Friday, May 2, 2014

Reflection of a SMWC Music Therapy Senior:The Journey Unfolding

Sherry Bube, senior
Four years ago, I started on a journey of growth and exploration when I entered Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as a freshman music therapy student. These years have been marked by moments of joy and celebration, academic achievements, “aha!” moments in the classroom and practice room, and those relational moments between faculty and peers as we supported each other in our educational endeavors. It has also been marked by moments of frustration and doubt; juggling full schedules, experiencing learning blocks when the course material was not quite making sense, or struggling to get a concept. However, at the end of these four years, I am now heading out – from the music therapy program, from dedicated faculty and a network of friends, from "The Woods". This time, I start out with a new found intentional dedication to music as therapy, to a never ending journey of learning and growing, and to a better understanding of myself, my music, and my vocation in life. All these things have taken, and are still taking, time to unfold.


Bube (Center-right) and friends
The undergraduate music therapy program at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College has prepared me in numerous ways that extend beyond the classroom. My experiences include the accumulation of time and involvement in such areas as the practice room, co-curricular activities, practicum placements, the classroom, and many more areas. These experiences have resulted in a better understanding of myself and others through relationships, growth in leadership abilities, developing critical thinking abilities, and having a confidence in my work with others--all aspects that I had not fully possessed before being in this program.

Whenever I am asked about my experience at SMWC, the first word that comes to mind is "splendid". It has been splendid because each person with whom I encountered offered me an opportunity to come away from that interaction with a new idea, perspective, or simply a smile. It was splendid because being called a “Woodsie” holds meaning beyond the association of just attending this specific school. It also means being someone who has been supported to fully dive into her varied interests, grasp the true meaning of what it is to be a lifelong learner, and who is held to a standard of care and respect for each other and our community. Specifically, my music therapy classes with Sharon Boyle, M.M., MT-BC, Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy, cultivated and fostered learning as an all-encompassing process that takes not just the intellectual facet, but includes the entire person: mind, body, and heart. Through the experiences I shared in, and with the music of my peers, I was able to create, to become vulnerable, and to support myself and others in previously unexplored ways. 
Sherry Bube and  Sharon Boyle, Assoc Prof of Music Therapy
The undergraduate music therapy program at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offers some of the most diverse practicum experiences! My 8 practicum sites encompassed individuals of different populations, age ranges, and abilities, and I have been honored to share in and witness clients' growth and healing processes in the context of music therapy. These experiences have included the following:

  • a practicum experience on a memory care unit where I experienced the connection and awakening of a woman who was in the mid-stage of Alzheimer’s disease through music. At a time when her words were starting to fail her, music was a way for her to express her feelings and to be present in the moment with me and others in the group. 
  • a practicum experience at an elementary school in a classroom for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities through which music therapy provided a little boy who was non-verbal the ability to appropriately and successfully interact with his peers and express his creativity and energy.
  • a summer intensive practicum at a long-term care facility, where I was blessed with the opportunity to work with an older adult who used to be an active musician, but now is unable to participate in this activity due to health reasons. In the context of music therapy sessions, I was able to provide opportunities of success and enjoyment in music where he was able to participate through instrument play and song re-creation. At the end of our sessions together, he told me that he once more thought of himself as a musician. 
  • a two semester practicum providing group music therapy to adults residing on a behavioral health unit, through which I was able to better understand how music therapy serves to build relationships, foster expression, and afford these individuals the ability to cope with mental health illness. Music became a means to recognize and address their areas of need and to celebrate their strengths.
Each of these practicum experiences, as well as ones unmentioned, have contributed to my experience and understanding of clinical musicianship, the therapeutic process and presence that occurs in music therapy, as well as my own responses and interactions. I have changed and grown because of these experiences on a personal, professional, and musical level.

In the end, I have come to understand that music is not just a means of entertainment. Music is a way we witness, honor, and acknowledge the dignity, beauty, and peace that each one of us offers. Music therapy is then a way to work through need areas, provide opportunities for expression, and is a means to engage others in their own process of life. As I reach the end of my time here at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and head to my *6-month music therapy internship, I know that this specific part of my journey is concluding. However, each ending brings a new beginning and that is what makes my journey even more exciting.

 --Reflection written by Sherry Bube, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Music Therapy Senior

*Sherry will be interning for 6 months at a pediatric hospital in Salt Lake City in the coming year to complete her degree program.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Music Therapy Club Exec Board 2014-15

Congratulations to the newly elected officers for the 2014-15 
SMWC Music Therapy Club Executive Board:

President: Nathan Mensah
Vice-President: Kelli Seida
Secretary: Summer Alvey
Treasurer: Paige Fath
Parliamentary: Hannah Miller

Historian: Beth Allard 


The SMWC Music Therapy Club was est. 2003

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College 30th Anniversary of Music Therapy and Reunion Reflection (Part One)

It has been nearly two months since our Music Therapy Reunion here on the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College campus and I am still drawing upon that experience. Last year, as Dr. Tracy Richardson and I began discussing what we wanted to do to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Music Therapy at the Woods, we both were very clear that we wanted to bring in guest speakers who represented a way of thinking about music therapy that we feel the programs here have emulated over the years. We wanted to be very clear in our identity as a music therapy program, connecting our wonderful history and traditions with our future aspirations and current programs. We hosted the September Student Cooperative Workshop with University of Dayton, University of Evansville, and SMWC students in Cecilian Auditorium and asked Carolyn Koebel, MM, MT-BC, to present a Drumming Workshop, centering on specific rhythm patterns for diverse populations, body rhythms, frame drum techniques and more. Koebel has taught our World Music course as an adjunct faculty member in our Master of Arts in Music Therapy (MAMT) program many times over the years, and it seemed fitting to bring her to campus during our anniversary year. We had nearly 80 people in attendance, all playing, singing, moving, and drumming on the stage!
Playing as one large ensemble in Cecilian Auditorium
Each school that participated helped out so much by bringing in their own drums and rhythm instruments to help supplement our own supply, and we provided lunch, catered by Sodexo, in the Foyer of the Conservatory Building (which turned 100 this year!).
Koebel brought some beautiful drums from her own collection which truly added to the authenticity of the sounds she was teaching. The SMWC students, as always, were incredible in their ability to help follow through on what was organized, providing assistance anywhere necessary!
Koebel teaching a playing technique
The rest of the fall semester was spent gearing up for our events in January and February. The winter has been particularly difficult this year, and we began our "Spring" semester with having to cancel classes due to the College closing (and most of Terre Haute!) when a large snowstorm blew into town, along with some of the lowest sub-zero temperatures we have seen in many years. I was very worried that weather would keep us from holding our Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 events, but Providence was on our side and while we thought there would be severe weather keeping everyone from attending, it was less severe than expected the day of the Reunion and CMTE. Unfortunately, the person we planned to honor on January 31st, Dr. Laurette Bellamy, SP, who started the music therapy program in 1983, was unable to attend as hoped.
 SMWC Undergraduate Music Therapy Students at Reunion
Alums from early 2000's
On the day of the Music Therapy Reunion, SMWC faculty member from the Text and Image Department, Elaine Yaw, was still working on our 30th Anniversary movie, and we both were putting the finishing touches on it (and I kept adding pictures!) right up to the time people were arriving! The tables were set in the foyer (thanks to Julie Worthington), the cake and refreshments were set up (thanks to Sodexo), and the big screen and A/V equipment was all ready (thanks to Tyler Hutcheson). I had placed peanut M&Ms on tables, in honor of the MAMT tradition of always having these at every residency. The first alums began to arrive and I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. 

Cathleen Flynn, presently completing her internship: It was energizing being in the presence of so many individuals who are contributors to and beneficiaries of music therapy at The Woods. It's so much more than just an academic program - it's a network of passionate musicians, humanists, friends. It feels a lot like a family even though I don't not know every person. The film made me reflect on the mutualistic relationship between students in the program, faculty members, and the curriculum (which is, to me, a dynamic living entity!). Faculty shapes the curriculum according to their philosophies and needs they perceive in the profession, the curriculum and faculty shape students' skills and world views, and students respond with unique insights and experiences that guide faculty to previously unexplored possibilities. This is true education, and it's beautiful. I think the events the Department is offering embody this spirit of exceptional, student-centered education that has always been present in the Conservatory, evidenced by our graduates who make amazing impacts in their professions and by our faculty who model loyalty and innovation every day. Hearing stories and remembrances made me appreciate the diversity within the program, and I felt both proud and humbled considering how many lives have been touched by music therapy at The Woods.
The only two male equivalency students
in the campus program finally meet! 
Current undergraduates and campus equivalency students arrived, current faculty, former faculty from the Music and Theatre Department, and more alumnae arrived. We had a few MAMT alumnae arrive which was very special, but unfortunately no current distance equivalency students and MAMT students were able to attend (their residencies had been the previous weekend).  Dr. Brian Abrams was in attendance as a special guest, as he was presenting a CMTE continuing education course the following day for the anniversary. In addition, Dr. Dottie King, President, was present to provide a few remarks, and Dr. Janet Clark, VPAA, was also our guest. Finally, Letter 10 performed and provided an important musical "container" to the entire event! The schedule of the evening:
Old friends reconnect
6:30 Arrival and mingling 
7:00 Welcome (by Tracy and Sharon) (light refreshments provided)
7:05 Dr. Dottie King's remarks
7:10-7:30  Recognition of Dr. Laurette Bellamy, SP (who established the MT program)
7:30 Movie presentation (collage/pictures, etc)
7:45 Sharing memories, etc.
8:00 Announcements/Closing
8:00-8:30 Letter 10 performs (mingling)


Alum Nicole Gilberti, a music therapist now working for Opportunities for Positive Growth: Seeing previous and current students alongside individuals who have helped to form the SMWC Music Therapy Program was beautiful. It was wonderful seeing old and new friends and sharing stories of our time at the Woods. The film showed me that I am just a part of a much bigger puzzle. Those involved in creating the program paved a path for me to become the professional that I am today. If the program was not created at the Woods, I would have gone to a different institution and received a very different kind of training. When starting the program, those involved took their time to research the different music therapy affiliations and chose what best fit with the College Mission. As a student I was always encouraged to dream big and follow through with my ambitions. I loved hearing similar stories from year to year. The details of the tales were different, but the content was very similar. We are all connected, throughout the years by a strong education, determined and driven professors, a calling to help others, and the lovely campus. 

Nicole Gilberti (pictured left)
While Sister Laurette Bellamy was not able to attend, we did show the engraved plaque we had made for her, recognizing her important role in creating the Music Therapy Program at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. The movie presentation which followed was moving, and featured interview clips of Sister Laurette (thanks to Elaine Yaw!) describing the history of the program. Images from 30 years moved before us and we read the accomplishments of students, faculty, and alumnae over the years. The sharing of memories was meaningful and I think we all felt the connection...the bridge...between all programs and all eras of the programs in that one evening. The Ring Song spontaneously began and everyone stood in a circle in the foyer, taking in the history and the memories of the space as the final notes sounded. 


The evening concluded with Letter 10 performing, and Jay Thompson (the first male campus equivalency student) jumped in to play with them, jamming on his harmonica and leading a rousing blues song which had the Conservatory filled with energy and excitement. 
Dr. Tracy Richardson "photobombing" Letter 10
Julia Lopez-Kaley (pictured: center)
Julia Lopez-Kaley, another alum from the undergraduate program and a member of Letter 10: 
It was a really special experience to be at the reception. The energy and spirit during the celebration provided needed nourishment, connectedness, and a deep sense of gratitude that I was able to be a part of it. I felt especially grateful that I was asked to provide music at the event. The music – the shared experience, the way it changes an environment, the way it fosters connection – has always been stressed as essential to professional competence and personal growth within the music therapy program at The Woods. It was an honor to participate in providing the music with my good friends and The Woods community.

The film helped me feel like part of a special, collective whole and community. It is sometimes easy to forget about the history before and after one’s own undergraduate, graduate, or professional experience at The Woods. I felt an intense gratitude for the work, passion, and commitment of those before, after, and during my time at St. Mary’s. It is apparent that a focus on professional responsibility, musical and personal development, and clinical experience have been part of the program since it began in 1983. I am thankful that I was a part of the history and development of the program in my own way and I walked away from the weekend with a renewed sense of responsibility to continue to support the music therapy program at The Woods. It is one of the best programs in the United States, and it is essential to the growth of the music therapy profession. 

Current MT Faculty, Sharon Boyle and Tracy Richardson
Former Director of Theatre, Sharon Ammen (right) and
Current Choir Director, Michael Boswell (left)

Mingling at reception



-Written by Sharon R Boyle, MM, MT-BC, Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Music Therapy Program at SMWC
*Part Two will be written about Dr. Brian Abrams' CMTE and Dr. Alan Turry's CMTE at the end of the semester.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Best Day" of Learning Through the Music at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

The SMWC Music Therapy Practicum class was recently given the task to take a previously unlearned current popular song (in this case, they were assigned "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors), work together as a group, and be ready to perform the song for their instructor by the end of a 45-minute period.

This type of exercise helps the students experience group process through music, learn how to work with varied group dynamics, sort through problems and determine solutions, and ultimately create a "product" at the end of a very important process. They learn to apply the musical knowledge that is central to their training and education.

Here was the result:


Enjoy! 



*The cover of this song was used merely for educational purposes and is not intended for any financial gain.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Social Media Advocacy Month: "We are...MUSIC THERAPISTS!"

As part of Social Media Music Therapy Advocacy Month of 2014, we offer you this guest blog post written by Judy Simpson, MT-BC, Director of Government Relations for the American Music Therapy Association.

“We are…MUSIC THERAPISTS!” 
     When I started my career as a music therapist in 1983, it was not uncommon for me to describe my profession by comparing it to other professions which were more well-known. If people gave me a puzzled look after I proudly stated, “I use music to change behaviors,” I would add, “Music therapy is like physical therapy and occupational therapy, but we use music as the tool to help our patients.” Over the years as I gained more knowledge and experience, I obviously made changes and improvements to my response when asked, “What is music therapy?” My enhanced explanations took into consideration not only the audience but also growth of the profession and progress made in a variety of research and clinical practice areas. The best revisions to my description of music therapy, however, have grown out of government relations and advocacy work. The need to clearly define the profession for state legislators and state agency officials as part of the AMTA and CBMT State Recognition Operational Plan has forced a serious review of the language we use to describe music therapy. The process of seeking legislative and regulatory recognition of the profession and national credential provides an exceptional opportunity to finally be specific about who we are and what we do as music therapists. For far too long we have tried to fit music therapy into a pre-existing description of professions that address similar treatment needs. What we need to do is provide a clear, distinct, and very specific narrative of music therapy so that all stakeholders and decision-makers “get it.”

     Included below are a few initial examples that support our efforts in defining music therapy separate from our peers that work in other healthcare and education professions:

 • Music therapists' qualifications are unique due to the requirements to be a professionally trained musician in addition to training and clinical experience in practical applications of biology, anatomy, psychology, and the social and behavioral sciences.

 • Music therapists actively create, apply, and manipulate various music elements through live, improvised, adapted, individualized, or recorded music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.

 • Music therapists structure the use of both instrumental and vocal music strategies to facilitate change and to assist clients achieve functional outcomes related to health and education needs.

     In contrast, when OTs, Audiologists, and SLPs report using music as a part of treatment, it involves specific, isolated techniques within a pre-determined protocol, using one pre-arranged aspect of music to address specific and limited issues. This differs from music therapists’ qualifications to provide interventions that utilize all music elements in real-time to address issues across multiple developmental domains concurrently.

     As we “celebrate” 2014’s Social Media Advocacy Month, I invite you to join us in the acknowledgement of music therapy as a unique profession. Focused on the ultimate goal of improved state recognition with increased awareness of benefits and increased access to services, we have an exciting adventure ahead of us. Please join us on this advocacy journey as we proudly declare, “We are Music Therapists!” About the Author: Judy Simpson is the Director of Government Relations for the American Music Therapy Association. She can be reached at simpson@musictherapy.org
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 For more information about the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Music Therapy Programs, please contact Sharon R. Boyle at sboyle@smwc.edu or Tracy Richardson at trichardson@smwc.edu.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Music Therapy Student Spotlight Featuring: Nathan Mensah


Nathan Mensah
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College welcomes Nathan Mensah as a new campus music therapy equivalency student this semester! While our Master of Arts in Music Therapy (MAMT) and Music Therapy Equivalency Distance (MTED) programs routinely have both female and male students, Nathan is only the second male equivalency student to be part of the campus program in the history of the 30-year-old program. Equivalency students typically have a bachelor’s degree in music or a related area and then are able to complete the coursework and clinical training as part of this special non-degree program. The students can then sit for the Music Therapy Board Certification Examination (see Certification Board for Music Therapists for more information) when all other criteria are met.

Originally from Fort Wayne, IN, Nathan attended Indiana University (IU) for his undergraduate studies and completed a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in psychology with a minor in music in 2010.
Music has always been a constant presence in Nathan’s life. His earliest musical memory was when he was four-years-old and was near a piano. After playing around “until there was a four note melody,” Nathan remembers thinking,  “this is my song, I created it!” During his early years, he wanted to pursue drumming, but was recommended by a teacher to take another instrument in addition to the drums. Being the youngest child with three older sisters, Nathan wanted “something really, really loud” and so he chose the trumpet. The trumpet has remained his principle instrument and he also enjoys playing an assortment of other instruments, including the drums and ukulele. Ever the musician, Nathan has remained an active member of a Ska and rock group, You & All The Blind People, who perform throughout Indiana.

After pursuing further educational opportunities and being employed in the Indianapolis area for several years, Nathan was looking for a career in which he would be happy in his job. When reflecting on past experiences, Nathan knew that he needed to enter a career in which he would look forward to it and music emerged as the common factor that he had enjoyed and still does today. After encouragement from several family members and friends to “find something that you like doing and that meets the greatest need in the world,” Nathan came across music therapy.
Because he already had an undergraduate degree, Nathan was looking for an equivalency program where his previous educational experience and classes would be accounted for and allow him to complete everything in a timely fashion. Nathan recalls being won over by such aspects as the welcoming faculty of the SMWC Music and Theatre Department, the centralized location of the campus, ease of the transfer process, and the flexibility found within the program.

 
Nathan recently responded to a few questions:

How has your view of music expanded since being in the program?
"There are so many songs I don't know! I now actively seek out different types of music in order to become familiar with everything. Also, as a side note, I'm used to improvising with jazz and soul bands, but not with percussion instruments, so it is a fun change of pace."

What would you tell someone who is thinking about enrolling at SMWC as a Music Therapy student?
"This is a wonderful campus full of equally wonderful people! The professors excel at preparing us for the real world (I've been there, it's not easy, we can use all the help we can get!) and pushing us to become great at what we do. This school offers smaller classes which allow individualized attention which is fantastic! I'd also tell them to get ready to work hard, and also to try new things! It is school after all."

While the SMWC undergraduate campus programs remain all-female, equivalency programs, distance programs, and graduate programs are open to students regardless of gender. As a male student on an all-female campus, Nathan has been greeted with some questions, but primarily friendly faces, as the Woods remains an inviting and convivial place in which one can pursue educational goals.
SMWC music therapy students improvising together
Outside of school, Nathan enjoys engaging in hobbies such as martial arts, theatre, traveling (he says that “everyone should go to Paris”), and watching movies that can make him laugh. Some of his favorite pieces of music are Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and September by Earth, Wind, and Fire. When asked what piece of advice he would give to someone who might be looking into music therapy, he says to “Go into something you really love.” As far as considering an equivalency program, Nathan recommends to “Be open to trying new things and learning new things.”
  

 
-Feature authored by Sherry Bube, senior music therapy student, and Sharon R. Boyle, music therapy faculty.
For more information about the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College campus music therapy program, contact Sharon R. Boyle, Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy (sboyle@smwc.edu or 812-535-5145)