Why I Became a Music Therapist
Music Therapy empowers people. It gives hope. It teaches skills that people didn’t know they had or weren’t able to develop any other way. It brings healing and peace.
I’ve been reflecting on a lot of things lately. One of those things is how I ended up doing work that I love, and why I am so passionate about this work touching more and more lives. I believe my path started early in life as I nurtured my passion for music and developed a passion to empower.
When I was in high school I went to Peru several times with my family, and one time on my own for a couple months to live with a local family who was in charge of a humanitarian organization. Every time I went we did humanitarian expeditions where we helped families, communities, and individuals feel loved and valued and gain needed skills for healthy independent lives. This included projects like teaching micro-enterprise classes, doing dental work, building homes, building bathrooms, beautifying schools, and holding health fairs with hygiene kits available. I developed a big place in my heart for the Peruvian people, and felt the joy that comes with helping others help themselves. I also saw the power that came from giving somebody a leg up (i.e. re-building their home with them following a devastating earthquake) so they can develop the strength and confidence to move forward out of loss.
I believe that these experiences changed me from the inside out. They taught me compassion, and instilled in me a desire to see all people feel confident and strong in moving forward with their lives. I was impressed with the significant changes that happen when people gain needed skills from something as “small” as learning to brush their teeth to “big” things like how to start and run a small business. I fell in love with the concept of empowerment.
At the same time (and for years beforehand) I was falling in love with music. I began taking piano lessons in 2nd grade, and my parents report that I never complained about practicing (I report that I remember wanting to!), but I was always internally motivated to play the piano. I loved creating music, exploring and writing new songs, and mastering classical pieces. In 8th grade I even decided to set aside my soccer team and start taking lessons from two different piano teachers. One of them focused on classical training while the other expanded into more abstract and creative playing such as arranging, playing from lead sheets, playing by ear, and composing. I recorded an album of original piano solos in 9th grade, and another album with lyrics and other instrumentation (string and brass quartets) in 12th grade. Both were amazing experiences and great bonding opportunities for me and my Dad.
Right before 12th grade, my Mom suggested that I look into studying Music Therapy. She had heard about it from a family friend and felt that it was a perfect fit for me. I wasn’t so sure at first, but that summer I was at a youth camp and had the distinct impression to “go to Utah State and study music therapy”. I began learning more about it from that point, auditioned for the program in February of my Senior year, then started the program right after graduation and never looked back. Everything felt right and I never doubted that I was in the right place.
Fast forward 13 years, and here I am today with an undergraduate music therapy degree, a masters degree in music therapy, President of the Utah Association of Music Therapists for the past 4 years, Director of Harmony Music Therapy, 8 years of professional experience under my belt, and an ever growing passion for the field. I love what I do. Music Therapy empowers people. It gives hope. It teaches skills that people didn’t know they had or weren’t able to develop any other way. It brings healing and peace.
That is why I am a Music Therapist.