Written by Kate W., MT Intern
This is my third month of a University Affiliated Internship with Queens University of Charlotte.
What does it take to become a music therapist? While the journey is different for everyone aiming to receive this credential, the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) regulates many aspects of the process through education, internship, board certification, and continual professional training.
I chose to begin at a community college, where I received my Associate's Degree in Fine Arts in Music and Music Education, with my primary instrument being guitar. Here I received extensive training in music theory, aural skills, music history and private lessons in both guitar and piano. I was also able to complete almost all of my general education courses – things such as math, English and science.
Next, I needed to find a college with an approved program in Music Therapy. In North Carolina, there are three choices – Eastern Carolina University, Appalachian State University, and Queens University of Charlotte. I chose Queens for many reasons, but mainly I appreciated the small, intimate class size and individual attention that students receive from professors. Since I had completed many preliminary music courses, Queens was able to offer me what is called an equivalency program, where they factored in my previous education and built a plan for me to receive a bachelors degree in music therapy and minor in psychology in under three academic years.
My main focus for these semesters was completing practicum hours both in the on-campus clinic and at contracted facilities throughout the community. This is where students work directly with clients of varied populations in one-on-one and group settings, under the supervision and guidance of a board certified music therapist.
After completion of all coursework and clinical hours for the degree, music therapy students must complete a clinical internship, usually consisting of six months of full-time work, again under the supervision of a board-certified music therapist working full-time in the field.
Overall, we end up with at least 1200 hours of clinical training under our belts by the time we complete our education. After this, we are able to sit for the music therapy board certification exam, which will give us the MT-BC credential when passed.
At this point in my internship, I am transitioning from observing sessions to leading interventions and I look forward to planning and implementing complete session plans in the coming months. My favorite thing about working with Piedmont Music Therapy is the wide range of clientele I have the opportunity to work with, from children and teens with developmental disabilities, to older adults in memory care, to individuals in addiction recovery. I love seeing firsthand how versatile music therapy is and how different music therapists connect with their clients.
At last week's southeastern regional conference of the American Music Therapy Association in LaGrange, Georgia, we were delighted to learn that a nomination for the annual Advocacy Award was awarded to one of the educators that we collaborate with. Miss Diane Duncan, Special Educator at St. John's United Methodist Church Preschool in Rock Hill, SC has been a constant advocate for music therapy over the past 5 years, beginning with her willing to have group music therapy services as a part of her special needs classroom resources at SJUMC Preschool under the leadership of Katie Goodwin, SJUMC Preschool Director. During music therapy sessions, Ms. Duncan and her aide are a constant support with their students providing assistance in any way that allows the student to be successful. Ms. Duncan is a true example of how music therapists and special education teachers can work together! Additionally, she acknowledges the value of music therapy in early intervention and has shared this with her student's parents which has led to numerous referrals for individual music therapy services. Ms. Duncan's willingness to be a model during and outside of music therapy sessions displays a true advocate of music therapy. Help to congratulate Ms. Duncan and exceptional instruction and collaborative efforts provided by staff at SJUMC in Rock Hill - York County, South Carolina.
By Kate Wicker, Music Therapy intern
Written during the second month of my University Affiliated Internship - Queens University of Charlotte
Today’s blog will highlight one clinical study focused on music therapy and its effect on social skills in children with autism. Music is often referred to as the universal language, with the ability to create experiences that transcend human communication barriers. This quality is one that music therapists utilize and see the effects of daily in their clinical practice – especially in regard to the support and enhancement of developing social skills in children with autism.
The Journal of Music Therapy published a 2014 article that described the results of a study focusing on this very thing. During this experiment, researchers observed and tracked two social skills groups – one utilizing music, and one using non-musical teaching methods. To do this, they focused on things like eye gaze, joint attention, and communication initiation/response. They basically compared the two groups at the end of five weeks (with one 50 minute group session per week) and attempted to answer the question “is there any difference in social skill enhancement between children who received the music therapy group interventions when compared to children in the no-music group?”
For this study, the music therapy group showed increased joint attention and eye gaze in comparison to the parallel no-music group. The study results discuss how music acts as a structure to guide participants through a group session, which can be particularly effective for those with autism in comparison to sessions relying on verbal prompting alone. This shows that music can be a highly effective tool for use in the treatment of non-musical behaviors and functions.
While music therapy can be a fun and stimulating way for children with autism to grow and connect with others, it also has the ability to help them reach relevant and life-changing goals. If you or a loved one is interested in receiving services from a board-certified music therapist, you can find a list of approved providers here.
Thanks again to the DHA Panther Teachers, Support Staff and Administrators who participated in this morning's Professional Development Training: Musical Me, sponsored through the Arts & Science Council Cultural Arts Education Program.
Your involvement in the conversation about the arts, communication and self-care were appreciated... as were the humor, rhythms and presence of educators from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th Grade.
Below is a new handout with links that we hoped to access this morning, but technology did not cooperate! Additionally, we included links to the musical instruments and sensory props that were incorporated since many folks asked about where to find them.
It was an honor to share the morning with you. We welcome hearing about your return to work next week and refreshed intentional practices... post below in the comment section, or reach out to give updates via email or phone.
How much space will you create in the new year? Today’s post encourages you to acknowledge the space available to you for personal growth.
Perhaps the space we speak of refers to the opportunity for growth and refreshing activities in the new year. Another take could be the increasing balance of self care and self-esteem. That space may need more hues to be added and elements adjusted for the healthiest outcome.
At PMT, we provide creative and expressive art therapy as music therapy treatment may be an effective modality for one’s goals in a variety of health domains. Connecting with a creative space for learning pieces and songs is a healthy means of challenging oneself for musical skill acquisition as well. Our studio offers individual lessons to students of various ages and that growth of learning is rewarding.
Acknowledging the space around oneself is important. We encourage you to make the space in this new calendar year, and honor that opportunity... comment below if you’re willing to highlight your awareness in 2020!
As this year winds down, here's a rewind to the most viewed post on our Facebook Page:
In the new year of 2020, we will continue our focus and service delivery in the community through mobile based initiatives in York & Mecklenburg Counties plus clinic based offerings in Charlotte, NC and Rock Hill, SC. Our experienced team provides a professional array of services through music therapy treatment, community lectures, student learning programs, and music instruction. Stay tuned for what Piedmont Music Therapy, LLC will provide in 2020. Continue to communicate with us as to how we can support your creative & expressive growth!
P.S. Reminder: the next PMT Drum Circle for NAMI Charlotte will be January 18, 2020 sponsored by Creative Mornings Charlotte - HUG Grant. Information on the event and free registration is available online here.
Written by Gretchen Benner
While listening to 'I Will Survive' Saves Marginalized People A Spot On The Dance Floor and sipping a decaf Americano.
This post continues on the theme of Music Therapy Moments written from the view of continuing education and service as a music therapist. As the American Music Therapy Association Conference winds down, it helps to reflect upon the past few days of meetings.
Minneapolis, MN was a welcoming city with many transportation options - it was reminiscent of getting around the city while living in Pittsburgh, PA!
Within the annual conference, there was a theme of integrity, education and awareness.
The virtual panel offering that the American Music Therapy Association Board of Directors charged the Workforce Development and Retention Committee to organize went really well, with tremendous team work from the Local Planning Committee. In case you missed the streaming, here’s a link to the 35 minute video Insight Into The Music Therapy Profession including questions and answers on studying to become a music therapist.
Hearing colleagues provide feedback about professional codes of conduct, ethics and working hierarchy of the membership body was important. Being able to connect with fellow MTBCs in private practice and business ownership continues to be valuable. Learning about colleagues developments with regards to research based initiatives and practice models were awesome. Regrouping from clinical work and making time to get caught up on managing clinic and studio needs was helpful.
The national conference also marks an opportunity to expand our inventory of supplies as services grow in the community of Greater Charlotte. Thankfully we purchased more large drums from West Music, a reliable company that employs music therapists and music educators offering quality instruments at affordable prices.
I am thankful for the space to gather in service of our profession and eager to hear continued strides towards integrity within the work force. Thanks for reading the latest blog post and comments below are welcome. Wishing folks a peaceful, holiday week.
Self-Care: Make It Tangible
When I first reflected on writing this post about self-care, I thought that I would preach the importance of it. However, if you are reading this, I’m betting you are in someway related to the helping profession (as an administrator, teacher, clinician, facilitator, etc.) and already know that it’s important. I’m guessing you have gotten to a point in your life and/or career at some point and felt overwhelmed by your work because caring for people is hard and it requires much from you.
The work we do in the helping profession is often intangible. We don’t always see results right away. Sometimes we may never see the impact we have made on a person’s life. This can wear on you.
To combat this emotional toll of the intangible, I have a tiny little porch garden. It’s not much, just a tomato plant, a pepper plant, a few herbs and a few flowers. But for me, this is an act of self-care. This is planting something tangible, that I can see grow in real life. This is taking the time every morning and every night to connect with something that I can (literally) reap the benefits from. I can’t make the plants grow, but I can water them. Then I get to see them bloom! I’m not a pro at this gardening thing. In fact, I was halfway through the season before I realized you should cut basil and not pull it (who knew?!?). But it’s OK to be a beginner in this self-care practice. I’m going to keep trying and failing and learning and watching it grow.
I hope that wherever you are in your life and career, that you have made a practice of tangible things - whether that’s an exercise goal you have created, a garden you have planted, or art that you create. May your self-care be finite, touchable, tangible. Because while the work you do daily may be intangible in many ways, the effect you have on your clients, your staff, your co-workers, it’s real. It matters. And so do you. So plant a seed, beat your average mile/minute pace, or paint your picture. Do it for yourself because tangible things are worth seeing and you are worthy of seeing tangible change.
What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself? Comment below and share about it in a tangible way!
Compiled by Gretchen Benner and Miriam Tart:
Continuing with posts this year on the theme Musical Moments... were you aware that today is National Grouch Day?
It is important for music to express, what some may call, “negative” emotions. Feeling tuned into one’s emotions takes presence. Life often elicits a range of emotions and grouchiness may naturally surface. Much of our clinical work supports clients learning more about one’s own thoughts, feelings, actions and intersections of those.
“Many therapists with demonstrated expertise in addictions are of the opinion that effective treatment must involve . . . the uncovering, experiencing, and expression of many feelings – including distressing feelings of fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, sadness, anger, loneliness, regret, grief. etc.”
Reference: Gardstrom, S. C., Carlini, M., Josefczyk, J., & Love, A. (2013). Women with addictions: Music therapy clinical postures and interventions. Music Therapy Perspectives, 31(2), 95–104.
Music therapy can help you express your grouchiness…. and may actually turn into something fun through songwriting, instrument play, inspired artwork and more.
Perhaps this tune particularly comes to mind, today?
Removing the label as a “negative” emotion could be helpful in thinking about the feeling of being grouchy. Transferring such an emotion into healthy activities can be beneficial as well as learning what factors contributed towards that feeling... any patterns or trends?
Thanks for reading today’s post recognizing National Grouch Day. Remember that our team will represent at two community events this weekend on October 19. We hope you’ll join us at the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte (DSAGC) Buddy Walk or National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Piedmont Tri-County 1 in 4 Walk to make music with our community bright and early on Saturday morning!!
Piedmont Music Therapy, LLC has operated out of a location in South Charlotte for two years. Prior to August 2017, all of the music therapy treatment services and music lessons were provided at schools, residences and agencies.
Today, our main location in Charlotte is used for appointments and lessons roughly 40% of the work week with some services like lessons and Singing For All: Community Choir occurring at our secondary site in Rock Hill, SC. The remaining parts of the week include mobile work in Mecklenburg and York Counties.
A recent poll completed by our staff this week showed that these are the most popularly packed items work on the go:
Beyond tangible items, we have to prepare our presence for mobile music services. Music therapy appointments may necessitate a broader perspective gleaned from the relationship built with a client or information shared from their support system and/or treatment team. Being intentional and considerate of our presence also requires for us to be aware of our tone of voice, posture and gesturing, non-verbal communications and ultimately patience for growth in a client's health and wellness. Music lessons that build upon a student's preferred method of learning and encourage their curiosities and expression are ideal.
Our staff provide a range of services from traditional or adapted lessons, community lectures about our training and referral process to support groups that include music therapy interventions and therapeutic summer camp experiences. Though unplanned traffic congestion or unusual weather may add stress to frequent commutes around town... we appreciate being able to support community members of all ages improve their health and wellness through music therapy services and music instruction. We are honored to be the largest private practice of employed music therapists in Charlotte, NC and thank you for supporting our growth.
In conclusion, we hope today's blog post was informative. Any items that should have been included on our Doodle Poll? What have you seen your music therapist or music instructor rely upon for their treasured back of packed supplies & materials? Comment below & happy autumn!
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.