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Reflections from a Music Therapist and Emerging Teacher Candidate

Written by Annilee Baron, MTA, NMT 

I have been reflecting on the past three years that I’ve worked with the Music Therapy Academy as the Director of Communications. I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had to connect with like-minded, passionate music therapists, community members, and allied professionals through this position.

When Miya Adout from Miya Music Therapy was stepping down from her role with the Academy as DOC to serve as a Consultant, I was thrilled that I would have an opportunity to continue the work she had been doing. I have enjoyed being able to advocate for our profession in a variety of ways and have absolutely loved working with the MTAcademy’s founder Rachael Finnerty, who is an endlessly supportive colleague and friend.

I am excited to be passing along the Director of Communications role to Bernice Chu, in order to pursue a Bachelor of Education at Brock University to teach Primary/Junor, starting Fall 2021! This blog serves as a reflection of my experiences, and what I will be taking with me going forward on this new adventure.

As many music therapists do, I balanced several roles and contracts over the past couple of years (while working as the DOC for the MTAcademy). These roles included:

  • serving as the Lab Manager for McMaster’s MAPLE Lab
  • developing my private practice Brighter Note Music Therapy where I primarily offer music programming in Spec Ed classes at various schools
  • tutoring children ages 4-12 with Oxford Learning
  • subcontracting from other music therapists to work mainly in Long Term Care and to facilitate Sing it Girls (shoutout to Beyond the Studio, Wellington Music Therapy Services, Symmetry Music)

  • offering adapted music lessons
  • teaching Introduction to Music Therapy Research at McMaster University as a Sessional Instructor

One thing I have loved about being a music therapist is that I get to work with SO many different people, and in a variety of settings! This variety offered me an incredible breadth of experiences over the past few years. It was precisely this opportunity to dip my toes in all sorts of institutions, facilities, and settings that enabled me to realize the school settings were where I felt most ‘at home.’

I’ve also been reflecting on the career aptitude test I took in my second year of university at McMaster. This test was taken as part of an excellent no-credit Careers course taught by Cindy Schooley, who has left a mark on me as an incredible educator for her passion, compassion, and authenticity.
My top results were as follows:

1. Music Therapist
2. Primary School Teacher
3. Counselor
4. Secondary School Teacher
5. Therapist

So why not combine all of the above, right? There are endless transferable skills between being an educator and a therapist. Every single time I sit down with a student for tutoring, I draw upon the skills I’ve learned in my music therapy training: providing validation; active listening; highlighting strengths; setting goals; fostering a growth mindset; unconditional positive regard; creativity and fun; the understanding that behind every ‘behaviour’ is an unmet need (to name a few).

I will constantly be drawing upon the counselling skills learned and developed in my music therapy training and work in order to create a safe, welcoming, and authentic environment within my future classroom—and, there will still be lots of music.

As a certified music therapist I know first-hand the impact music can have in regulating emotion, altering moods, fostering connections, and facilitating opportunities to socialize and build community with others. I plan to offer extra-curricular opportunities that centre around music, such as running a ukulele club or choir. I will one day be better positioned to advocate for music therapy programming in schools, and I look forward to inviting music therapists to work in my classroom, as other teachers have done for me.

I will miss my current clients and co-workers as I take on different work and new experiences during Teacher's College. A huge takeaway from my music therapy journey has been that stepping out of one’s comfort zone leads to so much personal growth and makes the journey incredibly worthwhile.

...Here’s to trying something new, once again!

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