My Job Here Is Done
The last question on the final exam I just gave
for undergraduate Music Therapy students in a Medical and Rehabilitative Music Therapy course was:
What are 2 things you learned in this course that touched you deeply either
as a person or a music therapist (or both), and why?
The answers below are representative of the majority of responses I
received, and touched me deeply when
I read them. (Okay, I cried.) I know from a semester of work and correcting
their final exams that they learned the academic material. But there’s also the
other kind of material I want my students to learn - life lessons about being human, about
connecting with themselves and others, and about compassion and self
compassion. Although I open most of my classes with a variety of breath and/or
awareness practices and we talk about how caregivers must walk their talk, I
had no idea if they were getting it
in their lives outside of the classroom.
"Centering & Breathing –
Without this word, I am not sure how I would have survived this semester. I
know these are not necessarily about Med-Rehab, but they made me think that
everything and every population needs breathing and being listened to. I forgot
to breathe many times in my life, but I have Prof. T to thank for bringing (her name) back when she drifts away.
This was a difficult course with a lot of information, and I am glad I learned
all of it through centering and breathing."
"One of the most important things I learned in this course was with
regards to how we deal with suffering. Often we may feel tempted to avoid that
which bothers us or leaves us feeling uncomfortable. However, sometimes we need
to embrace this and allow ourselves to just feel. The discussions that we had about this in class
influenced me greatly, as I took this mentality with me to fieldwork. I even
structured an entire session around working with this. The other particularly
important thing I learned in this class was that we need to be able to reach
out for help when needed. As one of the many “World Saviours” in this major,
this lesson hit me hard this semester. I had to deal with some personal demons
that I had successfully ignored up until this point. I’m happy to say that I
have made it through and that I am doing much better…I think that I am much
stronger for it and feel it will serve me in my future both professionally and
"Since I have never
taken a class with you before, the use of breathing to relax is something I
will take with me as both a student and a music therapist. Breathing promotes
feeling comfortable. When I feel comfortable as I lead a music therapy group,
my clients will also feel comforted. It is a useful tool for anxiety and it is
something I can use for myself but also pass on to my clients."
"The second thing I
believe is important that I learned is how important centering and self care
are!! I tend to always want to help others through their issues and then
put mine on the back burner. Throughout this semester I’ve tried to make sure I
am addressing my needs and centering has helped me immensely when it comes to
working out these issues. I really realized that I can’t help others without
helping myself first!"
thing that I learned a lot about is how to center myself and breathe through
things so as to not let them get to me.
This is something that will help me as a music therapist and as a
person. This was definitely a tough
course for me at times as I have had a lot of family suffer and die from
cancer, a close family friend is suffering from Parkinson’s, and of course my
dad with his (condition omitted to preserve student’s anonymity). A lot of what we learned and what we were
addressing really hit home and that made aspects of this course really hard for
me. But as I learned to breathe through
the hard things and keep pushing forward while centering myself, I learned that
even the hardest things can be easy to get through if we just take care of
ourselves the right way. This will make
me a better music therapist when some of the tough things come up and I have to
center myself in the moment. More
importantly, however, this will make and has made me a better person. I was able to get through one of the hardest,
most emotionally draining semesters of my life because this class taught me how
to center and breathe through the things that are the hardest."
"I think one of the
biggest things I have learned in this course is that listening is so important.
Many times someone just needs someone to listen to them. Being a good listener
is probably one of the most valuable to have as a music therapist. The second
biggest thing that has changed my life is: Breath. Breathing is so simple and
yet, we forget to do it. Learning to breathe and center myself has made me a
better person and a better music therapy student. I will treasure my breath and
my center for the rest of my life."
think something that has touched me
deeply as a person is whatever gifts I have to give to other people, I should
give them. I also learned how important being happy is, and whatever I do,
sharing my truth and living my truth is the most important…whenever I leave
this class I am reminding (sic) of my worth. Thank you very much Peggy, because
besides the actual class material you have constantly reminded me of my
capacity to love and connect and I deserve to connect with others…I breathe a
lot better now."
"One theme that really stuck with me is the idea that you don’t always have
to “help”, you just have to be there…( )The second thing I will always keep
with me is breathing. I can’t tell you the amount of times I tell myself to
breathe in order to calm myself. I had never known the importance of breathing
before taking your classes, even though we hear “just breathe” all the time. I
will forever thank you for both of these valuable lessons! Thank you for being
with me and breathing with me!"
I close with a deep bow of love and
respect to the teachers in my life who taught me all I know about breath, presence,
awareness and (self)compassion: in particular to Dawna Markova and Andy Bryner
for their invaluable lessons; and to Ron Glick and Susan Taylor for their
perennial yoga wisdom. There are countless others who have taught me through
their written words, workshops or friendships, and I’ll be bowing in gratitude
to them for the rest of my days. And of course, thank you to my amazing,