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My Journey as a Music Therapy Advocate
by Melinda Wilson, MT-BC
I have to admit, when a music therapist re-tweets an article I've shared on Twitter, I get excited. When one of my relatives on the East Coast clicks “Like” on a music therapy related article I've shared on Facebook, I feel a sense of accomplishment. It's become an activity that is ingrained in my routine – and I just can't go without my daily fix. You may be wondering, “How did she become so addicted to music therapy advocacy via social media networking?” Well, I have another confession to make – I had spent years feeling down in the dumps about becoming a music therapist. You want to know why? I was totally clueless Valley girl without the right knowledge of how to make the most of my degree in Music Therapy.
As a young woman fresh out of college, I felt uncertain about how to make a living as a board-certified music therapist in the Los Angeles area. I had some decent work experiences in my first few years of being board-certified, but generally felt “out of the loop.” I wasn't involved in online social networking during my first few years as a music therapist. At that time, I was providing one-on-one, home-based music therapy services and didn't have any music therapist co-workers or peers who were a part of my life. I desired to go to AMTA (American Music Therapy Association) conferences and be in communication with others that has the same passion for music therapy that I did. For several years, I could not gather the funds to attend the regional or national AMTA conferences. I felt discouraged regarding my choice to pursue a career in music therapy as there seemed to be so few opportunities to ensure substantial income. I felt that I was not the “entrepreneur type” and creating my own business seemed way too overwhelming. I didn't know where to look to find the answers to the dilemma I was in.
I had worked incredibly hard to become an MT-BC, and I was left feeling helpless with the idea that this certification was not enough to ensure I could find a good job. My overwhelming frustration was so consuming that one day, I had a revelation: The only way the profession of music therapy could rise to prominence and greater availability is if people like me spent time and energy acting as “cheerleaders” for this growing field. I realized that the only way I could ever be successful as a music therapist is continue to learn all I could about the current happenings in the field, be aware of what other music therapists are doing to make their careers work, speak up about the value of music therapy to anyone that would listen, and engage in social networking with other music therapists. My frustration began to reside when I decided to “take the reins” and steer my career in a direction where I empowered myself with all the information I could find on the web. Now, I frequently look for music therapy articles, listen to music therapy related podcasts, browse through websites for music therapy businesses and more. I have joined e-mail lists, found some awesome music therapy blogs, and keep in touch with other music therapists on Facebook and Twitter. My collection of resources grew when I decided to use the internet as a valuable tool for staying connected to the world of music therapy.
I decided to become an editor with All Things Healing as a part of my own journey of self healing. I knew that actively advocating for music therapy with my editorial contribution would be an exercise in reawakening my dedication to the journey I had started many years ago as a determined music therapy student. I wanted to engage myself in regularly posting relevant articles and videos to educate and bring awareness about the value of music therapy. And you know what? As I write this, I genuinely feel like that decision has begun to pay dividends for me and for the community of music therapists acting as advocates for the field. Music therapy advocacy is an investment to me. An investment in my future as a music therapist and in the shape of the field of music therapy in the years to come. It's an exciting time to be an advocate for music therapy!
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About the Author
Melinda Wilson, MT-BC is a board certified music therapist specialized in providing music therapy services for children with special needs. She has several years of experience providing one-on-one, home and/or school-based music therapy interventions for children with developmental disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, etc) and chronic illnesses within the Greater Los Angeles area.
Besides her work as a traveling music therapist within her private practice, Sunshine Music Time, Melinda teaches early childhood music classes in preschools and community recreation centers in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Topanga, California USA