By Lisa Loera
Dallas Academy’s (DA) Director of Music Therapy and Performing Arts Molly Phillips Grogan jumped at the chance to train Music Therapy (MT) interns. She was approached by Dr. Daniel Tague, assistant professor and chair of music therapy at Southern Methodist University, three years ago. Dr. Tague had observed the unique and effective therapeutic approach to learning at Dallas Academy and was enthusiastic about giving his senior students an opportunity to be a part of the one year (approximately 1200 hours) of internship.
These bright and talented SMU students come to Dallas Academy after completing a rigorous academic curriculum, in addition to a practicum rotation in a variety of therapeutic settings. The current SMU MT intern is Ali Esparza. Esparza has practicum experience in settings of memory care, adult psychiatric care, one-on-developmental intervention, and from practicum experience with young cancer patients at Cook Children’s Hospital.
This year, Esparza will spend her internship in three phases: observation, co-leading, and leading groups and classes, as well as in one-on-one with individual music therapy interventions via piano, guitar, voice, soprano recorder, ukulele and a variety of rhythm instruments. Becoming familiar with the needs of each individual, Ali will develop her skills at writing goals and objectives for students as well as creating meaningful and effective interventions to help our students become the best versions of themselves through Music Therapy and Performing Arts.
Esparza will be using music as a therapeutic tool to help students develop basic learning skills such as: memory, sequencing, organization, reading, verbal and non-verbal communication, social skills, self-awareness and self-expression, increasing confidence through risk-taking and many other important goals.
Scientific studies tell us that music is “fertilizer for the brain” and children who engage in music benefit from it. We are all reminded that music and performing arts are educational and therapeutic, and lives are changed by experiencing them.