What a journey the past 6 months of internship has been!  One year ago at this time I had no idea I would be moving to San Diego and building a life here.  I had no idea how intense life as an intern would be or how exciting the process of stepping out of the intern shoes and stepping into life as a new professional would be.  These past 6 months have taught me patience, confidence, and what it means to be invested in your dream.  There have been many lessons I’ve learned throughout internship, and I did my best to summarize my top learnings below.

1.      Your therapeutic relationship with the client is most important
While this may seem obvious, it was a valuable lesson I was reminded of through my experience as an intern.  So often it’s easy to jump into sessions with clients and get so absorbed in the goals and interventions that you forget that you haven’t yet earned the client’s trust.  The therapeutic relationship is really what makes music therapy effective – it is 100% essential to the clients success within therapy.  With time, I learned to breathe, be more present, be more aware of the client’s responses/what they are giving me and became comfortable adapting in the moment.  I also learned a great deal about building rapport with a wide range of personalities and different individuals.  Some clients connect with you through silliness/cutting loose a bit, some through structure, and others simply with time.  I learned to get to know my client’s and give the relationship time to grow before expecting them to trust/listen to me.

2.      Importance of professionalism and communication with parents/families
My experience in the field so far has taught me the vital importance of professionalism and communication.  I value clear and open communication and have come to understand how important this is in the workplace.  I have learned to communicate clearly with parents and families and (when possible) always keep them in the loop.  Within this lesson, I learned the importance of consistency, timeliness, and honesty/transparency as a measure of communicating respect and professionalism to the families with which you are working.

3.      Know your professional values
I have held several jobs in music therapy since beginning my degree.  Each has taught me more and more about what I value as a professional.  Sometimes the administrative end of music therapy can be equally as important as the therapy itself.  Sometimes small, logistical details determine whether you will be happy and well balanced, or overworked and burnt out.  I am learning to advocate for myself in these areas as well as cultivate a reputation for myself based on my personal values as a music therapist.

4.      Actively build/expand your skill set
There is always room for improvement, or as my mom told me often growing up “Learning is a lifestyle”.  I realized throughout internship how easy it is to get into a groove or routine where you’re comfortable, you and your clients know the drill and you rarely feel the need to mix it up.  However, mixing it up is where you’re challenged and where you grow!  I am inspired to expand my skills (particularly on guitar) as well as my repertoire of music.  Because we are in such a unique and fun line of work, it is a joy to get to be creative every day in the way you lead songs, present information, and address goals.

5.      Love where you are –> trust the process
The universe kept hitting me hard with this lesson, especially throughout internship, until it started to begin to scratch the surface of making it’s way into my head.  Many times we wish we were someplace we’re not – gotta learn to love and accept where we are.  Even if I don’t have years of experience (one day I will!) or am not the most knowledgable on certain subjects, I have to remind myself to breathe and accept where I am and be gracious with myself.  This proved to be particularly tricky when dealing with families or facilities who also wish you had more experience than you do.  All in time, all in time.  The difficulties will pass, the knowledge and expertise will come with experience, just trust that you are where you need to be.  I am where I need to be.

While reflecting on these lessons, I was drawn to record a piano piece that in a way represents the ebb and flow of internship for me.


Here’s to the future and all that lies ahead!


Music Sensory Orientation Training

What is Music Sensory Orientation Training (MSOT)?  MSOT is the use of music, presented live or recorded, to stimulate arousal and recovery of wake states and facilitate meaningful responsiveness and orientation to time, place, and person. In more advanced recovery of developmental stages, training would involve active engagement in simple musical exercises to increase vigilance and train basic attention maintenance with emphasis on quantity rather than quality of response (Ogata 1995). Essentially we are using music and sensory based methods to access sensory channels, modify state, and provide sensory stimulation for growth.

Who can benefit? Individual with sensory processing disorder, aging older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and individuals with developmental disabilities.

What is the goal? increase vigilance and train basic attention maintenance with emphasis on quality of response.

I recently completed my special project focusing on this NMT technique. I created a handbook for therapists including intervention ideas, song choices, instrument ideas and various materials to stimulate the senses. The intention of my handbook is to encourage therapists to feel confident in being able to stimulate arousal and recovery of wake states in individuals whom are high to severely low functioning or display a lack of arousal due to aging or disability. This arousal can be achieved by stimulating all of the human senses. The human body can be stimulated in ways, from sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. As music therapists, we rely greatly on the use of music to promote significant responsiveness, however, we can creatively combine music with various mediums to create a holistic and engaging approach to awakening. The handbook is categorized by sense; touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing, and for each sense tips and tools are provided to guide you in developing sensory based interventions that can be used to awaken each human sense in a gentle, inviting manor to awaken the life inside of all of us.

Here is a sneak peek showing some suggested ideas to utilize within MSOT.

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Happy awakening!


Rhythmic Speech Cueing

I recently completed my case study on the NMT technique Rhythmic Speech Cueing, also known as RSC. This technique was not a frequently used technique in my internship. It is used for speech and language rehabilitation. The techniques I have encountered most for speech and language training/rehabilitation are; Oral Motor and Respiratory Exercises (OMREX), Developmental Speech and Language Training through Music (DLSM), and Therapeutic Singing (TS).

What is Rhythmic Speech Cueing (RSC)? RSC is a rate-control technique that uses auditory rhythm- in metronome form or embedded in music-to cue speech.

How does it work? The impelling and anticipatory action of a rhythmic stimulus sequence can help initiate speech.

Who can benefit? RSC has been shown to be effective in fluency disorder rehabilitation for stuttering and cluttering.

Types of RSC: 

  1. Metric Cueing – Rhythmic beats are matched to syllables, resulting in speech inflection in which each syllable is of equal duration across and utterance. Metric cueing does not create normal time patterns of speech inflection.
  2. Patterned Cueing- uses beat patterns that stimulate stress patterns of normal speech inflection. The rhythm of speech synchronized to patterned cues is much closer to normal speech.

Exploring a new technique was very exciting and I found it to be incredibly useful for the particular individual involved in my case study. My case study results show that RSC is an effective NMT technique for childhood apraxia of speech. The patterned speech cueing used allowed for the client to decrease their rate of speech and providing the opportunity to increase their intelligibility of speech.



What Do You Know About MTCCA?

Back in March, I was given the opportunity to assist the MTCCA booth at the NFAR race. Families and professionals were approaching our booth and asking questions and this provided me with the opportunity to really learn about our company. Not only did I want to be able to thoroughly answer the questions of those who approached me but I also wanted to approach them and give them information. I was able to pick out the most important and useful information to share in a short amount of time in a language that families and professionals could understand.


What You Should Know About Your Internship Site

  1. The companies mission and philosophy
  2. The services that are offered
  3. The location of clinics
  4. The offered schedule
  5. The pricing and if covered by insurance

At The Music Therapy Center of California we believe that every person is capable of leading a happy, engaging and rewarding life. We offer individual and group music therapy sessions and we also offer adaptive lessons. We have two locations, one in Mission Valley and the second in Encinitas. We offer sessions Monday-Saturday. If you are interested in finding out if music therapy is the right fit for your child or loved one, we offer free 30 minute screenings.