Alumni Interview: Brianna Shaffer #95

Brianna Shaffer, Intern #95

Brianna has a new private practice just a little north of Orange County, CA, specializing in children with autism.  Being a newlywed, Brianna learned several valuable life lessons during her short six months at MusicWorx.

1.  What is your current job?

I just recently opened my own private music therapy practice, Play Your Part, Inc., catering to children with autism in Orange County, CA (

2.  Would you say MusicWorx helped you get to where you are today?

Most definitely! My experiences shaped me as a person, a musician, and as a therapist.

3.  What drew you to the MusicWorx internship?

Many of my university colleagues had attended MusicWorx previously, and I had always looked up to them.  When they came to present for our senior music practicum class, they had grown so much, were so confident, and I knew it was an internship I could only hope to be accepted!

4. What was your favorite moment of your internship experience?

There were so many, but I think a hospice patient and her family members will always stay with me.  The family members had requested music therapy for their mother as she was actively dying.  I played my guitar and hummed various hymns because I knew they were religious.  As I transitioned into, “How Great Thou Art,” the patient took her last breath.  The family surrounding their mother at her side stated, “This is her favorite song.”  They thanked me afterwards and expressed their gratitude for my music, mentioning that it couldn’t have been more perfect timing.  Chills. That’s what music therapy is all about, right?

5. Are there any aspects of what you learned at MW internship that best prepared you for your career today?

MusicWorx, specifically Barbara, taught be to be a go-getter. In this field, as many music therapists experience, you have to create your job(s).  You have to make phone calls, send emails, do presentations, and market yourself and your services. You have to believe in yourself and your worth.  That’s what I’ve learned and kept with me (and continue to do on a daily basis).

6. What was one of your biggest challenges during your internship?

My biggest challenge (although time management, stress, and getting out of my comfort zone were rough) was being away from my husband.  We were newlyweds and he was getting his master’s degree in Cincinnati, Ohio.  It did, however, make me appreciate our time we spent together and made me keep things in perspective.  Six months is only a snapshot of your entire life, so anyone can make it work.

7. What was your biggest “aha” moment for your professional and/or personal growth?

Internship solidified that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. Being 22, you can second-guess yourself.  During and after internship, I knew I was meant to be a music therapist.

8.  What would be your one piece of advice to future MusicWorx interns?

Journal, blog, or document your experiences.  I’m so glad I did. Every once in a while I will go back into the archives and experience internship all over again.


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