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Music therapy program looks to expand with new exchange program

Staff Reporter

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 01:12

A group of Sam Houston State University music therapy students are traveling to France in March 2013 to study Neurologic Music Therapy at Montpellier University.

The trip is intended to be the first step in establishing an exchange program between the two universities, according to Sam Houston Director of Music Therapy Karen Miller.

Ever since Sam Houston alumni and therapists Amy Marroquin and Maegan Morrow treated then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords following her brain injury due to a shooting incident in 2011, the university’s music therapy program has garnered attention from around the world. Giffords’ recovery of her speech capabilities is still one of the most publicized examples of music therapy, with Sam Houston hanging in the background.

Now, as Miller noted, the program’s goal is to change the profession on a global scale.

"The widespread publicity has not only advanced the profession of music therapy due to increased awareness, it has also placed SHSU very much in the public eye," Miller said. "We have seen an impact on inquiries from prospective students as well as increased opportunities for our current students."

The link between Montpellier and SHSU starts with a former intern at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in Houston, where Morrow and Marroquin are therapists. The intern came from Montpellier and after working under Morrow, she returned to France excited with what she had learned in the states.

"We’ve always had a good program but we’ve never really been recognized for it," said Marcus Hughes, senior music therapy major and one of the 27 students going on the trip to France. "This is just kind of the beginning of our program really expanding. It’s also just a cool opportunity to go to another country where our profession exists there as well and to get to meet people who may practice the same career but have different views and philosophies on how to do it."

Morrow and Marroquin are headed to France with the SHSU students and faculty. The trip is going to include lectures at scientific conferences and a concert featuring students and faculty from both universities. Sam Houston’s program is also working on an exchange agreement with Nanjing Normal University in China, trying to help establish one of the first university music therapy programs in China.

"They are approaching their future careers with the sort of confidence that will help ensure their success," Miller said. "All in all, this is a fantastic time to be involved with music therapy at SHSU. We can’t wait to see what’s next."

The School of Music is still collecting donations to help fund the trip. For information on how to donate, contact (936) 294-1360.

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