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Graduate Profile: MA Music Therapy: Lisa Kelly

Lisa is a graduate of the MA Music Therapy programme in UL. Lisa describes her experience of the programme and how this has benefitted her own personal and career goals.

Lisa Kelly, Graduate, MA Music Therapy

What made you study at UL?

I began my studies in UL in 2014 when I was a student of the BA Irish Music & Dance at the Irish World Academy with the intention of applying for the MA Music Therapy upon graduation. During this time, I attended many music therapy open lectures and performances which heightened my passion for music therapy even further. The MA Music Therapy is uniquely offered at UL and is the only university in Ireland that provides post-graduate training in music therapy.

What did you learn on the course?

I learned about the various applications of music therapy across the life span, from pre-term babies to palliative care. We also learned about the different approaches to music therapy such as psychodynamic music therapy, humanistic music therapy and community music therapy.

What is unique about the programme?

There are many unique qualities about this programme. The clinical placement opportunities were fantastic. I learned from highly experienced professionals in the field of music therapy and had the opportunity to work with numerous populations. Nearly every week, we had different guest lecturers who shared their experiences of working in different clinical areas (e.g. additional needs, mental health, dementia care, palliative care). We also had the opportunity to experience other offerings at the Irish World Academy such as the Javanese Gamelan and learned about other musical cultures.

There are many unique qualities about this programme. The clinical placement opportunities were fantastic. I learned from highly experienced professionals in the field of music therapy and had the opportunity to work with numerous populations.

Can you take us through a typical week on the MA programme?

The course runs over two days each week, with a blend of interactive learning and theory-based classes. In the first year, weekly tutorials are offered on both piano and guitar where you learn to develop your clinical skills through music. The tutorial classes are very practical and focus on real-life scenarios that may be encountered with a potential client. We had the opportunity to ‘work through’ these scenarios by role-playing and having in-depth discussions with our peers and mentors. In the second year, there are lectures one day a week and two days of clinical placement for twelve weeks.

Can you describe how you found your clinical placement experience and the main things you learned whilst on placement?

My clinical placements afforded me the opportunity to turn the theory and knowledge I had learned about music therapy into practice. I learned that flexibility and adaptability are key when working as a music therapist and the importance of being in the moment with a client. I had the opportunity to work in multiple clinical settings including a pre-school for children with visual impairments, a special school for children with additional needs and a long-term residential unit for older adults. Each clinical placement was supervised by a senior music therapist who has extensive experience working in the field and was available to offer expert advice and guidance throughout the placement.

Can you tell us about your own personal experience of the course, the benefits/challenges etc?

The one personal challenge I faced at the beginning of the course, was navigating my way through my changing relationship with music. I came from four years of training in music performance and was used to striving for perfection. When I began my training as a music therapist, I had to learn to let go of that and go back to basics. The focus in music therapy is on the meaning behind one’s music rather than the quality of one’s music making. Despite this challenge, it has been such a liberating experience and I have learned so much about the therapeutic qualities of music.

In terms of my own experience, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the MA Music Therapy. The facilities at the Irish World Academy are top class with ample practice rooms, music studios and study space. There is also access to a large number of music therapy instruments on site which we play during practical classes. The faculty of the MA Music Therapy are very supportive, friendly and encouraging. Their door is always open if you have any queries or are experiencing any course-related challenges.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the MA Music Therapy. The facilities at the Irish World Academy are top class with ample practice rooms, music studios and study space. There is also access to a large number of music therapy instruments on site which we play during practical classes. The faculty of the MA Music Therapy are very supportive, friendly and encouraging.

Would you recommend the MA to others?

Absolutely. I wish I could go back in time and do it all over again!

What do you plan to do/have done post-graduation?

I am planning on returning to UL this September to undertake a PhD under the supervision of Dr. Hilary Moss at the Irish World Academy. My research aims to investigate the psychosocial benefits of both an online and home-based music therapy programme for people living with dementia and their family carers, with a focus on those who live in rural and remote areas.

At the moment, I am working on setting up my own business providing music therapy services which I hope to have up and running before the end of the year.

If you would like to find out more about the MA in Music Therapy and to apply, please click here.

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