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

Intern’s Corner – Week Twelve

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2021!

In my first blog post, I shared three goals I had made for myself during internship. I am almost to the halfway point of my internship already! Since its the time we all make new goals for ourselves, I thought I would share the progress I have made on my goals so far.

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

I am proud of my progress on this particular goal. Although I still get anxious and nervous, I have not let it hinder my growth. One area this really affects me is rep checks. I get extremely anxious before each week but I have pushed through and seen growth each week, even the weeks that don’t go as planned. While this is still a struggle for me, I have pushed through it each time!

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

This goal has been challenging. I am still bad at drinking enough throughout the day and eating breakfast. However, I have been getting better sleep and eating more regularly than before. Each day, I try to pay attention to how I am feelings mentally and emotionally and make sure to take action to keep those areas as healthy as I can. Even though there are some challenging weeks, I feel like I am able to really give my all to my clients.

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

I have made a lot of progress on this goal. I have written over ten songs so far! This was something that I was and still get nervous about. Recording these songs is even more challenging but I am proud of how well I have done with that. For some of my clients, I have begun doing a lot of improvisation throughout the sessions. While this is still an area of struggle for me, I have improved greatly from my first week.

For 2021, I am keeping these same three goals for myself. They push me to better myself in a variety of aspects. I am proud of the progress I have made so far and I can’t wait to see how much more I’ll make in the next few months!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Eleven

Hey everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. The holidays can be both an exciting and stressful time. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love being able to take time and spend it with those I care about most. This year’s celebrations certainly looked different than years past.

2020 has been a crazy year for everyone. There have been many changes that have made everyday life more stressful or overwhelming. Virtual get-togethers have become more and more common. Telehealth has slowly become a new norm.

For me, this year has had some big changes for me personally. I would have been able to walk in my college graduation but my last semester on campus was cut short. A few months later, I stated my internship in the midst of a pandemic. This has made my internship look very different from what I had expected. There are more gloves, masks, and Clorox wipes than I had planned on.

Internship has been an amazing experience so far and I have learned a lot. One of my favorite things about my internship is that I have one hour of self care blocked out in my schedule. Self care is such an important part of your health.

Some ways that I like to do self care is I like to just sit and watch TV while specifically NOT doing work. I tend to have something on in the back ground while doing other projects because I feel guilty that I could be spending time working so I try to combine them. However, I have been making a point to set aside time for me to just sit down and really enjoy watching TV (usually Star Trek).

Another way I like to treat myself is doing crafts. I like to make cards using watercolor or pens, paint canvases, and recently, hand embroidering. It is so satisfying to watch my creations come to be. I tend to combine these activities with my favorite TV show.

The last way I like to do self care is playing board games or card games. I usually play with my siblings as they also enjoy games. Sometimes it can be nice to just take a break from the world and have fun with those around you. Some of our favorites to play are Yahtzee, Phase Ten (the dice version), and Pandemic.

During my supervision this week, I was talking with my supervisors about how some days are more draining than others, especially at the hospital. I wasn’t sure how to help keep myself going throughout the day. They told me that self care can be small things throughout the day that can help give you a brief mental break.

This “short-term” self care can be as simple as taking a break to get a drink of water or a snake, sitting in your car after a meeting, or just sitting and mindlessly scrolling for a few minutes. Taking these short breaks throughout the day can help you keep going, even on the hardest days.

One of my goals for these next few weeks is to make sure that I do self care throughout the day and make sure I take care of myself. You can’t fill up someone else’s glass if yours is empty. I encourage you all to take time in your day to make sure your needs are being met.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Ten

Hey all!

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season!

Like I discussed last week, I have been writing and recording a number of songs for one of our schools. When I first began recording, I told you all about some of my frustrations about writing but I said that I would tell you all some of my tips as I got better. That is what I want to share with you all today!

Have a plan

While your song may have the lyrics and chords written, that isn’t everything that goes into a recording. Before you start, thing about what sound you have in mind. What type of instrumentation do you want? Do you want heavy drums driving the beat or a simple shaker to help keep time? Do you want piano, guitar, or both? Having a plan before you start will help save time and make the whole process much smoother.

Figure out the audio recording

When I started recording, I had a lot of issues with the audio recording. The mic I was using was not connecting to my iPad which meant my “mic” was actually just my iPad. This cause a lot of static to be in my sound. I ended up using my apple headphone mic to record. While it isn’t the best option, it did the job. I spent a lot of time working on the different settings for my mic to make sure I had a quality sound, such as the noise gate and the input levels. (Adding some reverb makes the vocals sound a lot better.)

Use a “drummer”

For me, I struggle playing with just a metronome. I spent so many takes trying to just use the metronome before I figured out how to use the “drummers” that are available. Even if I didn’t keep the drum track in my final recording, I found it much easier to keep a steady tempo with a drum beat. This saved me hours of time with just this simple fix. What took 6-8 takes before now only take 1-3.

Google is a friend

When you are trying something new, use google to help you figure it out! I am still a beginner at recording so I learned a lot from watching tutorials online. There are YouTube video’s out there for almost anything it seems now a days so why not take advantage? By using google, I was able to learn so much more in a short amount of time.

Have fun and try new things!

With each week of recording, I became more and more familiar with the basics. As a result, I began trying new things. For my song “Winter”, I used the “split” feature to make the instrumentation drop out for a measure during some parts to really bring out the vocals! I also learned how to use the fade out effect at the end of a song. As I became more comfortable, I experimented with the different buttons and learned how to add some spice to my recordings!

My most important piece of advice is that it gets easier. While I may not consider myself a “pro-recorder”, I am no where near as frustrated with recording as I was during those first few weeks. In time, I hope to become more efficient with my recording and hope to continue building my own library of my own songs!

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Nine

Hey everyone!

I hope you are all doing well.

I am already in my third month of internship! Each week, I have various assignments to complete. Over the past two months, I have been writing and recording songs for one of the schools I am working with. While I have not been able to meet them in person yet, I have been helping to create music therapy materials to send to them during this time of remote learning. These songs will serve as the materials for their third quarter.

When I first started these assignments, song writing was intimidating. I had very little experience writing and I wasn’t sure where to even start. At this point in my journey, I have written about ten songs! As I have finished writing my last song for this set of assignments, I thought I’d share with you all some of my songwriting tips!

Prepare your space

It is important to prepare before writing. When I get ready to write, I make sure to have my computer with my song template and rhyme song pulled up. Next I have my phone ready with my voice recording app to record as I write so that I can keep track of the vocal melodies that I think of. It is also best to have an instrument close by, such as a piano or a guitar. For me personally, I like to write using pen and paper so I have that in my set up as well.

Ask yourself: “what is the purpose of this song?”

Before I begin writing, I ask myself what this song will be used for and what is most important to include. I like to write down the main points of what I want in my song. For example, one of my songs was about the season winter. I knew I wanted a verse about the changes in weather, clothing we wear, and activities we might do. This gave me an outline to follow and made it much easier to stay focused on the goal.

Simple is okay!

When I first started writing, I mainly stuck to a I-IV-V chord progression. I didn’t really start adding additional chords until my last few songs. At first I felt as though my songs weren’t very good because they were so simple. However, simple can be good! Especially when you are first starting. Not every song has to be Grammy-worthy as long as it does the job you want it to do!

Just go for it!

The first few times I started writing, I would sit there staring at a blank page trying to think of the perfect melody or the perfect lyrics. I was scared to write something “bad”. As the weeks went on, I found it was easier just to start writing things down and trying it out! Just because I write it down doesn’t mean I can’t change it, but I can’t change it if I don’t write anything down.

While I still wouldn’t call myself a “professional songwriter” yet, I am proud of the growth I have made in this skill so far! I know that this is a skill I will use throughout my time as a music therapist and I am glad to be improving it so early on my journey.

Thanks for ready! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Eight

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic week and are doing well.

I am officially in my third month of internship! Its crazy seeing the weeks pass by. It is going by so quickly! This past week, I have really begun leading more and taking more of the documentation. I have also been working with one of my supervisors on working on website creation, a skill that will come in handy in the future!

This week, I want to share something a bit more personal. Although I am seeing improvement and growth in my skills, there are some days where I struggle believing in myself. There are many doubts and “what if” questions that often run through my mind. Although it can feel like I am the only one with these thoughts, I know that others may feel similarly things in their own way.

Am I really learning and growing?

Some days it is harder to really see my progress. I am already into my third month of internship and there are still so many areas that I need to work on. Some skills I have been working on since week one and they still aren’t were I want them to be. On days when I am feeling down, I try to focus more on the areas that I feel like I have really improved and the accomplishments I’ve had along the way.

What if I don’t pass internship or the board exam?

I would definitely consider myself an over thinker. Many times, I will start overthinking things that are not yet relevant, such as the board exam. It can be hard not to stress about the future, especially when you like to plan ahead. I try to remind myself that there is no sense in stressing about it right now and instead try to redirect my energy towards the here and now.

What if I don’t make it as a music therapist?

Similar to the last question, some days I wonder if I really have what it takes to do this profession. There is a lot that goes into being a music therapist. Some days I can really psych myself out and it can be hard to convince myself that I can do this. While I may not know where I will end up in the future, I can try to focus on the ere and now. Each day, I try to give it my all and be the best music therapy intern that I can be.

I AM enough.

It is okay to have worries and doubts. However, it is not healthy to allow these thoughts and feelings to take over. On days where these thoughts and questions are constantly on my mind, I try to remind myself of the areas I have improved, the small victories I have had, and that its okay to no be perfect. I am not supposed to have all the answers or be at a professional level quite yet. Although I may not feel like it all the time, I AM enough.

Worries and doubts are something that everyone experiences from time to time. In the moment, it can feel lonely. They can also take a toll on one’s mental health. Having healthy coping skills, self care, and a support system can help to quiet these thoughts. For me, spending time with friends and looking at the good things from the week help to relieve my doubts.

With each day, I know that I am growing, even if I feel differently. I am getting closer and closer to reaching my goal of becoming a music therapist.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy this week. And remember, you are enough!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Seven

Hey all! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

This whole year has been kind of crazy. In March, I was told that my spring break was extended a whole week. At the time, this was exciting! However, this extended break turned into a semi-permanent change in everyday life. A few months later, I began my internship which has been quite an adventure.

One thing I am thankful for are the people in my life. I was lucky enough to get an internship close to home so I am able to stay with my family during this time. It is nice to have that extra time with my family, especially with my younger siblings, before I move out on my own for good.

During this week, I have really been taking time to appreciate what I have. Even though the world has changed a lot this year, there are so many things to be thankful for.

Something that I have become extra grateful for this year has been technology. When COVID first hit, I wasn’t sure how I would finish school or how practicum/internship would continue if meeting in-person was no longer an option. However, technology has opened the door for remote learning and tele-health.

As on-campus schooling has ended for me, I am no longer close to most of my friends. My boyfriend moved to Ohio and one of my best friends moved to Indiana to get their master’s degrees. My sister also started going to college in Chicago this year. While this has been hard having so many people move away, technology has made it easier to spend time with those I care about when I am unable to see them in person.

This year, I also got a gecko! I am super thankful for this little bro. Although he can be a jerk sometimes, I love him dearly. On harder days, I will just sit and do work next to his tank while he naps on his rock. It can be very relaxing to just watch him enjoy life.

Another thing I am thankful for is video streaming. I really enjoy watching TV shows and movies. They are one of my favorite ways to wind down after a long day. My favorite thing to watch is pretty much anything Star Trek. I am super thankful to have the ability to stream the shows and movies, as well as anything else I may want to watch.

Although there is a lot in the world to be stressful about right now, I really focused on the good in my world this week. Sometimes there are things that you can’t control and that’s okay. Sometimes there is a lot going on that is really hard and that’s okay too. For me, finding at least one thing I am thankful for can help to remind myself that it will be okay in the end, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment.

I hope that you all are doing well and were able to enjoy Thanksgiving, however you chose to spend it. Keep doing great and

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Six

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well!

The past few weeks, I have been talking a lot about things that I want to work on or change. I have been working hard to make those changes so far. This week, I want to share some of the things I have recently accomplished that I am proud of!   

During my last supervision, I spent about 20 minutes improvising songs. The first song was with one of my supervisors’ husband. We improvised a song about how he was feeling and how he could make himself feel better. The second song was a song for myself about how I have been feeling about the world. The last improv exercise was a relaxation activity for my supervisors.

Now improvisation has been something that I have never been a fan of. I tend to get very stressed in the moment and feel like whatever I have come up with and played is terrible. However, I felt proud of myself after this improv experience!

This week marks my sixth song I have written! Now songwriting is something that always intimidated me. When I have attempted in the past, I have always struggled with thinking my songs were “good enough”. While my songs may not be the next big hits, they are functional and can help clients accomplish their goals and that is what is important. With each song I write, my confidence level grows.

In addition to songwriting, I also recorded and edited and entire music therapy video for one of our schools myself! Until this week, I had been doing 1-3 of the songs and editing about half of the video. While editing, I also found it easier to listen and watch myself. Although I still do not enjoy it, it has gotten easier with each week.

Another thing I am proud of is my barre chords don’t sound like absolute garbage anymore! They still aren’t what I would consider “good” but they are getting much better. I have been pushing myself to practice them multiple times a week and I am really beginning to see a difference. While I may not be a big fan of using barre chords, I am beginning to see the benefits of using them.

Overall, I am super proud of myself for the past few weeks. I am working hard to make sure that I am stepping out of my comfort zone, pushing myself to better my skills, and finding the balance between criticizing and congratulating myself. Although I am still nowhere near where I want to be in my skills, I am seeing lots of improvement.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain

Intern’s Corner – Week Five

Hey everyone! I hope you are all are doing well.

This week has been full of challenges but still a good week. I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone a few times. I also have been pushing myself to work on skills that I especially struggle with. While working on some of these skills, I have had a lot of feelings come up.

Something I struggle with is being okay with not doing something perfectly. If I know something is not absolutely 100%, I tend to think that it is not good. Like I mentioned last week, I tend to really focus on what I am doing wrong, or what is “bad”. I have difficulty finding what I am doing well.

This past week, one of my rep check challenges was to do a children’s song in all barre chords. Now, I hate barre chords. I avoided them every chance I had during undergrad and learned them just enough to pass my guitar competency, then never looked at them again. As a result, barre chords are something that I majorly struggle with.

To prepare for this rep challenge, I went up and down the neck of my guitar practicing the different chord shapes. I would practice until my hand began to cramp. After a week, they sill were not “good” which made me quite frustrated. One of my supervisors asked me how my rep songs were coming along. I told here that my barre chords were still terrible and that I wasn’t sure how it would go. She reminded me that they are not looking for perfection by rather progress.

This got me thinking: how many times have I given up on certain skills or techniques because I’m not perfect? Even if I was making progress, I would get frustrated and decide that it’s just not something I was good at. As a result, I would then find ways to avoid it, like barre chords.

In a way, this is a form of self-sabotage. If I don’t think I am good at something, I want to avoid it meaning I won’t give it my all out of fear of failure. In turn, this leads to me not doing well which reinforces the idea that I am bad at it and the cycle continues. This is definitely not a healthy mentality.

Internship is about learning, growth, and progress. I’m not supposed to be perfect. It’s okay to need help, to have questions, to be corrected, and to need to practice or work on skills. One of my new goals is change my mindset; to tell myself that progress is more important that perfection.

Although this mentality will not change overnight, I am going to try to remind myself that the important part is not being perfect, but rather the progress I am making. Trying to be perfect is an impossible goal that will just hinder my growth. I am human, which means that I will never truly be perfect at anything and that is okay.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!

Cicely McCain