From our Music Therapy Intern…

Week Five and Feelin’ Alive!

This week held a lot of really good challenges which lead to personal growth. Some of the challenges were predicted, planned, scheduled, while others were shocking, last minute, and baffling. In all of these challenges I had the choice to shut down and give up or look for the seedling of perseverance that helped me discover my bravery and capability.

This week also held an array of great successes and highs that will go down in my book as some of the first proud moments in my music therapy career. I even surprised myself a few times, as instinct kicked in and I found myself reacting to situations with professionalism and creative energy. This week lent itself to many new experiences of self-discovery as I got hands on experience working with clients one-on-one.

I have the privilege of getting to observe Macayla (music therapist at HGMTS) at an intergenerational class each week. Intergenerational music therapy brings elderly adults in nursing homes together with children under the age of 6. The children get to make “grandfriends” and the adults get to bask in the radiance and joy of the youth.

Typically, I get to sit back and watch everything unfold, joining in when I feel led, and helping to pick up the mess afterwards. This week, however, Macayla had only half a voice and she struggled to whisper out the melodies and jingles to each activity. After beginning the session, choking out a few songs, and turning to cough, she faced me and asked me to take over. My heart pitter-pattered, and I felt my shoulders straighten.

I took her guitar and got down on the floor to look the kiddos in their eyes. I began to sing, I began to dance, and I began to laugh. Neurons fired, I was quick on my feet, and I went with the flow. The children’s excitement prompted new ideas and they inspired me to try new things. I held the guitar and sang hello as a young girl “taught” a grandfriend how to strum the strings. Both of their faces lit up and came alive. The young girl, a teacher and demonstrator, strummed proudly for her grandfriend. The woman, humble and loving, strummed along with her and smiled from ear to ear.

Music transcends all generations. I was blessed with the chance to see this firsthand, and to be the person creating the music that brought people from two different worlds together. I was honored that Macayla would put such a responsibility in my hands. She helped me realize my potential and forced me to let go of my obsession with structure and advance planning. She showed me the reality of music therapy; its unpredictability, its ebb and flow, its humanity, its beauty, its imperfection, its power.

Just a taste. Just enough to make me want to come back for more.

Hannah Avery is the newest face around Harmony Garden Music Therapy Services. This fall, she’s taking on the role of our first Music Therapy Intern. Stay tuned for her blog posts as she goes (and grows) through her music therapy internship.