Graduate Sabina shares her journey from undergraduate to music therapist
Sabina Marr knew she wanted to be a music therapist since the age of 12. With a passion for music, a caring nature, and a fascination for the human mind, it made perfect sense to combine these elements of her personality and work towards a career in music therapy.
Sabina added singing, the guitar, the piano and the viola to her list of talents, honing her own skills so she could use them to support others in the future. After gaining experience working for HCPT - a charity that works with young people and adults with complex needs - she enrolled on Bishop Grosseteste University's (BGU) Special Educational Needs, Disability & Inclusion and Music course.
Sabina said: "There were only a couple of universities in the whole country that offered this kind of course combination, so I went to look round BGU. As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew I was in the right place.
"The University's approach is completely person-centred and I felt immediately welcomed into its community. Throughout my course I had fantastic support from my tutors and I was given the opportunity to complete placements that improved my confidence and provided experience that would prove invaluable in my future career."
After completing a Master's in Music Therapy, Sabina joined Chiltern Music Therapy in 2021 as a Music Therapist. The non-profit organisation provides Music Therapy, Neurologic Music Therapy™ and Community Music services across England and strives for 'a world where music therapy is the transformative thread in everyday life.'
Clients range significantly in age, background, personal needs, and goals. Sabina says it's a misconception that music therapists only work with children and shares that 60-70% of her client base are adults. Sessions can be one-on-one or to a group of clients, and may be delivered in schools - including those for students with special educational needs - or in a clinical setting such as brain injury rehabilitation, residential care homes, mental health facilities and hospitals.
When defining music therapy, Sabina said: “Every person has the ability to appreciate and respond to music. Music therapists use this connection to establish and develop therapeutic relationships with the people they are working with, in order to meet relevant physical, emotional, social, behavioural, cognitive and communicative goals. Sessions are tailored so that they are accessible and targeted towards individualised development.
"Music therapy is an established psychological clinical intervention, and is an internationally recognised practice.”
She emphasises that her goal is not to teach others how to play instruments or read music. She says: "I use music to achieve non-musical goals. For example, when working with someone who has had a stroke, I may use melody and familiar songs to improve their clarity and fluency of speech. If the person needs support learning to walk again, I may use elements of music, such as rhythm, to help with their coordination and balance. If the individual is suffering from low mood, we may use song writing or musical improvisation to explore these feelings.
"With music, you don't have to rely on words to express yourself, which is really helpful for my non-verbal clients. It's important to tailor the sessions to the individual needs of the client so we can make sure we're on the right path to achieving their goals.
"There are so many ways music can be used to improve lives. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing my clients progress and witnessing how much the sessions have helped them. Right now, I'm focusing on refining my expertise and continuing to use music therapy to empower others. "