I got a great question recently from Maven reader and music therapy student Caitlyn W. (@caitlynmarie123), who wrote:
I would love if you would write posts directed toward music therapy students. I know that as a college student, I love to hear other people’s stories of their college experience, how they balanced all the classes, internship tips and stories…Basic starting out facts BEFORE starting your own business.
Caitlyn’s question hit close to home because I, too, am about to become a student again! And even though this blog is more geared for the professional music therapist, perhaps it’s time for a little change of pace…
So, with that in mind–and thanks to the wisdom of many other music therapists–here are some top-notch secrets to help you great a successful student experience for yourself:
Save Your Class Notes
I forgot about this until music therapist Amy K. (@AmyMTBC) reminded me. She wrote: Save all your music therapy books, class notes, music, practicum folders–you never know where you’ll end up!
Amy’s right! Believe it or not, I still refer to my old class notes from graduate AND undergraduate school. So put a plan in place to process and file your class notes after each semester. You never know when they’ll come in handy.
Learn from All Your Classes
Most of you are probably going to receive a liberal arts-type of education that includes english, history, science, and math training. Don’t underestimate how useful and important those classes are, even if they’re not part of your core music therapy training. Apply yourself in all these classes.
Why? Because you never know when the knowledge will come in handy. I remember a story one of my mentors shared where she was able to understand and “crack” a client’s behavior based on information she remembered from a history class. Turns out she was right–and her esteem grew in the eyes of the doctors and other treatment teams members who were struggling for months with this problem.
You can–and should–start networking as a student. How do you do this? The primary way is to get involved. Join and be active in your school’s music therapy association. Attend workshops and conferences. Even you you can’t make the national conference, attend a local, state, or regional event. There are many friends and colleagues I collaborate with today that I first connected with as a student. It’s never too early to start!
Learn from the Best
If at all possible, make sure you take a class with a really good teacher…even if the class is not within the scope of your training. Most college programs provide opportunities for you to take electives. Don’t fill them in with an “easy” class. Fill them in with a class taught by the best, most inspiring, most thought-provoking teacher on campus.
This tip came from music therapist JoAnn J. (@JordanEM)…and many, many music therapists agreed with it! She wrote: Accept practicums with as many different populations as you can. It will help you find your niche.
She’s right! AMTA has designed your clinical training in a way that allows you to work with different ages, different sites, and different clinical populations. Even if you go in to music therapy “knowing” what population you want to specialize in, this is your time to branch out and try something new, different…and possibly scary. And who knows? Perhaps that will turn into your favorite one.
Stay with the Music
Rachelle N. (@RachelleNorman) wrote: Get as many varied music experiences in college as you can, then keep making music for yourself once you graduate.
Remember that you are a musician first. And, believe it or not, it can get harder and harder to stay involved and invested as a musician after you leave school. So don’t ignore the musical side of who you are…and plan to nurture that after you leave, too.
Enjoy the Journey
Being a student provides you with a unique opportunity to learn and grow as a professional and a person that likely won’t ever happen again. So, as best as you can, enjoy all parts of being a student. The learning, the social aspect, the opportunities…everything. Or, put another way my music therapist Michelle Erfurt (@michelleerfurt): Enjoy it while it lasts! 🙂
Sharon G.: Adapt, adapt, adapt! 🙂
Healing Sounds Music Therapy: learn to trust your intuition. And keep all your stuff. 🙂
Marie C.: Keep on going with music and don’t change course…….stay focused on music therapy and all its applications that will be expanding in the future!
Erin B: Jump in as early and as soon as possible. Be as fearless as possible.
If you’d like to learn more, there are some great blogs outs there geared for (and often by) music therapy students and interns: