Tag Archives: Career Success

#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: Get Some Junk in Your Trunk!

4 May

This post is part of a 5 week #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge. Learn more and join the movement by visiting Serenade Designs!

Challenge #1: Think and write about a question you hear a lot in your work.

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside your trunk?

My favorite comment from music therapy students or observers quite literally has to do with all the junk in my trunk. Yup, I said it. The trunk…of my car. AKA a glorious place where most of my instruments and visuals live. (But seriously, are you singing “My Humps” yet?)

unnamed (65) My favorite comments:

 (I open trunk) “…That’s crazy.”

 “WOW. You have a lot of…stuffed animals?”

 “Geez, how can you afford to buy all these materials?”

 “Uhh, do I actually need all this stuff?!”

My answer, MT friends, is NO! You absolutely do not need to be a music therapy material hoarder like yours truly. (I really do have a problem. Laminator addicts, unite?) However, my advice to students everywhere is that it can never hurt to start working on your instrument collection early. Having instruments on hand means that while you’re making the transition from student to professional, you have the ability to taking on contracting jobs or work at facilities that don’t already have instruments (or a budget to buy instruments). Because I work in private practice, I’m always on the go—but the great thing about having a big collection of instruments and visuals is that my materials are always ready to go, too.

If you can, I encourage you to start making your own wishlist NOW. Set aside a small amount of $$ each month for your instrument fund. Use birthdays and holidays to ask for instruments (I know, I know…but it’s so worth it). At your graduation party, ask people to bring instruments instead of gifts. If you get creative, your instrument collection can grow at minimal cost.

Check out a list of MY essential items below. Did I miss something? What’s your favorite? Leave a comment below and I’ll add it to the list!

 My Top 10 MT Must-Haves:


 Random things I always have on hand:

  • WIPES, YA’LL (!!!!)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Masking tape
  • Crayons/Colored Pencils
  • Sharpie
  • Velcro

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#MTAdvocacy: Making Advocacy Your Go-To Conversation Topic in 2015

13 Jan

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_250x250

I’m sitting in Starbucks with my guitar propped on the table.

I’m wheeling my bag of instruments and visuals into a school.

I’m meeting a client’s extended family, visiting from out of town.

I’m co-treating with social workers, OTs, PTs and SLPs.

Take a moment to think about the many advocacy opportunities that may present themselves to you on a daily basis. On any given day, I can be found working in 5-8 different facilities, homes, schools and public spaces, all filled with people curious about my bag of instruments or with questions about what they see during a music therapy session.

I’ve learned that any opportunity can become an advocacy moment if you seize it. Over the last year, I’ve discovered 3 simple steps that taught me to SEE and INVEST in the many advocacy opportunities around me. These steps have helped grow my caseload, build awareness in the communities I’m serving and established me as a “go-to” team member in the facilities where I work.

1. Engage in the Conversation: Let’s face it–sometimes, it can be really exhausting to explain what it is that you do as a career for the 200th (okay…maybe I’m exaggerating…but we’ve all been there) time in a week.

But the most important thing I’ve taken away from my work in this year is to engage in every opportunity to advocate, no matter how small.

So even if you’re tired, stressed or simply not in the mood–don’t walk away from the mini advocacy moments you encounter every day. Saying “YES!” to conversations with strangers, sharing resources with families and volunteering your time for the occasional presentation can help grow the presence of music therapy in your community…while also growing the work opportunities available to you!

2. Reframe the Conversation: The next time you find yourself in a surprise advocacy opportunity, think about how you give feedback during sessions or lessons. I like to sandwich my constructive thoughts right in between a whole lot of positivity, because this is a great way to help your listener take in the valuable information you’re offering while also commending them for engaging in a dialogue with you.

Here’s my go-to formula:
[Thank You] + [Advocacy Information] + [Follow-Up]
Ex. “Thank you so much for coming to me with your questions! Actually, ______Can I give you my card in case you want to learn more? I’d love to keep our conversation going.”

3. Continue the Conversation: This is where that positive follow-up comes in. It’s important to tailor your follow-up to your listener’s needs, because knowing your audience will help you keep the conversation alive! Is this a teacher interested in implementing music interventions in the classroom? Or a stranger at a coffee shop curious about your guitar?

 You could:

  • Ask specific follow-up questions
  • Give them your business card
  • Direct them to AMTA or CBMT
  • Provide supporting research
  • Connect them with other professionals
  • Follow up via e-mail

 My challenge for you in 2015 is to seize your next unexpected advocacy opportunity and turn it into a positive conversation about music therapy. 

 Check out 2015’s Music Therapy State Recognition website for more posts about #MTadvocacy this month, and be sure to read more below about the NEW Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015)!

As the profession of music therapy has been moving forward with recognition at the state level, it has been identified that a document was needed to reflect a similar format to other health care professional organizations’ Scopes of Practice. CBMT and AMTA worked together to create a Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) for the profession based on published documents from both organizations. This new document entitled Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) is available as an educational tool and legislative support document that broadly defines the range of responsibilities of a fully qualified music therapy professional with requisite education, clinical training, and board certification. Click here to read the Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015).


Summer Project Reveal!

31 Jul

The night before I sat for my CBMT exam, I was feeling totally burned out. I was nervous, felt like I couldn’t possibly fit any more information into my brain (which was already overflowing at that point), and was ready to fast forward through the test so I could just start my career already.

But you never know when opportunity will come a’knocking. It could be on the busiest day you’ve ever had, on the day you’re least expecting it, or, ya know…the night before you take the biggest test of your life. You always have to be prepared to take a leap of faith, grab your career by the horns and just GO FOR IT.

That very night, I got a call from my friend Kat at Music Therapy Ed, who asked if I was interested in being their new course instructor. I knew this was my big break, so of course I said YES! During this crazy/exciting process, I got to meet 12 amazing music therapists, learned a lot about myself (and technology–oh, iMovie), and had the opportunity to create something I’m really proud of. I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped along the way…AND am happy to say I’m already brainstorming for my NEXT project!

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 12.45.01 PM

Check out my West Music Professional Success Course at Music Therapy Ed, read about it in the Tuesday Shout Out or even sign-up to earn 3 CMTEs FOR FREE. No matter where you are in your career, I have a feeling you’ll love hearing from leaders in our field about topics ranging from job interviews to session planning and think that you’ll leave feeling more confident about your abilities as a therapist! If you’re already signed up, I’d love to connect with you, hear what you have to say about it, and make a new music therapy friend. You know where to find me. 🙂

BE THE FIRST to hear about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success by entering your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right and following my twitter or pinterest.