Monday, December 13, 2010

An Interview with Kelly Carlson: Music Therapist

·         Kelly Carlson is an experienced certified Music Therapist, who is very capable of assisting undergraduates in better understanding what a career in this field involves.  During an extensive interview she provided responses to several questions; a sample follows.

1.      Please tell me this; do you honestly love your job? If not, could you tell me what other    job you would have liked to do if you had not chosen Music Therapy as your field of work? 
      I can honestly tell you that I absolutely LOVE my job.  It is perfect for me.  Of course there are things I don’t like, primarily that no-one really knows what music therapy is and you can tell them a million times and they will still think you are just the “music lady”.  The other difficult part is that we charge rates comparable to a physical therapist or speech therapist, because we do similar things.  Lots of musicians volunteer their time in nursing homes for sing alongs, etc, which then people do not want to pay a music therapist to do what they consider the same service.  My job is to continually educate people about the differences between what I do and what the local pianist does.  It gets frustrating at times, but any time I work with the clients and get a response that no-one else on the team or in their life can get, it’s completely worth it!  I can’t imagine doing anything differently!

2.      Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about going into the field of Music Therapy?   
     I highly recommend the field of music therapy, but I recommend observing a music therapist before jumping in.  That way you can get a feel for what a music therapist does and see it in person.  I find that it is really hard to describe music therapy in words, but once people see it in person it all starts to make sense.  I also say that it can be a very challenging field.  With constant educating of others about the field, it can get very taxing.  But, if you like music and like working with people in all walks of life, it may just be the perfect fit! 

3.      What type of work is involved in an internship with Music Therapy?   
     The internship is a 6 month internship and is just like a full time job…only most don’t pay.  You have to apply for internships just like you would a job.  Each is structured a bit differently.  Typically the first month or two you are just observing your supervisor do music therapy.  In months 3-4 you start co-leading sessions together and by months 5-6 you primarily lead most of the sessions independently and do all documentation necessary.  Each internship also has various projects that you need to complete.  Usually there is a small research project, and then a project to better the department.  It just depends.

·         Carlson's advice may be beneficial to other undergraduates who are undecided, either regarding their major or transferring from UW-Richland.  Dara

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