Small Moments, Big Accomplishments
Beth, age 12 , Music Therapy
Student Stories: Beth
When Diene’s twelve-year-old daughter Beth continually expressed a passion for music, constantly asking it to be played throughout the house, Diene knew she had to figure out a way to incorporate it into her daughter’s life. That was what led her to MacPhail’s music therapy department and to music therapist Yue Wu, or as Beth calls her, Ms. Wu.
Beth has brain trauma from an operation on a cancerous tumor as an infant, resulting in hydrocephalus. She has hypersensitivity to some tones of certain instruments, causing her a lot of discomfort when listening. Beth’s music therapy sessions with Yue Wu focus on improving balance and coordination, stabilizing emotions, and furthering musical skill.
Beth’s music therapy doesn’t focus on what is hard for Beth, instead, it asks how to fortify her existing strengths and how to make her weaknesses strong too.
“When she started music therapy, I wasn’t really sure what it was,” Diene confesses. “But when they play the piano together, it isn’t about ‘Did she hit all the notes?’ it’s ‘she was focused and she remembered the words,’ and it’s great. I’ve peeked in the window during the sessions a few times and I’ve seen Beth walking, and I think, ‘You know, you don’t do that any other place!’ Ms. Wu can get her to do so many things.”
Diene credits the bond between Beth and Ms. Wu for their success. “The heart that Ms. Wu has…it’s welcoming, encouraging, and unconditional. She doesn’t care whether you’re atypical or have a disability. You’re a person, and she accepts you. She strives to find the best in anyone, and she pulls it out.”
Beth and Diene attended a performance of MacPhail’s Rock On, an ensemble of youth rock musicians who are Music Therapy students. Diene was nervous that Beth would not be able to sit through the concert due to her sensitivity to noises and tendencies to startle. Not only did she enjoy the concert, but she wanted to make sure others knew it.
“Beth said she had to tell a performer that he did a good job. That was Beth who wanted to do that. It was wonderful, and even that was an accomplishment.”
Currently, Beth is preparing for a big accomplishment of her own. Yue Wu is working on a show called “Light in the Well”, telling the stories of persons with disabilities through music. Beth is featured in the show and she has a singing part. Her sessions are focusing on vocal volume, balance and other skills.
As for Diene, it’s the small moments that matter most. “I would encourage any person to try music therapy and see how it goes because you never know what outcome you’re going to have…even if it’s a small one, it’s worth it.