I have learned a tremendous amount in the past 6 months: from how to set a drum set in 5 minutes to how to handle a kiddo having a melt down, and everything in between. I’m not sure I believed my professors when they said that I’d learn 90% of my undergrad knowledge during internship- but now I know it’s true. I’m leaving this internship a better rounded music therapist, a more aware individual, and with a hundred new stories to tell. It’s hard to boil down everything I’ve learned in sixth months to one blog post, but here you go:
- You can do anything for a season. I don’t particularly believe that we should stress ourselves out to the point of being sick, or allow ourselves to be overworked to the point of exhaustion for any length of time. However, I did learn the valuable lesson of how to remain happy, and find time for myself even when my schedule reads like a Dicken’s novel (too many words in too little time).
- The potential of the people we work with is limitless. I never thought I would feel like I understood the needs or thoughts of some of the clients I worked with in even the slightest way back in October, but now, as my internship comes to a close, I truly feel connected and inspired by each one of them. Every day, one person or another reminded me that there is no limit to what anyone can achieve, regardless of their disability.
- Music school can never prepare you for the real world.Rather than expanding on this one too much, I’ll leave it at this: when I started Berklee, I never would have guessed that I would be helping record an album….on which I would be playing bass, vibroslap, and…kazoo.
- Every day is a chance to make a new friend and be happy. It’s so easy to get stressed out by internship, and life, and all of the many challenges we all face. But I am one of the lucky few people in this world who wakes up every day to go to a job which brings not only me joy, but the people who I work with joy as well. I have the coolest job in the whole world and I can’t wait to start my life as a professional music therapist.
“Going slow” has never been easy. From rushing through my piano lessons as a kid to rushing through college (sorry, mom and dad!), I’ve always had a tough time accepting a leisurely pace. In a recent piano lesson with Jayjay, I was given some truly sage advice:
“In all the sessions I’ve done, I have never once been told I’m going too slowly. I have, however, been told to slow down.”
Obviously, this was purely in reference to playing music with older adults. However, in the delirium of end of internship, I have taken this advice to be somewhat- okay, entirely symbolic. There always seems to be an endless list of things to do, places to go, people to see, in our day to day lives. If we don’t allow ourselves to take our time, we will quickly burn out. As I enter the final 48 hours of my internship, I have very little time to “go slow.” Still, making sure that we sleep, feed ourselves normally, and take even just a few minutes a day to breathe, we can protect both our over-worked minds and our over-worked bodies.
As I slowly “grow” my toolkit of interventions, I am constantly on the look out for good blogs and resources for the average music therapist. There are dozens of wonderful publications out there with great, creative ideas. However, one blog which I am never disappointed by, is the one put out by MedRhythms, LLC.
Their tagline is “Music, It’s science!” They investigate neurological music therapy, and share how they have applied recent research to their own practice. I encourage you to check out their webpage (listed below) and see what they’re writing about! From links to great research articles to case-study-like videos, it’s always an awesome read.
I can’t believe that I am already at the end of month three, halfway through internship. It seems like just yesterday that I had moved myself across the country and felt incredibly nervous about getting started in a new setting, new city, with new people. More quickly than I expected, I felt welcome and part of the team here at MTCCA. Things soon started feeling like they were more routine and I truly began enjoying the busy schedule in music therapy private practice. As I reflect on the past three months, here are some of the biggest things I’ve learned:
- No one expects you to be perfect. There are a lot of adjustments to make when it comes to the beginning of internship: academically, musically, and personally. The team is here to support you and bring out your best.
- Coursework prepared me academically, but personal experiences are important too. Experiences at internship like learning how to improvise on piano, manage sensory regulation, and try new instruments have positively impacted my clinical experience as a music therapy intern.
- Embrace new things. I enjoy discovering different areas of town and getting familiar with the city. It is important to take advantage of the things that are unique to San Diego and being a music therapy intern while I have the time to enjoy it!
Now, I am preparing to take on more responsibilities as I become senior intern, and really starting to prepare myself for the final stretch!
As music therapists, one of the most common questions we answer is, “What is music therapy?” While every professional and student has their own go-to answer to condense the entire profession into a sentence or two, we also come across opportunities to describe music therapy more in-depth through presentations. Next week, Emma and I will be presenting on music therapy to a local college class. With a sufficient amount of time to present, we will discuss what exactly music therapy is and how you become a music therapist, the different domains that can be developed and improved through work in music therapy, and of course, provide musical examples so that our audience can experience for themselves what part of a music therapy session may be like. It is important to look for frequent opportunities to advocate for music therapy, whether it be through giving presentations or networking – you never know who you might inspire and connect with!
One of my favorite parts of being in the MT field is having opportunities every day to write songs. With our clients, my favorite techniques are piggy-backing on songs they already know and love, or providing opportunities for lyric substitution. Currently, many of my clients are working on their own versions of “If I had a Hammer,” except with their own instruments substituted for hammer. During internship, I’ve really come face to face with the reality of how difficult abstract thinking is for some of our students. Simply coming up with a word, out of the blue, isn’t easy- even less so when faced with the pressure of adding it to a song. It’s our job, as music therapists, to help them come up with those lyrics, and to help them increase their ability to engage in this sort of thinking.