Music has always been an integral part of Ben Turner's life, and he continues to pursue that passion at The College of Wooster. A rising senior, Turner is majoring in music therapy, which involves the use of music as a therapeutic tool.
Music therapy students take music theory and history classes at Wooster, and attend music therapy classes at a nearby institution. "These courses include pre-practicum, practicum, and others focused on specific client populations, research, and program development," says Turner. "Wooster's degree is unique in that majors are also required to take music education courses."
During Turner's second year at Wooster he took a pre-practicum course that allows students to work with clients. Those in the program are placed in schools, long-term care facilities, assisted-living units, hospitals, and hospice for their practicum courses, where they make session plans and meet with their clients once or twice each week.
Sessions involve the use of music interventions designed to allow clients to apply their strengths and work on improving potential weaknesses in communication, cognition, motor skills, emotional awareness, and social skills, according to Turner.
"In my second practicum I worked alongside a music therapist in a behavioral healthcare facility," he says. "I learned many skills in developing rapport, and I saw a lot of growth in emotional awareness and group cohesion. This experience has really helped my confidence and structure in sessions since then."
Following his fourth year at Wooster, Turner and other music therapy majors will participate in an internship supervised by a board-certified music therapist. After this internship is complete, Turner and his fellow majors will be able to sit for a certification exam. Although he hopes to land a job in a behavioral healthcare or assisted-living facility, he would be happy to work with any client population.
"My work is very hands-on and independent, but involves the tireless feedback and suggestions of my professors," he says. "We are required to study research in the field and complete a significant amount of data collection and documentation."
Turner credits Wooster's program for giving him professional experiences that helped him conceptualize the profound effects of music therapy. "My professors, colleagues, and practicum facilities have challenged me to be creative, confident, and motivated in representing this profession," he says.
- Story by Libby Fackler '13