Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

Earlier this week, I came across a blog post I wrote almost three years ago detailing a typical day in my life as a music therapist. I got a little nostalgic as I read it, thinking back to a time when I only had one baby and he still spent his days at home. It’s amazing how much life can change in just a short time.

That blog post was actually based on my original “day in the life” post written in 2011, when I had NO kids and still worked full-time at The Hope Institute, with a private practice on the side. Talk about a blast from the past! I remember that time well, but it seems so, so long ago after everything I’ve been through since.

I really wish I had written this kind of post last year, when I was in the thick of having a baby still at home and a business undergoing huge growth and changes. I think back on it and wonder how I managed to do everything, but somehow I did.

Life is nowhere near as challenging these days, since both of my kids are in daycare and preschool all day (except Fridays) and I have plenty of time devoted to work. But having all that time creates a different kind of challenge — figuring out how to manage it in the best possible way with my priorities in mind.

I still have a long way to go with this, but I’m making progress. I’ve learned that the best way to combat misuse of time is to plan out my day the night before (I use and absolutely could not live without Trello, the online tool that keeps my entire life organized), so that when I sit down to work the next morning, I know exactly where to begin.

4:55 am: My alarm goes off. Zach and I take turns going to the gym early throughout the week, and I go on the days when I have a morning class to teach. I have always loved getting up early, and feel much better when I can start my day doing something active.

6:25 am: I get home from the gym and make coffee. I take it upstairs with me and say good morning to my son Parker, who usually wakes up before the sun and comes into our room for some chill time. He and Zach watch a show while I shower and get ready.

Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

7:15 am: Parker and I pick out his clothes for the day, and then get my daughter Mia up (thankfully, she’s a sleepyhead who would sleep in much later if she could!). We go downstairs and have a little pre-breakfast (they both eat a full meal at school), get dressed, and hang out before it’s time to leave. My husband heads to work a little before 8.

8:00 amMy mom, aka “Mimi”, is on the faculty at the university where Parker and Mia go to daycare/preschool, so she takes and picks up almost every day (we are forever grateful). When Mimi arrives, we load everyone up, give kisses and hugs, and say goodbye.

8:10 am: A little quiet time to eat breakfast, answer emails, put on my work clothes, and head out the door.

Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

9:30 am: I teach early childhood music classes at my studio, Music Therapy Connections, two mornings out of the week. These classes are so much fun, and one of the things I love most about my work. Many of the families attend every session, so I get to know both the children and their grownups very well.

10:45 am: After class is over, I stick around and do a few things in the office. I’ll deposit checks, answer more emails, prepare for sessions later in the day, etc. before heading out.

Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

11:00 am: I have the next few hours free to tackle my to-dos. That could be anything from making a Target run, to recording songs, to writing blog posts, to…you get the idea. I love having the freedom to fill in this time however I want, and it feels SO good to be super productive.

Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

2:00 pm: I head back to MTC to meet with my business partner, Katey, for our weekly meeting. Alisabeth, our music therapist who also does a lot of our behind-the-scenes work, often joins us, and when it’s nice outside, we take advantage by sitting outside at Starbucks. During our meetings, we talk about administrative stuff, finances, setting dates for classes and programs, and whatever else needs to be done.

3:30 pm: The steady flow of students begins. Between the hours of 3-8 pm, MTC is a very heavily trafficked place. On any given afternoon and evening, I will see students for voice/piano/guitar/ukulele lessons, music therapy, and early childhood classes. We can have up to 6 instructors and music therapists working with students/clients at the same time, so our waiting room is often full of parents and siblings.

Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

6:30 pm: I try to end my evenings as close to this time as possible, although I make exceptions for students who need to come later due to sports conflicts. After my last student leaves, I tidy up my room and race out the door to meet my husband and kids at home.

6:45 pm: It takes a full 7 minutes to drive home (it only takes my husband 4 minutes — his business is even closer!) and I am so ready to see my babies. Now that it stays light so much later, we’ve been taking our time a bit more and letting the kids play outside with their friends before the mad dash of dinner, teeth brushing, baths, and bedtime begins.

Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

8:30 pm: With the kids in bed, Zach and I finally have some time to relax together. We’ll usually watch a few episodes of a show on Netflix while we do some work (the life of two business owners). The last thing I do before I shut down the computer is make my list of tomorrow’s tasks in Trello. Then I spend a few minutes writing in my gratitude journal (I use the Five Minute Journal app on my phone), and Zach and I chat for a little bit before we go to bed around 10:30 or 11.

I have to say that I really, really love my life and daily routine right now. There’s a nice balance between alone time (which I need, as a hardcore introvert) and socialization with colleagues, students and their families. I do wish that I was able to spend more time with my family in the evenings, since our time together always feels so rushed, but I know that will come eventually. In the meantime, I like to keep my weekends clear so that they are focused on family.

I’m already planning how my life will look next year, with my children in two different schools and my business evolving. I can’t wait to write the next edition of this series! And if you would like to share your “day in the life of a music therapist”, I would love to feature it as a guest post.

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