Why the program began and how it helps others in the community – Drury Mirror

Spotlight on music therapy: Why the program began and how it helps others in the community
Campus News
December 6, 2019,
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One of Drury University’s more recent endeavors, the Music Therapy Department, is one of Drury’s most successful programs.

Explaining the program

The program began, according to clinical supervisor Julie Cassity, in 2001 when Drury began drawing up plans for music therapy. The first class was made up of only around a dozen students; today, there are over 60 music therapy majors at Drury.

“We work closely with the music department, as they are kind of like our parents,” said Natalie Wlodarczyk, who has been with the program since 2010. “Music therapy began as an extra arm of the existing music department.”

Students of music therapy work closely with music instructors to develop proficiency in music theory, as well as playing instruments like guitar, piano and sometimes ukulele or percussion. In addition, students begin hands-on experiences their sophomore year.

“We have many community partners that students can get practicum hours at,” said Cassity. “We work with Cox[Health], nursing homes, and other locations in the community to give students real-life learning experiences and serve the community.”

(Photo via Pexels)

What is music therapy?

Music therapy, as described by Cassity, is all about “using musical methods to achieve non-musical goals.” These goals can include expression, improve cognitive functions and skills, improve motor skills, promote healthy socialization, and reduce stress and anxiety.

Many people benefit from receiving music therapy. People of all ages from children to the elderly with mental health needs or developmental/learning disabilities are perhaps the largest demographic. Music therapy can also help those who struggle with substance abuse, brain injuries, physical disabilities and aging related conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

“Music therapists work with a wide range of people,” said Cassity, “so it is important to us that students learn early on who it is they are helping and how to best meet everyone’s individual needs.”

Cassity and Wlodarczyk also spoke of Drury’s role in promoting music therapy in Southwest Missouri.

“There are a couple other schools that have good music therapy programs in Missouri, but they’re both up north,” stated Cassity. “There was a kind of ‘music therapy void’ in the southern part of Missouri, one that we hoped to fill.”

“Because of how the program has grown and the interest we’ve seen from students, Drury has played a vital role in expanding these vital services in the community,” added Wlodarczyk.

In addition to the music therapy clinic on campus, the Center for Music Therapy and Wellness, which serves clients on-location, Drury has a branch in Monett that serves residents of Lawrence and Barry Counties.

Written by Forest Swisher.

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