I am pleased to announce my very first guest blog post! This article is written by Meaghan Gasch, who recently completed her internship at UCP. Here are her thoughts on internship in general and her experiences at UCP…
Hello everyone! My name is Meaghan Gasch, and I have just recently graduated from Sam Houston State with degrees in piano performance and music therapy. I have spent the last six months as the music therapy intern at United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) learning firsthand what it’s like to be a working music therapist in the special education setting. At UCP, I led group and individual sessions, conducted assessments, logged data for each child, and worked with Amy on special projects such as Halloween and Christmas performances. I never imagined I would learn so much in only 6 months, and working with the children and staff here has been an amazing experience!
For any of you students doing an internship now, or about to begin one, here are a few tips I discovered along the way during my time as an intern:
Partial deletion of chromosome what?!
Especially if any of you are working with a medical related population, start getting comfortable with the myriad of diagnoses out there. The night I found myself neck deep in research articles about genetic disorders, I began to realize how many disorders exist and how many I still needed to learn about. Get familiar with the terminology, the characteristics, and of course the different ways music therapy can be implemented.
Sing. And play. And sing and play.
My fingertips are well worn from the guitar, and by now I have gotten very used to singing and talking all day long. So get ready to play and sing your heart out! As a piano major, I never picked up the guitar more than I absolutely had to, so coming into an environment where the guitar was more necessary meant that I needed to make sure my skills were solid. My guitar and singing skills improved drastically by the end of my internship, so start practicing now everyone!
Write a song….or 50
I’ve been an avid songwriter since I was 12, so when I saw that one of the requirements during my internship was writing 45 original songs, I was ready to start immediately! If you aren’t very comfortable with songwriting, start simple. Even a very simple song with 2 chords and 1 line of lyrics can be very effective with the right intervention. Many times I also found myself needing to adapt during a session and write a song on the spot. Develop some go to chord progressions and melodies that you can rely on if you need to write something quickly.
From accordions to gongs
A few weeks into my internship, I started borrowing instruments from my boyfriend (who is a percussionist) and bringing them to sessions. I also began saving up and buying my own peculiar items such as a washboard, a tenor ukulele, and even an accordion. Look for ways you can become more versatile and multifaceted. Many of my music therapy friends decided to learn other instruments during school and I really wish I had done so sooner!
Take it all in
Never again will you have 6 months of nothing to do but LEARN. I feel very grateful I was in such a supportive environment at UCP. In addition to Amy giving me so many resources and being there to answer any questions I had, I could also talk to teachers, therapists, and staff about anything from managing behaviors, to teaching math. Take advantage of all the possibilities your internship gives you. Pay attention to how others interact with clients, what techniques other therapists use, and look for any way you can implement what you see into your sessions.
Whether you are excited or terrified, just remember an internship is about becoming better, not being perfect. Hopefully you have chosen an internship site that you are passionate about and can really engage yourself in helping the clients and improving your skills as a therapist. I hope my little bits of advice will help you prepare and encourage you to get the most out of your internship experience. Best of luck to you all!
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