2019 – What a Year!

I feel like this year has gone by so incredibly quickly, but at the same time it seems like the events that took place at the beginning of 2019 were a lifetime ago. 

My life has changed so much in the past year. This time last year I was traveling to do all of my interviews for potential internship sites and gearing up for my final semester of undergrad. Today I am a board-certified music therapist in a fantastic practice, working with and for terrific people and clients. A lot of opportunities and blessings have come my way in 12 short months. 

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MTC Winter Recital 2019

Music Therapy Connections has had an eventful week! If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen that we had our Winter Recital on Saturday. It was a wonderful day full of fabulous music!

This was the first MTC recital I have participated in and I had several students perform. After weeks of preparation, their hard work paid off!

I truly enjoyed getting to watch my students and all of the performers share what they have been working on. There was so much excitement, and also some nerves, throughout the room. I had not been to a recital like this since I was taking lessons myself in my childhood years. What fun it was!

There was so much to enjoy throughout the day. Here are some of my personal highlights:

My Students’ Performances

Much like the feelings I get when a client meets a goal in music therapy, there is so much joy in seeing your students finally perform what they have been working on for weeks or even months. I am so incredibly proud of all the work they have put in. They have grown and learned so much!

Other Students’ Performances

The recitals were marvelous across the board. It was fun for me to see what other students performed and have been working on. As a music therapist, teaching lessons is not my primary focus or specialty. I received some instruction in school on how to teach music, but I have also had to work on this skill myself. Watching other performances gave me ideas on what I could bring to my students.

Being With My Coworkers

It is not very often that the entire MTC team gets to spend a day together. It was such a blast getting to spend a full day with people I usually only see for moments at a time. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we all celebrated in our students’ victories. It was a beautiful time!

Holiday Music

With it being the holiday season, it was to be expected that holiday music would be performed. There is nothing like a young child singing your favorite holiday song to put you in the spirit of the season!

I know many other studios also had recitals this month! If you have been involved with a recital recently, what was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading!

Emma Kovachevich

Holiday Music!

I am sure all of you have your holiday list of music ready to go during this time of year. I started getting requests for Christmas music before Thanksgiving, which I suppose is quite common. I personally try to wait to listen to holiday music until after my Thanksgiving meal, but I will definitely break that rule if someone requests it. :)

The holiday season is definitely my favorite time of the year. There is so much joy to be experienced and to share with others. Lots of people have been waiting all year to hear their favorite holiday tune again. There is nothing else quite like singing a beloved holiday song with your group members and seeing the excitement in their eyes. 

It has been fun to see all of the suggestions I have gotten so far. Here are just some of the requests I have gotten from clients ranging in age from school age children to older adults:

  • Adeste Fideles
  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Hallelujah (Pentatonix version)
  • Here Comes Santa Claus
  • It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
  • Jingle Bells
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • O Holy Night
  • Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Silent Night
  • Silver Bells
  • Up on the Housetop
  • Winter Wonderland

While my personal list of favorite holiday songs is much longer than this, it has been interesting to hear what my clients and students are most often wishing to sing. 

What holiday tunes do you get requests for most often? Let us know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Emma Kovachevich

Being a Teacher, But Also a Student

I have the privilege of providing music therapy services as well as music lessons at Music Therapy Connections. Throughout my internship and my new professional life, I have also been taking lessons. This feels a bit strange, as I am providing lessons and am considered a “teacher,” but also have someone else teaching me skills on those same instruments. 

As music therapists, it is our duty to identify areas where growth is still needed and then seek supervision or instruction accordingly. At the beginning of my internship, I told my supervisors that I wanted to improve my guitar and piano skills. Thus, the lessons began!

Yes, it can feel a bit awkward when my own students or clients see me walking into a lesson, but I know that I am doing what I need to do in order to better serve them. It can be hard to get out of the mindset that “I am supposed to be the expert to my students”, but it’s also important to remember that, regardless of whether you are taking lessons yourself or not, they will continue to see you as the trained professional that you are. 

I have found that lots of positive things come out of taking piano and guitar lessons. Here are just a few:

Improvement

This seems to be an obvious one. As soon as I started taking lessons, I saw my accompaniment skills quickly improve. Since I play piano and guitar every day, it was easy to apply what I was learning into my regular practice. 

A Second Opinion

Often in my lessons I would bring a piece that I was already working on. In these cases, I sought opinions on what I could change to make it sound better. Should I add more bass notes? What about a different pattern? It was nice to get that second opinion.

Developing New Skills

Since I already had a foundation of basic piano and guitar skills from school, it was great to expand on those and learn some new skills! Recently, I have been working on finger-picking melodies on guitar and adding harmony behind it. This can also easily be used in the music therapy setting for relaxation purposes.

A Creative Outlet

I know too many music therapists and music therapy students, including myself, that only perform or practice material that they have been working on for a client. Throughout my internship, I brought music that I was learning for clients to my lessons. This is not a bad thing, as this was my primary concern for developing repertoire as an intern. Now that I have a good foundation of repertoire for my clients and students, I have been able to select music that I want to learn. It has been an amazing outlet for me to use my skills for my own enjoyment. 

The idea of taking lessons can be intimidating, but, if you are wanting to further develop your skills and have a creative experience for yourself, I would encourage you to try it. Taking lessons does not make you any less of a music therapist or teacher!

A big “thank you” goes out to my awesome MTC lesson instructor, Robert Reynolds!

Do you already take music lessons? Please share your thoughts on your experience in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Emma Kovachevich

Gratitude at Thanksgiving

Music Therapy Connections | Springfield, IL

Throughout the week leading up to Thanksgiving, each of our employees here at Music Therapy Connections shared letters of gratitude. In case you missed our daily social media posts, we’ve rounded them up right here.

Katey Kamerad, MT-BC (Co-Owner)

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! This will be mine and my husband’s 8th year hosting our collective family in our home for a warm meal and beautiful day of celebration. Throughout the entire Thanksgiving weekend, our house is filled with laughter, hugs, open arms, helping hands, and thoughtful conversation. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude each Thanksgiving season. This year I am feeling particularly grateful for the incredible support I have felt in every area of my life. 

I am grateful for my husband. No matter what I bring to him, no mater the hours I work, no matter what I need, he supports me. By supporting every wild dream, hopeful ambition, and crazy idea, MTC has only benefited. Over the years and throughout our growth, he’s been in the background, the whole time saying, “Go for it!”, “You’ve got this!”, and “I’m so proud of you!”. He’s been the one asking, “Have you eaten?”, “Have you slept?”, and “How can I help you?”. He’s supported every single thing I’ve done, every decision I’ve made, and every step I’ve taken and I cannot say thank you enough. 

I am grateful for my business partner. No one can have a full understanding of what your business means unless they are in it, side by side, with you. Rachel, is 100%, fully invested, in everything we do. We are a team. Beyond our designated roles, I have witnessed the most incredible friendship and support from her, not only in our business, but also in our personal lives. No matter the situation, project, task, etc., I know Rachel is there and is in it all with me.  

I am grateful for all of the clients I have the honor of working with through music therapy. Providing services primarily in a hospital setting, my clients often are letting me into the most vulnerable or intimate moments in theirs lives. They allow me in to be a part of their journey, their joy, their grieving, their sorrow, their pain, and their growth. They give me the opportunity to share their time and be a part of their experience and memories. We share in music making, listening, dancing, laughing, and singing.  And in that shared experience, they provide such support for music therapy and the work I do every day. 

I am grateful for the immense support of our community. I am so incredibly humbled by the outpouring of support I have seen for music therapy within our community, especially over the past few months. With each Facebook post, recommendation, video, picture, verbal “I love music therapy” or “thank you”, etc., we feel the love and know that what we do is so worth it! Because of that support, we have been able to start working in so many new areas and only continue to grow the number of people we have the opportunity to work with each week.

I am grateful for my friends and family. They are the people who have been along for the ride, listening, sharing advice, comforting and lifting me up, and sharing in all my joys and struggles.  They are the people who supported me even when they had no idea what the words “music therapy” meant. I am so grateful for each and every one of them and what they have shared in or taught me along this journey so far. 

Simply, I am grateful. For you, this season, and the opportunity to continue doing what I love, every day. 

Emma Kovachevich, MT-BC (Music Therapist)

Emma Kovachevich | Music Therapy Connections

There are so many things to be thankful for in this season of my life. I’m extremely thankful for my family and friends who have been supporting me along my music therapy journey.

The late night phone calls, crying, laughs, and smiles, they’ve been there through it all. I’m also incredibly thankful for the professors, teachers, and supervisors who have stood by my side and taught me everything I know. The road to becoming a music therapist can be difficult, but supportive teachers and mentors make the experience easier.

Lastly, I’m thankful for the communities I have worked in throughout my practicums in Macomb and internship in Springfield. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to gain the quality hands-on experience that you all have given me. Thank you for supporting me during my stages of music therapy student, intern, and professional. I am thankful for each and every person who has played any role in making me who I am today!

Becky Waddell (Instructor & Studio Manager)

Becky Waddell | Music Therapy Connections

When November comes around, it’s the perfect time to be reminded of the many things to be thankful for. I’m sure you’ve seen the Month of Thanks and Attitude of Gratitude posts on social media platforms. Although I’ve taken part in this activity in the past, this year, I’m doing something different.

I am thankful for my dear husband. He works so. very. hard. to keep our family in order. His hard work has given us the roof over our heads, the food on our plates, and the clothing on our backs. And when he isn’t teaching music at the collegiate level, he’s working on his music business; writing, producing, and promoting his artists. All to support our family. He’s a strong advocate for our three children, the special needs community, and area educational platforms. He supports me, and my many hats, and allows me to be me! Thank you for ALL that you are and ALL that you do.

I am thankful for my place of work. Music Therapy Connections has been my home for almost four years, and I enjoy every. single. moment. I’ve been able to grow as an individual and strengthen my planning, teaching, and business-orientated goals, all while continuing to develop myself as a musician. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of students, most since my first days at MTC. To watch a student learn and grow is a gift in itself. Thank you to my bosses, my co-workers, my students, and ALL families at MTC, for helping foster a love of music throughout the community. 

I am thankful for my family, extended family, friends, and acquaintances, near and far. YOU are my support system. Caring for a child with special needs really does take a community. My children have grown, knowing there is good in the world. They know that they can count on you for love and understanding. Thank you for being there during the good times, as well as the bad. YOU matter!

Molly Robitaille, MT-BC (Music Therapist)

Molly Robitaille | Music Therapy Connections

This Thanksgiving season, I am grateful for community. As many of you may know, I came to MTC and Springfield all the way from Connecticut. I am so grateful for the community that has opened their arms to me- both here at MTC and in the greater Springfield area. I immediately felt at home with both, and as a young professional in a new state that was so comforting to me.

I want to thank all the wonderful families and people I serve here in the Springfield area and especially the team here at MTC for welcoming me with open arms and making me feel so at home. These have been a wonderful first six months here and I look forward to so many more! I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you around MTC!

Laura Mui, MM, MT-BC (Music Therapist)

Laura Mui | Music Therapy Connections

As I reflect on almost 2 years as a MT-BC, I am thankful for so many things! I am, of course, thankful for music therapy as a field that reaches so many people and touches individuals in so many ways. I love seeing how music has uniquely helped my clients across school settings, geriatric populations, and hospice settings to thrive and grow. I’m also thankful that music therapy has opened my eyes to the greater community of allied health professionals, paraprofessionals, teachers, nurses, and social workers that work so hard and care so much for their clients. 

In fact, I wanted to dedicate my post of gratitude to all of the staff that I work with in the school setting and to the nurses and administrators I work with in the assisted living facilities.  To the staff, nurses, and administrators, I want to say THANK YOU for showing up, being present, and supporting music therapy. Whether it is taking care of a client’s bathroom needs during a session, transporting each client to and from a session, dancing or singing along, or just being a constant support to my clients after the session is over, I am truly thankful for all you do!

As someone who meets with clients for only 30 or 45 minutes a week, I am always inspired by the way you persevere and care for your students and patients, especially when unexpected needs arise. Thank you for reminding me that a smooth music therapy session would not be possible without your quick thinking and behind-the-scenes support. 

Rachel Rambach, MM, MT-BC (Co-Owner)

Rachel Rambach | Music Therapy Connections

This season, I can’t help but reflect on the evolution of Music Therapy Connections, and all of the people who helped make it what it is today. My heart is filled with gratitude every time I see our full parking lot, walk into our bustling studio, watch our amazing team in action, and witness how music is positively affecting people of every age and ability.

I am thankful for my very first group of families, students and clients; you inspired me to grow as a music therapist and as a business owner. You invited me into your homes in the very beginning, then spent years coming to mine, and stuck with me as MTC upgraded locations twice.

I am thankful for my co-owner, Katey — the extrovert to my introvert, the yin to my yang, a true partner for the last 5+ years of this adventure. Katey is the person who makes every challenge seem possible, and never ceases to amaze me with her endless set of skills.

I am thankful for my entire family, who has been instrumental in the growth of MTC from its roots. There are no words to express my gratitude for all of their support, in the form of naming Music Therapy Connections (thanks, mom!), providing endless hours of child care for my children, attending all of our events, and being the most amazing cheerleaders. My husband, especially, has stood by me throughout it all and been the best partner I could ever ask for.

I am thankful for our community, who has fully embraced music therapy and everything else we offer. To the schools, facilities and organizations who contract our services, to our student and clients who come through our doors every week, and to our families who spread the word and help us continue to grow: THANK YOU!


We are grateful that YOU are a part of our community as well, whether locally or long distance. Thank you for taking the time to read our letters of gratitude, and we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Thankful

My colleague, Heather E Johnson, and I at the 2017 AMTA National Conference.

Hello again and Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for a multitude of things, including all of you! In this time of giving thanks, the MTC team shared what they are thankful for. If you haven’t seen them yet, go check out our Facebook page!

Though I have already shared some things that I am thankful for, I have been reflecting on just how thankful I am for everyone in the world of Music Therapy. It’s a small world (see what I did there), but it’s growing and is full of marvelous people! 

There are so many people that I am thankful for and have met because of music therapy. I could never name everyone, so I’ve broken it down into 3 categories:

The Music Therapy Community

Thank you to all of the music therapists out there. I feel so incredibly supported each time I meet another music therapist or reconnect with one I’ve known. I was not able to go to the National Conference this year, but every other conference I have been to has been so uplifting. I remember going to my first conference and being so overwhelmed with emotion by how many music therapists were around me. The love and support in our community is so crucial to the growth of our field. So, thank you to my fellow music therapists for supporting me and others.

Supporters of Music Therapy

Thank you to those who are not music therapists, but support what we do. This includes other medical professionals, families, guardians of those who receive music therapy, and more. I am beyond thankful for people like my non-music therapy coworkers, family, and friends who support what I do. Sometimes our biggest advocates are those not actually working in the field. 

Those Who Benefit from Music Therapy

A HUGE thank you to those who seek out and/or benefit from music therapy services. Every single client I have had the privilege to work with has impacted me in such a positive way. They have helped me learn and grow in ways no one else has. I am so thankful.

So, as a new professional, I guess if I could sum up what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving into two words it would be MUSIC THERAPY. Thank you to all who are music therapists, supporters of music therapy, or those who benefit from music therapy. 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving wherever you are! I’m curious: what are you thankful for this year? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Emma Kovachevich

Preparing for the Board Certification Exam

Hello again everyone! Did you think you saw the last of me? Well, surprise! I’m back! As my internship has come to a close, I’m adjusting to my new professional life and preparing to take the Board Certification Exam for Music Therapists. 

As I gather materials and refresh on all I have learned throughout my music therapy education, I am realizing that I learned A LOT in four and a half short years. It has honestly been pretty daunting thinking about everything I need to study or refresh on (I’m looking at you music theory). 

Yes, there is a lot of material to cover, but it’s important to remember that you learned all of it at one point. Plus, much of it has been applied in numerous real-life situations throughout college practicums and internship. Now it’s just a matter of getting it back fresh in your head. Here is how I’ve been preparing for the exam:

The New Music Therapist’s Handbook by Suzanne B. Hanser

I remember reading this book my freshman year of college. It is full of so much information, and breaks it down into chapters that are similar to the CBMT Domains. I re-read the whole book, but if there is a certain section you are specifically concerned about, I would recommend reading its corresponding chapter in the book. This book is a great refresher on the individual components of music therapy fieldwork.

Flashcards

I have made lots of flashcards for this exam. Most of them include definitions that may appear in the questions on the exam. As I create and study these flashcards, I need to keep reminding myself to set aside what I already know well, and focus on the ones that need a little more work. It will make the process of studying seem a lot easier.

While studying the flashcards, I also think about how the information may be asked on the exam. I ask myself questions like: What aspects of the term on each flashcard set it apart from others? What makes this specifically unique? How should I respond if this happened during a session? 

Take Advantage of the Practice Exams

CBMT offers two practice exams to help you prepare. I took one after reading the Hanser book but before making flashcards and studying further. I did this to see where I was and how I was doing so far. This helped me pinpoint what I really needed to study and focus on. I plan to take the second practice exam closer to my actual test date. 

This is what I am currently doing to prepare myself for the Board Certification Exam for Music Therapists. Everyone will have different study techniques, but this is what is working for me right now. If you would like to read some more tips, check out Molly Robitaille’s blog post about her strategies for conquering the exam!

As I continue to prepare, I would love to hear what has worked for you while studying for this exam. Please let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Emma Kovachevich

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