What Am I Doing?

As a music therapist at the beginning of my career, I have already experienced amazing highs, discouraging moments, and plenty of twists and turns. I knew music therapy was a career I wanted to pursue when I was thirteen years old. My physiotherapist at the time began to talk to me about music therapy. Though the profession very much intrigued me, I really had no idea what being a music therapist looked like. Despite so many unknowns, there were two things I knew for certain: I loved working with children and I knew music could be incredibly therapeutic. So why not combine the two!
 
While completing my education at Wilfrid Laurier University, I had the opportunity to dip my toes in a variety of client groups, ranging from clients who were twelve years old to ninety years old. Don’t get me wrong, having all of these placements and experiences were incredibly helpful and educational. That being said, it can still be very difficult to get a clear idea of what you’re passionate about while only completing a couple thirty minute sessions a week.
 
It wasn’t until my internship that I found my niche and calling. Even though I spent my pre-teenage and teenage years working with children in a variety of settings (and loving it), I found myself completing the majority of my internship in Long Term Care. And to my surprise, I absolutely loved it, thus beginning the twists and turns I was not expecting. I suddenly understood the importance of working with people to brighten their spirits and improve quality of life as they were transitioning into Long Term Care, and later, to end of life care.
 
So now, I have figured out how I can best serve as a music therapist (though that can always change), I’ve found myself navigating through difficult situations that I did not anticipate. While in school, we are taught about different music therapy techniques, methods, ethical dilemmas, and client groups. What we aren’t taught, however, is how to develop, handle, and expand contracts, build a business, and balance a work week to best suit you. As a young adult, there are already so many unknown variables to consider. On top of that, many young music therapists are finding themselves in a position that running a small business is the only or best option. I’m realizing that it is a lot of on your feet learning.
 
Though it’s been difficult, I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn. My biggest take away over the past couple of years (and I hope your take away too), is that it’s okay to have ups and downs, it’s okay to change directions, and it is most certainly okay to ask or help from more seasoned music therapists and strengthen those connections. It can be really easy to forget that we aren’t alone and everyone has been a beginner at some point.
 
So celebrate the highs, learn from the difficult times, and embrace the twists and turns.


Charlotte McCuaig
BMT, MT-BC, MTA, NMT
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