Hello Sam’s Fans! This is Samuel Gracida, Sam’s Fans Operating Director. I wanted to share with you that I am currently in Bogota, Colombia doing a music therapy internship. This is part of the Master’s Program I’m doing on music therapy. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Heidelberg, Germany working my way through a two-year program. I am working 32 hours a week in two hospitals here in this huge South-American metropolis. I am working with NICU babies, children, teenagers, adults, and older adults, so pretty much all across the age spectrum. The patients the music therapy team sees here also have different diagnoses, meaning that no two patients are the same!
Two Weeks and Counting
I’ve been here for two weeks and I can tell you, I have already experienced beautiful moments! Music has mediated in situations that can be hard, sad, or seemingly hopeless. MTs go to most sessions with a guitar, some shakers, an ocean drum, and a kalimba. They engage in much a similar way as music therapists in the USA, albeit with different songs. The knowledge behind it in the end is the same and the training also covers the same bases so that music therapists are equipped to give respite to patients as they go through their personal struggles.
Being in a different country has its challenges, one being that I don’t know a lot of the songs that patients like and request. Nevertheless, often we are able to connect through the common language of music.
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Beautiful Moments During My Internship
I can think back to a session with a kid battling with cancer, how we simply started imitating each other musically through rhythm and how we smiled and laughed over something so simple! Or I can also tell you about a woman who after severe burns and losing her husband and father found a voice again and how composition and songs allowed her to do that. In another occasion, we were working with a toddler whose attention to the music and sound were so immediate and clear that it made it so enjoyable to be there. Or yet another example is a woman who composed a song with the music therapist about the beauty of life and how she is happy even in the midst of her illness.
Another experience I’ve had here is helping with music therapy groups for patients in oncology. These groups take place twice a week and usually consist of different parts which can include relaxation, improvisation, composition, and more. Each group looks different but what’s common across the board is the positive feedback patients always give at the end. Music helps patients forget for a little bit about their disease and recover energy to keep on fighting.
Other Music Therapy Work in Bogota
The therapists here work also in other areas that have caught my interest. Two of them work in a foundation that houses and serves orphaned children. Music helps kids sleep better at night through a program they have to accompany them in the evenings. It also allows them to express themselves and develop through music, a medium that gives them other avenues for self-expression. These are kids who may have undergone trauma and it is important to give them the tools they need to get the healing they deserve.
I will keep you updated on how my music therapy internship is going! I can’t wait to finish my program and start working as a music therapist. And don’t worry, I’ll keep working for Sam’s Fans as well. And who knows, maybe I’ll help develop our first international programs!