Selected Student Bios
Merrill Collins is a singer/songwriter/puppeteer /storyteller, and broadcaster. In recent years, she has been performing as a puppeteer, singing minstrel and storyteller for children with autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at a summer camp in Connecticut. Also, Merrill has performed as a first soprano with the Fairfield County Chorale, St. Luke’s Choir, the Metropolitan Singers/Greek Chorale Society at Avery Fisher Hall and the opera “Die Fledermaus” with the New Rochelle Opera Company.
Although music has always been in Merrill’s life, she majored in broadcasting and received her B.A. at Goucher College in Towson, MD. After college, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting and opera. She was accepted into The Circle in the Square Theatre School. After a few years, Merrill left New York for the West Coast. In L.A., she was hired as a radio producer for Dr. Laura Schlessinger on KFI AM640.
To keep her music alive, Merrill explored the coffee house scene of L.A. Then, she moved back to New York where she was hired as a co-producer for Jim Cramer’s “Real Money” radio show on CBS radio. After the show ended, Merrill volunteered at a summer camp. There, she discovered her calling to become a music therapist. After being introduced to Dr. Amy Zabin and Karen Nisenson, both graduates of the NYU Music Therapy graduate program, Merrill was compelled to apply to the program.
Today, she is excited to be a first-year graduate student at NYU Steinhardt in the Music Therapy program and is currently conducting her fieldwork under the supervision of Karen Nisenson at Arts for Healing, a music, drama, and art therapy program for children with special needs, in New Canaan, CT. Music therapy at NYU now feels like the right size musical shoe.
Ricky Perry is a guitarist, songwriter, and arranger who was born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Huntsville, AL. From 2003-2011, he lived in Nashville, TN, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Music with an emphasis in guitar performance, composition, and arranging from Belmont University.
Ricky has performed, written, and recorded music since the age of seventeen, playing throughout Alabama and Tennessee with the jazz-fusion band, Del, during his college career. After graduating, Ricky continued to perform, arrange, and record with various Nashville artists. Most recently, he played lead guitar for Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes, recording and arranging songs on the album Civilized Man.
From 2010-2011, Ricky was an AmeriCorps member for Community HealthCorps in Nashville and a music therapy volunteer at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. As an AmeriCorps member, he worked in non-profit clinics providing patient outreach, education, and support in underserved communities. Here he created the free bilingual music program “Whistle While You Wait/Música Mientras Esperas,” which allowed patients to listen, learn, or play music while waiting for appointments. As a volunteer, Ricky affirmed his desire to pursue music therapy as a career, playing music for and with children of all ages with various illnesses.
Ricky is a first-year graduate student at NYU’s Music Therapy program where he is engaged in fieldwork at the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy.
Music Therapy Student Christina Lee is a Gospel recording artist, Pianist and Music Director. Her journey began at the age of 4 with piano lessons which eventually led to her being accepted at the Pre-College at Manhattan School of Music and later, the Music Conservatory at Purchase College where she received her BA.
Before her acceptance to NYU, Christina has had the opportunity to perform at numerous venues throughout the United States. Some of her performances were at venues such as the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn with Pastor and Singer Donnie McClurkin, Richmond Christian Center in Virginia with the Women of Praise Tour and at the NAACP ‘Essence of Women’ concert at Bethel AME. She has also worked as the Music Director to New Destiny Fellowship and Shin Kwang Church of NY.
As a Music Therapy student, her primary instruments are Voice and Piano and she has started her fieldwork at Heartsong in White Plains working with young children with special needs. Before this, her clinical experiences/studies include working with Professor Seung-A Kim (Molloy College) at the Agape Music Therapy program at Arumdaun Church in Long Island and at Margaret Tietz Nursing Home.
Currently, Christina works as the Music Instructor at The Children’s Aid Society (Drew Hamilton site) as well as the Worship Arts Coordinator for Metro Hope Church located in Harlem’s famous National Black Theater.
Music Therapy student Changho Song is a guitarist, songwriter, and recording engineer.
After taking up the guitar at age 13, he formed his own band and performed various genres of
music including pop, rock, blues, and jazz. He has since majored in sound recording at Dong-Ah Institute of Media and Arts in Korea and joined the military band of Capital Defense Command in Korea for two years playing the trumpet.
Changho was drawn to music therapy through experiences using music while working as a volunteer. He has always dreamed of leading a valuable life to help others in need through
music. When he discovered music therapy, he eagerly embraced the opportunity to join the field as he felt this was his calling. He he was attracted to Creative Music Therapy which can lead self- awareness and self-expression, stimulate potential and attain therapeutic goals. It matched what he has been going though with making music, so he enrolled at NYU Steinhardt.
Presently, Changhho is doing his fieldwork at Lifeline Center for Child Development, under the supervision of Kenji Takeda. After graduation and gaining sufficient clinical practice, Changho plans on developing his own music therapy program based on creative works, sound waves and recording technology. He believes that music is an entity that can brighten anyone’s life.
Luke Schneiders is a musician that has lived in Brooklyn since 2002. He earned his B.F.A. at the New School Jazz and Contemporary Music program, with a specialization in jazz percussion. Since graduating, he has recorded and toured extensively, in the U.S. and abroad.
Luke has taken several ethnomusicological journeys to countries including Bulgaria, Nepal, Norway, and Ecuador, where he has had the fortune to apprentice under master musicians. These trips often included a parallel volunteer component, such as teaching English or music, working on rainforest preservation, etc.
In 2010 Luke co-founded Encouraging Arts, a social-benefit organization that designs and executes free, arts-based workshops in underserved communities. In 2011, E.A. launched its flagship effort “All Together Now,” a songwriting workshop implemented in thirteen South American institutions, including schools, orphanages, and shelters. Luke returned from this experience certain that music can heal and create positive change.
Luke is proud and thankful to be a member of the NYU Music Therapy community. There he is perpetually inspired by his professors and classmates, and unified in his passions for music, learning, and helping others.
Brendan Berry is an accomplished composer, sound designer, and sound mixer born and raised in Washington, DC. He is currently based out of New York City, where his versatility and broad range of sound work are constantly being composed and heard in the creative world.
His professional career in music began as a performer, playing at a young age, with the distinguished District of Columbia, Blue’s Alley Youth Jazz Orchestra. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Music from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music in Studio Composition. Early in his collegiate career he began writing film scores for short documentaries. His work has since been heard around the world on numerous stages, in theaters, on television, and the radio.
A few of the more prestigious and noteworthy venues where his work has been heard have been the Lincoln Center, the Tribeca Film Festival, the Dance on Camera Film Festival, the Musance modern dance festival in Berlin, Germany, hulu.com, and many other film festivals around the country. He has worked with Tony nominated director Kristin Hanggi, the New World Symphony, Media Recording Studio, Ben Stiller, Jesse Eisenberg, Marla Gibbs, Jake T. Austin, Tine Kindermann, John Legend, Men's Health Magazine online, AT&T, and many more incredibly talented industry professionals.
His passion for music and helping people brought him to one of the more exciting points in his musical career when he began his Music Therapy graduate studies at NYU in the Fall of 2012. He is thrilled to expand his use of music into the realm of health and healing.
Shae Fiol Growing up in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by family members who were classically trained musicians such as her mother, father, both grandmothers, she was immersed in music. Her inherited musical and adventurous spirit inspired Shae to attend the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque on a soccer and academic scholarship and upon graduation she walked with a Bachelor's in Sociology and recorded demo of original music which quickly perked industry antae in L.A and NYC.
Years of hard work in NYC, honing performance and recording skills, has lead Shae to share the stage with great artists such as India Arie and Musiq Soulchild as well as perform her own music at Blue Note, Highline Ballroom, Joe's Pub and BB Kings. In 2009, Shae released her debut album Catch a Ride which features collaborations with Grammy award winners Stuart Matthewman and Rockwilder.
In addition to her solo career Shae explores her Latina roots performing with and co¬directing NYCs only all womens mariachi band, Mariachi Flor de Toloache, founded in 2008 by Mireya Ramos. She also teaches Spanish through music to preschool aged children with a program called Bilingual Birdies.
Shae loves the work she does with kids and enjoyed her first semester in the Music Therapy program here at NYU working with children ages 3¬5 at the Gramercy School. Currently Shae is beginning her adult fieldwork placement at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Her primary instruments are guitar and voice which she uses with care to connect with individuals and groups whether in Spanish class, in concerts, or exploring her journey in becoming a music therapist.