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Mariah Skelly

May 17, 2016


Melissa Wyas

Senior Mariah Skelly plays her saxophone in the homecoming parade

Oftentimes when people think of therapy, they think of the classical Freudian scenario with someone sitting on the couch talking through their problems while the psychologist scribbles away at their paper, with the intermittent question, ‘so how does that make you feel?’ This, however is not the case for senior Mariah Skelly. In Skelly’s mind, therapy is filled with melodies, songwriting, and a catharsis that can only be expressed through music. Skelly has chosen to pursue a path in music therapy to help people work through their problems with the aid of instruments and song in hopes of a brighter future.

“Music therapy is basically therapy through music. The big thing is helping people get better through music, so whether that be someone who can’t speak and they can only use sign language, music is another way for them to express themselves, you can play an instrument, some people will take drums and make patterns that mean different things and they’ll bang on the drums. In an overview it’s really helping people get better through music. I could talk about music therapy all day, it’s just a really cool field,” Skelly said.

Skelly planned to go into music from a young age, but her parents pushed her into something they deemed a little ‘more reasonable.’ Skelly absolutely adores the field this has allowed her to discover and is extremely excited for the future to come. She’s had involvement with music since day one and is keeping true to herself in her career.

“So my mom said I’ve been singing before I could talk, like I would babble-sing nursery rhymes, and so I’ve basically been doing music my whole life. I did piano when I was younger, I was in choir, I joined band, and so music just has always been this constant thing in my life and so I wasn’t really ready to let that go yet, and so I was like ‘well what can I do with music that won’t let that fade into the background of my life?’” Skelly said. “I was like ‘I want to go into music, but what will actually pay me and is steady?’ so I was like oh music therapy – that sounds really cool, you get to help people and you also get to make music.”

Not only have her parents helped her discover this field, but another close family member really impacted her choice to become a music therapist.

“Something that’s really pushed me in this is that my grandma had an aneurism when I was in seventh grade, and her memory isn’t still all the way back, but she can still remember some of the piano songs that she used to learn as a kid, and I was like ‘well if that can help her, I can help other people too,’” Skelly said.

Skelly has researched many schools and is firm in her final decision on where to go.

“I’m going to go to Drury University because obviously the financial standpoint where I won’t be in debt my entire life, but like also they have a music therapy clinic on their campus, and you get to sit in on classes as a freshman and observe actual patients that use it,” Skelly said. “At Drury they have a teen group that’s getting over substance abuse and they play like rock band and they write their own songs with them to help them express themselves, or like I could work with little kids with autism or little kids with developmental disabilities to help them keep going. I can help with really old people that are losing their memories and help them keep them.”

Skelly has had a passion to help people for as long as she remember. Her passion for music and her passion for volunteering mesh harmoniously in the music therapy career and Skelly could not find a better fit for herself.

“Really, what keeps me going is the fact that I’ve always wanted to help people. I’ve always had that drive, I’ve always loved volunteering, and so I always want to help make a difference and a way that I can do that is make a difference in other people’s lives through the music,” Skelly said. “To the people that are going to say that this is a dead end career and you’re not going to make any money, this is a growing field. There is more music therapist jobs than there are music therapists, I’m always going to be having a job, unlike some people where their spots are going to be filled very soon. I’ll always have a job and always be able to grow and move on in my career.”

Skelly is prepared and ready to start her career as a music therapist and help people grow and flourish into something better, or help repair their broken pieces of themselves for a better future.

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