As my music therapy internship is coming to an end I have been establishing closure with more and more of my clients. Many families of clients have expressed gratitude, appreciation, and even sadness to see me go. I hadn’t actually realized how much of a partnership I had established with some of these families, which is a large part of the therapist/client relationship.
That’s something we weren’t exactly taught in music school. They teach us how to work effectively with many different populations, but they don’t teach us very much about interacting and connecting with the families of clients. In early childhood education, when a teacher establishes relationships and partnerships with families, the child’s learning is enhanced. This goes the same for music therapy. When there is a strong connection between the family and therapist, the child’s experience is enhanced, and this internship has certainly taught me that.
Well, it’s been a wild ride. I’ve learned many things about music therapy and life in general. I’ve experienced many things, a lot of which I never thought I would experience. And I can now say with certainty: I am ready for the professional world. Here I come!
Music, the brain, and Aesthetics
While studying the different ways our brain processes music and music learning, one interesting concept that I came across was that we all have a preconceived cognitive schema, not only for music, but for just about just about everything else. A schema shapes our expectations about how a certain thing should be. In simple terms, a schema is our familiarity with a particular subject. We all probably have our own schema of music. When some of us here the word “music” we might think of the latest top 40 charts, such as Wrecking Ball, and some of us might think of a Beethoven symphony. A schema is important because it frames our understanding and our interpretation of familiar aesthetic objects.
This concept is greatly applicable to music therapy. From the moment I first read about music therapy, I had a schema formed for what I thought the profession was, and it’s incredible to look back and see how much that schema has been altered and changed already. It’s safe to say that after starting my internship here, my schema for music therapy is completely different than it was before, and is still constantly changing.
Client – a person or organization using the services of a professional person or company
I’m very glad that I got this word for my blog entry. I find that a big part of the purpose of these blog entries is to look at a word, usually a musical word, and see how it relates or apply to my work as a music therapy intern. Well, it doesn’t get more applicable than the word “clients” because that is exactly what I’m in this job for. There are many parts that I love about this internship. I love being able to say that I get to play drums and guitar with kids, teenagers, and elderly people for my job, but there is so much more to it than that. I am in music therapy for many different reasons, but to help improve the lives of my clients, above all. This job has a lot of pleasant parts as well as difficult parts, and that is one thing that I can say keeps me going through a lot of the stresses and challenges of this position; knowing that at the end of the day, I am doing this to help improve the quality of someone’s life.
Visual – a picture, piece of film, or display used to illustrate or accompany something
Visual is a word to which I can relate very strongly. I have always considered myself to be right-brained and a very visual thinker and learner. For me, things would always just click a little more when I was able to somehow see or visualize what I was trying to learn. For example, I would always try to think of piano keys when learning chords and scales in my college music theory class. Being able to relate these concepts to a set visual pattern, such as the layout of a keyboard, made it much easier for me to learn and understand the concepts. It wasn’t until I got to college, however, when I realized that there are many other people who think in a very similar way. In fact, 65% of people are considered to be visual learners. I’m also slowly starting to discover how important visual learning is to some people (To see just how important it is to some people, Temple Grandin sums it up perfectly in her book, Thinking in Pictures: http://www.grandin.com/inc/visual.thinking.html).
In my work as a music therapist, I’m starting to learn more and more just how much visuals can affect a person’s learning and understanding. When working with clients, using visuals when giving directions, teaching a lesson, or even having a conversation can make a world of difference to that client’s understanding. Much like myself, it just seems to make the message or concept click for them, and we as music therapists are very often able to use that to make therapy easier and more effective for the clients. A set of visual aids should be a standard tool in every music therapist’s arsenal, since it can make the world of different when working with people with special needs.