The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Junior Tara Smith, a music therapy major, will mentor freshman Noelle Ciaciuch next year through Leading Tones, a mentorship program.
Photo credit: ALEX HERBIG/The Falcon.
Rigorous major is only program in Washington
By CHRISTINE COOK, Assistant News Editor
Published: May 23, 2012
Freshman Noelle Ciaciuch came to Seattle Pacific for its music therapy program. She first became interested in music therapy when she decided she wanted to work with autistic children.
Junior Tara Smith has had the same goal since she came to SPU.
These two students will be paired up through Leading Tones, a new mentorship program within the Music Therapy club. Smith will act as a mentor to Ciaciuch.
Sophomore Erica Lee, next year’s president of the Music Therapy club, said that with only three professors in the major, Leading Tones will be helpful in providing guidance to students.
“They can talk about what’s going on in their lives and in their classes,” Lee said.
Ciaciuch hopes that she will see a glimpse of what she will be doing in a few years from Smith.
“Having something like this will bring us all together” Ciaciuch said. “It will help us get to know people on different levels of the program.”
Smith said she has appreciated people in the major who have taken the time to have discussions with her.
“I hope to connect with students and figure out what they’re thinking,” Smith said. “It can be a great support; it’s a lot to go from practicum to internships. … Big-picture-wise, we have a lot to learn from one another,” she said.
Lee said there are a lot of misconceptions about music therapy.
“Most people think we just play music,” Lee said. “But we’re more than musicians.”
There is a lot of research-based evidence showing the effectiveness of music therapy, said Nancy Houghton, an adjunct professor of music.
“What a music therapist does is go into a situation and address the needs of the client: whether [those needs are] physical, emotional, social or cognitive,” Houghton said. “We create a music-related program to enhance the areas that need support.”
This could include songwriting, instrument playing, singing, lyric analysis or music listening.
“It’s all geared toward the specific client,” Houghton said.
Dr. Carlene Brown began SPU’s music therapy program three years ago. It is the only undergraduate music therapy program in the state of Washington.
Houghton said five students have graduated from the major so far, and 20 students are currently enrolled.
“We have students in field work in various places in Seattle,” Houghton said. “We have students placed at a couple of hospital settings [and] a center for developmentally disabled teens, and we’re working on a program with Swedish [Medical Center] in the pain unit.”
To obtain a degree in music therapy, students must take music courses, psychology, child development and anatomy.
“It all has to be woven into the curriculum,” Houghton said, adding that, in addition to the required classes, students must also work “on their own personal music mastery.”
After four years of undergraduate education, which includes 180 clinical hours, students are required to have an internship to be certified.
“We continue to get many inquiries from across the country,” Houghton said. “We need to be able to have more places in the community for the students to do field work. Right now that’s one of our bigger determinations.”
For current students, however, the Leading Tones mentorship program is a useful tool to understand what being a music therapist entails, Houghton said.
“A lot of music therapy has to do with connection,” she said. “To have students mentoring each other can only help students become the music therapist they want to be.”
Lee said that the program is in its beginning phase and that she hopes it is successful.
“That’s a lot of what therapy is,” she said. “You see if it works, and you change it if it doesn’t.”