Aryana Smith is a sophomore music therapy student with a concentration in trumpet at Marywood University. While she was given the opportunity to play any instrument at Mt. Bethel School District, Pa., she gravitated towards the trumpet, and she began playing in fourth grade and has played ever since.
Even though she was determined to quit playing in sixth grade, having packed up her instrument and returned it to her band director expressing her dislike for band, her band director at the time thought otherwise, and convinced her to continue her musical journey. Fortunately, Aryana followed his advice and continued to pursue a love of music, and, she stated, “If it wasn’t for him not letting me quit on myself and on the instrument, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
Her passion for music continued throughout high school, and, although she thought she wanted to study law, Aryana knew that music needed to be at the center of her major. Admittedly nervous about performing, Aryana discussed her options with her high school teachers at the time.
Aryana said, “We researched options that didn’t include music performance, and music therapy was the perfect fit—it [music therapy] drew me in right away. I thought music coupled with helping people—that’s a win-win.”
Aryana explained music therapy as a process of utilizing music to achieve musical and non-musical goals including, but not limited to, the improvement of cognitive functioning, positive facial affect, vocalizations, and also the improvement of fine and gross motor skills. In one of her favorite classes, her Music Therapy seminar class, she has the opportunity to learn from an array of guest speakers whose expertise ranges from working in pediatrics, ICUs, trauma centers, and at Rikers Island, to name just a few.
While Marywood was the only college in Pennsylvania to which Aryana applied, she admitted that she wanted to travel and go somewhere farther away from home. A visit to campus to audition for the program changed her travel aspirations, as she fell in love with the campus, its faculty, and staff.
“I fell in love with the campus, and I told my father that this is the place I needed to be—I need to attend Marywood University. I also love the fact that I’m close enough to go home if needed, but far enough away from home that there are no surprise visits,” Aryana said.
Fortunate to have had one semester under her belt prior to the pandemic shutting down in-person instruction, Aryana acknowledged that it was difficult to go online, especially since prior to coming to Marywood she could play only the trumpet, and, thus, she had to continue learning to play guitar and piano virtually.
Aryana resided on campus during her freshman year, but now lives in off-campus housing with two friends, one of which is a music therapy major at Marywood, and another who attends a local college where she takes EMT classes. Enjoying the total college experience, Aryana is currently serving as the treasurer for the Music Therapy Club and is set to take on the role as president-elect for the club next year. She is also a member of Marywood University’s sorority, Alpha Sigma Psi, and expressed that she was enthusiastic about joining the sorority because of the philanthropy work that the group does with children.
Additionally, Aryana is a member of the Tutti Ensemble. The Tutti Ensemble is an adaptive program encouraging the use of music for individuals with unique learning styles. The student-led program is the result of a collaboration between music education and music therapy majors and gives those with special needs an opportunity to perform on stage from the local community. Aryana plans on completing a six-month internship at an American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) approved internship site, and then hopes to become board-certified following her graduation. She wants to work with children, especially in a trauma setting, as this is something she considered preceding her decision to pursue a music therapy degree.
Her advice for prospective students is, “Follow your heart and what your passion is telling you to do. Be someplace where you’re happy. At Marywood, I am fortunate to grow at a University where the professors care about my progress and what I’m interested in pursuing.”
For additional information about the music therapy program at Marywood University, please visit marywood.edu/mtd/music/music-therapy.html or call the Office of Admissions, at (570) 348-6234.