A Music Therapist's Journey

By Derlin Hsu MT-BC, MusicWorx Music Therapist

Dear colleagues, professors, friends and family,

Here’s a little story:

In 2003, sophomore college year, I had a notion that I loved music and I loved helping people. Conclusion? Be a music therapist! “What the heck is that, I asked myself? It sounds promising.” But then having just started my undergrad career, and not really feeling the whole transfer thing, I decided to stay at UCSD. I called NYU who had a program, and found out more information on it. They gave me some guidelines; I could major in what I want but should at least take an abnormal psych class; I should expose myself to different populations and make sure I enjoy working with them.

So I thought – double major in music and psych! Together! It made sense to me — need to be a good musician (music major) and understand people (psychology major). But, I spoke with my academic advisor who told me double majoring was a bad idea, regardless of my interest in music therapy. He said that I was just trying to be an over-achiever, and would just be “taking the spot” of another well-deserving undergrad. I felt like he was becoming a blockade to my idea of pursuing music therapy in my own way.

I couldn’t do the traditional undergrad route to music therapy, but I was going to at least provide myself the opportunity for pursuing it, nonetheless. In addition, my parents hadn’t heard of it at the time, and were not sure of its job potential. So, I waited for that academic advisor to retire, and appealed my decision to the dean, who allowed me my double major (thanks parents for letting me finish in 5 years instead of 4, as a result!).

From the grace of people within various organizations, businesses, families, and schools who were willing to hire me as a research assistant, employee, volunteer, or babysitter (The Children’s School, National Teen Leadership Program, Odyssey Hospice, Dunn IB World School, BRIDGES Education Corporation, Kris’ Camp, UCSD’s Autism Research Lab, Resounding Joy) I various working and volunteering experiences to get more comfortable working with different types of people, learned from my colleagues and supervisors, and, grew a lot from it.

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