An Evolutionary Music Therapy Journey
This July, I will celebrate 15 years as a board-certified music therapist. In this last decade and a half, my day-to-day setting and responsibilities have evolved, but my mission has stayed the same: to help people of all ages and abilities learn and grow through music.
I started my music therapy career working full-time in a school for children with multiple disabilities, and it was the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life. I received endless on-the-job training that prepared me to take the next step, which was developing a private practice. I spent several years balancing my school job with seeing clients in the afternoons and evenings, until I finally decided to make the leap to full-time self-employment in 2011.
Since then, my professional focus has been on Music Therapy Connections, which I founded and operated as a sole proprietor until 2014, when Katey Kamerad became my partner and co-owner. Through the years, we have moved from a small 3-room space to a 2000 square foot building, where we have a team of 10 providing music therapy services, teaching lessons, and leading classes.
Focusing on Music Therapy & Becoming Self-Published
For many years, I did alllll the things: maintained a full caseload, developed programs, taught classes, managed administrative duties, and then some. In addition, I ran my web-based business, Listen & Learn Music, and was the primary caregiver for my two young children. By the spring of 2017, I was…tired.
Thankfully, I was able to gradually reduce my personal caseload and delegate many of my responsibilities in order to focus on the aspects of music therapy that I found to be the most fulfilling. Those included providing resources and continuing education to fellow music therapists, working with early childhood groups, and extending our services throughout the central Illinois community.
Our outreach efforts resulted in a number of music therapy contracts with local schools and facilities, which my team of music therapists so beautifully continues to serve. I leaned into my creator role, and in early 2020, released a self-published book, Innovative Income for Music Therapists: Beyond Direct Service & Private Practice.
Just two months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Ever since, my top professional goal has been to keep Music Therapy Connections running. That has not been an easy feat, and there have been extended periods where our physical doors have had to close, but thanks to a flexible team, amazing clientele, and the wonders of technology, we have persisted.
Clinical Work & Graduate School
As we entered the second year of the pandemic, I started to feel the pull back to clinical work. I slowly built my caseload back up throughout 2021, and at the end of the summer, had the sudden inspiration to go back to graduate school—this time for a master’s degree in counseling. With the full support of my family and colleagues, I made the decision to go for it!
Upon completing my master’s degree in music therapy 15 years ago, I would have never believed you if you told me I’d be a student again in my late 30s, but here I am. I just started my second semester studying clinical mental health counseling, and I’m very excited for all the possibilities this will open up as I move forward in my career. Although I’m not exactly sure yet how I will integrate counseling into my music therapy practice, I have no doubt that this new knowledge and set of skills will significantly benefit my clients.
My relationship with Bear Paw Creek goes back to 2012. I wrote one of the first songs used with their stretchy bands. And several years ago, I wrote Songs for Movement Props that is part of their Listen & Learn Music Movement Prop Set. It's been a great collaboration and we love to support each other's business.
Life as a multiple business owner, full-time graduate student, wife and mom of two children is not for the faint of heart, but no music therapist could be labeled as such (we are a strong bunch!). I have been continuously inspired by my peers, and hope never to stop learning and growing as a professional. Thank you, fellow music therapists, for doing this important work and making an incredible impact on the world!