Lessons Learned By a New Professional

By May 24, 2010Ideas

So I have been a professional music therapist for almost 5 full months now, and I wanted to do a post about my experiences so far.  Here are some of the things I have learned.  If you are a new professional, please comment about your own experiences!

1.)  Speak Up

Or, as John Mayer sang, “Say What You Need to Say”.  As students and interns, we are mostly in learning mode, trying to soak up everything from our teachers and supervisors.  While it is always important to be listening and learning, it’s also important to speak up and make ideas and professional opinions known.  Many music therapists work in interdisciplinary teams, myself included.  Other professionals may not know about techniques and approaches that we as music therapists are trained in, so we have to educate our team members.  Gotta speak up!

2.)  Make the Best of Your Spare Time

When away from work, it’s important to keep improving your skill set.  Learning new things increases your value as an employee, and also adds to your own fulfillment.  Young professionals seem to have an advantage when it comes to technology.  Learn how to use recording software, how learn basic web design.  Maybe you are an expert at social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  How can you integrate your non-musical skills into your practice as a therapist?

3.)  Schedule Some Relaxation

Yes, I just wrote that we need to be continually improving our skills.  However, it’s also important to get away from work and just chill out a bit.  Take some time do something you love.  Watch TV shows on Hulu, play some video games, or go for a walk.  If you schedule some “Me Time”, you will be motivated when you are actually working.

So that is it for now.  To other music therapists just starting out: what are YOU learning?



  • Rachel says:

    Great post and comments. I find a challenge for me at first was continuing that education aspect- both for myself and for others. It is often hard to learn new songs that you don’t particularly like, and takes time away from that self-care aspect. Additionally, constantly educating others on your job can get tiresome. But I am SO happy that at one of my jobs, they hired me to fill a “rec therapy” position, and are all learning how awesome MT is! yay 🙂

  • Stephanie says:

    These are great, thank you for sharing! I would add that one thing I’ve learned as a new professional is that “bad” sessions (by which I mean sessions where things don’t go as I had originally thought they would) are not only normal and they are great learning experiences! I find I learn as much (or more!) about my clients when a planned experience doesn’t go as expected as I do when it does. For me, it’s all about using the information I get from both kinds of client responses to determine a course of treatment. Can’t wait to see what other people write!

  • Sarah says:

    As Michelle said…time is hard to find but try thinking of it this way…

    What if you spent the same intention, care and time on yourself as do you with your clients?

    Start self-care now!!!

    • Matt Logan says:

      Definitely, Sarah. We put so much effort into taking care of our clients that sometimes we neglect ourselves. What are some things you do for self-care?

      Stephanie – good point about sessions going in an unplanned direction. Not only is it important to cut ourselves some slack, but we also have to realize the potential benefits of unexpected responses. Thanks for contributing to the discussion!

  • I’m still learning how to balance that whole ‘Make the Best of Your Spare Time’ and ‘Schedule Some Relaxation’ thing! Finding it much easier said than done. 🙂