An Interview With A Music Therapist
1) What is your name?
Dr. Martha Chadwick-Summa.
2) What is your general description?
Executive director at Gateway Music Therapy in Communications.
3) What are the top 3 most important skills a person needs to do your job well?
Be a good musician; a master of your instrument. Also have a good base understanding of neuroscience, and be able to deal well with people.
4) What do you enjoy most about your job?
When you see a kid develop a skill, such a special needs child learning to walk or talk through music.
5) What is your least favorite aspect of your job?
Those days it just doesn't seem to be working. When a special needs kid has a meltdown and you think, "What? Why? How?" You have to be very patient with them. It could be anything that set them off, such as an unpleasant sensation on their back. You really have to know behavioralism.
6) Describe your work environment.
I've been place to place. I had gotten a grant to have a music therapy lab at UTC, but they ended up not having room for it. Right now, I've been very transient.
7) Is teamwork an important aspect of your position, and if so, how?
ABSOLUTELY. It's a critical part, if you can actually work with a team. Often, others will know more about something than you do, and that can be very helpful when trying to understand behavioralism.
8) What did you learn or wish you had learned in college to prepare for your position?
All of my training was a pianist. Back when I was earning my Bachelor's degree, music therapy was just a social science in my mind. When I got with working with special needs children, I had to have a whole new approach to working with them then just typical piano pedagogy. At that point, I reached out to go for a Ph.D. in music therapy. To do that, I needed certain pre-requisites that I didn't have. If it weren't for the University of Kansas, I wouldn't have become a certified music therapist.
9) What advice would you give a student who was interested in working in this field 5 years from now?
Five years from now, it will be fascinating. They are tracing more and more down on why music therapy is effective on the brain. I suggest you start digging in now. You want to know how to do your own research.
When my mentor from Kansas was working with veterans with COPD, she discovered that working with them to breathe in rhythm, their breathing got faster. Others took that knowledge, and went farther with it.
Here is a documentary about music therapy in case you are interested in knowing more.