The Cathartic Experience of Music

Jennifer Christy

The Cathartic Experience of Music


Jennifer Christy is working towards her M.S. in Music Therapy and will be graduating in the spring of 2017. Her department nominated her as Radford University's February 2017 Featured Graduate Student of the Month.

Jenn grew up 2,300 miles away in Boise, Idaho and attended Boise State for her undergraduate degree where she received her B.A. in Music. She began by double majoring in Music Ed and Performance, but then switched to a general music degree and decided she wanted to get her master’s degree in Music Therapy. “I was looking into several programs and found Radford,” Jenn stated. “I liked the location, the cost of tuition, and then also just the program itself. Even all the way in Boise, Idaho I mentioned I was looking into the Radford program and some of the music therapists that I knew in the area said that it is a great program and I needed to go there.” Jenn also was offered a graduate assistantship with a full out-of-state tuition waiver which really sealed the deal for her to make the long move to Radford, Virginia.

Jenn has always been in love with music. Even when she was very young her mom could turn on the radio to play some music when she was fussy and it would instantly calm her down. Since then Jenn has had a lot of amazing experiences with music. “I had many cathartic experiences playing music and being a part of music. I always just wanted to use that very purposefully and intentionally to help other people. Music therapy is perfect for that.” According to Jenn, music therapy is active, engaging, full of discussion, and is client-driven. Music therapy is a way to use music as a tool to help encourage change and growth with individuals.

When asked what has been her greatest accomplishment while at Radford University, Jenn immediately responded saying it was her time working with a client with Parkinson’s disease who is also the focus of her graduate thesis. Jenn worked with this client for thirteen months providing music therapy services under supervision as part of her graduate practicum. She focused on clinical song writing with this client, which helps to facilitate emotional expressions by having the client write song lyrics. Jenn stated, “I was able to witness not only his [the client’s] growth, by my own too. I found the importance in knowing myself and I grew so much as a person through working with him and reflecting on the experience through my thesis.” Jenn is currently writing her thesis, taking one final course, and working full-time as a Life Skills Trainer at NeuroRestorative, a residential rehabilitation facility in Blacksburg for adults with acquired brain and spinal cord injury.

Jenn will walk in the graduate commencement ceremony in May and then will complete a six month internship in Minnesota at a hospital working with adults who have Parkinson’s disease. She will take the board exam for music therapy after her internship in which she will be able to become a board certified music therapist (MT-BC). Jenn hopes to work with individuals who have neurodegenerative diseases in the future and said she will “go wherever the wind blows me.”

According to Dr. Trish Winter, “Jennifer has shown exceptional growth in her clinical musicianship and interpersonal relationships. Her exemplary academic abilities and her drive for success as a music therapy student make her an exceptional candidate to be considered a graduate student of the month.”

Feb 1, 2017
Allie Woodrum