Patience is a Virtue

Patience is a word that I have struggled with all my life. I am a “I want it to happen and I want it to happen now” kind of person, and unfortunately that is not usually the way the world works. Between building my business, finishing my Master’s thesis and working full time there is so much that will get finished, however the road to getting there is much longer than I thought.

The idea of being self employed is a daunting task for any music therapist starting out on their own. You can always search through the job opportunities, but chances are that what you want to do is not available in the area that you want to be in. This is definitely the case where I live. There are millions of “opportunities” for music therapy, but none that are willing to write you a check and give you 40 hours right off the bat.

This post is all about perseverance and patience, two concepts which must be embraced by any person wishing to start their own business.

I have been providing a support group at the hospital here in Springfield since June with not much positive response. It is like pulling teeth to get participants and I was beginning to feel that things were falling through. I have continued to persevere and hold my head up even though I was truly feeling the melancholy take over me with thoughts of “failure” and “uselessness”.

My grandpa told me the other day that the definition of “luck” is the result of hard work, and how true he was. I have been trying to get into working with patients since I began my adventure with the hospital contract (with no forward momentum), and then I received an email from the director of the cancer center requesting that I visit the hematology/oncology department. After many emails and more hoops to jump through than I’d like to acknowledge, I was asked to come in for a “trial” visit. They booked me for one hour and at first there was talk of me playing in the lobby. The lobby? Really? This is what I kept thinking to myself as I tried to keep a happy face. Here in MO we have volunteer musicians come to the hospitals ALL THE TIME, and unfortunately that is what about 99% of people think that I am whenever I enter the hospital with my guitar on my back. I was determined to make sure that everyone understood that I come into the hospital with a purpose, with goals and with expected outcomes.

Luckily, there was no lobby involved (though one lady tried her hardest and suggested that I come when the dulcimer player comes so we could play together…. not what I had in mind). Having no idea what to expect, I had 6 egg shakers, a tambourine, a guitar, two flutes and two books of music as they led me into the chemo infusion area which was a mad house. Nurses running everywhere, tons of grumpy patients and a lot of beeping. Perfect setting for some music therapy.

I unpacked my guitar and went to the most uncomfortable looking patient that I could find. This was her first treatment and she was very anxious. I sang two songs with her and within the first two notes she began singing harmony along with me. Her demeanor immediately changed and the other patients receiving treatment all clapped and encouraged her to sing more. She was all smiles and the nurses even commented on the amazing drop in her blood pressure and mood! She was not the only patient that the staff commented on changes, as I was approached 6 other times by the staff commenting on positive physiological and emotional changes of the patients. As my hour was drawing to an end, the head nurse requested that I see more patients who were in the private sections of the treatment area, and they asked me to stay for an additional hour! I treated nearly each patient in the unit one on one and heard numerous comments from the nurses about the change in the atmosphere and how the staff was receiving the therapy as well!

I am fully confident that the staff and patients will spread the word of the benefits I provided to them during their chemo treatments and I cannot wait to hear back from the director of the cancer center! I am finally feeling that all of the hard work I have put into this hospital contract is paying off! I have the honor of being the first contracted MT in the Springfield hospitals. I hope that I can continue to build my hours with the hospital and spread to more areas, but I feel like today was the best day of my MT career.

The morals of this story: Patience is a virtue, and Persistance will pay off. Keep your head up and never let the disappointments bring you down. Instead let the bumps in the road steer you in the right direction on the second time around!


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