Brought To You By NSU; Written by David West

Emily Tisher found her way by making her own way.

Tisher, a senior Bachelor of Music major in the music business concentration from Tioga, recently completed an internship at Central Louisiana Supports and Services Center in Alexandria. The center is a residential facility serving about 80 residents of all ages with orthopedic and intellectual disabilities. 

As part of the requirements for her degree, Tisher had to complete a 135-hour internship in an industry-related field. She could find no practicing music therapists in the immediate area, so Tisher decided to create her own program in consultation with Center professional staff. 

“They do a variety of therapies with the residents and were enthusiastic about having someone come do some music therapy with them,” said Tisher. “I was also able to observe different therapies, education classes and habilitation classes which were very interesting and helpful.” 

Tisher worked with staff member Barrett McIntosh to decide what she could do to best help each resident. 

“Since there are such a variety of residents, my supervisor and I had to figure out what worked best for each individual,” said Tisher. “Some residents would get very upset, and we would redirect them with music. Instead of screaming, we would get them to sing with us. Instead of hitting anything in their reach, we would give them a drum and get them to keep time with the music or make a special rhythm. Sometimes all they would need would be to listen to some music played on a speaker.” 

Tisher said most of the residents were in wheelchairs, so they would give them time out of their chairs. She found playing with different musical toys could help motivate the residents with their movement and engagement,  

 On the last day of her internship, Tisher, McIntosh and resident Jonathan N. put on a few mini concerts for each of the education classes which were well-received. 

“The staff told me they appreciated my work with the residents,” said Tisher. “My supervisor’s main job would often call for him to run to a different part of the facility. I was able to continue the music while he was gone, which the residents enjoyed. The facility had a good energy, but incorporating more music made it even better.” 

Tisher primarily plays oboe but does play different instruments as well. To prepare for her internship and a career in music therapy, she began learning acoustic guitar at the beginning of the summer. She is a member of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and the NSU Wind Symphony. After graduating from NSU, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in music therapy. 

Tisher is now sure she is pursuing a career which is right for her. 

“I had no experience doing music therapy or working with this population. This internship reassured me that I am on the right path for my career,” she said. “I am so happy I got in touch with this facility. The staff were so helpful, and I loved being able to help the residents. I would love to work in a facility like this again in the future.” 


PICTURED ABOVE: NSU student Emily Tisher of Tioga, right, takes part in a mini-concert with Barrett McIntosh of the Central Louisiana Supports and Services Center in Alexandria for residents of the center. 

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