Music Therapy Clinician: Supporting reflective clinical practice 2 - Page 14

husband travels for his work on a regular basis . I run my own private practice , and I try to manage the administrative tasks that go along with having four subcontractors . I could easily say the reason I need a break from music therapy is because I want to spend more time with my kids while they ' re so young . I could easily say I have a lot of trouble managing the daily tasks of running a household , even when my husband is home . I could easily say I need more time for self-care , and , if I were to find that time and establish a self-care regimen , whatever that may be , my anxiety would abate naturally . While all of these things are true , they are not the Truth . I need a break from the field , because I have been in a constant state of resistance . I am resisting and ignoring the fact that music and I have a relationship fostered by other people ' s expectations . I need to find music on my own terms before I can use it to help anyone else . I need to stop thinking of music as a means to judge , a platform on which correctness and aesthetic quality are raised , in my head , above expression and creativity .
I have , truthfully , never identified as a musician , because I ' ve always thought that to be a musician , one has to be adept at theory and songwriting , technique and musicianship . A musician has to meet a number of expectations that I could list . Yet , I don ' t have someone in mind who is this musician . I don ' t have a model . All I know is that I am not this person .
At one point in high school it was assumed I would go on to college and study voice . Although I played violin my whole life , I did that because I couldn ’ t remember a time when I didn ' t . I was two years old when I started playing , and though Suzuki taught me many great things , it did not teach me to love the violin . However , I continued to play because I didn ' t know how to leave it behind , or even that it was an option to do so . I began singing in fifth grade and have a natural talent for it . I enjoyed singing through middle and high school and won leading roles in all the musicals in my high school . When I eventually went into college and majored in music , I remember having such conflict with regard to singing classical music . To this day I have trouble understanding the importance of singing other people ' s works in exactly the same way , over and over . I also struggled with this in violin . I remember asking myself why I had to play a specific grace note . I couldn ' t fathom the importance of playing something the same way time and time again , especially when it was not even my music . Of course I wonder if I simply wasn ' t working hard enough to make it my own .
I ' m in music because I don ' t know how no to be . I am in music because I grew up in music and because I became good at it at some point . I continued on with it because I never asked myself what I got from it , whether it fulfilled me . Was I satisfied and sated when I performed it or
listened to it or experienced it in some way . And now , here I am : on the precipice of divorcing music altogether .
I have burnt out . I have let my conversation with music become a soliloquy of " you should do this now " and " why don ' t you sing ?" and " I should be gigging on the side , in addition to being a business owner , a mother , a wife ..." The music I ' ve experienced in my life has always belonged , in some ways , to other people . To anyone and everyone . My parents . My peers in college , some of whom are now happily singing opera or are professional choral singers in New York City . The music I ' ve known has become a reflection of all the business owners out there who seem to be doing a much better job than I am . It ' s this unfair ideal I have held onto and have created . It has been a presence in my life since before I can remember , a family member I ' ve had passive-aggressive arguments with over the years but have never truly confronted . This music I have belongs to other people . I think it ' s time for me to find my own music , and to do that , I need to stop doing what I ' m doing . I need to quit music therapy , but not because I ' m not balancing my work life and home life , and not because I don ' t have the time or energy to learn a new strum pattern . I need to quit so that I can build within me my own music .
I see clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays , and when I see them , I ask them to check in with me on an instrument of their choosing . I ask them to share with me their voices , and I ask them to play out their experience of the day with me . I ask them to communicate with one another by vocalizing in a way that is probably pretty foreign to their caregivers and family , and likely pretty intimidating and vulnerable for them . I ask them to do all of this processing " in the music ." I believe that the music I have brought to them might be the only space in which they can share a common language . Our music therapy sessions might be the only time in the day where they ' re invited to express and consider what emotions are . The music therapy sessions may be my clients ' time to experience their own feelings , not the ubiquitous happiness that seems to be prescribed to them . Now I need to ask myself those very important questions . Now I need to identify my own emotions and feelings surrounding music . I need to cultivate my truths and write my own music , build a relationship with it on my own terms . I need to decide what role music can take in my life . I need to make these decisions and these choices .
To do that , I need to spend time away from music therapy and music . I need to get out to someday get back in , hopefully with a genuine , authentic , lived appreciation of the power of music .
Have you struggled with your musical self ? Share your experience : musictherapyclinician @ gmail . com / Facebook .
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