By: Gabby Jones, Music Therapy Intern
As I’m nearing the end of my internship, I’ve reflected a lot on how far I have come. It wasn’t a straight or smooth path, nor was it all downhill. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a therapist and a musician, but also as an individual navigating the end of my time as a student, and the beginning of my journey as a professional. In the last several months, I’ve come to realize the ways in which I work best, and also the ways in which I recharge best. As someone who is passionate about preventative self-care and mental well-being, I want to acknowledge the importance of rest in the midst of hard work. Here are the ways in which I have learned to take care of myself, despite working the hardest I’ve ever worked:
2. Eat healthy.
Although quick and easy junk-food meals often sound the most desirable, I recognize how important it is to fuel my body with good food for my brain. I eat meals with enough protein to keep me going, as well as carbs that immediately kick in and help me refuel faster. Although I often treat myself with a piece of candy or a starbucks, I make sure to balance it out with food that won’t let me crash when the extra sugar wears off. It’s about balance! Here is more info on the effect that various healthy foods have on your memory and overall brain functioning.
3. Similarly, drink water!
Water is known to increase energy levels and help with concentration. Therefore, the more water you drink, the more productive you can likely be. We are supposed to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. However, water intake also depends on how much you’re using your body AND brain. I’ve realized that I thrive on about 3 refills of my hydroflask - that’s 94 ounces of water per day. The more water, the better! Here is more info on the benefits of drinking water.
4. Set personal work boundaries.
In the professional world, there is pretty much ALWAYS something that needs to be done. I’ve learned that my to-do list in my planner is never empty, and probably never will be. However, I work hard to make sure that I am allowing myself to rest at the end of the day and on weekends. I set deadlines for myself, of course, but I also make sure that if I’m feeling drained at the end of a long day, I step away from my emails and revisit them in the morning. Overworking leads to burnout.
5. Do things you like to do.
After a long week of hard work, I often treat myself on the weekend. I read a new book, watch a few episodes of a show I’ve been wanting to watch, go hiking with my family, or go out with friends. I remind myself that although work is important and a huge part of my life, it is not my entire life. I am rightfully entitled to spend time doing things that help me feel like myself during the time I have off on the weekends. Similarly to the previous point about setting boundaries, I make sure that even if I have a long week ahead of me, I take the time to nurture my mental well-being by having fun and relaxing, at least for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays so that I can go to work on Monday in the healthiest headspace possible.
In conclusion, I’ve learned how important it is to take preventative measures to ensure a healthy mind and body while balancing a busy work life. Similarly to the points listed above, I also like to journal, exercise, and spend time meditating or praying.
What are some measures you take to properly balance work and personal life? If you feel that you don’t take care of your mental health related to your work life as much as you’d like to, what are some things you’d like to try?
By: Matrisha Stafford, Music Therapy Intern
As an Intern, or maybe as a Therapist in general, our typical aim of treatment is to move closer to our clients goals. In my continued learning and practice towards becoming a professional music therapist I have encountered a lot of various things as I have planned and executed treatment for clients over the years, however I have never encountered such consistently challenging sessions with clients during that time. My internship has presented me with several opportunities to be apart of treatment plans that have challenged me in many new ways. Allow me to tell you a story about what it means to me to closely look for changes in my clients.
I always try to look for ways to connect musically and verbally with clients. In this case though, it seemed like the more I tried to engage them the less interested, distracted, and negative attention seeking they became. When I noticed this I began pulling from my MT toolkit and thinking in my head, “whatever it takes to get through to them, that’s what we will do.” Week after week though, it inwardly felt like minimal progress connecting was happening and we instead came away with more and more lessons on what wasn’t working. It was only after being posed with the question, “have you asked what they want?” I realized I had been looking for change without listening to what my client was telling me. No matter verbally or nonverbally through their behavior, I had never taken into account what they may be trying to express to me. Very determined to make progress, I took this realization with me into our next time together, consistently asking them throughout that time, “what do you what?'' offering choices, and listening to and watching for their verbal and non verbal communication. During that time I saw a more engaged and regulated client in front of me who offered me insight into their feelings, and their willingness to participate in various activities. They were able to better communicate their desires for music making, and also communicated when they were finished, making that time together the best moments we have had so far in treatment.
That short reflection has so many key details and learning points for all of us as we continue upholding our responsibilities to our clients to be the best therapist we can be to them. Remember to listen, remembering to allow for opportunities where your clients can express their autonomy, and knowing when to push, and when to yield to what the client may be showing you or telling you. As Music Therapists we should always be looking for how the music can be used to foster change, encourage vulnerability, and create an environment where clients can flourish. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in wanting the change that we can forget that what we do is both giving and taking between the client and ourselves. This particular client has taught me so much already, but the lesson of persistence, of patience, and really looking at what clients are trying to tell us is the best way to listen and be in tune with them so that the change we are looking for can occur. For more helpful information on how to communicate with and assist in nurturing thoughtful and autonomous people, check out Dr. Becky over at Good Inside.
BY: Gabby Jones, Music Therapy Intern
October 24th is “National Make A Difference Day”, and I firmly believe in making a difference in not only the larger world around us, but in the lives of the people we love the most. Something that I have always found important is loving my family and friends in the ways that make them feel the most loved. Because of this, I work hard to understand the ways in which each individual likes to feel special, or rather, their love language.
The five love languages were first discussed in Gary Chapman’s 1992 book, The Five Love Languages: How To Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chapman outlines how an individual’s love language describes how they best receive and express love. The first is “Words of Affirmation”, meaning that an individual feels most loved when simply being told they are loved and appreciated, or reassured in their importance in another person’s life. The second is “Acts of Service”, meaning that an individual feels most loved when someone does something for them, such as folding their laundry, making dinner, or assisting in a difficult project. The third love language is, “Receiving gifts”, meaning that an individual feels most loved when given something special. The fourth love language is “Quality Time”, meaning that an individual feels most loved when spending uninterrupted and undisturbed time with people they love. The last love language is “Physical Touch”, meaning that an individual feels most loved when being touched by their loved one, such as being given a hug or a kiss.
Recently, in a group session themed around acts of kindness and love, I discussed love languages with the members of the group. I chose a song to represent each of the five love languages, and I asked each group participant to share which song and love language resonated most with them. Here is the list:
Words of Affirmation: Metta Chant by Barbara Dunn (May You Be Well)
Acts of Service: Lean On Me
Gifts: Magic Penny
Quality Time: Stand By Me
Physical Touch: I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Love languages are powerful in creating connections with others. Understanding how a person feels appreciated and cared for can allow you to better establish and maintain a healthy relationship. Additionally, communicating your own love language can help others understand when and how you need to be reminded of their love for you.
As therapists, understanding love languages in the people you work with can help in noting which ways individuals best receive feedback, encouragement, or reassurance. This can help with rapport within groups, not just between clients and staff, but between participants altogether. Building rapport between clients is just as important as creating connections between client and therapist. Additionally, understanding fellow staff members’ love languages can assist you in best supporting each other!
What is your love language? How does your love language play a role in your personal life? How does your love language play a role in your professional life? Is there a specific song that you feel best represents your love language that varies from the list above?
A day here at Piedmont Music Therapy is always exciting! Below is a list of songs that will take you through a day in the life of a Piedmont Music Therapy Intern, by Mary Kiefriter.
Perfect Day - I like to start my days with a positive mindset, upbeat music and a big cup of coffee. I’ve realized that your mindset for the day can have a bigger impact than you think.
Drivers License - After I get ready I drive to the main clinic to do some work before my first session. This includes finishing up documentation, tuning ukuleles for a group session or making visuals.
Dynamite - Some days I might have a dynamite session where I lead my interventions well and the clients meet their goals. When using the preferred music of clients their engagement increases which motivates them to participate and reach their goals.
Shake it Off - Things can change quickly in the world of private practice. This can be anything from a client becoming sick and needing to cancel their session to a group having different clients than you had expected or planned for. Whenever this happens we shake it off and keep moving through our day.
Paperback Writer - We document each session in order to track the client’s progress during treatment. Documenting and doing paperwork is something I am still learning how to do as an intern. Each supervisor completes documentation differently so I have the opportunity to see multiple different ways of documenting client information.
Shotgun - Because we drive to and from different locations to provide mobile services we often carpool to save gas. Carpooling also builds time in our busy schedules to discuss a session and get feedback from our supervisor.
Bye Bye Bye - Before I leave for the day I pack up what materials I can for my sessions the next day in order to be more efficient with my time. I make notes for each of my sessions to complete my documentation at home. I tell everyone at the clinic goodnight and head home.
If you would like to listen to this playlist just click here! Comment below to let us know if your daily routine relates to any of these songs.
My name is Mary Kiefriter and I am the newest intern here at Piedmont Music Therapy! My main instrument is tuba and ever since I started college I wanted to incorporate it into my music therapy sessions. The tuba is a large brass instrument that weighs about 20 or 30 pounds, depending on the type and is the lowest pitched instrument of the brass family. At first, I had no clue how to do this, especially because most of my colleagues in music therapy classes were vocalists. Luckily I had a fantastic tuba professor at East Carolina University, Dr. Jarrod Williams, who learned about music therapy in order to help me best prepare for my career. Ear training became a part of my weekly lessons and I slowly but surely learned how to listen to a melody and figure it out on my own without looking at sheet music. After learning melodies we worked on learning some funky bass lines that I could play while clients could have the opportunity to improvise on different pitched instruments that sounded in the same key as the bass line I played.
I first used tuba in a session during my first practicum experience in a Memory Care Unit at a nursing home. I learned the melodies of client preferred songs such as “Side by Side”, “This Land is Your Land” and “Sway” on tuba and led an intervention similar to “Name that Tune”. Using tuba for this intervention gave a fun twist to the session by listening to an instrument some clients had never seen or heard before. Using an instrument that was different increased the clients interest in the intervention which in turn increased their engagement allowing them to participate to the best of their abilities.
My favorite time I have used tuba in a session was during my practicum at a rehabilitation center for adolescents with substance use disorders. The clients were instantly engaged and interested in my tuba and began to initiate social conversations with one another about the tuba and other instruments they played at school.
Using your main instrument, especially if it is a brass or woodwind instrument, can be challenging. The biggest challenge of using tuba in music therapy sessions was figuring out how to be more efficient with my nonverbal cues and body language since I can not give verbal prompts while playing my brass instrument. I have found that using tuba or any other wind instrument is especially useful when working on goals such as increasing focus of attention and increasing impulse control because of the limited verbal prompts you can give. This is because the clients have to increase their focus on your body language and nonverbal cues.
I am excited to continue using tuba in sessions and getting more creative in how I can use it to help clients reach their goals! Comment below some of your favorite songs you think would sound interesting on tuba.
WRITTEN BY: Matrisha Stafford, MT Intern
Upon postage of this, I will have been with Piedmont in Internship for THREE WHOLE MONTHS! WHOOOO! I’ve learned so much, musically, therapeutically, and personally, that a moment of reflection was needed. Being the musical being I am, it’s only right that this is through songs!
Please enjoy this playlist, and the lessons that are attached.
I'm Still Standing - Not many people know this other than my professors and close friends, but I took a break during my undergraduate studies of Music Therapy. I truly wasn’t sure I would still have what it takes to be a music therapist, but I’ve been able to realize these last few years of my life have not only prepared me for my future as a board certified music therapist, they have molded me into exactly who I needed to be to do all that I am now.
I'm A Believer - Now more than ever, I am a believer in music therapy. As one of the many variations of creative arts therapies, I have seen so many changes within myself and my clients which allow me to know that not only is music therapy impactful, it is such a strong medium and catalyst for change. I am so excited and happy to be doing something I love and support so much.
Blessed - While Daniel is talking about someone he loves, this song is more of a self-acceptance letter to myself and my journey. I am so blessed to have had the experiences I have in my life. Where I thought everything was a mess and led me to a place I didn’t want to be, it actually led me to where I could be my truest self. I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience the clients at Piedmont, and very blessed to be learning from Gretchen, Melissa, Miriam, and Ashley, Some of the best MT’s around!
You'll be Back - This song is not only amazing, but each time I hear it, it reminds me that music is such a powerful medium in our sessions. Ensuring the music you listen to, sing, or use with a client is something that is preferred by them will always yield better results or responses when it is something the client is familiar with or a genre they enjoy!
Help! - Classic Beatles for a classic lesson! Asking for help is always key. No matter what it may seem like, asking for help and being open to others offering advice, or differing perspectives helps us grow, and it helps us when we really need it. I’ve gotten really good at asking for help over the last three months and I am certain it is/has made me a better therapist and musician.
Work it Out - This song reminds me of the lesson that anything I need to “work out,” I can. We are all capable, smart and resilient, which means that all we need to do is breathe and keep trying until we work it out!
What songs relate to lessons you may have learned in life, or do you find any of the songs I added relevant to your personal or professional experiences? Comment below with some of your favorite songs or messages in songs as I would love to learn more about how you, the reader, connects to music.
I am looking forward to continuing to grow and flourish over the final three months at Piedmont, and I am so thankful for the growth and changes I have made since being here!
Written by: Gabby Jones, Music Therapy Intern
Within the week, I will be officially halfway through my music therapy internship. I’ve learned so much in the last three months, consistently growing in my musical and therapeutic skills. I have experienced very difficult moments, and very magically successful ones. This story is somewhat a combination of both those adjectives…
It was a Friday afternoon at approximately 1:30pm. I was halfway through my biweekly session with older adults with dementia and our theme was, “The Sun, Moon, and Stars”. I had boldy chosen to use “Moon River” by Audrey Hepburn as one of our sing-along choices for the week. I humbly plucked through the complicated guitar chords, focusing much more on the delivery of the song than the response of the clients. Participation in singing was relatively low, likely because of my disengagement with the group. I finished the last line: “moon river and me” and looked up from my guitar.
The participant to the right of me was smiling, narrowing her eyes at me over her glasses. “Somebody royally screwed that song up, didn’t they?” she said, laughing through her jibe at my barely passable deliverance of Hepburn’s ballad. I laughed and said in response, “You’re right, that wasn’t that great, was it?”, acknowledging that I probably should’ve practiced the song a few more times to make sure I had the timing right. My client shrugged. To my surprise, however, she began singing.
She started with the verse: “Moon river, wider than a mile”. Her tone was clear, her vibrato was chilling, her smile was infectious. I subtly began playing my guitar underneath her voice, maintaining eye contact. She kept singing, “two drifters, off to see the world”. The rest of the group was the quietest I had ever heard them. I could feel the eyes of the other participants, the rest of the care team, and my supervisor on us. But they weren’t focused on me, they were focused on this beautiful gift this participant was sharing.
As she sang the final line of the song, her eyes filled with tears. She smiled brightly and glanced at the rest of the group as they all applauded. “That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your gift with us”, I said to her. Her usual jovial demeanor returned quickly and she brushed off my compliment, but it was clear that an emotional connection had been made.
This experience was heartwarming and delicate, and it taught me so much. I learned how important it is to sometimes be the simple structural support for the client, the concrete foundation under the house. I was not the center of the experience, nor was I really the leader. I recognized that although I had started the session with the intention of being the sole provider of the musical experiences, I didn’t have to be. One of the most beautiful aspects of music therapy is that it offers opportunities for the people we serve to discover and explore their own musical abilities. Sometimes, the therapeutic presence of space and time is all that’s necessary. I simply established said space and offered said time in which this client could explore her own memories, emotions, and musical expression. All she needed was an ear to listen and a guitar to support.
If you’re a therapist yourself, consider reflecting on moments either where you did simply become part of the “background music”, or where you could have to better address goal areas.
If you are a client of a particular therapy, consider reflecting on moments where you felt as though you were leading yourself toward your own progress and how that independence might have aided you.
Creative and expressive arts therapy has been available for many decades, although awareness of this option for one’s health and wellness is still growing. Music therapy became an established profession offering a college degree starting in 1944 and the closest college program is available through Queens University of Charlotte.
Here in greater Charlotte, there are many music therapists who passed their national board certification and earned the working credential: MT-BC. These board certified music therapists maintain continuing education hours that are tracked every 5 years.
Following an undergraduate degree program, some music therapists seek further academic training with clinical supervision to acquire a master’s or doctoral degree in music therapy, counseling, special education, marriage and family therapy or social work.
Until music therapy is a licensed or state regulated healthcare entity in the Carolinas with an available registrar of MT-BCs, more work falls on potential clients or contracting agencies to find a qualified provider.
If you are seeking music therapy for you, your loved on, or the clients/patients served by your school, agency or facility then this may be a helpful guide to support your search:
We hope that this information helps you in our community to increase awareness of the terminology and training of music therapists. Let us know if you have questions about finding a great fit!
Post by: Matrisha stafford, MTI
If you grew up with a healthy love of board games, this post is for you! Games like Monopoly, Mancala, The Game of Life, Scrabble, Charades, and Jeopardy were all staples on our family game nights at home growing up. In continuing to be more creative as an intern and as a future professional Music Therapist, I am always trying to be engaging while still being music centered! As I was looking for fun ways to adapt games to have a music centered approach, I came across a version of Jeopardy on Pinterest. While that particular version on Pinterest was for English trivia, I thought it would be great to have a music version of Jeopardy!
Musical Jeopardy can be used with group or individual music therapy settings and is sure to be fun for all. Categories in this version are: Name the Artist, Name the Song, Instrument Pick Up, and Emotions through Music. There is sure to be a category for everyone! When working with populations such as school age, this game can be used to assess musical preferences, increase group cohesion, increase socialization, and as simply as a really fun musical ice-breaker! It can also be used to address emotional support, or can address mental and physical wellbeing with changes to music and categories.
By now I am sure we are all really excited to play a round or two of Musical Jeopardy, so I am attaching it to this post for you to access and share with your friends or family. The rules of the game will be attached to the powerpoint, but the most important rule is to HAVE FUN!
Cheers to, “I’ll take Name the Artist for 200!”
WRITTEN BY: Gabby Jones, Music Therapy Intern
Everyone has busy lives, in some way, shape, or form. Often, it’s hard to find time to take care of ourselves. We get too caught up with work or school, or being a partner or a parent or a friend to others, that we forget to focus on our own needs. We neglect our bodies and our minds the self-care it needs because we simply lack the time for it.
Luckily, however, it doesn’t have to be that way. Self-care can be as simple as sitting still with our own thoughts for 5 or 10 minutes. With easy steps for self-care practices in mind, I was inspired to create a music playlist full of songs for relaxing, meditating, or simple listening. These songs help encourage peacefulness and introspection in the time I set aside for myself, and I aim to encourage that same time of peacefulness and introspection for other listeners. You can access the full audio files on this Spotify Play List, YouTube Play List, or simply look up individual songs from the list below:
What are some of your favorite songs for relaxation or meditation? What songs make you feel your best?
Additionally, check out this article on music and mindfulness for hobby musicians, performers, and simple music lovers alike!
Providing music therapy services for early childhood to older adults, music instruction and enrichment plus continuing music therapy education in Greater Charlotte Area of the Carolinas.