This past week was one that I would consider to be emotionally and intellectually overwhelming – in the best of ways. I took a trip up to Boston to begin my orientation and introduction to the Master of Arts in Music Therapy program at Berklee College of Music. When I left home, my stomach was full of butterflies and anxiety about who I would meet, how intimidating the school and professors might be, and whether or not I would be able to successfully get around the city on time to each mandatory event.
Lately, in my daily music therapy practice, I was feeling a lull, which I previously hadn’t recognized I had been feeling. The difficulty of working in private practice, or in a facility where you are alone as a music therapist, can be taxing. There are many factors to this, which I believe I’ve made aware in different posts, but what I didn’t realize until this week was that the lull I was experiencing was due to a lack of inspiration.
When you have the privilege of working with other music therapists, you have the opportunity to bounce ideas off one another, or observe great ideas and projects taking place. When you’re on your own, you are not only the number one expert in your field, you are your own resource. Additionally, like in any other profession, you have those with whom you are more inclined to share similarities and styles, and others who you don’t quite connect with. This means that you are not always going to find the inspiration you are seeking within your established connections. At times, it is necessary to branch out and keep seeking.
What I hadn’t known until this week was that I was desperate to branch out. At the start of my masters program, I was terrified of who I might meet and whether or not I would belong there. In other words, had I made a mistake in taking this risk to continue my studies? Would I be accepted by the other music therapists? Would they be much more qualified and on an entirely different level than myself as a therapist and clinician? Would they be better musicians than myself? – I mean, this is Berklee we’re talking about!
Immediately, however, I learned that everyone else there shared these same fears. We began to get to know each other and things instantly began to fall into place. I participated in introductions and basic conversations with each fellow student and became disappointed when each conversation had to end. Very quickly I found that each person there not only shared my interests and passions for learning more about music therapy, and subsequently themselves, but they were the relationships I hadn’t realized I was missing.
Throughout the week, I was increasingly more inspired. With every student, I felt like I had found an “expert” in various elements to music therapy – such as particular populations, experiences, educational backgrounds, musicianship, music therapy philosophies, and more. All of those questions that have been tumbling through my brain over the last few years suddenly connected to an “expert” I had met. But at the same time, everyone had just as many questions, considerations, and eagerness to become better music therapists. The most revelational element to the week was discovering that even with our differences, we share the same core desire to change the current music therapy world, and the world with music therapy.
Within our week, we visited many wonderful facilities in the Boston area who have successful music therapy programs. At each facility, the story was different, but the current situation is the same. Each music therapy program is implemented into their facility with positive and successful inclusion in the care of their patients. These visits were both overwhelmingly insightful and also disheartening. But let me clarify – when I say disheartening, I mean that it is difficult for me to be aware that so often, it is a struggle to include music therapy into facilities in a way that makes it necessary. Throughout the week, we heard the phrase “music therapy is nice, but is it necessary“? Right now, the profession is on the cusp of educating and advocating the world that music therapy is not only meaningful, but is absolutely necessary for the care of every patient and client. And this idea is what we are preparing ourselves to help change.
At the end of every day, my heart was so full from the conversations, lectures, observations, and insights. I became emotional at too many elements than I would like to admit (though I know I wasn’t the only one)! I left home expecting to get right down to the book learning upon arrival at Berklee, but was completely caught off guard by the inspiration to continue pursuing my profession. Not only did I walk away with the feeling that I wanted to start learning more about myself, my practice, and my ability as a clinician, but I came home with an ambition to share with the world why I want to change it with music therapy.
Apparently, a little inspiration can go a long way.