Music therapy faculty revamp curriculum, forge partnerships at home and abroad

TWU Music Therapy student Abel Abraham works with children outside of Margo Jones Performance Hall.
TWU Music Therapy student Abel Abraham works with children on the Margo Jones Performance Hall lawn.

In a year of unexpected challenges, TWU music therapy program faculty Drs. Lauren DiMaioDella Molloy-Daugherty and Rebecca West have teamed up to create an innovative, holistic and social justice-driven curriculum with new opportunities for student-client connection and community collaboration.

DiMaio partnered with the Visiting Nurse Association Hospice to provide the first-ever virtual grief choir for community members who have experienced the death of a loved one. Two students arranged music for the choir to learn over the semester and composed a closing song for the members to use after the group ended in April.

This spring, the program partnered with the Dallas Stroke Center, and through collaboration among professors Robin Abellera, Michelle Herzer, Alisa Woods and Dr. West, TWU's music therapy and speech therapy programs were able to offer co-treated sessions for community members recovering from stroke.

Although the pandemic presented a number of barriers to travel and treatment, faculty were able to provide international practicum opportunities for students to apply their skills abroad, including partnerships in Colombia with Dr. Juanita Eslava-Mejia, in South Korea with Dr. Jin Lee, and in Thailand with Dr. Puchong.

With the addition of Drs. DiMaio and West to the music therapy department in the Fall 2020, and the support of the Department of Music and its chair, Dr. Pamela Youngblood, the music therapy faculty developed and proposed an overhaul to the music therapy curriculum for both the undergraduate and graduate programs. The new curriculum incorporates a focus on social justice, equity, accessibility and integral thinking, with new concentrations for the master's degree in women in politics, health administration, technology and composition. Their changes were approved in the spring and will begin Fall 2021.

Among the many music therapy students honored during the 2020-2021 academic year were Briley Casserilla, who won the Presser Award for exemplifying high academic and musical accomplishment, leadership and citizenship; and Sarah Turner, who received the Pauline Bishop Leman Memorial Award for her outstanding artistic achievements. On Feb. 26, the program also hosted an all-day music therapy symposium, which featured returning TWU music therapy alumna Ming Yuan Low as keynote speaker.

Page last updated 2:35 PM, March 16, 2023