Sunday, April 8, 2012

First Year of Music Therapy: Freshmen Perspective

Four freshmen in the SMWC Undergraduate Music Therapy Program took some time out during their always busy schedules to talk about their first year experiences as music therapy students.

Why did you choose to pursue music therapy?

Beth: I’ve always been drawn to music and helping others. At first I was pursuing music therapy because it was something “different” and I wanted to learn to use it - but now, I realize I’ve been preparing for this my whole life.

Paige: I came to this school looking into a psychology degree, but I spoke with music professors because I did not want to give up my violin. That is when Sharon Boyle, Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy, described the field to me and I instantly knew what I wanted to do.

Rachel: I chose to pursue music therapy because it combines the art of music with the passion for helping people, which is exactly what I wanted.

Brittany: I’ve always been really interested in music and I’ve also wanted to help people in some way. I was planning on going into psychology or nursing, but when I heard about music therapy I thought it was too good to be true. I did some research and found out it’s the best of both worlds. This is my dream come true!

What has surprised you most about studying music therapy or about the SMWC academic experience?

Rachel: My schedule seems crazy and sometimes is, but when I step back and refresh my mind it doesn’t seem as bad. It’s gotten easier with time.

Beth: The scope of the field is so much deeper and broader than I could’ve ever imagined, and I’m still just scratching the surface. Coming from being homeschooled, it’s been really great to have such small, intimate classes in which to explore.

Brittany: It’s hard to balance school, work, and home all at once. Studying music therapy is wonderful, but making sure that I’m maintaining good grades and keeping everything in order has probably been the biggest challenge.

Paige: The most surprising thing to me is the level of personal drive you need to get through it all. It is so much more demanding than I imagined. I am also finding that I am more in love with my violin than I thought I could be. It is my rock and foundation because it is one thing that I am familiar with in this new experience.

As a first year student, what is it like having Field Class (group supervision) with upperclassmen?

Brittany: To be honest it’s a little odd. At first I felt out of place…but it’s been a wonderful experience. Getting to observe real music therapists with clients is also a great experience. It’s really helped develop my thinking. I can see that I am right where I belong.

Beth: It’s fantastic - I love getting to hear all the stories and experiences! I get to see all the things that I am learning from a textbook in action, which is really inspiring. All the upperclassmen are supportive and encouraging…without field class I would have had a hard time keeping perspective on why I love this field.

Rachel: At first it was nerve-racking but now I realize that it’s very informative. I learn a lot when we have discussions, and it sticks because it was not just written in a book!

Paige: Field class is a great experience for me. I have many friends who go to much bigger schools and they are surprised to know that I am already able to observe a professional as a freshman. Being around the upperclassmen also gives me confidence in what I am working towards and support on which I can depend.

(1st photo: Beth Allard is an Honors student, Student Senator, and studies piano; 2nd photo: Rachel Drach is an Honors student, studies voice, and loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; 3rd photo: Paige Fath is a Western-style rider for the SMWC Equestrian Team, and studies voice/violin; 4th Photo: Brittany Cheesman studies voice and maintains a part-time job at Wal-Mart.)

--Article written by Cathleen Flynn, Music Therapy Student Assistant