This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about my career thus far as a music therapist. Since graduating from college with a performance degree and making the decision to pursue music therapy back in 2004, I’ve had quite a journey! I have experienced a lot of change – three different cities, many settings, countless new friends and mentors – but through it all, one thing has been by my side: my guitar.

I had never picked up a guitar, nor had any interest in doing so, before my mom and I ventured into the Guitar Center in Winter Park, Florida, just days before taking my last undergraduate final and heading back to Illinois. I fell in love with a nylon-stringed beauty, and it made the long trip home with us. I learned my first chords on that guitar. But when I met my guitar teacher at my first lesson, he recommended that I buy a steel-string guitar with pick-ups so that I could be a more versatile player. He showed me a Dean acoustic-electric right there in the store, and immediately, I knew I had to have it.

That guitar went to graduate school with me, where I used it through all four practicums. I used it during my internship, too, even though one of my supervisors offered to let me use hers. When I started my first (and current) job as the music therapist at The Hope Institute, the school purchased a new guitar for me. But my old Dean was always in my trunk, traveling with me after school to my clients’ homes.

Now that I see clients in my home studio, I don’t have to subject my guitar to the elements every day. Well, the outdoor elements. I have to be honest: it has seen a beating or two from my students, most of whom have no ill intentions. There are a couple nicks and scratches on the body, but I’d say that is pretty impressive, considering all that it has been through.

My guitar (which I used for the very first gig I played and every one since) has a rich, gorgeous sound, looks pretty, and feels like an extension of me. My journey as a music therapist will continue, and things will change, but I don’t plan on going anywhere without it. I will be forever grateful to that guitar teacher; he only gave me four lessons (I decided I could teach myself) but he introduced me to one of my most favorite possessions in the world.

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