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2016 Internship Experience by Michelle

As a high school student about to apply for university, I did a three-week internship at Music for Life to gain a better understanding of the field of music therapy.

Since my internship was only three weeks, I didn’t have the opportunity to observe all the music therapy sessions, yet I did get a chance to participate in a music lesson with a child who had epilepsy. It was interesting to see that it wasn’t a music therapy session, but a music

lesson that helped the child develop her verbal skills. At times, she’d sing loudly, then after a while she’d get quieter. I was able to witness how the skills learned in a music lesson could be of practical use in daily life.

I also learned a lot watching Carol improvise chords and the way she directed her student. This summer, there was a three-day talk regarding music therapy. I was glad to have participated in two of them. On the first day, I volunteered as a ticket counter, and during the talk, I learned the many applications of music to help patients as well as the countless connections between music and psychology. On the second day, Carol was a guest speaker, and I helped her out with an activity that involved the audience. From these two talks, I enjoyed learning about the various sectors within music therapy from different music therapists in Hong Kong. I’ve noticed that almost all the presentation slides were in English, but the speaker spoke in Cantonese, of course. It can actually be hard to translate all the professional terms, especially when music therapy is usually taught in English and outside of Hong Kong.

Other than participating in a music lesson and music therapy talks, I also helped out with office work, such as contacting kindergartens to implement music therapy, creating lyrics for kids, and translating documents. I also helped out with a wedding performance, allowing me to be exposed to the different possibilities as a musician. Moreover, Carol also shared her experiences and knowledge in this field. It occurred to me that it is not easy at all being an independent music therapist. Apart from learning about music therapy, I wish I had visited other work places with

Carol, but I hadn’t done so due to the short three weeks of my internship. I also wish that I had done more hands-on music activity with a group of patients. Among all the careers in music, music therapy is actually the most interesting to me because not only does it require the necessary music skills, you’d also need the skills of communicating and connecting with patients, such as being a caring and patient person. I’ve realised that as a music therapist, you’re not restricted to only do the things that music therapists do, but at the same time, you can still be a music teacher or a performer. Music therapy is a truly meaningful job, whether it is helping patients achieve their goals or allowing them to be freely immersed in the music that they leave their stress behind. I believe that at the end of therapy, there will be a great sense of fulfilment for the patient and the therapist. I’m glad that I took on this internship to explore the new and growing field of music therapy.

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