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Healing in Harmony

New program in music therapy opening doors for students

While growing up, Alexandria Pesa, ’21, was no stranger to hospitals as she overcame severe scoliosis that required surgery. Despite the support she received, she felt something missing from her life during her time in the hospital: music.

“It would have been helpful to have something to uplift me during the hard times,” the Bridgewater State University student said. “I want to do that for others.”

BSU is helping Alexandria accomplish that goal. She is one of the first students pursuing a pre-music therapy concentration within the music major. Students complete core psychology, science, and music courses that are needed for studying the field in graduate school.

“We are making it easier for students who want to become music therapists to get into graduate school,” said Kari O’Briant, a part-time faculty member in the Department of Music.

Bridgewater State is working with Cambridge’s Lesley University, which offers the closest graduate program.

The growing field combines music with other disciplines. Therapists improve lives by working with clients in hospitals, schools, homes and elsewhere; people of all ages need their services.

“It’s so rewarding because I get to see my clients grow and change through music,” said O’Briant, who is also a music therapist. “It’s a wonderful thing we get to share together.”

O’Briant encourages BSU students wondering if the career is for them to take an introductory course in the discipline.

Alexandria, who is from Norton and also studying music education, hopes to pursue a degree in music therapy in graduate school and work in a hospital. She’s grateful that BSU is offering the concentration.

“I’m just really excited,” she said. “I’ve always been a people person. … I want to help people like everyone did for me.”

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