I figure every good blog needs that personal touch of knowing the author and intent of the blog itself. So here I am going to fill you in on the details of how I came to be where I am.
I grew up with a love for creating music. I begged my parents to put me into piano lessons when I was in second grade, and they found a teacher who immediately put all of his students into a band. I became the keyboard player for a group called “The Pacesetters” and we played around town at different venues. I loved being a part of it and although I was new and nervous, I feel like those experiences gave me the performance skills I needed as a musician. I took what I was practicing on a daily basis and used it in a public setting, and also learned to follow lead sheets and read chord charts at an early age.
After a few years we ended up moving on to another piano teacher who focused more on classical training. This completely broadened my experience as I learned more technique and discovered my interest in the history of western music. When I was in 9th grade I heard about another teacher who had a very eclectic approach to teaching. He taught classical, jazz, arranging, improvising, ear training, you name it. My Mom and I decided to stick with both teachers, so I had two lessons a week for the rest of high school.
I started experimenting with song writing when I was in 5th grade. By the time I was 14 I had recorded my first album of piano solos, and my senior year of high school I recorded a full album of original religious songs complete with strings and woodwind quartets and guest singers. It was an amazing experience, and although I look back on those songs and can totally tell they were written by a high schooler, it had an enormous impact on who I am as a person. I learned the profound value of sharing my passion through music. I saw its power to uplift those around me and bring people together in a common cause. I also came to appreciate and love my friends and family members in ways that would not have happened otherwise.
I first heard about music therapy my junior year of high school. A family friend had studied it at Utah State University and my Mom thought that it sounded absolutely perfect for me. Apparently she had more insight into myself than I did because I didn’t think much of it at first. It wasn’t until my senior year that I started to look into it. Once I was already in college I found a journal entry from a religious summer camp before my senior year where I wrote “I need to go to Utah State and study music therapy”. I honestly don’t remember writing this, and I feel like it was direct inspiration and guidance for my life.
So throughout that last year of high school I became hooked as I learned more about music therapy. I auditioned for the program at Utah State University in February, got accepted, started my studies the next fall and never looked back! I went straight through the program in 4 years and started my internship right after graduation. I interned with the Center for Expressive Therapies in Salt Lake City and worked with a wide variety of populations including hospice, psychiatric, children, Alzheimer’s, and drug rehabilitation. I learned SO much during the internship and am so grateful for that experience.
Three months into my internship I heard about a job opening for a full time music therapist at Jordan Valley School. I’d never heard of the school before, but found out it was a center-based school serving 260 students with severe and profound disabilities. In all honesty I didn’t have much interest in special ed and felt like my passion was working with teens in a psychiatric setting. But I applied for the job for the sake of getting experience with a real music therapy job interview.
The interview went really well. That became most apparent when the Principal started taking me around the school and introducing me as the new music therapist. Yikes! Mind you this was before she had officially offered me the job, so I just had to smile and shake hands with all of these new teachers I was meeting even though I wasn’t sure what I really wanted. I accepted the position because I figured it was rare to walk out of an internship into a full time position with benefits the next day, but I still wasn’t thrilled about the setting. In fact I tried to convince some of my fellow interns that they should take the job instead of me, but to no avail.
I finished up my internship in 2007 and jumped in to Jordan Valley with both feet. I had very little experience with special ed and had to learn a lot through trial and error. Mostly error. Or at least that’s what it felt like for a while. But as time wore on I came to actually enjoy what I was doing. I started out with the intent of working there for one year then branching out into my passions. The first year came and went, along with the next one, and the next, until I had a good 4 years behind me and a whole slew of amazing experiences. I can’t begin to describe the love I felt for those students and staff, and the gratitude I felt for the privilege of working with them.
During my 4th year I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I had always planned to be a stay at home mom when I had kids, so it was hard to leave my students but I knew where I needed to be. I was due in December so I decided to work one more year and finish out my 5th school year with a newborn at home. I was so grateful to have that 2011-2012 school year, and left with confidence in the new music therapist who took my place.
I am now an official stay at home Mom (Or a domestic engineer, as I sometimes like to call it)! I love watching my little boy grow, and I can hardly believe he is already one year old. Man time sure flies. I wouldn’t trade this for anything, not even my full time job at Jordan Valley.
But of course I have the kind of personality where I need to be moving and doing and growing all the time, so I decided to focus on my private practice now that I have all of this time at home. I’d already been seeing clients in my home for the past few years while I was working full time, but I knew that I could help to reach even more kids now that I was home. I currently work a total of 6 direct service hours, which is just perfect for me. My intent is to open up opportunities for other music therapists and help more children and adolescents in my area to reach their potential. I also want to help other music therapists around the country to improve their own practices by sharing my music, experience, and intervention ideas.
I am so passionate about what I do. I believe so strongly in the power of music and its capacity to heal and teach. I love that I have a talent that can bring joy and promote growth for so many individuals, and I hope that these efforts will continue to have a positive impact on our society.
God bless all of you who devote your time and energy to uplifting those around you.
Now what is your story?