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Letters


To Whom It May Concern:

When writing about the benefits music can have on an individual I really become at a loss for words. It isn’t because music fails to sow anything good but rather the opposite; it impacts a person in so many ways I feel the English language can not bring justice to its magnitude. With that said, I will do my best to share what music and the discipline of music therapy means to me.

I am not a music therapy major although my heart finds its passion through and with music. I considered studying music therapy when I first came to UW-EC in 2003 but instead after much thought, decided to pursue a career in nursing. Part of my thinking for this was I could become a nurse and work part-time while then doing something with music part-time. The first five semesters here I was involved in choir, and only quit because clinical for nursing went on at the same time. Then during my fall semester 2006 I had the opportunity to take another class in addition to nursing. Already having all my general requirements met to graduate (with the exception of my future nursing classes and one credit of physical activity) I decided to take a class of interest. Music IDIS 103 was that class.

When I was accepted into the nursing program I was given the opportunity to participate in the nursing honors program. This program consists of picking a topic of interest and then completing eight credits of research work in the area. The credit is usually given for going above and beyond on a regular assignment in a particular class. Right away I knew this was something I wanted to do and my topic of interest was music. Therefore when my second semester in the program started and I had time to take another class, IDIS 103 was the one I wanted to take because it is Introduction to Music Therapy and I was very intrigued as to what I would learn.

I can not even begin to share all of what I learned from IDIS 103 because it was so much. It was because of this class that I came up with my complete nursing honors topic which is: How can/does music therapy impact the nursing philosophy of body, mind, and spirit wellness? The realization to make this my honors topic came from an observation at Sacred Heart Hospital. When in IDIS 103, each student is able to observe music therapy firsthand at different places and with different groups of people. My placement was on the rehabilitation unit in SHH. I was able to observe my instructor, Lee Anna Raser, lead a worship service for the patients on this floor. During one of the sessions it suddenly hit me that music could be used for all areas of life, including the spiritual aspect. The idea of body, mind, and spirit, wellness is important to the field of nursing and even more so now, with holistic nursing being researched and applied to a variety of clinical and nursing settings. When I went to my observation sessions and saw what music could bring these patients, I suddenly knew how to connect music with the field of nursing.

The patient’s who came to these worship services on Tuesday nights had a variety of health impairments. Some had had a stroke, others were involved in accidents which left them unable to walk or use their extremities, some were newborn mothers, and other people were suffering from pain for a different reason. The ages ranged from teenagers to the elderly. We usually conducted the service in a room where the patients came to sing. However, some nights Lee Anna was able to go room to room and sing to patients unable to leave their bed. In addition to the patients being diverse in age and health impairment, ethnicity was also diverse. There were two times I remember Lee Anna used music with a Korean girl to help ease her pain. Also, one night Lee Anna got a request to visit a newborn mother whose baby was in the ICU. This new mother was an inmate from one of the local jails. She was experiencing a lot of pain and seeing Lee Anna with her guitar made her smile. Lee Anna works with the inmates as well as people from the hospital and this particular inmate had written her own lyrics to a song Lee Anna played for her. The newborn mother requested Lee Anna play the song so she could sing along using her own lyrics. It was incredible to see how calm the newborn mother became while singing this song. Music really made a difference for this young inmate. Her body language and mood just changed after having the music therapy session. It was really quite the experience to be part of.

I could tell many stories where I saw the people who were with Lee Anna in a music therapy session suddenly take on a calmness and peace. Music just had this way of immediately bringing them some relief. There was gentleman in particular who during a worship service one night said the following, “I would like to take the word can’t, and erase the ‘ t. Then the only word left would be can.” He couldn’t walk, could hardly talk and sing, had a lot of physical things going on with him, and yet after having spent time in music therapy remained upbeat and positive. He was an inspiration to be around. Music was able to connect with him mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and keep him content even though his physical status was poor.

As I get further into the nursing program and have clinical with an array of patients myself, I always remember what music therapy did for those patients on the rehab unit in SHH. When a patient is really having a hard time adjusting to their illness or medical condition, I ask them if they like music. Almost all have said yes. Then I go on to talk with them about their favorite music and ask them if they have had someone come to work with them from music therapy. Nursing as a profession is really studying the benefits holistic treatments can have for patients. Music therapy is a great way to help patients. Each person has the opportunity to meet a music therapy session in their own way, and thus have individualized treatment.

The more I get into my honors work, the more I see just how important music therapy is for the person; as a whole. Music truly can reach a person in every aspect of their life. It is stressed to us nursing majors that when one thing is out of alignment, or out of balance, the other areas of health will become affected. The risk is for the person to decline in many areas of their health. Music is something which can prevent this from happening. It can help heal the area affected, and bring peace and healing to the other areas of the person.

Music therapy is a discipline to be respected and a discipline not given enough credit for what it does. After all, how many of us after a long day, turn on the radio as a way to relax? And to think that is not even a music therapy session. Just think of the possibilities after going through a true session.

Music therapy isn’t my major, but is a discipline I look forward to working with in the future as a nurse. It saddens me Eau Claire is considering cutting this program; especially when the teacher is incredible, and the students are willing and keep showing their excitement to pursue this as their career.

How does music therapy impact the nursing philosophy view of body, mind, and spirit wellness? In every way. And as such, music impacts each and every one of us on some level at some time. A world without music would be awful. Imagine it yourself for a moment. Think about how often you listen to music or use it to relax, have fun, or get together with people.

Now take it further and use it as a healing power for those who having nothing else to turn to. Apply it to the lonely, injured, physically impaired, Deaf, and all others suffering in some way. Where will they get their relief and contentment from if no music therapists come to work with them?

Where will those who wish to become music therapists be educated if you cut the UW-EC program? Just think of all the people who will be hurt with one program in the country eliminated. It is more than you think. EC may be one site, but it serves countless people, and educates future people who will bring much joy, such as Lee Anna does to their patients.

I could go on and on about how important music therapy is. Why is that? Because with music therapy the possibilities are endless; and because this is true, there really is nothing more to say, and instead leave music to speak for itself.

Bethany Radde




October 7, 2007

Dear Sirs,

My name is Caryn Wagner. I am a nursing major and in the collaborative program between UWEC and CVTC. In spring of 07 I took the course IDIS 103 to help fulfill general education credits. I am writing this letter because I sincerely believe this course benefited me educationally as well as on a personal level. This course has made me a better nurse, student, and person.

For part of music therapy class, each student had to complete a set of ten different homework assignments. These homework assignments were meant to explore the benefits of music therapy through public interaction. I chose to build a CD made entirely for relaxation. Working in a nursing home for two years I have gotten to know, and try to understand the residents. The floor I work on consists of many residents suffering from moderate to severe dementia and many different forms of pain. Many of the residents are unable to communicate their needs/wants. I couldn't help but notice that many of the residents' pain was uncontrolled with medication alone. I hoped that composing a CD would help relax the residents by means of distraction from pain and distraction from other residents during meal times. Overall I was able to increase food consumption at meal times and increase intervals of rest without wake.

At the same nursing home we have an activities department. They provide therapy to the residents in forms of music, games, reading, and various social activities. I couldn't help but notice over two years, the drastic improvements of many residents' motor skills and mental functioning as well as an increase of social skills and self esteem as a result from the music therapy and alternative forms of therapy my facility provides. Without completing the music therapy course, I would not have known or believed the positive medical intervention music and alternative therapy provides.

Music therapy fulfills many aspects of the baccalaureate program. One example is contributing to society. Through clinical observations, I learned to understand perspectives of many types of people including family, patients, friends, and professionals. People studied/observed ranged from mentally impaired to physically impaired. Other types of people included war veterans, elderly, substance abusers, cancer patients, and pregnancy. Since the public contains many types of people, it is imperative and crucial for students to be able to learn and relate to society. I feel that all majors, especially students in a medical field, can become highly competent professionals, better prepared, and improved citizens by completing this course.

Removing this course would be detrimental to our university, our society, and my fellow students.

Sincerely yours,

Caryn Wagner
wagner@uwec.edu




To whom it may concern:

I am writing in support of the music therapy program at UWEC. I did not graduate with a music therapy degree, or plan to, but I have seen firsthand the positive effects offered by their services. I work at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, on the behavioral health floor. Every week, LeeAnna and her students come up and volunteer their time, providing music therapy for patients who otherwise would not receive any sort of musical therapy. Some just enjoy it as a chance to relax or a change of pace, while others get much more from that experience. I have personally witnessed severely depressed individuals leave her therapy session smiling or laughing. I have seem patients afflicted with Alzheimer's sing along to songs when 10 minutes before could not hold a relevant conversation. There are many more personal stories I could share, but the underlying point is that music therapy helps people. The students trained in the program get internship opportunities to make a difference in the community and spread the word about the wonderful things that happen here at UWEC. I don't know the politics or economics behind any decisions being made, but I do know the negative impact closing music therapy would have on campus and the community. One of my best friends graduated with a degree in music therapy and loved the program. Before you make a decision either way, please honestly consider the impact closing music therapy would have on our students and the community. I know firsthand that things would not be the same on the behavioral health floor at Sacred Heart Hospital.

Thank you for considering my argument,

Daniel Hehli




October 3, 2007

Dear Sirs:

I am Meghan E. Keyes, a junior here at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire majoring in Special Education. I am writing this letter as I have a concern regarding some of the major programs being offered at this University, specifically the Music Therapy program. Although I am not a music therapy major I have been impacted by it in a very positive way. As I have pointed out, I am a special education major and I was first introduced to the concept of music therapy by my friend who I now live with. She is a music therapy major; she really loves the program and is a strong believer in the curriculum. The program has allowed my friend to be actively engaged in helping adolescents at the Juvenile Detention Center in Eau Claire as a part of her practicum. This is not only beneficial to her experiences towards becoming a music therapist but in helping people in our community around campus through her use of this medium and the gained expertise from following the prescribed courses as a part of her major study.

Because of my friend I took the Introduction to Music Therapy course as an IDIS class. I found it to be very interesting and I found that I could apply some of what I learned towards special education. For the observation part of that class I observed a child with autism receiving music therapy treatment and he grew and improved a lot in the skills he was working on. I found this to be a very beneficial piece of experience toward my final goal of graduating and becoming a special education teacher.

Another thing that I really liked about the course was the instructor, Lee Anna Rasar. She has so much experience in the field, so much knowledge to share and she really made an effort to make the class interesting and applicable for everyone; not just the music therapy majors in the course. One part of the class that I remember the most and really took the most away from was the unit on how music can help with the whole grieving process and dealing with death. This is something that I will remember and keep in mind if I ever have to or anyone close to me loses someone close to them; how to use music to help them.

In the October 1st issue of the Spectator I read the article, "Music therapy uncertain" and read that, "'It's not based on the quality of the program,' Tallant said. It's based on the priority of resources at the university.'" I also read, "'Given the nature of budget cuts and other priorities on campus . this is about the greater need at the university,' Tallant said. It was a very difficult decision because it's a very good program. It had nothing to do with quality.'" After reading this, my question was what is the priority of resources at this university? I thought that the main goal for a university is to provide an education to students in a variety of different fields and programs.

I work for the Telefund here on campus so I know that many alumni and friends of the University donate on an annual basis. The donations we receive go to the Foundation here and go towards many scholarships, student research projects, internship opportunities, library acquisitions, technological advancements and pretty much every program here on campus. I think that if this is the only reason the program is being reviewed (funding issues) our University has the potential to get the money needed to fund any program that is being reviewed to be cut.

At the 2007 Blugold Breakfast Speech in the Chancellor's State-of-the-University Address, Chancellor Levin-Stankevich said, "Our calling---for all of us at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire---is to serve the public good. That is the account to which I want to be held." I think this is a very powerful statement that can be applied to the question of the music therapy program being kept or cut from the university. The music therapy program does serve the public good as well as improves the public good by putting out individuals into our communities who are trained in music therapy that go out and help others.

As someone who has had both a positive impact from the class I attended, along with my very personal exposure to the program through my friend and roommate, I have learned a lot about the Music Therapy major and really think it is a program that needs to be kept at this University. What the music therapy program needs is more awareness and funding, not to be cut from a University that has again been named one of the best Universities in the Midwest by the US News World Report and the Princeton Review. I think it would be a detriment and a step back for our university to cut this program.

Sincerely yours,

Meghan Keyes
keyesme@uwec.edu




I have typed several rough drafts of my letter of support for Music Therapy. None of them really represented my feelings toward the program, and I am sure you will read a dozen letters similar to those ones. I will keep it short and simple.

I took IDIS 103 last year, and it was one of the most educational, challenging, and enjoyable classes I have taken at UWEC. The Music Therapy program here exemplifies the University's motto of Excellence. Professor Rasar is a master of her craft, and of educating college students. Cutting the Music Therapy program will send a message to Professor Rasar, the Music Therapy majors, the Music Therapy supporters, and everyone who has benefited from the program. The message will be that they are not worth putting in the required extra work to fit the program in. If the Music Therapy program is cut, it will diminish the definition of the university's excellence.

Don't get rid of one of the university's most appealing programs. Especially not a program that is out in the community doing so much good. Think of all the lives that will be negatively affected if the Music Therapy program is cut.

Thank you,

Matthew Sias




October 09, 2007

Dear Ma'am or Sir:

I would like to add my voice to those who are calling for the continuation of the music therapy program at UW- Eau Claire. I have been a member of the Symphonic choir at the university along with other community members and students and I have heard first hand from music therapy majors in the choir how much they truly love the program. They told me how satisfying it is to bring music to hospital patients, nursing home residents, prison inmates, and how gratifying it is to see how much those people appreciate and benefit from the musical offering. I say "offering" rather than presentation because music appeals to and appeases the spirit of those bereft of health, hope, and heart much like prayer appeals to those with souls as dry as deserts. Perhaps music therapy cannot compete with business administration, nursing, or education as the bread and butter programs of the university, but bread and butter is not the only necessity of life,

Please accept my appeal in the spirit in which it is tendered, with a heart full of hope that the life of the music therapy program can be extended so that the lives of others can be enriched.

very truly yours,
Jo Rudrud
894-6444

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