Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The SMWC Music Therapy Graduate Program: Enduring Connections

In 2000, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Master of Arts in Music Therapy (MAMT) program began. Since its inception, it has been a leader in providing both an accessible, yet challenging, graduate program. While other graduate programs have been developed over the past 18 years, SMWC was one of the first programs to utilize a hybrid format. With an emphasis on meeting the needs of working music therapists, the MAMT program utilizes short-term residencies, bringing students to campus three times a year for intensive courses taught by experts in the field. Each residency is followed by online work that further fosters learning and collaboration. Strong connections among peers are a benefit of the cohort model (each class moves through the program together to provide continuity). The focus on active music-making in the program helps foster relationships both inside and outside the classroom. Graduates from the program have gone on to be leaders in research, teaching, and clinical work. Dr. Tracy Richardson, Director of the MAMT Program and one of its developers, has even brought back some of the MAMT graduates to teach in the program. We interviewed some individuals who have a unique perspective on the program - one is a recent graduate, one is currently in the program, and one graduated ten years ago - to provide context about the program's impact on all who move through it.

Damian May, MA, MT-BC, received his Master of Arts in Music Therapy degree from SMWC in 2008. He works as a music therapist at Napa State Hospital in California and is also an adjunct music therapy instructor for SMWC in the Music Therapy Equivalency Distance (MTED) program.
Damian May, MA-MT-BC
What aspects still endure for you as you reflect on your time in the program? What has stayed with you?
I remember being challenged to take the concepts that I was learning, discussing, and reading about in the program and applying them directly in my work. As a relatively new music therapist at the time, it encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things with the patients I was working with... simultaneously, I was able to be bold and go out on "creative limbs", which was a benefit, I believe, to my patients. They sensed I was taking risks and they followed suit. I still remind myself of this regularly - to stay creative and try different approaches, look at situations and challenges from different perspectives in my work, and in life.What are some professional goals or accomplishments that have occurred since receiving your Master's degree from SMWC?

First, an ability to go deeper with my patients, to have a fuller understanding of music therapy and its implications beyond the broad undergraduate subject matter. Additionally, it opened up doors for me in the music therapy academic world, leading me to be an adjunct faculty member in the SMWC MTED program.

Which class(es) or professor(s) influenced you the most in terms of your professional development, goals, or other areas of growth?
I'd have to say a few that stood out to me include the World Music class taught by Carolyn Koebel and Advanced Improvisation and Composition taught by Dr. Alan Turry. World Music (in context of clinical work) opened my eyes even more to a myriad of new instruments, customs, and musical styles/forms that I was able to use with my patients...and expanded my openness and acceptance of new and different mindsets and cultures. I still occasionally use my Shruti box. Clinical Improvisation is a stand out in the sense that, while I felt I was always relatively comfortable improvising, I learned there is always more to work on and master. A few of the simple techniques that I learned through that class, have been a bedrock in my daily clinical practice, as well as my own use of music improvisation for self care.

Dana Kim, MA, MT-BC, graduated with her Master of Arts in Music Therapy degree from SMWC in December 2017. She is also the first student to complete both the Music Therapy Equivalency Distance (MTED) program and the MAMT program. She works at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Tennessee.

Dana Kim, MA, MT-BC

As you reflect back on your time in the MAMT program, what do you feel you gained both professionally and personally as you moved through the program, and now as an alum?
I experienced great personal and professional growth throughout the MAMT program.  The curriculum emphasizes personal reflection which allowed me to better understand my individual personality, and how that impacts my interpersonal relationships and work as a therapist.  Professionally, I feel much more confident in my work and better able to serve clients with complex needs and conditions.  As an alum, I am continuing to develop the professional skills I learned in the MAMT program and am finding new ways to implement them into my work.  I have also remained connected with my classmates and colleagues as we continue to support one another in our careers.

What do you already miss about being part of the MAMT program?
I miss the constant connection and support from colleagues and mentors.  The coursework also provided me with a steady stream of new techniques and ideas which I was able to directly implement into my music therapy practice.  Now, I have to be more mindful to seek out opportunities for connection and growth.

What has been the most beneficial aspect about obtaining your Master of Arts in Music Therapy degree from SMWC?
There have been so many benefits to obtaining my Master of Arts in Music Therapy degree from SMWC.  I feel much more confident in both my musical and therapeutic skills and have a better understanding of who I am as a therapist.  Obtaining my master’s degree has also allowed me to pursue additional leadership opportunities within the medical center in which I work and feel more proficient in mentoring music therapy students.

What advice would you give to others considering a master’s degree and who are looking for the right fit in a graduate program?
I think it is important to find the program that best fits your theoretical orientation, but that will also challenge you to grow and reflect your approach as a therapist.  Reviewing and prioritizing your career goals is helpful and can allow you to find the right program to best meet your individualized needs.  Asking alumni to share their personal experiences is beneficial as well.

What else would you like to say about your experience in the MAMT program?
I am very grateful for my experiences at the Woods and to all of the faculty and peers who supported me throughout the journey.  Alumni from the MAMT program are doing such meaningful work and making a great difference in many areas of the field.  It is inspiring to be part of such a special group.

Ginger Drake, MT-BC, is in her first year of the SMWC MAMT program and also recently completed the SMWC MTED program. She works at Hennepin Health, Hospice of the Twin Cities and at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minnesota. In addition, she is a Graduate Assistant for the MAMT Program. 
Ginger Drake, MT-BC
What helped you make the decision that the SMWC MAMT program was the right fit for you as you looked at graduate programs?

After a rewarding and successful completion of the MTED program, the decision was easy. I went into the MTED program knowing that I wanted to get my master's degree and it was a simple transition from one program to the other. The level of education and professionalism among the professors combined with the nature of the distance program was enough for me, I knew it would be a good fit.

How do you feel you have managed your career, personal life, and schoolwork so far?

This is not an easy program, managing a full time career as a new professional while still keeping up with homework and maintaining a personal life can definitely be challenging. It takes effective planning and time management to be successful, but I come from the generation of "you can do anything you set your mind to" and this program is no exception.  It may be difficult at times, but it can be done.

What have been your favorite aspects of being in this program?
I love the residencies. They are an integral and enjoyable component to the MAMT program that allows you to get to know your cohort and faculty in a way that would be completely lacking in a traditional distance program. Intense on-campus education mixed with fun music-making and social activities makes residencies my favorite aspect of the MAMT program.

What else would you like to say about your experience in the MAMT program at this point?
The MAMT program is challenging, intense, interesting, and rewarding.  The faculty is amazing, this program draws some of the best experts in the field!  Though this style of learning isn't for everyone, it can offer a unique opportunity for professionals who aren't able to move to a school to complete a campus program.  SMWC has done a really nice job designing this program.


If you are interested in learning more about our Master of Arts in Music Therapy program, visit our website or contact Dr. Tracy Richardson for more information!

Blog Post Author: Sharon R. Boyle, MM, MT-BC is Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Music Therapy Program. Some of the interviews were conducted by Sarah Cary, Music Therapy Student Assistant. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

New Beginnings for Our New SMWC Music and Music Therapy Majors

New music and music therapy students 2017-18
It is hard to believe that another academic year at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is well underway. In fact, we just celebrated our Homecoming this past weekend and the Homecoming Concert was an incredible way for all parts of our campus to come together through the arts. With each new academic year, we welcome new students into the Department of Music and Theatre. We have so many students from different places, with diverse life experiences and musical backgrounds. Enjoy meeting some of our new students, some who are studying as music majors and several others who are music therapy majors.
Ashley Griggs

Ashley Griggs has come to the Woods after completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Country, and Old Time Music from East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Ashley is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy after debating about the amount of time it would take to earn a second degree. “No matter what societal norms dictate, there aren’t actually any rules about when you should finish secondary education. I wanted playing music to be a fulfilling experience. I love performing as a singer/songwriter. That will always be an important aspect of my life, but I wanted to play music for people beyond the purposes of entertainment.” Ashley reflects on her time at ETSU and compares it to her new experiences here at SMWC: “I learned so much from masters of this music and treasure my time there [at ETSU]. I knew coming into the music therapy program that many people would be from different musical backgrounds, specifically classical backgrounds, and I found this simultaneously terrifying and exciting. I am also very aware that as future music therapists, we need to be well-rounded musicians.” Ashley hopes to share her experiences with other students as they share theirs with her. About the recent Homecoming Concert: "Singing with the alumni made me feel more a part of this community. I was also asked to play fiddle on a piece the Madrigals were doing.  I never thought I would get to combine my love of fiddle with my love of choral music. I've always had to separate the two. In some ways this concert confirmed that I made the right choice and coming to SMWC."
Rose Shaffer

Abigail “Rose” Shaffer is a student majoring in Music Therapy with a primary instrument of saxophone. Rose has said, “The biggest surprise to me about the music therapy program is that it's very hands on at some points, which is great and fun!” She enjoys participating in musical experiences and then discussions of how the experience may be used in a session with clients. Rose looks forward to working with clients during her practicum experiences in the coming years: “I think while it'll provide a lot of challenges, it'll be worth it in the very end. Helping the client in the end is what's worth it.” When asked which SMWC tradition she finds most interesting, Rose said Big/Little Week. “It gives the freshmen a chance to make friends with an older student and have fun [while figuring out the identify of their] Big.”            

Valerie Haley
Valerie Haley
is a new student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Therapy at SMWC and one of the recipients of the 2017-18 Musician of Promise Scholarship. Haley, one of the 2017-18 Musician of Promise Scholarship winners, is also a member of the SMWC Band, Chorale, and Madrigals. Valerie was drawn to music therapy because it was a profession where she could utilize her gifts and talents to help people in need. When asked about her biggest surprise about the SMWC Music Therapy Program, Valerie stated, “It was a surprise to me how different each student is and how each person comes from a different starting point. There are so many different perspectives and the music faculty are really good at working with each student at their own level.” Valerie reflects on the recent Homecoming Concert: “It has been a lot of work keeping up with all the music I’m supposed to learn between Chorale, Madrigals, and Band, but at the same time, I love how my life has become totally saturated with music. I particularly enjoy Madrigals because you can sense that everyone involved has a deep love for music-making...I feel like this concert gave me a little more of a connection to the College's past.” Valerie looks forward to Ring Day for ”it’s about accomplishment, growth, and maturity” and she finds it interesting and meaningful.

Caroline Steinrock
Caroline Steinrock comes from a long background of piano playing. “I have been playing since the second grade, and I never want to stop learning!” She is now majoring in Music Therapy with piano as her primary instrument. Since studying music at the collegiate level, Caroline speaks of her new perspective of music: "I have been exposed to many new musical experiences. I have never sung in a choir before, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how exciting it is! Making music with that large of a group is exhilarating. Performing in the Homecoming Chorale concert was an all-around memorable experience for me as a brand new student here at The Woods. When we opened our portion of the concert with “Lion Sleeps Tonight”, I immediately smiled and began to really get into the music. It was evident that the audience really enjoyed our song selection, and I could feel a great sense of community from where I was standing." When asked about her experience so far at the Woods, she says, “I love being a Pomeroy, because everyone around you is as passionate about their education and their talents as you are. It’s a great environment to be in.”

Sarah Petty, a Music major and flute primary, talks about her love of music. “I have been in band since the 6th grade, and taking private lessons for 6 years.” Sarah is preparing for the Homecoming Concert in Band and Chorale: “In Band, the songs were coming together smoothly and everyone was playing their right parts. And in Chorale, everyone was singing the right parts and it flowed very well and everyone was blending.”
Ronald Brewer

Ronald Brewer, a new music student and singer at the Woods, is open to many types of music such as traditional, rock, hip hop, and others. He looks forward to expanding his musical skills, “I definitely want to grow more in my musical realms [for] both classical and musical theater. I would like to expand my vocals to things like jazz and perhaps some forms of rock. I believe in keeping yourself versatile.” So far, music theory and piano have been the most challenging for Ronald, “I think I grasp both of those subjects conceptually, but the actual execution is quite difficult.” Ronald is a member of the Woods Vocal Ensemble and has become involved in the fall theatrical production "Almost, Maine" which opens in November. When asked about the Homecoming Concert, he said, "I really enjoyed the energy of the audience. The enthusiasm of the alumni definitely made things easier for us to go through. He is applying himself and enjoying his experience as a Pomeroy: “It truly has been a blessing to be able to thrust myself into the community and be involved on this beautiful campus.”

Justine Gibson
Justine Gibson, another recipient of the 2017-18 Musician of Promise Scholarship, is majoring in Music Therapy with a primary study in voice. Justine discovered the power of music after her grandfather suffered from an injury and used music to ease pain during recovery. ”The effect music has on people” is what has drawn Justine to the music therapy profession. Michael Boswell, the Music and Theatre Department’s choral and voice professor, introduced Justine to music therapy as she studied voice with him during her final years of high school. Justine has found the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music to be the most interesting topic mentioned in her introductory music therapy class this semester. Justine performed in the Homecoming Concert as a member of both the Chorale and Madrigals. “It has been very fun. I love to learn new music, especially if there is a lot of it. Just pushes me to work harder! . . . my favorite part [of the Homecoming Concert] was when we were able to sing with the Alums. Singing it [the Ring Song] with the alums just gave me an even greater sense of unity, I just felt like I was right where I needed to be in that moment.”
New students showing their goofy sides - it is midterm after all!
Music Therapy at the Woods - Going Strong!
In addition to the growth in the Undergraduate Music Therapy Program, the Music Therapy Equivalency Distance Program continues to draw many students from across the country. Larisa McHugh, MTED Program Coordinator, and all the wonderful adjunct faculty and staff, are proud that the program celebrates 5 years!  The Master of Arts in Music Therapy program, under the leadership of Dr. Tracy Richardson and in its 17th year, continues to develop and expand its reach through amazing student research, alums who are leaders in the field, and faculty experts.

Blog post interviewer: Sarah Cary, Music Therapy Student Assistant 
Editor and Author: Sharon R. Boyle, Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy/Campus Equivalency
For more information about the SMWC Undergraduate Music Therapy and Music Therapy Equivalency-Campus programs, contact:
Sharon R. Boyle, MM, MT-BC

For information about the SMWC Master of Arts in Music Therapy program, contact: Dr. Tracy Richardson, MT-BC

For more information about the SMWC Music Therapy Equivalency-Distance (MTED)Online program, contact:  Larisa McHugh, MA, MT-BC

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Being a Mindful Community of Client Advocacy: Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month

Music Therapists: Being a Mindful Community of Client Advocacy

    Every January, there is an Advocacy Month for Music Therapy in Social Media that the Regulatory Affairs Board within the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) help to coordinate. With that, a theme is suggested and bloggers within the music therapy community are encouraged to write about advocacy issues in music therapy. The 2017 theme is: Your Guide to Advocacy Zen. CBMT encourages us to share the following: 

"Advocacy can help open doors, produce opportunities for growth, expand your horizons, and grow your personal and professional network. Advocacy is also not without its challenges. Over the course of the past decade, music therapists have been faced with responding to misinformed, potentially damaging comments that can serve to undermine the profession and services we provide, all while striving to continue moving forward with advocacy efforts that make a positive difference. These negative exchanges can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, and stress, and serve to potentially distract us from focusing on our clients and our work.

     In light of the contentiousness that seems to surround legislative and policy issues, we propose incorporating a spirit of mindfulness to advocacy efforts. Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This requires an awareness of our attitudes, feelings, thoughts, and actions; an understanding of how they impact our experiences and behaviors; and a willingness to take responsibility for our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being."

     In today's world, advocacy takes on new meaning and importance. Music therapists are poised to be important voices as policy and legislation moves forward in the areas of healthcare and education. What role can we play? 

    As educators and supervisors, it is our responsibility to help students understand that caring for our clients does not end in the session room. It continues beyond, as we advocate for our clients when we see an injustice, or when there is some type of policy or legislation that may harm them and take away their rights. The therapist-client relationship is established and developed through trust and respect. Our students need to understand that our clients are individuals who need our support even when the treatment has come to an end. Sometimes, we must be the voice for those without one.

   As professionals, it is our responsibility to be a proactive and coherent voice of reason, as well as one who is paying attention and aware of what is happening locally and at the state level, as well as within the national realm of healthcare and education. We are well-educated in the needs and supports needed to help our clients be successful and thriving, and we know that the diversity we see in our clients is a microcosm of the global picture. Diversity is not a political word. Advocacy does not need to be divisive. 

SMWC Music Therapy Students and Faculty:
Working toward being a mindful community of client advocates
     So, how does this connect to the theme of this year's Music Therapy Advocacy Month in Social Media related to mindfulness? The idea of "Mindfulness" is an important one in music therapy. As I sit with a client and we engage in music experiences, I am mindful of my own thoughts, feelings, values, and beliefs as I am simultaneously trying to be open and mindful of my client's own experience. In order to be a better therapist, I must understand how my client is experiencing the music. It may be different from me. We might need or want different things from the music, but ultimately, the therapeutic relationship allows us to work together to create something meaningful. It is not always beautiful. It is not always pleasing to the ear. But, ultimately, it becomes something from which we both can draw from, learn from, and grow within as people. 

     As music therapists we are part of a diverse community of people from all walks of life. Our varied backgrounds, beliefs, and values allow us to enter into the multi-faceted worlds of our clients, meeting them in the music space where we see one another's humanity - and celebrate it. And so we must move into the diverse community around us and try to mindfully do the same, for this is the world in which both we, and our clients, live.

About the Author: Sharon R. Boyle is an Associate Professor of Music Therapy and been on faculty at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College since 2002. She is the Program Coordinator for the Undergraduate Music Therapy Program.

For more information about the SMWC Undergraduate Music Therapy and Music Therapy Equivalency-Campus programs, contact:
Sharon R. Boyle, MM, MT-BC (sboyle@smwc.edu) 

For more information about the SMWC Master of Arts in Music Therapy program, contact:
Dr. Tracy Richardson, MT-BC (trichardson@smwc.edu)                                                 

For more information about the SMWC Music Therapy Equivalency-Distance (MTED) program, contact: 
Larisa McHugh, MA, MT-BC (lmchugh@smwc.edu)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Welcome to the New SMWC Music and Music Therapy Students!

Olivia Wendel
Olivia Wendel, who plays flute and is a freshman music therapy major, was originally going to major in Environmental Science, but she heard about the music therapy program after enrolling at SMWC. “It just kind of clicked in my mind that this is what I should be doing with my life.” Olivia knew she had a passion for helping others and has always been musical throughout her life.  She says the biggest surprises at SMWC have been the differences between coming from a large high school to a small college: “You get more one-on-one attention if you ever need it.” She is growing as a musician and she loves the opportunities. Olivia advises future SMWC music therapy students to be ready for a new family. “You have a huge support system that is helping and pushing you along the way. It's truly an amazing thing.”

Jacob Wilson
 Jacob Wilson, a percussionist and freshman music therapy major, had not heard of music therapy prior to applying to SMWC. A percussionist, he had a lot of interest in psychology and becoming a therapist. “I thought it [music therapy] was perfect. I could help people through therapy and still have a strong connection to music.” To future SMWC music therapy students: “Jump in and fear not, for your professors are there to help you.” He adds: “If you have a natural inclination for music and want to help people, what better way than to be a Music Therapist?” Jacob plays many different instruments which will serve him well as a music therapist including: guitar, piano, ocarina, and Native American flute.

Catherine Larson
SMWC 2016-17 Musician of Promise Scholarship winner, Catherine Larson, is a soprano and freshman music therapy major. Catherine is not a fan of large class sizes and uninterested professors, so when she came to the Woods and saw the small student body and invested professors she knew it was a good fit. “I just knew that this is where I needed to be.” Reflecting on her campus visit where she learned about music therapy, she says “I fell in love and everything fell into place.” Her connections to professors and their willingness to help, along with how comfortable and strongly organized the music therapy program is have been the biggest surprises. Catherine’s advice for students interested in majoring in music therapy? “Go ahead and do it. SMWC is very special especially the music program and if you like small environments, and peace, this is the place to be.” She adds that singing with the SMWC Chorale and Madrigals has been something she dreamed of since seeing a concert as a prospective student. 

Sara Langenberger
                                                                           Sara Langenberger, soprano and sophomore in music, has plans of changing her major after watching a video about Music Therapy helping treat Alzheimer's Disease. “I have family members who have experienced this disease, so it is very close to my heart. It sparked my interest, and the more I learned about it the more I loved it!” Sara’s biggest surprise about the SMWC Music Therapy Program has been “just how all of the teachers are genuinely kind and want you to succeed, which is something you may not find at a large college.” Her advice to future MT students: “Keep an open mind and get ready to learn because this will truly change your life.”

Natalie Coffin
Natalie Coffin, singer/songwriter and pianist, is pursuing her second bachelor’s degree in music therapy. “I have a BA in Creative Writing from IUPUI and am a lifelong professional singer songwriter and musician who was planning to go to law school.  But life took a different turn for me last year.  My mother became ill unexpectedly and passed away after a brief illness.  I had a lot of hours to think about life in the eight weeks she was in the hospital.  Before she passed away, in one of our last conversations, she told me to create a life I would love, and to never give up on music.  So…that is why I’m here.” Natalie feels music therapy is such an exciting field.  “In this short time I can see that there is so much to learn, and yet, I feel as if I’m already a part of a wonderful profession that has so much to offer not only clients and patients, but also to us as Music Therapy students and eventually as Music Therapists.  I’m immensely grateful to be studying Music Therapy at SMWC.” Reflecting on her decision to apply and audition at SMWC, Natalie says, “The audition process was way out of my comfort zone.  It took a lot of practice and a lot of prayer.  And of course, Professor Sharon Boyle and Dr. Tracy Richardson and the rest of the entire department made it so easy.  I can honestly say it was one of my proudest life moments when I completed my audition and was offered a place in the Music Therapy Program of SMWC.  As Oprah says, it was a full circle moment for me, one that I had dreamed about for a very long time…And the best part is, I know that I am becoming an even better musician, expanding my skill set, facing my fears, and living life without regret.  How cool is that?” Natalie is hoping to add the new songwriting emphasis to her major: “I am looking forward to learning more about composition and notation as I have some music percolating in my mind that is of the symphonic choral ensemble type.”

Liz Yeazel

            Elizabeth “Liz” Yeazel, pianist and freshman music therapy major, wanted to pursue a career where she could help people in need. She wrote a research paper on alternative therapies and discovered she loved the idea of being a music therapist. She reflects on her first visit to SMWC: “I met Professor Boyle, an onsite supervising music therapist, and two freshmen music therapy majors. I was blessed enough to view a recorded music therapy session, and that was my special moment. I have always wanted to help those in need, and when I learned I could combine my love for music and my passion for giving back, I knew this was the career path for me.” When asked about the biggest surprise to her in the SMWC music therapy program: “The biggest surprise thus far has probably been how unique everyone is, including professors. I was afraid I would be coming in with little knowledge compared to my peers, but that is not the case. I am quickly realizing everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it's absolutely beautiful. Individuality is key in this program because no two music therapists will be alike, and no two clients will be exactly the same.” Liz advises future students to “be ready to embrace your mistakes and rejoice in your breakthroughs. We're all on the same journey here in this program.”

*Sarah Cary
            Sarah Cary, alto and transfer student into the music therapy program this year, originally majored in Music Education at another institution. “I began to look at other majors. While researching, I came to the conclusion I was very interested in counseling and therapy work. However, none of what I found included music and I wanted to keep music within my career. For a while I thought there was no career that involved both of my interests. I met a current music therapy student at SMWC and he spoke to me about the major. “Since I’ve started, I am loving it! I was told so many positive things about being a student at the Woods and I am now experiencing them first-hand.” When asked about the biggest surprise about being in the SMWC Music and Theatre Department, Sarah said she is amazed at how invested the instructors are in students' individual growth. “They ask us how we’re doing and are actually interested in our answers. They want to make sure we are understanding our school work and succeeding as much as possible. Our instructors are very willing to help students outside of the classroom and let us know when we are doing well. Our instructors make sure to let us know when we make improvements. I really appreciate that.” Sarah’s advice to future students? “Work hard and dedicate yourself. This is your future career and the only way to work well in your field is to put in the work and dedication now.”

Toby Inserra
Tobias “Toby” Inserra, percussionist and freshman music therapy major, knew he wanted to pursue music therapy from the start and loved SMWC after visiting. “The biggest surprise has to be how much I love it! I just thought it was going to be like any other degree program, but I quickly found that I'm not here to get a degree I am here to get the foundation for my career.” Toby’s advice to students looking into the music therapy program here? “Do it! I was unsure if this was going to be the right fit for me, but it only took one visit for me to figure out this is where I need to be. So just take a chance and at least see what it’s all about.” Toby is excited to be part of the renewal of the instrumental studies and band at SMWC. “As a percussionist, I am really looking forward to being a part of the band brought back this year. While we are just a small band now we will grow and become an integral part of the SMWC music program.”
Annamaria Farmer, freshman MT major

Jacob Reinhart, freshman music major
  Jacob Reinhart, bass/baritone and music major, saw the opportunity to be one of the first undergraduate male music students in the Department of Music and Theatre. “I felt the opportunity too rare to give up and decided to pursue my degree here.” Jacob advises future music students: “For any other guys who are thinking of enrolling in the music program they certainly should invest some time looking into this school because it does have, in my opinion, an excellent program without too much pressure. From what I've learned here so far I can definitely say this school would be a good choice for those who want to take their music education seriously.” Jacob likes to sing classical, Broadway, and gospel music. “I'd like to learn more contemporary styles because I believe a singer should be able to sing all kinds of music.” Jacob is a member of the new Woods Vocal Ensemble started this year.

Group selfie!

*Blog post author: 
Sarah Cary, Music Therapy Student Assistant 

Editor and Blog Coordinator: 
Sharon R. Boyle, MM, MT-BC
For more information about the Undergraduate (Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy) or the Music Therapy Equivalency Campus Programs, contact Sharon R. Boyle, MM, MT-BC, Associate Professor of Music Therapy:
phone: (812) 535-5145; emailsboyle@smwc.edu