Music therapy program celebrates 40 years at UD

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By: KATIE CHRISTOFF – Asst. A&E Editor

The music therapy program at the University of Dayton will host a 40th anniversary celebration March 14 to 15. Alumni of the program are encouraged to return for the weekend and celebrate the program’s growth over its 40 years at UD.

“We want to focus on bringing back memories,” said Marilyn Sandness, professor emerita and founder of the music therapy program. “Certainly the highlight of the weekend is to renew acquaintances back at UD.”

The weekend celebration will begin Friday with a recital given by current students in the Department of Music. Senior music therapy major Yemani Schneider, who helped plan the anniversary celebration, said this recital will be one of the highlights of the weekend.

It will feature performances from some of UD’s talented music students, teachers, and Hands in Harmony, a UD music ensemble that performs contemporary Christian music while using American Sign Language, Schneider said.

“There will be numerous entertaining, humorous, and creative performances by some of our talented music students and teachers,” Schneider said. “This will give the students an opportunity to showcase their creativity and talents, and at the same time, it will give the audience an opportunity to catch a small glimpse into the talents of our music students.”

This recital will be followed by guided campus tours, so alumni can revisit their campus and visit the program’s new home in the College Park Center. Friday’s events will end with a reception in Kennedy Union’s Torch Lounge.

Saturday will kick off with an alumni recital, where alumni will be encouraged to put on a performance, either serious or silly. A buffet luncheon will follow, featuring a presentation about current trends in the profession, Sandness said. They will also invite alumni to share their memories of music therapy at UD. The evening will end with a historical display of the program in the CPC.

The music therapy program was brought to UD by Marilyn Sandness in 1974, who served as coordinator of the program for 24 years. She was succeeded by Dr. Susan Gardstrom, who is the current coordinator of the program. They wanted to have this anniversary celebration while both women were still living and working in Dayton, Sandness said.

The music therapy program is one of the most popular programs in the music department, according to Sandness. She said it typically ranges from 35-40 students, and she considers it to be like a family. The students and faculty are very close, Sandness said, and she believes this celebration will be a great way to bring them all back together.

Schneider agrees with this sentiment. “My favorite part about being part of UD’s music therapy program is that it gives me an opportunity to learn from talented, insightful, creative, and intelligent peers and professors,” he said.

“The knowledge, direction, and skills that I have gained from my professors have been a true blessing.”

Forty years after its foundation at UD, the music therapy program has close to 240 alumni in 35 states, Gardstrom said.
The music therapy program’s 40th anniversary celebration welcomes all of these alumni and all current students as well.