Tag Archives: AMTA

#mtadvocacy Month: We Are…Student Advocates!

13 Jan

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_250x250Each January, music therapists from around the world come together to support and advocate for the field of music therapy on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, music therapy blogs and beyond. This year’s project theme is “We are…” and will center on exploring and honoring our identity as music therapists and as a distinct and stand-alone profession, unique from other professions and professionals with which we work. This music therapy intern and baby blogger could not be more honored to participate in this exciting music therapy advocacy movement this year!

This post goes out to all you music therapy students and interns…because I believe that we play a very important role in music therapy advocacy efforts! Today, I want to share with you 5+ tips (and some personal stories from my own experiences) to empower you to be an awesome student advocate for our profession.

1.     Though you may not feel like a professional yet…always act like one!

When you’re out in the community for your practicum work or internship, you are constantly representing the field of music therapy. Dress well, be respectful and leave a good impression of yourself wherever you go. You never know what future opportunities may come of it!

 For example: During one of my practicums at Shenandoah University, my practicum partner and I formed an awesome relationship with our placement site—a fantastic educational group for parents of children with autism called Essential Pieces (http://lfsva.org/essential-pieces/). While the parents meet downstairs and listen to seminars given by local professionals working in the field of ASD, their kids are provided with free services including music therapy, social groups and sensory experiences.

At the conclusion of our practicum placement, my partner and I were asked to return in the springtime as GUEST SPEAKERS to talk about music therapy for children with ASD. How cool is that?! It was such an awesome experience to teach about and advocate for music therapy with the parents of the clients we had been working with for months. If we hadn’t maintained a professional working relationship with Essential Pieces, we might not have been given that opportunity. We were even interviewed for a segment on the local news about the benefits of music therapy!

Me being interviewed by Winchester's local news channel at our presentation about music therapy in February!

Me being interviewed by Winchester’s local news team at our presentation!

2.     Don’t isolate yourself from fellow students and working music therapists.

Reach out and make some new music therapy friends! Think how awesome it might be to talk with music therapists from all over the country (and world)…and how even more awesome it would be to meet them in person at the next MT conference!

  • Be brave and expand your network beyond your circle of music therapy friends and professors. Send an e-mail to a music therapist you admire in your area and ask if you can shadow them for a day or take them out to coffee to talk about what they do.
  • Get to know other students and MTs on twitter, instagram or in music therapy facebook groups.
  • Start a pinterest music therapy board and share it with your friends. Talk about how you might adapt some of the activities that you find or have a pinterest crafting party and make some visual aids! To get started, feel free to share your pinterest page with me! I’d love to follow you and see what awesome MT ideas you’re pinning. Check mine out at: (http://www.pinterest.com/kcorne4/)
  • Go to conferences!

3.     Be aware of what’s happening in the field by reading…A LOT!

I know what a challenge it can be to find time to read for pleasure or to do self-motivated research when you’ve got a mountain of school assignments waiting for you every day.

But who you are as a music therapist is not just where you went to school or where you interned; it’s a lifelong personal philosophy that is always growing and changing.

Stay open minded to variety of approaches and I guarantee that you’ll never stop building your own unique style as a music therapist.

  • Set goals. These could be as simple as reading three articles per month or reading one book chapter per week. But the important thing here is to try to find readings outside of school assignments about different populations, techniques and issues from a range of viewpoints (I know, I know…there’s no time!!! But the extra effort will be worth it, I promise.).
  • Mix it up! Over the past few months, I’ve read books written by teachers and OTs (The Out-of-Sync Child: Kranowitz and Miller), psychologists (Engaging Autism: Greenspan), neurologists (Musicophilia: Sachs). I urge you to learn from related professions and think about how you can adapt and apply these techniques to your own MT practice!
  • Start a MT book club with your friends. Have a pizza party once a month and talk about what you’ve been reading! (Seriously though…any takers for this one? Who wants to start a book club?! :D)
My glorious pile of books to read.

My glorious pile of books to read.

4.     Get involved in advocacy efforts in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

Joining volunteer efforts (whether big or small) will introduce you to your local MTs and keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in your area. As you transition from student to professional, this is a great way to get your name out there and be an active contributor to music therapy advocacy in your state or region.

  • Join your state music therapy task force. Many state task forces have spots for student representatives, but you can also ask for any additional volunteer work they might need help with or if any committees are short on members. You’ll never know until you ask! Contact Judy Simpson at AMTA (simpson@musictherapy.org) or your region/state’s MT association to find out how you can help.
  • If your state has its own music therapy organization, get involved. Even attending just one meeting will help you get to know other local music therapists and fill you in on what’s going on in your region!
  • Start a music therapy blog. If that sounds too overwhelming, read and comment on other blogs. This is a great way to have discussions with other MTs as well as find some ways to enhance your own work as a student or intern. But know that the music therapy blogging community is extremely welcoming to new bloggers! There are so many amazing resources out there to look to for advice and support as you explore blogs for ideas or think about starting your own.
  • When you see a great blog post or newspaper article about music therapy, share it with friends or family.

 5.     Never be afraid to bring your new ideas to the table.

The great thing about MT students and interns is that we are just so darn EXCITED about what we’re doing. Offer your unique perspective and energy about music therapy by sharing some fresh ideas at your next state MT association meeting or on a blog post.

I hope that this list might inspire and challenge you to find one new way to contribute to music therapy advocacy not only this month but year round. I’d love to hear how you plan to advocate for music therapy in the comment section below!

For updates about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success, enter your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right or follow my twitter: @songsforsuccess.

#AMTA13 and Beyond: 4 Ways to Make Your Mark at Your First MT Conference

25 Nov

Downtown Jacksonville, FL

All you #musictherapy ists out there: can you believe that national conference is over already?! It feels like the weekend went by in an absolute blur… but the (extremely) cold Maryland weather and my still unpacked bag filled to the brim with business cards, free goodies and music books (woo hoo!) are a reminder that I really was in sunny Florida just over a day ago. Because this was my first time experiencing a national conference, I’m really excited to share some of the things I learned to help all those other conference newbies out there feel confident and successful when navigating through the world of music therapy networking. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a national conference, regional conference, or just talking to a random person out there in the world—you can leave a positive impression in just a few short minutes  and feel empowered while doing it.

1. Make it rain with your business cards! Give everyone you meet a business card, and be sure to get theirs too. I was really nervous about this at first but once I got the hang of it, it just felt natural to trade contact info.

  • Start or end every conversation with someone new by exchanging business cards.
  • Leave a business card on your seat after you leave a session—you never know who might be the next person to sit there and take your card!
  •  Make your business card stand out with bright colors, interesting text or a unique logo.
My first official business card!

My first official business card!

2. Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone and introduce yourself—especially if it’s someone you admire!

  • My favorite conversations of the weekend started simply by approaching different people and just saying, “Hi, I’m Kerry! Are you ____?!” Be genuine and I can guarantee that you’ll leave these conversations feeling on top of the world.
    • Some of my most “OH MY GOSH I CAN’T BELIEVE WHO I’M TALKING TO!” moments this weekend were with:
      • Ryan Judd (The Rhythm Tree)
      • Kat Fulton and Julie Palmieri (Music Therapy Ed)
      • Michelle Eurfurt (Music Therapy Tween)
      • Rachel See (Music Therapy Services of Austin)
      • Joann Jordan (Music Sparks)

These amazing bloggers spent so much time talking to me about my blog, networking and starting a practice. They really made me feel like a totally #awesomeMT in training and I know they’ll make you feel the same way. Shout outs to all these awesome and inspiring people! If you haven’t checked out their blogs…DO IT RIGHT NOW!

Me trying not to be TOO starstruck with Kat and Julie :)

Me trying not to be TOO starstruck with Kat and Julie 🙂

3. Attend a range of concurrent sessions—don’t just stick to one population!

  • I’m currently working with individuals with autism, so I made sure to attend some sessions that I thought would be helpful and directly applicable to my practice (like CJ Shiloh’s exciting presentation about neurodiversity and Sensory Friendly Concerts!) But I also made sure to attend some sessions about topics that were unfamiliar or new (like using rap/punk/metal in clinical settings: rock on!)
  • Plan out what sessions you want to attend in advance! This will maximize your time during the day and give you extra opportunities to network, snack and relax between sessions.

4. Social networking is really important.

  • I’m now officially a blog baby and a twitter baby. I’m learning that it’s a great way to share resources and connect with other music therapists online. Some of the sessions I attended even encouraged live tweeting!
  • I also talked a lot about the wonders of Pinterest. Every time I see a blog post or intervention idea that I like, I pin it onto my music therapy board.  It’s so nice to have all these ideas in one place when I’m looking for some session planning inspiration.
  • If you’re interested, check out my pages:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SongsForSuccess

Pinterest Music Therapy Board: http://www.pinterest.com/kcorne4/music-therapy/

Do you have any extra helpful tips for first time conference goers? Leave a comment below or tweet it at me and I’ll add your words of wisdom to my blog post! Don’t forget to sign up for e-mail updates for additional resources, songs and downloads from Songs for Success—all you have to do is enter your e-mail address on the right side bar. Thanks for stopping by!

Activity Inspiration: Starvin’ Marvin the Turkey

18 Nov

Just a few more days until I’m off to Jacksonville, FL to experience my first American Music Therapy Association National Conference! I’m so excited to meet and learn from music therapists from around the country (and to escape the cold Maryland weather for some Florida sun—woo hoo!). Before I go, I want to share a silly little Thanksgiving song that my internship supervisor and I wrote together called “Starvin’ Marvin.”

For this activity, your clients can practice impulse control, counting, following directions, turn taking and motor skills as they listen to the song lyrics and toss beanbags into Starvin’ Marvin the turkey’s mouth. Don’t be afraid to be silly—I love to make Marvin dance and often make sound effects to go along with the song (stomach rumbling, gobbling and sometimes he even says, “FEEEEEEED ME!”). You can even have clients volunteer to make Marvin move and talk–but be prepared for LOTS of giggles! This activity could also be a simple craft to make at home to keep your kids occupied and having fun on a rainy November day. Pre-cut the box, have them design and draw the turkey on it and then, voila! You have a new game to add to your collection.

All you’ll need to make your turkey is a small cardboard box, scissors and my turkey face template (included below). I cut a large hole in the front of the box and glued the turkey face together on the top. I also had some left over feathers from another activity, so I glued those on the back of the box to give him a cute tail. Let your creativity run wild with this one!

P1020532During the song, encourage your clients to wait until the count of three to toss their bean bags into Marvin’s mouth.  Depending on client needs, I either hold the turkey close to the client so they can easily put their bean bag inside his mouth or set it up further away if they are able to toss the bean bag. Repeat the bean bag toss as many times as desired and be sure to encourage lots of gobbling and wing flapping from clients who are waiting for their turn! Once each client has had a chance to “feed” Marvin, have everyone speak for him and say “Thank you” by using their voices, sign language or AACs—whatever works best for each client.

Below is a recording of “Starvin’ Marvin” and a free PDF of my turkey face template. I hope you have a blast making your own turkey and implementing this activity with your clients and children!

Starvin’ Marvin PDF