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 ( or 812-535-5145)


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