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.

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