Tag Archives: guitar

If At First You Don’t Succeed.

Let’s talk for a moment about the scariest things we can think of…. spiders? heights? the boogey man?… how about walking into a session with 30 brand new clients…with a flawless session plan… opening your guitar case, and realizing your A-string has totally kicked the bucket… and you have not a single spare.  You know that really uncomfortable feeling when the room is dead silent, and everyone is waiting for you to start… and all the while your brain is sweating trying to come up with a last minute plan of attack.

Yes, this happened to me. How did you guess?

“Take a chill pill! You totally got this.” That’s what I tried to tell myself as I rummaged through my collection of intruments.  But you know what?  I did.  

Music therapists have a little bit of a stigma attached to them.  We always have that shadow following behind us (yes, i’m referring to the guitar that proudly stands a good foot taller than us on our back).  It’s literally our life support in many cases (pun intended).  Now don’t get me wrong- the guitar is a wonderful, powerful tool that we utilize… but would it hurt to step outside of the box and explore other things we have to offer.  For new professionals and especially students this sounds TERRIFYING.  But trusting in our therapeutic ability AND in our musicianship is KEY.

Did I feel exposed and vulnerable without my guitar for 50-minutes? YES

Did it force me to step out of my comfort zone and explore some new ideas and techniques. YES

Did I crash and burn? NO!

Some lessons I learned:

  • Always carry a spare set of strings in your case. (Although I probably would not have had time to even change them- there is nothing like getting glared at by a group of older adults).
  • Challenge yourself to try something new- the results just might surprise you.
  • Trust in yourself and your abilities.  I think you’ll surprise yourself.
  • You may get WAY different reactions and outcomes from your clients by trying something non-traditional. Kimberly Sena Moore, MT-BC, talks about stepping outside of the rule book here http://www.musictherapymaven.com/do-we-learn-our-greatest-lessons-from-our-clients/.

I hope my terrifying moment has encouraged at least one other to step out of the box ( I even pulled out my iPad- the ladies thought it was a riot!). If you try something new- let me know how it went! I’d love to hear your stories.


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Internships: The Great Hunt

As I move into my senior year as a music therapy major, many questions and uncertainties are beginning to arise.  It’s a transitional part of my life, and for other classmates all across the U.S.  Most student’s about to graduate are applying for jobs, and looking into what direction they want to take their major and education in.  Music Therapy majors, like myself, are doing something a little different. It’s all about the “great hunt,” for internships! I can only speak for myself and my experience thus far with the hunt.  Many students have different situations than mine, and are restricted to where they may or want to apply.  I consider this time VERY scary, but also VERY exciting! The sky is the limit! Questions run through my head everyday: Where do I want to live…Will I like the location… What population do I want to specialize in…. East Coast or West Coast…..Private Practice, Hospital, or other…. The questions are endless.  It’s very exciting to get to choose where you want to spend 6 months (or maybe more!) and also decide what direction you want to go in with music therapy since there are so many options.  For those just beginning the hunt, you can find internship listenings on the American Music Therapy Association Website, or if you are a member of AMTA you will be sent the National Roster of approved internships.


  • There are ALOT of internships
  • It lists them by city and state
  • There are a lot of populations and locations
  • It’s VERY overwhelming

Here’s what you can do to make it easier:

  1. Narrow down your preferred populations in your head.  List pros and cons.  The hunt will be a lot easier if you have a focus in mind
  2. Narrow down locations.  Research cities and states, average temperatures, culture etc.  You need to be comfortable if you are moving far away, or out of state.  Your internship should be a positive experience so don’t let the homesick blues be the reason you don’t enjoy it.
  3. Run through the national roster and make an initial list of possible internships.  I copy and pasted them from the website onto a word document to make it more manageable.
  4. If your initial list is to lengthy, go through it again.  Carefully read information about each internship including location, stipend, what’s included (or not) and population.
  5. Make a final list.  Try your best to rank your top internship choices.  I again, copy and pasted the basic information of each internship into a another document along with the contact information of the internship supervisor and the website if included.
  6. Research your top internships! This includes population, and the the facility.  Look for websites and internship descriptions.  Mark under each internship on your word document if the application for applying is “On the Web,” “Online Download,” or if you need to “Email for information.”
  7. Send out appropriate emails.
  8. Start filling out those applications!

Organization is key to the application process and making sure your on top of things coming in and items going out.  Make sure your resume and essays reflect who you are as a person, professional and music therapist in training.

I’m sure it’ll all work out! Keep your head up and be positive! Feel free to leave a comment with any questions about this or any other topics.

Thanks for checking back!


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Music Therapy: It’s all the rage!

As requested this post will cover some general ideas and definitions of what Music Therapy is, as well as how and where it is used.  I can’t pretend everyone is familiar with music therapy as much as they are with say… physical therapy… however, I am never hesitant to fill in interested folks on what’s going on in the music therapy world.  For example, I was sitting waiting for a table at the Olive Garden a few months ago, and this wonderful woman and her daughter wanted to do nothing more than chat about my future career vowing to look up information on music therapy when they returned home to Toronto, CA.  Reactions to my response “I am going for music therapy” typically go one of two ways: “Oh that’s nice” or “What is that??”  Regardless, I am always thrilled to share any knowledge I have, and a little advocacy never hurts!

What is music therapy?

Compliments of the AMTA website (thats’s American Music Therapy Association)…Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

In other words, music therapy uses music as a medium in therapy not to teach music exclusively, but to address non-musical goals and objectives.

Music reaches people on a deep level, and is often successful (as shown through research) in pain management,  expressive and receptivecommunication,  memory, physical rehabilitation, emotional rehabilitation, and health.

Who do music therapists work with?

  • Infants, Children
  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Elderly
  • Substance Abuse
  • Eating Disorders
  • Brain Injured
  • Acute and Chronic pain
  • Developmental and Learning disabilities
  • Substance Abuse
  • Stroke patients
  • Oncology
  • The list goes on and on….

Where do they work?

  • psychiatric hospitals
  • rehabilitative facilities
  • medical hospitals, outpatient clinics, day care treatment centers
  • agencies serving developmentally disabled persons
  • community mental health centers
  • drug and alcohol programs
  • senior centers, nursing homes
  • hospice programs
  • correctional facilities, halfway houses
  • schools
  • private practice

Persons qualified to practice music therapy must be MT-BC which is board certified.  Masters degrees programs are also offerred, and in NY state a music therapist must obtain their LCAT- licence Creative Arts Therapy.

Music Therapists are excellent musicians, typically well learned on social instruments such as guitar, piano and voice, as well as knowledge in percussion studies and other instruments.  Music Therapists have a heavy course load in psychology, music, and therapy.

Any additional information can be found on the National Music Therapy Association website and http://www.musictherapy.org

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