Music Therapy at UW-Eau Claire

Lee Anna Rasar

The Music Therapy Program showcases the mission of the university by combining research, teaching, and community service in the delivery of courses. In addition to clinical courses which are taught in community settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, forensic settings, public schools, and private homes, students go into nursing homes, hospitals, and forensic settings one day weekly for academic courses when being graded on their music and clinical skills. This involvement is a win-win situation for everyone as the facilities/agencies benefit from free programming, the students gain real life experience and broaden their education, and the patients/residents/inmates receive the services they need to respond in meaningful ways. The community involvement of our music therapy faculty and students includes seeing over 1000 clients each week, making a deep impact on the Chippewa Valley and its connection to the university.

It is very frequent that patients make responses in the musical context that are not noted in other venues. These responses are significant for nursing residents with dementia who cannot speak but who sing in music therapy, who cannot walk but who dance in music therapy, and for coma patients who respond to music. Students learn to program for generalization from the music environment to the daily environment to enable patients to move through the stages of rehabilitation and back to a maximal functioning level. Inmates find safe and healthy ways to express anger and release emotions and use song lyrics to reframe their perspectives. In many ways this community involvement creates a circle that returns to UW - Eau Claire as former faculty and staff personally benefit, have husbands and wives who benefit, and have grandchildren who benefit from the services. Students gain an understanding of the criminal justice system and health care systems in America, expanding their awareness of economic and political factors and their effect on access to services for people with special needs.


"When you were born, the world laughed and you cried. Live your life in such a way that when you die,the world cries and you rejoice."