5 Music Major Skills I Thought Were Useless for a Music Therapist… Until They Weren’t.

5 music major skills i thought were useless for a Music Therapist… Until They Weren’t
Hi everyone! For our first long-form post I thought I’d share a post that I wrote for my music therapy tumblr a while back. 
1. Memorizing Key Signatures –  Today I had a new client who sat at the piano and immediately began playing. It only took a second to figure out that G was the tonal center. “Great!” I thought, as I grabbed my guitar and filled in a blues progression. But then my client’s hand moved ever so slightly and BAM, the tonal center shifted to A. Again, great, I can do this! And then in the middle of the song, the tonal center shifted to F. And to E. And to B. In that moment, it was crucial that I was able to change keys along with my client in order to maintain the musical container.

2.  Aural Dictation – “What was that song? You know the one.” My client asked as she hummed a melody that was totally unfamiliar to me. “I don’t remember the words but it went like this…” Uh oh. Time to bust out what I knew about relative pitches so I can look it up at home.

3. Sight Singing – One of my first professional sites was a group of well elders interested in singing together. After a session, one gentleman approached me and handed me a piece of sheet music that had been his mother’s. He asked if I could sing it. Honesty Hour : I couldn’t. I took a photo and learned it for the next week, but it would have been so nice to be able to sing that in the moment.

4. Conducting – Going back to that group of well elders who wanted to sing together– Although I mostly facilitated that group from my guitar, there were many times that we practiced without accompaniment and I needed to conduct. In my internship I was assigned to a choir for early onset Alzheimer’s. Luckily I had a great mentor who knew what she was doing, but I was assigned 3 songs to conduct. Already being comfortable with my conducting patters made my life so much easier.

5. Roman Numeral Analysis – This comes up in a less direct way for me. I think all those years of analyzing pieces helped me visualize which chords fit together and in what way. Knowing that E major is the secondary dominant of D major means I can use it to make my chord progressions that much more interesting, not just for me but for my clients too!