Musical improvisation was explored through eurthymics with SRU’s music therapy department, this past Tuesday during common hour. It focused on movement through music, also known as eurhythmics, and vocal improvisation.
Instructor Laurie Jones from Seton Hill University in Greensburg led the group of students through a multitude of activities. Jones has been at Seton Hill for 11 years, after attaining her Master’s degree in Music Therapy from Temple University. It was while studying at Temple that she became acquainted with SRU’s director of music therapy program, Dr. Susan Hadley. She said that,“Laurie and I have been friends for many years now. She has even filled in here [at SRU] for me during a few terms, a few years ago.”
Senior music therapy major, Deedee Evans, 21, promoted this event. She is the president of the music therapy club at Slippery Rock.
“We tried to get Professor Jones here last year, but it didn’t work out. So we were all very excited when we heard she could come this semester. She is such a great advocate for music therapy.”
Jones was introduced to her study through a personal love for music, and experience.
“Eurhythmics are a music education approach, it is a way to teach young children about the different concepts in music. But what I experienced was a therapeutic approach, and was healing for me,” Jones said.
Jones began by incorporating her eurhythmic work into activities for the students. Tasks were given, such as walking around the room to a certain song’s tempo, and clapping the rhythm along with steps being taken.
Her explanation for this was that,“music does not just exist within the notes. If it were not for the rested beats and breaks, it would not be music.”
The students also did a stretching exercise and small warm-up activities. After that, many simultaneous hand and foot movements were incorporated. An activity was conducted in which tennis balls were bounced to keep rhythm, with either half, quarter, or eighth notes. It was noticeable that the students began to hum along to the music while participating in the activities, which began the second part of the workshop.
This portion focused on vocal improvisation. This first incorporated a simple song being sung around in a circle, and then became more of a vocal practice. All the students became visibly more comfortable singing along as the rest of the workshop came to an end.
Many of the students participating had vocal performance backgrounds, including music therapy and voice major Ashley Criscione, 21. She joined our program at SRU after transferring from Berklee College of Music.
“I was originally a psychology major, but realized I loved music too much to give it up. With music therapy, I get to put them both together.”
The way Criscione feels about the program seems to be a mutual feeling with all the students enrolled in it. Each of them seems to truly love their choice of major, and everything that comes along with it.
They all enjoy participating in the MT club as well. It engages the students in a variety of community and volunteer events, as well as service projects. They are also involved in national, regional, and local projects throughout the entire year. Their organization allows them to give back to many communities by simply doing what they enjoy most, and changing lives, simply through the use of music.