Job Security-Part II

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Music therapy, is there job security?” Part 2. 

The essence of part 1 talked about how when we are well versed and competent in most styles of music (being a professional) this can allow us to feel comfortable working with more and diverse music therapy populations. The more possible populations, the more work and job security. For students and young music therapists I hope you would then ask “how can I become a professional…?”

The general answer is TIME!. The specific answer is in the form of a question…

As time goes by, what am I doing to develop as a professional? Because time will go by whether you do anything to further yourself or not. 

My favorite guitarist, legendary Pat Methany, was asked years ago… What propelled you to develop and excel as a musician? His answer… “being the worst one on the bandstand.” Most importantly, he took that first step of getting on the bandstand!

***Remember from part one, musicianship is one aspect of being an effective music therapist, but that is what we’re discussing here.

Here are my recommendations for developing as a musician…

1) Put “something on you calendar…” That its, volunteer or look to get paid to play music for something, anything! A pre-school, Sunday school, elementary school, volunteer at a nearby hospital pediatric/child life department, nursing home, etc. Us dumb humans… “only when we have to do something will we do something.” Famous Chinese proverb? Probably.

2) Provide music (for good pay, $40-80 per hr) at local assisted living and nursing homes. Wonderful for seeing how music affects challenged individuals and groups and great for developing your skills and building your repertoire. 

3) Study… Take lessons, and on other instruments. YouTube is now great for this.

4) Transcribe (write out) famous and useful songs. 

5) Play gigs (alone and with others). Coffee houses, restaurants, bars, museums, festivals, etc. Working with the Toledo Symphony members these summers for bereavement camps, during their summer “off season” they play many random, often interesting gigs.

5) Visit The Creative Clinician and other music therapy education sites that offer many useful, education and music development resources.

And lastly, two examples that characterize reasons that I am grateful to be a professional musician, looking back… I am now able to be with a dying hospice patient at bedside and play family requested music that supports honoring their loved one with music and positive emotion. Another, having parents of ASD and special needs children come up to me after a Christmas program say to me joyfully and tearfully “I never thought I would see my son/dau in a school music program…” Those are just two examples.

The more competent we are as music  professionals, the larger our “pallet” is for making beautiful music as (professional) music therapists.