Earthtones Spotlight – Patricia Chang

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Earthtones Intern Patricia Chang is the kind of person who you know is passionate about music therapy. Whether she’s sharing her latest awesome iPad app discovery or learning a boatload of new chords for a song, Patricia puts care into everything she does. She is always ready with an easy smile! We were glad to learn more about Patricia and her journey through her internship.

What drew you to music therapy?

Music therapy just sounds so wonderful. How can you not! Originally, I was studying psychology, but it was just not enough. I heard about music therapy when I was 16, and later learned more about the scientific aspects in one of my classes. But our school didn’t have the program. I had never heard of any school that had a music therapy program, until one day I was doing research on something that had nothing to do with music therapy. That led me to the AMTA roster of schools that offered a program.

What population do you work with? 

During my practicum and internship I have worked with babies 0-18 months, 3-5 year olds, teenagers with learning disabilities, adults with mental health needs, older adults with dementia, an individual with autism, assisted living facilities, an eight-year-old with Down Syndrome, adults with developmental disabilities, and an adult oncology unit.

Do you have one population in particular that resonates with you?

[She laughs and frowns at me] All of them! I feel like it’s not so much about working with one population as it is working with these wonderful individuals.

Tell us about a typical day for you.

Wake up, check work email and my schedule, prep time, driving, session, driving, meeting, driving, session [laughs]. And maybe some practice here and there. After work, it would be session planning, progress notes, and learning new songs, learning sign language, customizing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.

What has surprised you the most about your internship?

My clients are full of surprises. No matter how much time I spend with them they can always bring, not just surprises but joy. One client is an example: We have 2 sessions a week and he’s surprising me every session! My client today waited so patiently while I tuned his guitar. Before he wasn’t okay with waiting, but now he really listens to the quality of the music. You could see how he was really listening, not just with guitar, but with autoharp, and recorder. He knew I was tuning his guitar so he could make beautiful music, so he was willing to wait. And the whole time he was still smiling! It’s just… I feel like I can never stop when I talk about him.

Who has influenced you?

Everyone has inspired me in some ways. My instructors, supervisors, peers, clients. In the music therapy world they taught me how to be a compassionate, mindful, patient, loving person. But outside of the music therapy world, there are always new perspectives to teach me to see things differently. For example, I went to a laughter yoga class. I asked the instructor about how her leadership has shaped her as an instructor. I learned from her that everybody has their own styles. I came to the realization that you change and find yourself overtime. You become like water and embrace your environment.

Or the other day I met this lady, just randomly on the road, and we started to talk. She was wearing a name tag from one of my sites. I’d never met her but I felt like I knew her. I felt like there was so much in her. She was very insightful and full of genuine wisdom and life experience. Just being around her I felt like there was so much to learn from her.

I’m also inspired by little humans! They are so joyful, genuine, and expressive. If they like you, they’ll tell you they like you. At the same time they’re so creative, and they help me see things differently. They have no limitations or fear.

Favorite genre of music? What’s your favorite song?

CHINESE POP! And New Age music. One of my favorite songs is Evolution Era by V.K.

Any advice for future interns?

Learn like a sponge! Soak in everything you can and have FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!