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Alumna directs hospital music therapy program

Photo of Samantha SinaiMusic not only sparks happiness, but has also been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and pain.

Samantha Sinai '12 brought that source of joy and comfort to patients at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, through the music therapy program she developed in 2016.

The power of music

The program, which Sinai now directs, helps children in the hospital, as well as their families, to cope with the difficult times they are facing.

"I see, a lot of times when I walk in the room, the light is not in them anymore," Sinai shared in a report on Madison's WKOW 27 News, "and what's really amazing is once they start playing an instrument and really getting engaged in music, I can see that light come back, even if it's just for a moment."

The music therapy program has also received great community response. In addition to two grants and two news features since the program started, many community members have been contributing to the cause. "People all over Madison are fundraising - from siblings of patients to music associations. I constantly get requests from folks wanting to donate instruments," Sinai explained.

BW beginnings

Sinai, who majored in music therapy and cello performance, shared how her experience at BW helped prepare her to establish the successful music therapy program. "I was not only prepared clinically, but also learned how to develop a program in a facility that previously did not have music therapy," said Sinai.

"BW's music therapy program was very thorough and taught me skills I never knew I would need in a music therapy job, including ear training, presentation skills and personal skills," Sinai explained. "I learned what it truly meant to be a professional."

From injury to growth

During her first semester at BW, a hand injury made it near impossible for Sinai to play the cello. This challenge ultimately helped her grow and develop the way she views and implements music therapy.

"It took several years to completely heal physically and emotionally," shared Sinai. "In the end, it taught me a lot about myself and allowed me to find my confidence and my voice. What I learned from my path towards well-being has helped me form my approach in my music therapy practice."

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