time in my schedule, I know that this will not be the case in a few weeks. Because of that, I am taking advantage of the free time I have to learn as much music as I can, work ahead, and adjust to being an intern. Although I am excited to (hopefully) meet some new clientele in the next few weeks and months, I appreciate the free time I have in my current schedule.

Find the Good

While I am unable to spend full days with clients in-person, I am learning how to do music therapy in other ways. Two methods I am learning are music therapy via Zoom and recorded videos. Both methods have their pros and cons, and I definitely prefer Zoom over recordings. However, both methods are great ways to provide telehealth services during the pandemic.

Even though my internship is looking differently than I expected a few months ago, I am excited to see what it has in store over the next few months.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all stay healthy this upcoming week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week One

Hello everyone! My name is Cicely McCain and I am the new music therapy intern here at MTC! I am so excited to start my journey with this group. As this is my first blog post, I should probably tell you all a little about myself.

I am from the small town of Petersburg, IL. I have a younger sister and two little brothers. I also have a pet gecko named Lil A (his full name is Alexios). In my free time, I like to paint, play piano, and watch TV shows. My favorite to watch is anything Star Trek.

For the past four years, I attended Western Illinois University, from which (pending completion of internship) I will graduate with a major in music therapy and a minor in psychology as a Voice/Trumpet primary. During my time there, I was a member of multiple ensembles, including University Singers, Concert Band, Marching Band, and even Steel Band for a bit! I was also a member of WIU’s Music Therapy Association and Mu Phi Epsilon.

As I am a fresh intern, there are PLENTY of areas in which I can improve, such as improvisation, song writing, and overall confidence. During my first week, I have written three goals to help me be the best me I can be for myself, the MTC team, and my clients. Those goals are:

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

I tend to allow my anxieties and nerves hold me back from experiences. Often times, I will avoid pushing myself to the next level because it is “new” and I am scared of failing. However, you cannot grow if you never try new things. Author Celestine Chua said, “Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compass towards growth.” I plan to remind myself of this each day of this journey.

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

Throughout high school and college, I tended to “wing it” a lot. I did not have a proper sleep schedule, struggled to remember to eat or drink regularly throughout the day, and generally just went through the motions. Looking back, I wish I would have taken better care of my mind and body. I cannot give to my team or my clients in the way they need if I start my day half empty. During internship, I plan to take better care of myself so that I can be there for those who need me.

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

As stated in my first goal, I tend to avoid “new” or “scary” things. There are many skills that I am nervous about learning, such as improvisation and songwriting. I have minimal experience with both, but I know that these are very important skills for music therapists to have. Throughout these six months, I am going to avoid shying away from anything that is scary, but rather push myself to get as much out of internship as I can.

I look forward to everything I will continue to experience and learn during my internship. In six months, I hope to look back on these posts and see how much I have grown.

Thanks for reading!

Cicely McCain

Dance Monkey

Hello! It’s been a minute since I last shared on the blog, but I’m excited to share with you something I’ve been working on during these long days at home. Now that I have more time, I’ve been able to try new things, in addition to Zoom calls and bread making, of course. ;)

One afternoon as I was preparing for an online session, I heard a song that sparked my creative gears. It had a catchy beat and lyrics that had potential to be adapted to a goal-based song that I could use with my clients. Pretty quickly after I heard it, I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity to get creative pass me by. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but in the next coming days, “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I, evolved from a song on the radio to a full out-goal based adaptation, complete with a music video.

With the help of my husband, (shout out to all the music therapist spouses!) I put together all the vocal tracks and movie clips..all of which I was learning how to do the fly. In week 8 of social distancing, I’m excited to share with you all this video and adapted song.

Feel free to use it as a resource to promote your clients’ motor and directionality goals in your online sessions. You can download the adapted lyrics and chords for free right here. Enjoy! 

Looking For The Good

A sweet drawing that a well-wisher drew on the chalkboard wall in our lobby at Music Therapy Connections.

Recently, my coworker Laura shared a great new Jason Mraz song, “Look For The Good”, with our team. It’s a beautiful song about looking for the good amidst troubling times in your life. I immediately realized that it might be beneficial for some of the people I work with, especially in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

I was able to collaborate with my supervisor Katey on a music therapy activity to go along with it. As all of our sessions now take place via Zoom or pre-recorded video, this activity was designed to be done by the participant on his/her own, instead of during a live, in person session. However, it can be modified to fit the needs of the people you work with.

I’d love to share that activity with you today!


Support Systems

Some members of the fabulous music therapy team when I began my internship.

It’s easy to feel alone as a music therapist, especially if you are the only MT in your area. We are constantly advocating for ourselves and facing challenges. It’s important to surround yourself with people and resources that support you and what you do. 


Transitions to and from the Music Room

Transitions are something we address often. In our Listen & Learn classes and music therapy sessions, we often start with a hello song and end with goodbye to help with these transitions. We also make spaces in between songs short and sweet as we quickly move on to the next thing. But what about the time spent getting to and from the session/class room?


Learning New Repertoire Quickly and Efficiently

If you are like me, learning new repertoire can sometimes be difficult. Whether you have a lack of energy or you’re not in the right mindset, sitting down to learn new music can seem like a big task. I’ve found that my number one reason for procrastinating is by telling myself that I don’t have the time because I have other “more important” things that also need to get done. 

There are times that I need to learn 20+ songs in a week due to Listen & Learn classes starting back up, coupled with requests made by students and clients. I used to struggle with this greatly. There are so many songs to learn in what feels like such a short period of time. To try and combat this “lack of time”, I have figured out a routine that works well for me to learn new music quickly and efficiently. 


MTC Adult Recital!

Music Therapy Connections provides so many unique opportunities for their students: the chance to learn more than one instrument during their lesson, 2 studio-wide recital days each year, and mini-recitals throughout the year. One of my favorite events, the Adult Recital, occurred last week!

MTC welcomes people of all ages through our doors for lessons and music therapy services. Yes, this includes adults! I applaud all of our adult students who choose to learn a new instrument or refine their pre-existing skills. It’s definitely not easy!