Grace Jordan, Campus Carrier arts and living editor
Berry has broadened its curriculum over the years to add classes such as Pirates and Gangsters and Philosophy of CS Lewis. Beginning this semester, students are now able to take a course in Music Therapy. This class centers around how music can help people in many different areas, a child axnious about their check up can shake a maracca and be distracted, or someone with a loss of memory can listen to music to help them connect the neuroconnectors that were severed. The class has only met two times so far.
Katrina Meehan, assistant director of the Academic Success Center, is the professor of the new class. She has an extensive background in music therapy and has been involved in music since her college years.
“I’m a board-certified music therapist,” Meehan said. “I have held music therapy jobs in the past. My most recent being music therapy coordinator at Tallahassee memorial health care in Tallahassee, Florida.”
Music therapy is becoming a more and more diversified field, yet many do not know what music therapy is.
“Music therapy is when a board-certified music therapist is using music to help with nonmusical objectives,” Meehan said.
The purpose of the class is to introduce people to the expanding world of music therapy and the new avenues it has created.
“So, the real goal of the class is to give students just a sense of what music therapy is,” Meehan said. “And they would then be able to make a decision moving forward, do they want to be a music therapist? Or do they want to be a strong advocate of music therapy, as a music educator or as a psychiatrist or whatever path they’re taking? Or do they just want to use some of the techniques music therapists would use as a music educator in their classroom, insuring inclusivity in their classroom?”
The class is set up to be seminar-based, meeting once a week, and will have numerous guest speakers to teach about the different fields in which one can use music therapy in.
“Every class is a little bit different,” Meehan said. “I would say it’s lecture based. We’ll have some guest lectures, in a sense a guest lectures series, where we’re talking each day about the specific areas in music therapy. So private practice, school settings, medical facilities, rehabilitation, mental health, veterans, lots of different areas.”
The first day was spent going over the syllabus and introducing the students to the world of music therapy. The second day Meehan gave a lecture on the history of music therapy.
“We talked today about the history of music therapy and how music was used holistically and has always been used holistically to help in healing, but through research and scientific studies starting back even in the 1800s more and more was learned about how music and the brain work together,” Meehan said.
Ashlyn Rawson, junior music education major, is among the the students taking the class. The first day was an introduction to the class and was meant to give students a taste of what the semester will be like.
“After we covered the syllabus and everything we did an activity which was like a hello song and we had two different hello songs,” Rawson said. “One was saying your name and how do you feel today. Everyone was pretty simple with their responses. And then she had a different one where you couldn’t say the three words good, okay, or fine. You have to come up with different adjectives for it. And even in that ten-minute segment it was pretty informative because you have what you can use the first song for: younger kids, maybe neurodivergent adults. The second hello song is more personal because you’re using different adjectives.”
Music has numerous benefits to people of all backgrounds and plights, some of which will be discussed in the class.
“That was the biggest thing,” Rawson said. “Using music to help people in ways you wouldn’t think music does help them. Music is not a very strict art a lot of the times so it’s allowing them to be creative and have fun while they’re doing it to try to heal these problems that they might have.”
The class is in the early stages of growth, but Meehan is hoping there will be more classes to follow.
“We’re kind of seeing how things go after this semester,” Meehan said. “I think, hopefully, anticipating every few years. Just gauging the interest of students to see.”