Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Snapshot of Some New Music Therapy Students for the SMWC 2015-16 Academic Year

The first part of the fall semester has flown by at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. As midterm approaches, the leaves are starting to change colors, the weather is starting to cool down from the summer heat, and new music therapy students have had an opportunity to become acclimated to SMWC. The music therapy undergraduate programdistance equivalency (MTED), and graduate (MAMT) programs are all blossoming.

Dana Kim, MAMT student
Dana Kim, from Noblesville, IN, just completed the MTED program this past year and is now a new graduate student in the MAMT program. Before coming to SMWC, she had received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. When asked why she chose to study music therapy, Dana replied “I had several volunteer opportunities in which I saw how music could be a healing tool. This inspired me to learn more about music therapy and how I could use my passion for music to help others. I had a great experience in the SMWC MTED program, so that certainly influenced my decision. I also did a great deal of research on online masters programs before deciding to return to the Woods.  I wanted to learn about the unique philosophies of the different programs and see what they had to offer.  Ultimately, I felt that the Woods offered a wide variety of courses that I was interested in (Medical Music Therapy, Bonnie Method of Guided Imagery, Nordoff Robbins Improvisation).  The Woods also focuses on developing the individual which I feel will help me best serve my clients and aid me in continuing to learn and grow even after I complete my education.” Like many before her, she was drawn to the program’s faculty consisting of many experts in the field.  “SMWC does a wonderful job recruiting professionals from across the country who specialize in different areas of music therapy. It provides the students with a unique opportunity to learn many different perspectives from some of the best music therapists in the field”.

Shea Davis, music therapy major
As Dana is settling into her new program, freshman music therapy major Shea Davis, from Clinton, Indiana, is settling into college life. “I like the community because I can go to a music student and ask them to explain things I don’t understand. I can talk to my professors too, and because my classes are small, they can help explain things to you.” Though she is a singer and flute player, she also plays the piano by ear for fun. “I’ve wanted to learn how to really play for a long time, but right now I learn by watching YouTube videos… I learn by ear. I hear it, I see them playing a certain way, and I learn it.” She enjoys listening to and playing popular music and country, but hopes to learn how to play classical music while at The Woods. Shea developed a high interest in music therapy after doing a research project her junior year. “I actually didn’t want to be a music therapist at all; I wanted to be a veterinarian. A few girls at my high school wanted to be music therapists, and I wanted to do something different. But my sophomore year I went to Olivet Nazarene for a visit on the weekend and came back and thought ‘I don’t know what to do with my life anymore’. I decided to look into music therapy just a little more and decided it was a bigger possibility for me!” After researching, she learned that music therapy was the very different field she was looking for, and does not regret attending. “It is a challenge. In high school, I wasn’t actually challenged. I did the work and it was done, but here I have to think about what I’m doing and I like it because I’m challenged in a good way. I’m actually learning and thinking!” In the future, she hopes to work with children in a hospital setting, but for now is enjoying connecting with students. “I’m very glad that everybody is very welcoming. I listen to film scores in my free time, and I connect with people over that here”.

Kristin Foster, music therapy major
Kristin Foster is one of the new students joining SMWC this semester. She hails from Metropolis, Illinois, and is a freshman music therapy major. For her, music has been a huge part of her life before arriving at the college. “My parents tell me that I sang before I actually spoke words. As a one year old I was vocalizing and making pitches and melodies and just singing. My dad said I’d just make things up. I was very musically inclined even as a child.” As for why she decided to study music, Kristin replied “my parents told me to chase whatever I thought would be best for my life, until I find what I want to do. And I’ve always loved music, so I thought that would be a great place to start!”  Kristin’s primary musical talent is in voice, but she has taken piano for 2 years, playing guitar for several years, and participated in high school band as a percussionist on mallets. She was drawn to The Woods for multiple reasons. “I think one of the reasons I chose this particular school (I fell in love with many aspects) is because of the music department and the faculty, specifically. I have been very solid in the teaching I’ve had so far ( I started with my voice teacher in the children’s choir from 2nd grade up to 12th grade, and did private lessons from 6th grade to 12th grade) which was a very long lasting learning experience. I knew by coming to the Woods I would get that experience. I’m really excited to just learn from the teachers here because they have a lot to offer. When I first arrived here, I had only planned on studying music. But, once I started the MU 282 Music as Therapy class, I knew I needed to switch my major. The idea of being able to work with people to improve their lives through music is wonderful! I feel a strong calling and connection to what Music Therapists do, and I'm thrilled to be able to study music therapy here."

We wish all our new and returning students, faculty and staff from all programs a successful and enriching academic year!
SMWC Chorale while rehearsing for recent 2015 Homecoming Concert

Davis and Foster improvising on piano

Interview completed by Nathan Mensah, senior music therapy major

Edited by Sharon R. Boyle, Associate Professor of Music Therapy
SMWC Chorale warming up with solfeggio

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

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

For more information about the SMWC Music Therapy Equivalency-Distance (MTED) program, contact: 

Larisa McHugh, MA, MT-BC (


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