Music therapy allows me to help others

By Katie Hirv ’22

Born and raised in Shawnee, Kansas, Greta Christianson ’21 was searching for music therapy programs when she landed on the Wartburg College website. Though she had never heard of the college, it turned out to be a perfect fit for her.

“I chose Wartburg because when I visited, I really liked the environment of the campus. I felt like it was a very good atmosphere,” said Christianson. “I also really like small class sizes. I learn best from that individual attention, especially in music therapy classes. I feel like it’s really important to be able to have that kind of established relationship with a professor.”

With her passion for helping others, Christianson knew that she wanted to be in a career where she would be able to support those around her.

“I chose to do music therapy because I’ve always had a passion for music and to me, music therapy gives people the opportunity to communicate things when they otherwise might not be able to. I really believe that people have a story that they deserve to be able to tell. So often, we look at people and think that they only have one dimension, but in reality, they have so much more,” Christianson said.

Learning about experiences from current music therapy professors has allowed Christianson to make connections and gain valuable advice as she begins to look toward the future.

Greta Christianso

“Both music therapy professors, Professor Ashton and Dr. Woodward, are amazing professors and it’s been an awesome experience learning from them and hearing how their experiences in the field have shaped them as therapists,” said Christianson.

Her experiences with music therapy practicums and classes have shown Christianson how interconnected the music therapy field is.

“Music therapy can be used in a lot of settings and there are a lot of different diagnoses that you can work with. Having that steady beat in music helps facilitate motion, or you have that emotional aspect of being able to connect with a song and with others because of the elements within the music and the content of the lyrics,” Christianson said. “I also really like that our practicums start our sophomore year, which is kind of unusual for most programs. Getting to work with clients, learn about therapeutic processes and building therapeutic relationships from an early start was really helpful to me.”

Part of Wartburg’s music therapy program consists of completing an internship for six months post-coursework before becoming a board-certified music therapist. Christianson is currently searching for her internship placement.

“I’m applying for several internships that start in January 2022. Until then, I’ll work somewhere back home and take some time to work on musical skills,” Christianson said.

Christianson’s involvement with multiple music-based ensembles has given her incredible opportunities to travel around the world creating music.

“Getting to go on international tours with music ensembles that I was involved in was my favorite memory overall. I’ve gone to six different countries because of the programs that we have. I went to Japan my sophomore year with Wind Ensemble and my freshman year, I went to Scandinavia with the Castle Singers and Kammerstreicher tour,” Christianson said.

As she reflects on her time at Wartburg, Christianson said she has learned valuable lessons about treating others with kindness and taking advantage of opportunities as a student.

“Be nice to each other. So often, I don’t remember what people say to me specifically, but I remember the emotions that go with it. Work toward being a positive impact in the lives of the people around you. And enjoy the opportunities while you have them!” Christianson said.