Music Therapy Graduates
2012 graduate, bachelor's degree in music therapy
Nicole Gilberti, music therapist at Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc., in Lafayette, Ind., leads group and individual music therapy sessions at two clinics and in the local community.
Gilberti says her most valuable learning experience at The Woods was through her practicum sites. “Not all colleges allow students to go out in the community and lead sessions before your junior year,” she says. “I observed sessions in the community and used the skills I was learning in class as a second-semester freshman. I did not really learn what music therapy was until I saw it and became a part of the process. I am the music therapist I am today because of the opportunities I had at The Woods to be a part of those music therapy sessions.”
“At The Woods, I learned the skills necessary to do my job such as professionalism, creativity, musicality, and the ability to be flexible,” states Gilberti. “I learned to follow my intuition as a music therapist. Even though I couldn't always see how strong my intuition was, my professors did. The support, supervisions and small classes that I received really gave me the guidance that I needed. I also learned how to play guitar, piano, and sing at a level of proficiency necessary for my clients to progress towards their goals in sessions. As a graduate, I still use resources from The Woods to better the skills that I learned while I was there.”
Gilberti’s first piece of advice to students interested in music therapy is to observe a music therapy session. She also suggests that they sit in on a music therapy class.
“One day I would love to start an internship program to help students connect the skills that they learn in school,” states Gilberti. “My professors always encouraged my class to give back to the profession and help students learn and grow whenever possible. My class was shown many different opportunities that we could give back to the profession as students and as professionals.”
2011 graduate, bachelor's degree in music therapy
When Bridges of Indiana opened its Lafayette office in 2012, Lopez-Kaley was the first music therapist to begin seeing clients who reside in Tippecanoe and the seven surrounding counties. She is responsible for assessment, treatment planning, communication and cooperation with interdisciplinary teams and one-on-one music therapy treatment with clients ranging in age and ability. The clients Bridges of Indiana serves are those within the aging population and those with varying disabilities. Lopez-Kaley also leads music therapy sessions at a local nursing home in Lafayette.
Lopez-Kaley states that the SMWC music therapy program prepared her for the professional world in a variety of ways. “I felt pushed and challenged, yet nurtured as I grew professionally, musically and personally as an undergraduate. The focus on self-awareness, musical competence, professional experience and community involvement were aspects of the program that opened new doors for me and continue to do so. The support from and relationship with the music professors continued after I left the program; I am still in contact with professors and they continue to aid in my growth, even three years after finishing my coursework.”
At The Woods, Lopez-Kaley gained musical skills, clinical techniques and experiences and professional competence in documentation and confidence in herself personally and professionally. She states, “Confidence was a huge area of growth for me while at SMWC. I received supervision regularly and benefitted from the close relationships that I made with music professors and fellow students. It was through my growth of confidence that I was able to really integrate and utilize the skills I learned when I became a professional music therapist.”
Her advice to students interested in the SMWC music therapy program is to visit the campus and meet the professors. “I left the campus after my first and only visit knowing that it was the perfect place for me. The beauty and spirit of the campus, as well as the warmth, professionalism and personal attention I received from the professors is what sold me; I have never regretted my decision to attend The Woods,” states Lopez-Kaley.
She is currently in the process of applying for the SMWC Master’s Degree in Music Therapy and foresees a master’s degree opening new doors for her as a professional music therapist.
2008 graduate, master of arts in music therapy
“The MAMT program opened up many doors for me,” states Damian May, rehabilitation therapist/music therapist at California Department of State Hospitals – Napa in California. “In addition to honing my clinical skills through trying new techniques and approaches, I also dove back into the current music therapy literature on a different level. While I was reading theory and practice, I was simultaneously challenged to implement them in a working clinical setting, gaining experience (and a paycheck) at the same time. This gave me confidence required to thoughtfully plan, and yet experiment with new things. Furthermore, when interviewing and applying for new positions, I was in possession of an advanced degree and work experience.”
Damian May works on a forensic psychiatric admissions unit with individuals who have been found "Incompetent to Stand Trial" under Penal Code Section 1370. He is part of a team including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker and registered nurse that assess patients and work to return them to stable mental health conditions and competency (in the eyes of the court). May facilitates groups aimed at improving social functioning, insight and reality orientation, physical fitness, stress reduction, personal wellness and awareness of moment to moment and life choices and their impact. He is responsible for completing integrated rehabilitation therapy assessments and working with patients and the milieu to actively promote a structured therapeutic environment.
Through the MAMT program at SMWC, May states that he gained a more open-minded and thoughtful approach to music therapy including “a different look at the cultures of the world and the ways that music is woven into our society, stronger improvisational skills, a more in depth understanding of medical and psychiatric populations, connections to other music therapists all over the country and new life-long colleagues and friends.”
May encourages students interested in the MAMT program to “go for it” if they want a deeper understanding of music therapy and of their relationship with music and others. “While the course work is rigorous at times, the structure of the program supports you every step of the way. It's quite a compassionate and human concept ... and students are treated as much more than just a number.”
May intends to explore new areas of music therapy outside of the hospital. He is looking into starting his own private practice as well as teaching music therapy at the collegiate level. Meanwhile, he continues to try new experiences and to explore his own relationship with music through playing and singing alone and with others.
“An invaluable lesson that I learned through the program is something that I am still reminded of frequently: You can only take your patients as deep as you’ve been.”
2004 graduate, master of arts in music therapy
As owner of Con Brio Music Services in Akron, Ohio, Leslie Meadows provides music therapy services to a variety of organizations and individuals. She also teaches guitar, flute and piano to typical and non-typical learners. Her position allows her to give presentations to and network with a diverse group of professionals.
“The depth of knowledge acquired in the coursework of SMWC’s Master of Arts in Music Therapy program equipped me to be confident in my education of individuals and organizations about the value of music therapy to create positive change,” states Meadows. “I am committed to providing services in alignment with current research trends and practices and feel comfortable understanding and implementing appropriate music therapy strategies.”
Meadows says that her improvisation skills improved significantly during her time in the program. “The informal music-making that was such a part of the program allowed me to have fun with music, which I think sometimes takes a back seat as we become qualified music therapists. I also learned to become aware of my own responses to music and client reactions.”
However, Meadows confesses that the most valuable experience had nothing to do with coursework. “It was something that the residencies and networking promoted … the idea that collaboration in the field is so critical and competitiveness has no place. We can all attain excellence working together, and that’s what will elevate and advance our field.”
Meadows future goals include to expand her private practice, teach and mentor, collaborate with other disciplines, make more music for herself and change how the world views creativity stating, “It is accessible for all.”