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Music serves many needs for both the performer and the audience. And one that is just becoming mainstream is the power of music to help heal the body and spirit. Music professor Jim Borling knows first hand this power and has been sharing his expertise with RU students, practitioners at international conferences and the local community for more than two decades. Borling runs his own music therapy practice in Roanoke in addition to directing RU’s music therapy program of about 50 students. “Music has deep meaning for me and I combine that with a fundamental curiosity of human functioning and how we tick,” says Borling.

Jim BorlingBorling shares that passion for music therapy with his students. Graduate student Nicole Hahna assists him with organizing practicums for undergraduate music therapy majors. Hahna is a licensed music therapist who worked for a year before beginning her graduate studies. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to gain clinical hands on learning while serving the community. I’m constantly getting calls from area facilities who want our music therapy students to work with them,” says Hahna. In addition to serving as a mentor for undergraduate students and making sure they maximize their service opportunities, Hahna is taking graduate courses such as counseling and guided imagery in music. “I’m blessed to be here right now. I’m learning so much that I look forward to applying later in my own practice,” says Hahna. She soon will be putting her skills to good use at the Women’s Resource Center in Radford where she will conduct a support group with improvisational music therapy to work on self-esteem and depression. “I want to give the women a chance to express grief and loss and give them a supporting environment for that,” says Hahna.

Dwayne Martin is in the middle of his undergraduate degree practicum at the Pulaski Head Start. He is working with 30 at risk children aged four and five. “It’s exhausting but really rewarding,” says Martin as he sits and talks about the kids with a sparkle in his eye. At the beginning of the semester he met with the program director and they mapped out goals and objectives for his sessions including increasing the children’s vocabulary and helping them develop appropriate social skills. Martin uses instruments like boom whackers and maracas to get the children involved in the learning process. “When music is used with children, it draws their attention and makes the learning environment more inviting,” says Martin. He has already seen the benefits he is receiving from his experiences and the progress his pupils have made. “At the end of the session or semester, I can definitely see the difference in the students’ skills and behavior.” Martin will graduate in May and get married two weeks later. He has big plans for his future. “I want to go to graduate school at RU and live and practice in Southwest Virginia,” says Martin. “I love it here.”

The arts scene at RU is vibrant and adds spice to university and community life. Performances and exhibits by students, faculty and visitors from around the world like the London City Opera entertain and turn young minds on to the creative possibilities in service, education and entertainment.

Visit the College of Visual and Performing Arts web site to learn more about its programs and offerings at http://www.radford.edu/~cvpa-web/.

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