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;