Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty-Two

Hello everyone!

This week, we have had beautiful weather here in Springfield, Illinois! I hope you have had the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. During my supervision this week, the team and I brought bean bags and sat outside in the parking lot! This was certainly an enjoyable experience.

Instrument Care

A few weeks ago, I helped my supervisor change the strings on the guitars in the office. Prior to this, I had only changed guitar strings once. We grabbed the guitars, the new strings, the tools, and pulled up a YouTube video to follow. After successfully changing the strings, the quality of sound improved significantly. For many of our other instruments, we clean them after each use. For instruments that we use less often, we store them in a safe place to keep them organized and protected.

Creating Materials

For many of my sessions, I used visuals for a variety of uses including to provide a sense of structure, provide opportunities for communication, and to include an additional form of sensory input. During my undergraduate practicum, I colored all my visuals. Thankfully, I now have access to a color-printer, cutting the time it takes to create visuals down significantly. The best part about making visuals is the lamination process. This is especially beneficial as it allows my visuals to last much long.


As a music therapist, I have quite a bit of paperwork I am required to fill out each day. After each session, I document how my clients did with their specific goals/objectives as well as write down important details that occurred. This documentation process can look different in different settings. In addition to this daily paperwork, I write up a Progress Report on each client for the treatment period. The paperwork of this profession can be the most challenging aspect for many music therapists.


A big part of music therapy is using what you have and using your materials creatively. When working as a contracting music therapist, you may need to request materials from the company. In order to do this, you need to establish a budget and find the most efficient way to use these funds. This is a skill that is extremely beneficial, whether you are in private practice, contracted, a full-time employee, or any other setting you may be in.

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the biggest aspects of music therapy is knowing a wide range of music. As a music therapist, I may not know if my client enjoys Dolly Parton, Kanye West, or ACDC. Because of this, it is important to know as much music as possible. I am constantly learning new music each week. A music therapist can never know too much music!

There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in the music therapy career. Throughout my internship, I have had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of some of the skills required to be a successful music therapist beyond planning and implementing a session. During my last few weeks of internship, I hope to continue building these “behind the scene” skills needed to be successful.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Week Twenty-One – Intern’s Corner

Hello everyone!

I hope you have been enjoying this beautiful weather we have had lately!

In some of my past blog posts, I have discussed some of my weekly assignments. My most recent assignment was finding instruments and materials to expand our music therapy stock at the hospital. This was quite the challenge as I needed to find products that are COVID friendly and easily cleaned.

With COVID, we are unable to use any of our wooden instruments or instruments with fabric as these materials are not easily cleaned between patients. This restriction makes it difficult to find instruments that do not appear “childish”. For this project, I needed to find products that were appropriate in the hospital setting with a variety of patient ages and diagnosis. In order to best go about this, I came up with four categories that the instruments should fit.

Replacement Instruments

Many of our instruments have received a lot of attention from many of our patients. Overtime, these instruments have begun to crack, break, or become unusable. Some of the instruments I chose to request included a new ocean drum, new castanets, and a new frame drum. These instruments are used often and could use a replacement.

Instruments Educational Instruments

With many of our younger patients, we work on academic skills such as color identification, counting, object identification, and more. To further work on some of these skills, I chose to include additional fruit shakers to continue building our collection. I also found egg shakers that show various emotions to work on emotional recognition. For after COVID, I found wooden animal shakers that could be beneficial for future uses.

Instruments for Older Patients

Many of our instruments and supplies are aimed for younger patients. I wanted to find ways to build our collection for our older patients. This was challenging as many “older looking” instruments are made of wood and other materials that are not easily cleaned. I was able to find a table steel-pan drum and a set of wah-wah tubes. Both instruments are made of metal and would be more appealing to some of our older patients.

Take Home Instruments

The last thing I looked for were instruments that would be small and cost-friendly that we could buy to give to some of our patients to take home. Many of our younger patients are especially drawn to our canary and quack sticks. These instruments are relatively cheap and provide joy and entertainment for our patients.

Finding instruments and materials that are both beneficial and feasible for a hospital setting can certainly be a challenge. COVID limits the types of materials used and makes it challenging to find instruments for older patients. However, an important aspect of music therapy is the ability to adapt, and adapt we shall!

Thanks for reading and stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Twenty

Hey everyone!

I hope you have had a wonderful week full of opportunities and excitement while enjoying the warmer weather.

Throughout this week, I have been focused on gaining a better understanding of who I am as a therapist and what my role with my clients is. As a music therapist, I can use music to connect with my client wherever they are and help them reach their full potential.

Connection within Music

One aspect that drew me to music is the connection is leads to. The connection to the music, to your instrument, to your feelings and emotions that the music invokes. When creating music with others, you create one sound, one thought, and create something beautiful.

For me, music is a way to further connect with my family. Throughout the years, I have been able to create music with my grandparents and my sister. We formed a little band with my grandma on piano, my sister on flute, and my grandpa and I on trumpet.

During these moments, I am reminded just how beautiful the gift of music is. Not everyone has the ability to connect with others through music making. Being a music therapist allows me an opportunity to give others the ability to connect through music, no matter their musical background.

Connection within Therapy

When I think about therapy, the first thing that comes to mind is connection. In therapy, a relationship is formed between the therapist and the client(s). As time goes one, this connection grows deep and trust is formed.

It is important to provide a safe space in order for this bond to form. Without trust between the therapist and the client(s), the client(s) cannot maximize their potential during the sessions.

Connection within Music Therapy

Connection is an integral part to both music and therapy. When working with my clients, I can use music to help form that initial connection. Once this connections is formed, it can continue to grow and deepen as we move through the therapeutic process.

Music is a tool that can be used with a multitude of populations including those with Autism, those with dementia, those with mental health concerns, and so many more. Although not everyone has a musical background, music therapist can use music to empower clients and help them reach their full potential.

As I further grow in my professional career, my understanding my role and my therapeutic process will continue to evolve. I look forward to deepening this understanding of myself.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!


Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Eighteen

Hello everyone!

I hope you are doing well! This week, I have been asked how my internship is going, where I work, and how many clients I see per day. I thought I would share with you a glimpse into the life of an intern, or rather my experience as an intern.

Since the start of my internship, I have had many changes to my schedule. Many of these changes have been due to the ongoing pandemic. Some sessions have gone between in-person and virtual depending on what the family or school decides is best. While there have been many changes, I have had a fairly regular schedule now.


I start my mornings at SASED. Here, I lead a mix of individual and group sessions with a number of students. After lunch, I have a meeting with my supervisor, Rachel, in which I have the opportunity to learn more about the business side of music therapy. In the afternoon, I teach a piano/guitar lesson followed by my own vocal lesson to improve my non-classical singing styles.


On Tuesday’s, I have begun working at HTDA where I lead two group sessions. These students are the newest addition to my case load. In the afternoon, I lead a virtual session followed immediately by my supervision. During supervision, I start with a rep check to continue building my skills. I then have the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback from my supervisors about my progress. The last thing I have is an in-person session!


In the morning, I virtually attend a meeting with the teachers and staff at Hope. I then record and edit a music therapy video for the students at Hope as we are not able to see these students in person yet. These videos are sent to the staff the following Monday to be played during their school day. In the afternoon, I have two virtual individual sessions and a virtual guitar lesson. Teaching guitar via zoom is quite the challenge!


On Thursdays, I spend my morning on the pediatric floor at St. John’s Hospital! I never know what to expect when I enter the building but I look forward to each opportunity. I then return to MTC leading a virtual individual session before lunch. After eating, I prepare and lead two back-to-back in-person sessions that are followed by a piano/voice lesson.


I also spend my mornings at the hospital on Friday’s! Every day at the hospital is a unique experience. No two days here are the same. In the afternoon, I lead another virtual individual session. I then have about two hours to plan, work on assignments, and catch up on work before leading an in-person individual session.

On average, I am able to see between 10 to 20 clients depending on the day. The days I see the most are the days I am at the hospital. It has certainly been a big adjustment going from one session a week in undergrad to multiple sessions a day. I have experienced and learned so much working with these clients and students.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Nineteen

Hello everyone!

I hope you stayed safe during the extreme winter weather, and are enjoying the warmer temperatures.

Today, I want to share with you one of the challenges I have being a music therapist. I am very much an introvert. I love having time for myself and feel the most energized after a night in. I much prefer my bed and Netflix compared to small talk at the store or going to a Superbowl party. Although I am an introvert, I chose an extroverted career.

There are many aspects of this profession that can take use up most or all of an introvert’s social energy. This can include talking to care teams, leading group sessions, networking, and advocating for the profession. If you are an introvert like me, these aspects can be very draining. However, there are ways to work around this obstacle and thrive in this profession!

Understand Your Needs

What makes you feel the most energized? What can you do throughout your day to recharge your social bar and energy level? Understanding what you need can be extremely beneficial on the days that are the most draining. For me, it is finding time to spend by myself between sessions, lessons, and meetings. If I feel especially drained after my day, I will spend my afternoon in my room and take time for myself to recharge before my next day.

Self Care, Self Care, Self Care

When we get busy, we can forget to take time for ourselves. Often, people think that self care is doing face masks, taking a bubble bath, or lighting candles. While it can look like this, it can also be small things throughout the day. Recently, I have begun sitting in my car a few minutes before and after social interactions. This allows me to prepare for my next social interaction. This is a small thing that I can do for myself to help make the day less taxing.

Find the Things You Love!

In anything you do, it is important to find what you love most! No matter what job you have, there will be tasks that you enjoy and tasks that you would love to never do again. If your days are filled with the tasks you dislike, it can take a toll on your mental health. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, breaking up the tasks you dislike with takes you enjoy can help make your job more enjoyable. As time goes on, you may reach a point where you can delegate some of the unpleasant tasks to someone who does enjoy them!

Don’t Let Your Introversion be a Hindrance

Being a music therapist comes with many opportunities such as giving speeches and/or presentations, giving performances, and attending conferences. If you are like me, these opportunities send a chill down my spine. However, it is important to push yourself to try new things! Giving a presentation may lead to a job opportunity. Giving a performance may open the door to further advocate for your profession! While it is okay to say no, don’t let your introversion hold you back from your own growth.

As a music therapist, I see so many beautiful people and make many connections each day. This profession is not easy and it takes a lot to be successful. It is important to remember that being an introvert or and extrovert does not make you a better therapist or person. Instead, these traits can shape how you make decisions or what opportunities you choose to pursue. Finding ways to balance your social needs and the needs of this profession is key to being successful.

No matter what profession you go into, be you and be awesome!

Thanks for reading, and stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Seventeen

Hey everyone!

I hope you are having a fantastic week! This week has been wonderful for me. I have had many opportunities to grow as a therapist, a professional, and a person. Throughout the week I have pushed myself in many areas of my development.

Last week, I really thought about where I need to grow most. The biggest areas are confidence and professionalism. These are challenging areas to work on. Practicing these areas looks different from practicing guitar or piano as they are more internal changes.

To work on improving my confidence and professionalism, I have set goals for myself with my supervisors. Some of these goals include communicating with care teams, using more professional verbal and written language, and complimenting strangers. In addition to these specific goals, I have worked on three other areas.

1. Be Personable

This week, I have been working on my professional communication and being personable. One way I have been working on this is by complimenting others, especially strangers. This is a way to work on speaking to those you don’t know in a low risk way. The worst that can happen is that someone gives you a weird look or ignores you. The majority of the time, it will brighten someones day and make it easier the next time you give someone a compliment!

2. Have Confidence in Your Body

In many situations, I do not feel overly confident, especially in settings where I am in a “professional” or “leadership” position. This lack of full confidence is shown through my body posture and presence in the room. As a professional, it is important to appear confident in what you are doing. Although I may not always feel confident, I can pretend to be by standing taller and speaking louder.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something

This week, I experienced new things during my sessions that I was not 100% sure how to handle. During these situations, I pushed through my anxieties, used my training, and trusted my gut. Internship is the time for me to try things and get help to learn how to improve. I can only improve if I try things and gain experience.

There are many areas that I want and need to improve in the next few months. At the end of my internship, I will be ready for the real world and I will be placed in positions where I will be the expert in my field. These next few months will bring further growth in myself as a therapist, a professional, and a person. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Sixteen

Hello everyone! I hope you all have had a wonderful week and are doing well.

This past week has looked quite different for me. I finished out my second week of quarantine due to family members becoming ill. As a result, I have had to work from home for the past two weeks. This has led to many challenges and a few realizations.

Going through internship during a global pandemic has certainly been different. When I began looking and applying to internship sites, I had no idea what my path would look like. I was open for new experiences and challenges. However, I was most certainly not prepared for an experience like this one.

There have been so many changes to the music therapy field, as well as many other professions. New guidelines and safety procedures have been put in place, as well as new ways of providing services. I would like to share with you three of the big changes that I was unprepared for when I first started this journey, but have become part of my weekly routine.

1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

For our individual clients here at MTC, there are some cases where physical contact is unavoidable. As a result, we wear PPE during our individual sessions. This includes medical gloves, a communicator mask, and a face shield. This was very uncomfortable at first, and still is, but I have slowly become accustomed to it. The most challenging parts about wearing PPE is playing the guitar with gloves and making sure you sing and speak clearly through everything.

2. Tele-Health

When this pandemic became apparent back in March of 2020, all in-person services were stopped. After a bit, people began to learn how to provide virtual services through platforms such as Zoom. As a result, I have learned how to provide virtual sessions and record sessions and music therapy materials for students I have been unable to see. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn how to continue providing services for those we are unable to see in-person.

3. Sanitation

During my undergrad, I was taught to always clean the instruments and materials after using them in a session before returning them. This is a skill that I have certainly used a LOT during my internship. With COVID, everything must be sanitized well before additional use. This includes the piano, the guitar, tables and chairs, door handles, and anything else the client may have touched. This has been a big change in my sanitation routine but I have grown accustomed to it and am not sure I’ll ever return to only cleaning the small instruments like before.

Overall, my internship looks very different from what I ever expected it to be. There have been so many challenges and opportunities that have come with working in a pandemic. While there are many opportunities I have missed out on due to COVID, I have chosen to focus on the opportunities it as given me instead. Being an intern during a global pandemic is certainly not easy, but I appreciate everything I have learned so far!

Thanks for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful week and stay healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Fifteen

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic week.

I have been sharing a lot about my journey throughout my internship. This week, I want to tell you about why I chose music therapy.

I would say that I have a fairly musical background. Many of my family members have played piano or trumpet. Some have even had musical careers! From a young age, I was exposed to music through my family.

My earliest memory of music is playing the piano at my great-grandparents home. I remember not knowing how to play but I do remember that one side sounded like a big truck and the other sounded like little birds.

Thankfully, I had the opportunity to begin taking piano lessons when I was older. Later, I also joined choir and played trumpet in band. I continued building these skills throughout my middle and high school career.

During my senior year, I started to really think about what I wanted to do with my life. For a while, I considered being a music teacher. I loved the idea of using my love of music in my job and having the opportunity to share that joy. However, after talking to some of my teachers, I decided to start looking for other professions.

One day, I remember opening up my email and seeing a message from my grandmother telling me about a new profession. She had sent me an article about Music Therapy! After reading the article, I became more and more intrigued about this job. It combined both my love for music and desire to help others.

A few months after receiving this email, I went to a Therapy Party at St. Johns for my little brothers. There, a music therapist was providing services for the children there. This was my first glimpse into what this profession truly looked like. Coincidentally, that same music therapist is now one of my supervisors during my internship. What are the odds?!

After this encounter, I set up a meeting with one of the music therapy professors at WIU to discuss this profession further. After this meeting, I decided that this was what I wanted to do. Soon after, I applied and auditioned at WIU and was accepted into the program and now, I am halfway through my internship!

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life as an adult. I am so thankful that I was able to find this profession and was brave enough to pursue it.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Fourteen

Hey everyone! I hope you have had a wonderful week.

This week, I want to tell you about one of the locations I am working at. I have been spending about two days a week at the hospital. This is probably one of my favorite locations. I am learning and experiences so many different things each day.

Part of my job there is working with the clients, whether that is helping distract them during procedures, distract them from hospitalization, or working on various skills. So far, I have been able to observe a port access and de-access, a spinal tap, and an IV insertion. I have also been able to watch my supervisor work with a burn patient during their hand and arm stretches. These have been interesting to observe.

All of these things were expected when walking into the hospital. I knew I would see some minor procedures and work with patients with various diagnosis. However, there are many jobs that I did not expect to have to do. Each day in the hospital is different. I have learned that I have to prepare to be unprepared.

One of my favorite “odd jobs” is getting toys and crafts for the patients. Since Child Life has been downsized to two people, I get to help hand out items to the kiddos on the floor. It is super fun going through the closets and finding crafts or toys that the patients would like. For some patients, we will wrap the gifts up as well. Mainly around the holidays or for “going home” gifts.

Along with finding gifts from the closets, I have helped haul a few of the donations. Some of the donations have been larger which have been interesting to haul. For one of the larger donations, we used two carts and a spare wheelchair and still had to make three loads to the closets. Around Christmastime, it was a fun time finding space to put all of the Christmas donations.

During one hospital visit, we used a light-up toy to help a child during their port access. This toy ended up needing new batteries halfway through the day. What made this especially interesting was the adventure to find a screwdriver that would fit this particular toy. After searching and searching and searching, we finally found a tool that worked. When we finally got it opened, we had to find the batteries that fit. I definitely never expected to go on a screwdriver/battery hunt for a light-up toy when I was told I would be interning at the hospital.

Although I am the music therapy intern, there are many patients that we see that we don’t do music with. Sometimes what the patient needs most is just someone to talk to. For some patients, we will color or do the crafts we bring them. There was a patient that I played Uno with for 45 minutes because that’s what he requested. Although we can use music, it is not a requirement for our services.

For patients that we see more long-term, we get to see their journey and see them be able to go home. For oncology patients, we decorate their room on their last chemo treatment. So far, I have been able to decorate a “last chemo room” and help gather celebration treats and wrap a gift for the patient. This was an exciting day to be an intern.

The hospital is an ever-changing place to work. There is never a day where I know what to expect. While this was really challenging to adjust to, it has become easier to walk in with no expectations. In most situations, I like to have a plan and know what to expect. The hospital is only ever the unexpected, yet it is still one of my favorite locations I am interning.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Thirteen

Hello everyone! I hope you are having a good week.

This past week has been a bit of a challenge. Many of the things I am doing have been taken to the next level. For example, in rep check, I have been attempting to facilitate an intervention. I chose to do a song discussion but I have been struggling with this particular intervention.

In undergrad, we learned how to do song discussions in our Clinical Skills. During that assignment, we mainly did the same thing just used different songs and different questions. In class, I felt confident about my ability to plan and implement a song discussion. During my senior year practicum, I facilitated a song discussion with my practicum group. I did the same model that I had learned in class and it worked but was not anything overly memorable.

When attempting to do song discussions in my supervision, I have really been challenged to make it more interesting than “listen to the song and talk about it”. This has proved to be quite the challenge for me. After my second attempt, my supervisor discussed with me some reasons that I may be struggling with this assignment.

During this conversation, she explained the difference between a student mindset and a professional one. As a student, I mainly took information that I learned and just repeated it. I got really good at taking information I was given and adding just enough changes to make it seem different, even though it was just the same thing.

As a professional, you have to be able to take the information you know and create something new. Being creative is such an important part of this profession. When given a goal/objective, you need to be able to create ways to work on said goal/objective but make sure that it will engaged the client.

Internship is a weird in-between stage where you aren’t yet a true professional but you are more than just a student. You have the responsibilities of a professional without the credentials. One thing that I am working on is changing my mentality from “student” to “professional”

One way that I am working on this is by reminding myself that I am seen as a professional. I have students and clients that see me as their therapist or teacher. I am providing professional care and services to them. In order to do this, I must see myself as a professional.

Another way I am working on this is reminding myself that I am a professional. Although I don’t quite feel like one, I will (hopefully) be a credentialed professional in the next few months. I am already halfway through my internship which means I am almost at the finish line.

While this mindset will not change overnight, it will change in time but only if I work to change it. By simply telling myself that I am a professional and I am seen as a professional, I will eventually begin to believe it.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week!

Cicely McCain