Case study

Freelance music therapist — Laura Al-Bandar

Find out how Laura uses her musical skills and knowledge to help her clients address a range of social, emotional and physical issues

How did you get a job as a music therapist?

While completing a professional music therapy training course, I applied to jobs advertised on the British Association of Music Therapists (BAMT) website; I also contacted various organisations to promote the value of music therapy and to try to set up work.

I was offered an interview with the not-for-profit organisation Chiltern Music Therapy as I'd been in contact with them previously and they had kept my contact details. I started off contracting with them part time but this quickly grew into full-time work.

What do you enjoy most about music therapy?

Music therapy is a unique profession, which is so flexible and varied. It's continually developing and reaching out to so many people with various needs.

I really enjoy working with my clients as they are all so inspirational and it's really rewarding when we make progress towards improving their quality of life. I find the spontaneity of the musical interaction keeps my mind stimulated and keeps me motivated to develop my practice.

Each session and each day is different, so although I work with the same routine each week I don't get bored.

Was your music therapy course essential for the job?

In order to practice as a music therapist you need to complete a registered Masters training programme. I felt that the MA Music Therapy at Roehampton University provided me with the tools I needed to start my career.

What do you do day-to-day?

I work in various settings, between two to four locations in a day. This means I have to drive around and transport my musical instruments and other tools for the work.

I work with a variety of clients, from children to adults, with a range of clinical needs. I run individual sessions as well as groups and complete all the documentation and reports on a daily basis.

Another important part of the work is to arrange regular meetings with the client's team, for example parents, carers and teachers, to discuss the service and to spend time thinking about how the therapy can best help the client.

How do you hope to develop your career?

I've only been working for the last few months so I'm still settling in to the post and getting to know my clients.

At the moment I wish to pursue clinical work for a few years before moving on to other opportunities such as research or further training.

What do you find challenging?

I have a very busy schedule so it's important to stay organised and to ensure that enough time is spent on each client. There are some sessions which are emotionally challenging but clinical supervision and regular reflection on the work is very helpful in managing this.

Any tips for other students and graduates interested in music therapy?

At the moment it's very important to be able to promote the value of music therapy and explain to people how it can benefit their service users, students, clients and children so that they're willing to provide the funding and support that it needs. So be confident that you are able to provide something worthwhile.

Working for a recognised and respected organisation is really helpful as you'll get more clients referred to you, which will take the pressure off. Having your own car will enable you to access more locations than if you were to rely on public transport, which makes you more available.

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