Meet Some of Our Current Students

NYU Steinhardt News

Meet Some of Our Current Students

Tatiana Penagos

What is your primary instrument and what are the styles of music you most often play?

My primary instrument is voice and I played violin in orchestras for the majority of my life. I accompany myself on the guitar and I most often sing and play music by pop/soul/contemporary artists from the 60s-now

What drew you to music therapy in general and NYU’s Music Therapy Program in particular?

I first learned about music therapy while researching prospective undergraduate programs in high school. I knew I wanted to pursue something that highlighted my deep love for music and people. I watched videos of music therapists working with kids in the medical setting on YouTube and I felt like I landed upon the perfect medium of being able to continue being a musician and also helping other people. Music has been a part of my life since I was a toddler and I loved the idea of being able to share that with others in a therapeutic way. I went on to receive my bachelor of music in Music Therapy from Florida State University. What drew me to NYU’s Music Therapy program was the psycho-dynamic/humanistic approach that I felt really resonated with who I am as a person and the type of music therapist I strive to be. I also felt a yearning to expand and explore my musicality and self growth after working professionally for a year. I felt that NYU’s emphasis on improvisation would be a wonderful approach to exploring my music and myself on a deeper level.

Where is your internship/fieldwork? How are you enjoying it so far?

I am currently at Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital. I love being in the hospital setting because I have the ability to work with all people of varying cultural backgrounds, social-economic status, and acuity of illness. I love being in pediatrics because not only am I able to be of support to the the strongest children I’ve ever met, but their families as well. I love being able to participate in medical team rounds and expanding my knowledge of medical diagnoses and my role in how I can be of support to my patients during their hospitalization or doctor appointments. I walk in knowing that every day is different and unique and I find that incredibly exciting.

What is your favorite thing about the NYU Music Therapy Program?

I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to explore myself and music in a safe and supportive environment. I feel a great sense of trust and support from not only my peers but my professors, advisors, and supervisors as well. I feel as if I am learning so much every day about myself as well as the varying approaches and techniques to music therapy. I feel like I am in a wonderful environment for further developing what I align with.

What is the most difficult thing about the program?

Definitely the balance between full-time course load, my work at pre-internship, and life. As much as it is gratifying and exciting to be expanding my understanding of myself and vulnerability, it can add to the difficulty in balancing the already challenging aspects of graduate school.

How do you take care of yourself outside of school and your internship/fieldwork?

I really try keep a healthy balance by allowing myself to socialize with friends as well as honoring the performer in me by singing at gigs at night and on the weekends. I also engage in self-care by going to my own weekly therapy, meditation/yoga, massages, and of course, getting in some quality time with my cat! Sometimes it can be difficult but I will allow myself having close the books and focus on myself when I’m needing some extra me time.

Any general advice for prospective students?

Find the program that best suits your views and desires as a future music therapist. Allow yourself to make mistakes, be vulnerable, and shoot for the stars!

Jodie Levinson

What is your primary instrument and what are the styles of music you most often play?

My primary instrument is my voice, although I’ve been playing piano for many years and also enjoy playing guitar in my clinical work. The music I love to play most is old style R&B and soul tunes from the 60s. Some longtime favorite artists include Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, and Ray Charles.

What drew you to music therapy in general and NYU’s Music Therapy Program in particular?

I think I was always searching for what music could do for people and why it worked so well. I longed to get in touch with that “je ne sais quoi” quality of what makes music so special and healing. I taught rock band and music lessons for several years before finally coming around to the idea of getting my master's degree in Music Therapy. After meeting with Judi Bosco, chatting with alumi, and reading more about the field, I felt NYU was the place to be and the right path for me moving forward.

Where is your internship/fieldwork? How are you enjoying it so far?

As a part-time student, I’m in my third year and final semester. Currently, I am finishing up my final two months as an intern working on an inpatient psychiatric unit at Lenox Hill Hospital. This placement has been one of the most educational, humanizing, and meaningful experiences of my professional life. Not only is the population of interest to me, but I was lucky to be paired with a great supervisor. I have felt pushed, supported, and valued as I’ve honed my skills to becoming a therapist.

What is your favorite thing about the NYU Music Therapy Program?

My favorite thing about NYU Music Therapy is the community. I’ve made so many friends, future colleagues, and basically an extended family of sorts from this experience. The community is a small one, but it is big on personality and on all the things I like… it’s a group of smart, engaged, creative, and caring people. I would say it has also been a treat to be back in school and engaged in learning as an adult.

What is the most difficult thing about the program?

What’s been the hardest part of this program is true for most big life commitments we make... I think it’s about showing up wholeheartedly and really investing in the knowledge and material that is being offered. Though there have been many challenges, there have also been great joys in learning more about myself, acquiring new skills, and falling in love with a new career.

How do you take care of yourself outside of school and your internship/fieldwork?

Great question! Doing this work requires lots of self-care. I love to ski, bike ride, and go salsa dancing. I also have a band that plays in Manhattan and around the Northeast which remains a big part of my life outside of my music therapy work. Of course, eating and cooking good food is high on that list!

Any general advice for prospective students?

Take your time. Finding this field and being prepared for the work happened a little later for me. In looking back, I think it was to my benefit. Choosing to attend part-time was also key to my enjoyment of the program since it allowed me the time to acquire the proper skills, demeanor and training that I’ve grown into over these last three years.

Music has always been a crucial part of Mandy Lam's life, starting with poking the keys on a mini keyboard as a toddler, and later moving onto exploring different instruments. Her high school music teacher from Vancouver was one of the most influential figures in her life and introduced her to the bassoon, which she later decided to major in at Schulich School of Music. She discovered music therapy through Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home and was deeply touched by the impact that music therapy had on patients across the lifespan. It was around that time that she felt that as much as she enjoyed playing bassoon, something important was missing. After gaining more in-depth knowledge about the field through shadowing a music therapist who graduated from NYU, as well as engaging in volunteer work in palliative care, it was quite clear that Mandy felt much more fulfilled being able to use music therapeutically to help other people. As a result, she decided to change from the music faculty in her sophomore year, and eventually graduated with a BA in Psychology and Music from McGill University.

Mandy's experience in the Music Therapy program so far has been extremely rewarding yet invigorating at the same time. She values having classes in small groups and being able to build close relationships with her classmates and professors through different interactive approaches. It is clear that her professors emphasize nurturing each student's strengths, while providing assistance in other areas. Having fieldwork in the first semester was definitely challenging, but Mandy has come to realize that such hands-on experiences are indeed the best way to learn. Through her position as the graduate administrative assistant at the on-campus Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy, she also has had opportunities to film and observe sessions there, which has inspired and motivated her greatly. Overall, Mandy feels extremely privileged to be a part of this program and is excited for what the rest of her journey at NYU Music Therapy will bring.

Anthony Riscica grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey where he graduated from Teaneck High School in 1998. He attended college at SUNY Purchase and received his bachelor’s degree in Music Performance as a drummer in 2002. Since then Anthony has been, and currently is, a private music instructor to all ages on the drums, guitar, piano, and music/DJ software.

He has toured and recorded around the world with various music acts including the Blue Man Group. Since joining in 2010, Anthony has been the drummer for BMG’s New York, Chicago, and Orlando shows as well as the drummer and music director for the BMG National Tour and Norwegian Cruise show. He currently plays part-time in the New York production.

As a studio drummer, Anthony has worked for VH-1, Nickelodeon, and National Geographic and played on albums with artists such as George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, David Byrne, and Shock G. He has also DJ’d for the past 15 years in New York and abroad at various venues and private events.

Anthony is proud to be attending NYU for his master’s degree in music therapy and excited to be working with The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and its outreach programs this year.

Jasmine Edwards is a vocalist from South Florida. After majoring in voice at Dreyfoos School for the Arts in West Palm Beach, she went on to study Music Therapy at Florida State University. She completed her undergraduate internship at Matheny Medical and Educational Center in Peapack, NJ, where she worked with children and adults with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Lesch-Nyhan. After spending time in such close proximity to NYU, she became increasingly interested in the program’s focus on music psychotherapy, and was eager to learn more. After working at a private practice in South Florida with children with autism for several months, Jasmine returned to the northeast for her graduate studies at NYU.

Jasmine feels incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to compare, contrast, and combine her previous experiences with NYU's philosophy of music therapy. During her time at NYU she learned about the important role music plays in the formation of our earliest relationships, as well as how to utilize the therapeutic qualities of her primary instrument, the voice. Jasmine feels very lucky to be working in two settings that she feels so passionate about and are so interrelated: she currently provides early childhood and child-caregiver groups through the Jewish Board’s Brownsville Child Development Center, and works as the NICU music therapist for the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai Hospital.