Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The CBMT Test

Yes if you are like me, when you hear those three words, you cringe a little inside.  I will admit here and now that I had a very hard time with this test!  For some people, it was probably totally fine and they were on the right track.  But for those of you like me that struggle with test taking, this blog is to help you if you haven't taken it yet!  Yes, I had major test anxiety.  I did the completely wrong thing and imagined it as the most important test I would ever take.  Of course in this time of my life, it was.  But unfortunately, I put way too much pressure on myself.  I seriously had anxiety for the entire test.  You know how you get really nervous for something and when you start it, it goes down or away?  That didn't happen to me.  I frankly felt sick for the whole three hours.  But in the end, everything was worth it because I finally received those coveted credentials, MT-BC!  I have to admit that I am extremely proud of myself for getting through it!  Below, I have gathered some advice and information that I think can help you with test anxiety and what to expect on the test.

Test Anxiety:

1.  Do not put too much pressure on yourself.  Just tell yourself, it's not the end of the world if I don't pass because I can just take it again.  Really, I needed to think this way to calm myself down.  Of course, you still want to try to pass the first time to spare some anxiety!

2.  Sleep, sleep, sleep!  I cannot tell you how much this helped me the night before!  I really thought that I wouldn't be able to do it but I slept beautifully for 7 hours.  I cleared my mind before bed and tried not to think about the next day.  Somehow it worked!

3.  Take deep breaths.  While I was taking the test, I kept feeling those butterflies slide back into my stomach.  I took several deep breaths to calm myself. (If you are a spiritual person, take a verse that helps you during tough times and repeat it to yourself in your mind when you start getting anxious.  Isaiah 41:10 is a really great one.)

4.  Eat a healthy breakfast!  Even if it is small, make sure you eat breakfast, especially if your test is in the morning.  This helped my stomach not to bother and distract me during those three hours.  I, also, brought a little granola bar with me and set outside on a table.  I didn't end up eating it but it was a good option for a snack in case I got hungry.  Breakfast also helps to recharge your mind!

Exam Tips:

1.  Read very carefully.  On the practice exam and the real test, questions have a way of tricking you.  They sometimes might bring in extra details that aren't significant and sway you the wrong direction.  Make sure you pinpoint exactly what the question is asking.  Here is a sample question:

A 52-year old woman hospitalized for ovarian cancer requests music therapy to help her relax and sleep.  During the initial session conducted at bedtime, the patient shares her fears and life story before the use of any music intervention.  After validating the patient's feelings, the BEST direction for the music therapist to take is to:

A. discuss favorite songs important to the patient's life
B. improvise soft guitar music to help the patient go to sleep
C. compose a song together reflecting the patient's dosclosure
D. close the session and bring the patient's favorite music to follow-up visits

Within this question, I made the mistake of focusing on the patient story and validation of feelings.  But like the question said, she validated her feelings.  There is nothing else to go into.  The client requested music therapy to help her sleep so that is what the music therapist needs to do, help her sleep.  If you got B, you are on the right track!

2.  Always put the client first.  Don't just answer the question that shows how the therapist looks the best, answer with the client's well-being in mind.

3.  Read the Scope of Practice, Code of Ethics, and Code of Professional Practice.  I noticed on the real test, there were a couple questions that matched answers exactly to a list that I had studied in the Scope of Practice and Code of Ethics.  The Scope of Practice goes through each topic found on the test and lists current information about each category.

4.  Brush up on your music theory.  There were a few questions regarding theory on the exam that required some extra thought.  You will be provided with scratch paper so make sure you use it for these questions!  Some questions hit on the modes (Aeolian, Ionian, etc.), secondary dominants, and transposing instruments.

5.  If you are still looking for extra help on the exam, purchase music therapy flashcards.  You can find these flashcards at  These flashcards separate the categories on the test and have stacks that you can study.  The answers on the back are in paragraph form rather than single sentence answers.  I would have liked to have shorter explanations but I do think they helped in the long run.

I really hope that this helped!  Good luck!  Please leave comments in the comment section if you have any other advice you would like to share!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Music Therapy in the Media

Recently, music therapy has been getting much attention in the media through Gabrielle Gifford's recovery at TIRR in Houston.  She showed a courageous effort as she allowed America to see her improvements and recovery.  Gabby showed a determination that we all should have.  I am so thankful that she showed music therapy in such a positive light.  On February 27, 2012, there was another showcase of music therapy on PBS Newshour.  This story highlighted how music therapy is used in the medical setting.  Take a look at this incredible story which goes into detail about what a music therapist does in this setting.