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!
Simply Offering Space and Time
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!
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.