Self-Expression Through the Arts: Marcel’s Story
The path to becoming a Music Therapy major differs from person to person. Whether it is a love for the arts or a student’s connection to a particular instrument, combined with a desire to help or encourage others, that draws them to the field, the common characteristic they share is a passion for understanding and expressing their emotions. This is especially true for junior music therapy major Marcel Sinclair, who has been drawn to music since childhood.
Born to a mother who is a music lover and a father who is a musician in his own right, Sinclair found a nurturing environment to express his interest in music, including an early introduction to classical music and to the programmatic music used in video games.
“My family is actually a gamer family,” Sinclair said, chuckling fondly over the memory. “My mother exposed me to video games when I was in preschool, and that was around the era when they started using more live music and realistic instruments for video game scores.”
The game that most notably introduced Sinclair to this sort of composition was Kingdom Hearts. He reminisces about Kingdom Hearts, along with the Game Boy he received at a young age, recalling, “I got to play with such memorable music, and it was simply amazing.”
Sinclair often relates the creativity of programmatic music in video games to his own life. He likes to give off a good vibe with his outfits, and he sketches them prior to wearing them. Sketching is more than just a hobby for Sinclair; he also gets commissioned to do artwork. By getting paid to do something he loves, Sinclair is working towards his ultimate goal: coding video games with his own artwork and music. That’s why he chose to attend Marywood University.
In fact, for the Moscow, Pa. native, the path to Marywood was clear. Two of his first experiences at Marywood occurred during high school, when both his Junior and Senior Wind Band Celebrations took place at the Sette LaVerghetta Center for Performing Arts, along with districts for Orchestra. These experiences created countless opportunities for Sinclair.
“I love the freedom of the curriculum and that you can talk to the instructors about things that you're interested in," Sinclair observes.
This freedom and ability to focus on specific interests gave Sinclair the chance to compose music for Williamsport High School’s band, under commission, further building Sinclair’s portfolio of creative work.
This type of field work has been part of the Music Therapy program since its inception, with Music Therapy majors typically observing therapy sessions or performing music in them. At first, students just observe, but, by the end of their sophomore year, they get to lead music therapy sessions at locations such as Marywood Heights, a university-based retirement facility located on Marywood’s campus.
Sinclair is currently the lead pianist for the music therapy group. Being given practical experiences in Music Therapy from the start was a pleasant surprise to Sinclair, who describes the work as an “unexpected benefit,” noting that the countless hours of work that accompany these experiences should be expected and embraced. He says faithfully practicing your instruments is the key to success, and that “the fundamental challenge of the program, of course, is that you do have to learn specific instruments.”
Sinclair entered the Music Therapy program with experience in numerous instruments, including the guitar, piano, and percussion. However, the passion of others around him has pushed him to want to learn more and more. The environment of high school band differs from college-level music experiences. Sinclair describes the environment at Marywood as “good musicians coming together,” and finds it motivating to practice because “we're surrounded by folks of a similar skill level.” Yet, staying motivated to learn can be difficult when you already know most of the curriculum of a class.
Sinclair took AP music theory in high school and then again in college. His professor, Dr. Diogo Carvalho, understood this, and adapted to it. Dr. Carvalho, a composer who specializes in the guitar, is also one of Sinclair’s greatest inspirations. Sinclair notes that Dr. Carvalho is pushing him to create his own composing website.
While the professors at Marywood have inspired Sinclair, he cites his parents as the ones who motivated and inspired him to be the man he is today. Sinclair’s journey has been linear with minimal surprises along the way. His hard work, coupled with the motivational environment he found at home and at Marywood, continues to push him to be the best he can be.
Clearly, music and art are Sinclair’s passions. Equipped with his goals and fully supported by his professors and family, Marywood’s Music Therapy program has prepared Sinclair to pursue a dynamic, creative path to realizing his purpose.