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Red River Valley                                                                Summer 2017
A publication of the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association                                                                                             

  Ask Eva ...

Is starting a private practice a good idea for a recent grad?

Yes, this is a good idea! Here are some tips-.

  • Explore the pros and cons of self-employment and ask yourself question to consider: home-based or clinic? direct and/or consultative services? potential clients? funding? employees? interns? taxes? insurance? necessary equipment, materials, supplies, instruments? schedule? policies? marketing? service delivery? documentation?
  • Make a business that plan involves decisions about the mission and structure of the business, financial plan, target market, marketing plan, service-delivery plan, contingency plan, and many more factors
  • Be sure to secure a business license and make sure you are reporting and paying any taxes that come from that income. Tax deductions are available for those working in private practice
  • You have to realize that building a private practice takes times, You may have to accept smaller sized MT contracts and work towards building a practice slowly
  • If you need a regular income, it would be wise to add lessons OR take another job. This job can be contract MT work or working at Starbucks, but having a regular paycheck while you build a practice will keep you focused on doing your best with your clients and your practice without having to worry about finances
  • Reach out to other MTs in your area who are doing private practice and use them as a support system. Many long-time music therapists are glad to help newcomers if they are willing to reach out and listen to advice
  • There is a helpful e-course on this very subject. A detailed description is found at Anyone reading this Ask Eva article can receive a FREE copy of You’re the Boss: Entrepreneurial Strategies for Music Therapists by simply sending an email request to <>

2. As a relatively new music therapist with a mid size company, I would like to know how long it is appropriate to wait to ask for a raise. Also, how do I know how much more to ask for?

Ideally, you and your employer should set a structure for raises when you start working with the company. If that was not done, know that raises are often tied to annual reviews or performance evaluations. Find out if your company conducts these, who will be doing them, and if salary increases are based on the outcomes and recommendations of the supervisor who conducts the review. You could also ask clinicians we have been at the company a while how raises are determined.

If you are not getting feedback about your work currently, ask for it, so that if any changes need to be made, you can do it prior to that first evaluation and each subsequent one.  Be ready at your annual review to provide evidence for how you are contributing to the company's success by providing quality music therapy to your clients. When you negotiate the first raise, try to work with your employer on setting up a regular review/raise schedule so that anxiety about this does not arise over and over.

3. Is it important to do your internship in an area that you would like to focus on or is any internship a valuable experience?

All AMTA National Roster Internships meet standards for clinical training and are committed to providing a quality experience to help you meet and master the AMTA Professional Competencies. Ideally, students should attempt to get an internship in the area he or she wants to focus in; that sustained period of training can make a huge difference in opportunities that are available after internship. While you will learn things in any internship program, being able to focus in the area that you are most interested in is the best investment of your time.

If you are having a difficult time narrowing down the population you prefer to work with, you may want to consider an internship working in several populations or in several ages. There are many internships that work with a variety of clients, and these can be invaluable, especially if you want to set up your own private practice working with a variety of clients OR you want to own a MT business that employs other therapists.

While it can be great to attempt to get an internship with a population you prefer, it is important to find one that you will find fulfilling and interesting AND that meets the other needs you might have at the time (such as location, stipend, and availability at the time you need it)., Consider which area of the country you might like to live post-internship. Interning in that geographic area can provide opportunities for networking and making connections while you are interning, and perhaps help you get that first job!

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