Elizabeth Mitchell’s Story
Music Therapy, Wilfrid Laurier University
My proudest teaching moment:
Since 2008, I have instructed MU353, “Inclusive Arts for Children”, an undergraduate course offered by the department of music therapy and open to students from all faculties. This is a Community Service Learning course, which means that in addition to the in-class component, students participate in a community placement. For this course, after intensive preparation, students take on the role of leaders at a creative-arts day camp for children with exceptionalities. At the end of the camp week each summer, as I watch the university students on stage performing alongside the children they have been supporting, I feel incredibly proud. The university students’ leadership, creativity, risk-taking, and their ability to link academic learning with community involvement in a way that is extremely meaningful for children and families are all to be commended.
How I use my knowledge, research skills and teaching ability to improve my community:
Currently I’m working as the choral conductor for “El Sistema Aeolian” in London, Ontario, an intensive and completely free after-school program designed to provide accessible and inclusive music education for all children. We have about sixty children in the program right now, and working with them keeps me challenged and also fulfilled. It is one thing to study music therapy and music education, and it’s quite another to put theory into practice!
The challenges I face in my work:
One challenge that I face as a Contract Academic Staff member is the “not-knowing”, from year to year, how much work will be offered to me. This not-knowing can make it very difficult to decide how much work to commit to outside of the university, as I risk either over- or under-committing myself in other areas.