Full-time student to full-time intern: transitioning lifestyles!

Hello everyone!

It has already been almost 4 whole weeks since I started life as a music therapy intern! I thought I would write my first blog post about my still fresh experiences of what it is like to transition from being a full-time student to a full-time intern, and give some helpful tips of how to prepare for your brand new life and schedule!

First thing’s first- giving yourself enough time to move! If your internship is in a different location than where you currently are, especially if it is in an unfamiliar place, give yourself enough time to secure a place to live and to physically move your stuff and get settled. I was living in Lawrence, KS, so I had quite a long journey to go to get to San Diego. I flew out to California about a month before my internship started, and gave myself a week to find somewhere to live. Before I left, I compiled information with different apartment options, and a plan for visiting each one. Even if there seems like there aren’t many options online, once you are driving around the area, you will notice that there are complexes around every corner! It is especially helpful going at night to see if it is a place that you feel safe in.

I moved in about a week before my internship started, which I felt for me personally, was an ideal amount of time to get settled. Power through and try to get everything unpacked in the first few days- it’ll really help your new home actually feel like home! Take the rest of the time to really relax and explore the city before you are in full-blown internship mode! 

(^ Don’t let this be you)

Some important things to consider before your internship starts includes practicing driving to the office during the typical time you would have to get there, especially if that time is during rush hour. Do you usually have to go into work at 8 am and it takes you about 20 minutes to get there? Practice getting up early one day and head out around 7:30 and see if that gives you enough time! Remember, being early is on time, and being on time is late. I have found that the app “Waze” is really helpful. There is an option in the app where you can put what time you have to be at a certain destination, and it will tell you exactly what time you should leave based off of typical traffic patterns. 

Scope out the area around your office too- look for restaurants, grocery stores, walking trails- anything you think will be beneficial for you during your time during internship. I have an hour every day for lunch, and one thing I have been doing is going on at least a 30 minute walk every day during my break at a nearby park. It really helps me recharge, get some fresh air, and energize myself for the rest of the day! 

As for internship starting- what everyone says is definitely true. I thought after four years of going to school for 12 hours every day, I would be prepared for anything that was coming my way…

The kind of energy you need for music therapy sessions all day every day is very different. This is where self care is key (I know, I’m sure you’ve heard that millions of times, but it’s true!) Make sure you take the time to schedule in things you need to relax and unwind. Also, meal prep!!! It will save you lots of time and money. Not having to worry about what I am going to eat throughout the week is a huge time and headache saver. Also, always carry lots and lots of water on you, and keep snacks in your car if you are commuting to different facilities! 

Lastly… sleep! When you’re in school, you may only have to worry about facilitating sessions once or twice a week, but soon, you’ll have many back to back sessions every day! A healthy and working voice is very important, and sleep is the key to this. (And water… hydrate or diedrate!) 

I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure for the next 6 months- happy reading and see you in the next post! And if you are also an intern or about to start your internship soon- congratulations! You can do it!!

-Juliana Hsu 

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Strengths and their Shadows

I took the Clifton Strengthsfinder 2.0 test going into my freshman year of college. My school required every student to take it as a means to gain insight into ourselves, and to provide a building block to grow from. According to the test my top strength out of 34 is empathy. A short description of this strength, as defined by Strengthsfinder, is “People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.”

My Empathy strength is something I greatly value  and appreciate in myself and try to cultivate in a healthy way. It is what has driven me into a helping profession, music therapy. I attribute a lot of the ease in building rapport with clients and my ability to reach out to the underdog to it.  However, every strength has an evil twin sister and I would like to talk about the shadow side of empathy. I truly do view this natural propensity as one of my greatest assets, but I also know at times it can be my fatal flaw.

I am not always aware of when I am taking on the feelings of others. There are often times when I will be perfectly fine, but then enter into a conversation between two people that is tense and immediately feel stressed myself. Once I “take on that feeling,”  it can be very difficult for me to shake it off. Sometimes I will carry that stress through the day, constantly feeling on edge.

These “shadows” don’t take away from what empathy is. Discovering it in myself also means learning how to separate myself from it when necessary as well. My first step has been becoming aware of it and how it affects me. I’ve learned that with

this awareness, my next move forward is to set healthy boundaries for myself; something that I am in the process of learning currently. I have also discovered that when something feels off, it’s not necessarily because of me and that’s ok. In the words of the great Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”!

-Noriah Uribe

I lost it! It’s gone!: Voice-less music therapy

I lost my voice entirely for three full days, however, like in the theater, the show must go on and the job must still be done. Despite not being able to vocalize anything above a soft whisper, I still had clients who needed services. Although not an ideal situation, sometimes things are out of your control. However, thanks to the support of a few wonderful supervisors and co-workers I was able to adapt and create voice-less sessions. I wouldn’t recommend losing your voice as a music therapist, but do as I say and not as I do. So, in case you have the unfortunate fortune of this 

happening to you too, I thought I would share a few tips I 

learned.

  1.    Recorded music is your friend

As music therapists we know that live is almost always better, because we can manipulate it for our needs on the spot. However, recorded music is better than no music. It will provide a steady beat and will likely give you different timbers than you can provide on your own. So play a game of name that tune or pass out instruments and rock out to an exciting song, with a bit of hidden exercise built in. Instruct clients to follow the music as you stop and start or get loud and soft. A little pre-recorded music can go a long way.

  1.    Drum roll, please!

Drum circles are great for all populations. They encourage prosocial, motor, and cognitive functions. So, take time to drum to a few pre-recorded songs. Maybe it’s a song that relates to the season or a holiday coming. Try rhythmic imitation or build group cohesions as everyone follows a leader who changes speed or stops and starts.

  1.    Yay for TIMP and PSE

If you are familiar with Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) techniques, I would recommend using TIMP and PSE. No verbal explanation or continual prompting is needed to implement this technique. As long as a beet is present and clients can visually track your movement, the intervention can be carried out.

  1.    Embrace your inner mime

Because you will not have no way to communicate verbally, body language will be everything. Big body movements and exaggerated facial expressions will aid in your success. Having signs or something to write instructions on isn’t a bad idea too.

-Noriah Uribe

Thumbs up for the Belly Up- FUNdraiser

        My outlook on fundraisers has usually been that they are a necessary evil. I often viewed them as the time of year when a non-profit would have to shmooze up to the rich and affluent in the hopes that they would donate enough money for the non-profit to continue to provide whatever services that may be. However, this past weekend I came to see fundraisers very differently as I had the pleasure of being a part of a fundraiser, Greatest Hits, for Banding Together, a non profit that provides music therapy opportunities to those that may not have access to it other wise. The fundraiser was held at the Belly Up, a concert venue in Solana Beach, California. It featured a live auction, donor board, wine and beer pull, as well as variety of live musical performances. The event sold out for the first time in its nine year history thanks to the support of local grammy award winning musician and avocado farmer, Jason Mraz.

        As the events of the fundraiser progressed and money was raised I noticed something. People were excited to give and be a part of Banding Together’s mission. The community atmosphere was palpable as clients participated as “hype men” (a.k.a. The ones building up the excitement in the room by cheering the event along) for those around them, cheering on donors as over $60,000 was raised to make a difference for those with special needs to experience music opportunities. Those that gave, gave generously because they believed in the cause. It was as I looked around at the excitement on everyone’s faces, those giving and those volunteering, that I noticed my previous perspective changing. Those attending the event were not there to be an ATM. Instead, they were there to stand with Banding Together and share in the mission. The Greatest Hits fundraiser was meant to showcase the individuals who benefit from the programs, why it matters, and what fruit partnering together will produce and it did so exceedingly well. I will without a doubt look back on it with the fondest of memories.

-Noriah Uribe MTI

 

jason maraz at the bellyup

Piano for the Music Therapist: A crash course on simple accompaniment patterns

I’ve always enjoyed the piano and revere it as one of the most beautiful instruments. Nonetheless, it is one that I am nowhere near mastering. However, this past week I was able to attend a workshop for the music therapy team at MTCCA for the piano taught by Jay Jay Lim, specifically on how to expand our repertoire for simple left hand accompaniment patterns (see photo below). We were taught several different patterns in multiple styles that could easily be modified to teach a client in an adapted lesson, or utilized by a music therapist in a variety of ways (e.g. played during a drum circle or for improvisation). Jay Jay did an incredible job at conveying how straightforward, yet effective, a few different accompaniment patterns in anyone’s toolkit can be. *

I was reminded of how something as small as having a variety of rhythms and melodies to play can enhance a client’s experience through giving them more choices and continuing to hold their interest and attention so that sessions can always progress.

IMG_1882After all, it is all about the client. As music therapists, it is our job to support our clients and help them to grow. We can offer that support and growth in musical form by providing an interesting piano accompaniment backing a song they have been working on singing to improve articulation or respiratory strength, and building confidence through that experience and process. Through this workshop my aspirations were re-ignited to continue to grow and cultivate my skills with piano so that I can be a well-rounded therapist who is able to effectively use the piano to help facilitate growth with my clients.

-Noriah Uribe

*I’d encourage you to check out the wonderfully talented Jay Jay and the work he does at Greene Music Education Center

L.H. Piano accompaniment

Neuroscience: It’s What’s For Dinner

A few weeks ago my co-intern, Darby, and I had the pleasure of attending the Autism Tree Project Foundation’s 4th Annual Neuroscience Conference. Located at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, this day long conference consisted of ten different presentations and two panel discussions that ranged a wide variety of topics relating to autism spectrum disorders. Progressive and groundbreaking research such as Dr. Lawrence Fung’s study “GABA and Sociocommunicative Abilities in Adults with Autism” and Dr. Leanne Chukoskie’s “Leveling up: Using Video Games to Create Job Training Opportunities for Young Adults with ASD” show the different ways in which ASD can be studied. My favorite part, however, was the Living Autistically Panel Forum. This forum discussed the challenges, successes, dreams, and insights of five individuals living with ASD. The panelist include Mason Todd Brown, Lawson Hickey, Lauren Taylor, Chris T. Rosenbaum, and Lora McGuigan. While they all share similar diagnoses, they come from different backgrounds and had different life experiences growing up with Autism. There are a few key points, however, that I took from this panel discussion:

  1. Don’t assume

Chris boldly stated that the biggest mistake people have made is forming assumptions on what he was/was not able to do because of Autism. Each panelist made it clear that they are more than their disorder and have unique ideas and talents that are of exceptional value to this world. Those with ASD often have difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions, however, they take in much more information than many would think and their expressive ability should not reflect their capabilities.

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     2.   Autism doesn’t make you unaware.           

When asked if they don’t miss socializing because they have never really known it, the panelists corrected the audience member by stating how painfully aware they are of their social limitations. They compared their social habits to those who are shy, and discussed how they should not be excluded or treated differently just because of their diagnosis. It was disheartening to hear these challenges so explicitly stated, however, it is furthermore proof that the way professionals and society approach socialization and Autism matters.

yeah-im-aware-of-that

     3.   TEAMWORK!        

Not one singular therapy can work for all people with ASD, nor is it likely that one individual with ASD will meet their therapeutic goals by utilizing only one form of therapy. It is the combination of different techniques and interventions as well as support from friends, family, and professionals that provides the most effective results.

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To learn more about the Autism Tree Project Foundation, see upcoming events, or donate to their cause visit http://www.autismtreeproject.org

Maggie

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Top Internship Learnings

Even though in some ways the 6 months felt like it flew by, I have learned so much it can be hard to put it into words, or even recognize some of the changes because my learnings have become so much a part of my daily routine as a music therapist. Below I am sharing just a few of my learnings:

I’ve learned through this internship that I have a unique ability to personally connect with others and this is also one of the parts of being a music therapist that I enjoy. I have always been interested in a career where I get to help others find success and that was one of the main reasons why I was so interested in working with students with special needs. I have also found through this internship that I am not only interested in working with people with disabilities but also older adults with memory impairment. Part of helping to guide a person’s successes is getting to know them or their family members and what their goals are. Being able to find what they respond to best is important and is a skill that I have seen grow during my internship. I feel more confident creating individualized interventions for clients, and I now have the techniques to adapt in the moment when necessary.

Secondly I have been excited about how much my repertoire has grown throughout this internship. Because I have had the opportunity to work with clients of different diagnoses and varying ages I have at least started to dip my toe in many genres of music, which I think will help me as I continue on my journey. During college classes we often had to memorize songs for tests or for practicums and I was able to do it, but I found in my internship that this skill became easier because I was using the songs I wanted to memorize on a daily basis and I felt much more successful. This skill is important because it allows the therapist to fully connect with the client and not be distracted by looking at the music or trying to remember what chord comes next. Especially in a group setting it is helpful to have music memorized because then the therapist can have more opportunities to connect with each client on an individual basis, which allows for the therapist to move around the room more. I realized about 4 months into my internship that this skill was improving and it was very encouraging me to see my progress from the beginning of my internship.

It is sometimes hard to articulate all the progress I have made, but I am so thankful for an internship where I was able to learn so many different aspects of being a music therapist.

 

Emily