News Archives - 2007
A talent for performing and for helping others
When Christianna Schmit made the decision to become a music therapy major, the last thing on her mind was to give up her life as a performer. As a matter of fact, since deciding to use her talents to help others, she is even more committed to honing her talent to perform.
"I believe that as a music therapist you need the creative outlet that only performing gives you," she says. At her senior honors recital and music therapy presentation, Rogers and Hammerstein, Mozart and Vivaldi were mixed with theories on increasing a client's social skills, leading jam sessions in prison, and conducting drumming circles in nursing homes.
An Auggie mezzo-soprano, bassoonist, and all-around woodwind aficionado, Christi, as she is known, grew up in a Tomahawk, Wisconsin family of musicians. "We would sing our table-prayer in six-part harmony." As a teenager, she loved helping people, she loved music, and she loved science. An aunt whispered the notion of music therapy in her ear, as a perfect blend of all her passions, and when she visited Augsburg College, the deal was sealed.
Christi describes music therapy "as a vehicle to facilitate a change and to act as a therapeutic intervention." It has been found to be incredibly effective in increasing motor skills, social skills, relaxation, and pain management and in treating chemical dependency and memory-loss. Her major has given her the opportunity to test herself in a volunteer position at Region's Hospital in St. Paul.
When asked why music has such charms, she responds: "Music takes a person's mind of what is not so good. It allows people to relax. Music uses a different part of the brain. A stroke victim who cannot speak can sing an entire song. An Alzheimer's patient may not be able to remember a family member's name, but they will remember a favorite hymn from childhood."
Christianna is excited about the future. She is currently interviewing for her internship and has recently traveled to New Orleans and to Ohio to explore opportunities in hospital settings. Future plans include getting her masters and doctorate degrees and teaching at the college level, with hopes of giving back to her students what she picked up in her years as a student, a musician, a performer, and a music therapist.
Photo: Christi and her guitar at the annual VSA Day.