The Life Path of SoundWell Music Therapy
Have you ever yearned for a place where you could be and create what you know lives within you? Yet, you weren’t quite sure if you’d ever find such a place where you could be? Up until a few weeks ago, that was me with my business.
July marks eleven years of me being a board-certified music therapist. This year also marks 3 years of my being in private practice as SoundWell Music Therapy. And for the first time ever, I have my own office space where I can work with people.
Looking back, it amazes me to think about the journey of the last 11 years. During this time I faced great changes as both a person and as a professional. Following my unique path, I’ve been able to gain a finer appreciation of how to optimize human development and well-being through music.
Life Path Stop 1: Early Childhood Special EducatioN
In the beginning, SoundWell Music Therapy was a vague idea that I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to manifest. A music therapist needs instruments and a place to keep those instruments. None of those things existed for me while living in a small apartment in Boulder.
And that was just as well because I still wasn’t quite sure what it was I did as a music therapist. Would the reasons that led to my original desire to become a music therapist also be able to make me a living? Was there a crossover between what I wanted to do with what was needed? How could I reconcile the esoteric with the practical?
I wasn’t sure, and I certainly couldn’t afford to find out by renting office space. This was especially true since most spaces in my price range weren’t well-suited for sound.
So this was when I chose to deepen my understanding of childhood development. I decided to take a job as an early childhood special education paraeducator. During this time I got to observe and work with some great teachers and allied health therapists. They helped me learn more about sensory needs and how we all have our own unique sensory profile. I also got to more clearly see how children take in and process information.
After a few years of this, my husband and I moved into a larger apartment in Longmont. Now I had space for instruments. And before moving I also enrolled into Boulder County’s Personal Investment Enterprise program. This program taught me how to write a business plan and allowed me to buy the instruments I needed as a starting place.
Life Path Stop 2: Hospice and End-of-Life Care
But at this time I was also busy with a new job as a hospice music therapist. An auspicious opportunity, I was able to work with a start-up hospice company. The positions I held there hepled me learn so much about nuts and bolts of this particular field of healthcare. I got to help create key programs. As well, I got to deepen my understanding of aging and end-of-life.
These clinical experiences allowed me to observe the spectrum of the lifespan. It was very powerful to hear people’s stories and personal history as they were nearing end-of-life. The stories of World War II veterans and children of The Great Depression were especially moving. Their personal history was so interconnected with our collective history. I could see and hear the impact of those experiences on their being and psyche. I wondered about the students I used to work with in the schools. They were born post-9/11 and were young children during The Great Recession. What other kinds of life experiences were waiting for them? How would these affect their lives as they got older?
Life Path Stop 3: Community Mental Health and Music Therapy
After several years of working for a hospice company, it was time to move on and work for myself. I now had everything I needed: instruments, a car, and a good enough space to see some people at some times. (Ah, the joys of sharing office space and working with someone else’s schedule!)
I had more clarity on the general idea of how and with whom I wanted to work. My practice needed to address the needs of people throughout the life spectrum so that I could maximize and integrate my experiences working with children and adults. It needed to be focused on mental health and wellness, those things that originally drove me to music therapy. I also needed my business to promote inclusivity and accessibility.
This arrangement worked for a few years. I contracted with some community organizations where I provided services on-site. I also provided in-home services, including both lessons and therapy. In some situations I would see people in my home-based studio.
But my business was growing which meant that I had to spend more time in my car. The irony of this being that driving was one of the main things that I had disliked about working in hospice. (Personally, I don’t find driving to be good for my health and I suspect that is true for most of us.)
Another disadvantage to this arrangement was that I was feeling unsettled and scattered. The work that I do best involves being in deep relationship with each other, with music, with yourself. It can be hard to go deep when one is running around from place to place on only the surface level. It can be difficult to shift mental gears if I’m feeling frazzled from the drive.
In those situations where people would come to me, that meant I had to open my personal space to them. This wasn’t ideal. Especially as I was continuing to grow and beginning to work with insurance companies.
Life Path Stop 4: A Space of My Own
So, it was time to find a space of my a own. A space where people can feel free to make music that captures the heart and soul. A place where people can be however and whomever they are today.
And this brings us to today, where I have found my right and perfect office space for right now. Last Friday I celebrated my creation with a ribbon-cutting. I fall in love with it more everyday I’m there and I can feel it inspiring me to continue working to be the best person and therapist I can be.
It’s amazing the space that can be created when you choose to continue creating and recreating yourself on your life’s path. I hope you’ll choose check out this space for yourself if you find that you are seeking to create or recreate yourself.