Student Spotlight: Childhood Heartache Sets The Stage For Future Performance

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After successfully double majoring in Songwriting & Music Therapy, and completing a minor in Psychology at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Melissa moved home to save money and begin a full-time career in music. We enjoyed our conversation with Melissa as she shared an intimate narrative of her journey from childhood heartache to a fulfilling career with music.

When did you know that you wanted to have a career in music, and in particular as a Music Therapist? I heard about Music Therapy a bit in high school. I pushed the idea away though, mostly because I was a stubborn 16 year old, and didn’t want to listen to a bunch of adults telling me what to do HA HA! Once I started college though, I learned more about Music Therapy as an option and decided to delve into an introductory class. This is where I saw examples of the amazing work people did using Music Therapy, and was able to easily relate it back to my life. I wanted to give back to people who struggled in similar ways, and it just all made sense.  

Was there a particular experience of such a struggle in your own life? Yes. My older sister passed away when I was young. I don't have many vivid memories of her, but I was told how much she loved music. Having this awareness coupled with seeing how Music Therapy helps people who have a condition similar to that which my sister did, brought it all together. It just made sense.  

What are you doing now to incorporate your college education with your passion for music? I have 2 amazing jobs! I work as a Music Therapist with a private practice and also as a Music Instructor that teaches new moms how to incorporate music with their babies as a support system. I’m also an artist working on releasing more music and writing/performing as much as I can! It's hard to have any expectations for this stage of life when everything feels so uncertain.

"My younger self probably hoped I would be the next Hannah Montana by now, but my current self feels this is just where I’m meant to be."
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What has been the best and the most challenging part of your path with music thus far? The best part has been all of the beautiful connections I have made through my passion. It blows my mind when I sit back and think about all of the incredible friends I’ve met, the amazing musicians I’ve had the opportunity to work with, the music I’ve created, and the people I work with as a Music Therapist. The most challenging . . . honestly, post-grad life. Everybody is in a different place in their careers, and it is so hard not to compare yourself. I know some people who are on tour with huge artists, some people who are doing something completely different than what they majored in, and then people like me who are living at home and figuring it all out. Sometimes it’s hard to stay present, so I’m really trying to work on that these days. I find that working out also has become a great way to relax my mind and reset.

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Melissa's Advice To College Students: Well, to students just starting college, I would say try not to put too much pressure on yourself to constantly be going out, and comparing yourself to friends who 'look' like they’re having the perfect college experience. You have to give it time and I PROMISE things will only get better. It can be pretty lonely in the beginning. Also, if you are dating someone from high school . . . I recommend trying to fly solo for a bit. It can really interfere with fully immersing yourself in the whole college experience, but to each their own! I would also say "yes" school/grades are important, but don't stress yourself out to the point where you aren’t having fun. My best college memories all have to do with time spent with my friends outside of classes. And study abroad . . . it will change your life. 

Do you have a mantra or inspirational quote that you try to live by? I don't have a specific mantra that I go by, but I am a type of person who believes that what is meant to be will be. Everything is temporary, and everything has its purpose. I try not to spend too much time overthinking every little thing that doesn’t go right. I should also mention my parents as they inspire me so much. My mom and dad went through some extremely hard times when I was little, and the fact that they came out on the other side - just as in love and positive and easy going - it’s incredibly uplifting. Their fortitude reminds me to live life to the fullest and not to sweat the small stuff. 

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