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My Job Here Is Done

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 personally."
"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!"
"Another 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."
"I  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, wonderful students!

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