If you ask Charity Jones how her experience has been as a graduate student in the music therapy program at Immaculata, she will tell you that it has been amazing, eye-opening, heart-wrenching and growth-inducing!
“I have learned so much about myself,” she says while explaining. “I went through a grieving process that I didn’t know I needed to go through, and that process helped me grow.”
Learning about therapeutic skills, Jones is excited for every class. Having delved into different aspects of music therapy, she now understands just how impactful music is for individuals with various illnesses and how it interacts with different creative arts therapies.
“From the moment I inquired about the program, from day one, I felt totally supported by the faculty,” she recalls. Jones was relieved to discover that she could take classes in the evening so that she could continue to work during the day as a music teacher for preschoolers. “I am very glad that I took a leap of faith to do it.”
Growing up in a family where music was central to everyday life, Jones always had faith in her musical ability. Almost every person in her family sings or is involved in music, including the four who make up The Ballard Family Singers. Even though she was unfamiliar with music therapy as a profession, she knew about the power of music and had developed her skills––whether she realized it or not.
“I had a younger brother who contracted viral encephalitis when he was four months old, which left him with seizures and a compromised immune system,” Jones says. As a result, her brother was developmentally disabled and never learned to walk, talk or feed himself; he was in constant pain. She remembers that he would cry and nothing seemed to soothe him. As a teenager, Jones would come home from school, sit her brother on her lap, put his hands over her hands, and play the piano and sing to him. Other times, she would lay him on her chest so he could hear her hum and that would calm him.
Jones’ brother died at 2-and-a-half-years-old, but her time with him was such a bonding experience that it gave her a passion in life that perhaps she would not have developed. When it came time to attend college, she knew she wanted to go into music.
“I wanted to do for others what I did for my brother,” she states unequivocally.
Now, as she is exploring the expansive field of music therapy through practicums and internships, Jones has options. With her personal experience caring for her brother, Jones always figured that she would work with children. However, after completing her medical practicum at a rehab facility and another practicum at a geriatric site, she is now considering other directions for her professional career. “I liked it more than I thought I would,” she says. This past semester, Jones interned at Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, where she had more interaction with elderly patients.
“There is a beauty in being able to bring the comfort of music, whether it’s with lyrics or just with melody, to someone in their final moments. It is an honor to share in that intimate time,” she states.
Jones has been busy expanding her repertoire of musical genres, including folk music, hymns, Motown, 40’s big band music, doo-wop, Irish–– so that she know something fitting for everyone’s liking. No matter what preference she encounters, Jones will be ready.