Just the Right Note: Hannah Bae Discovers Her Dream Job Is Helping Others

By Hannah Werthan

After receiving a bachelor's degree in music composition, Hannah Bae was having a hard time finding the right career path. She worked as a pianist and composer but didn't feel satisfied. Through researching online, Hannah discovered music therapy; her interest was piqued when she read a few successful case studies. She decided to enroll in Molloy College's Music Therapy graduate program.

Hannah Bae (M.S., '15)While at the College, though Hannah enjoyed all of her classes, Abnormal Psychology with Dr. Cheryl Camenzuli, Improvisation with Dr. Suzanne Sorel, and Psychodynamic Music Therapy with Dr. Seung-A Kim were among her favorite courses. As a student, she learned more about how to connect with others. She realized that much of who she is as a person has been defined by her relationships with family and friends throughout her life. By understanding more about her inner self, Hannah was able to become more knowledgeable on how to connect with everyone around her.

Hannah believes music is therapeutic because "as humans, we have so many musical cycles running in us as well as in our lives." "Our hearts have rhythm, pulses flowing and blood circulating. We also have specific rhythmic patterns such as waking up in the morning and going to work," she says. Additionally, music is powerful because it transports us back in time and resurrects old feelings and memories, Hannah says.

In her work, Hannah has seen first-hand the impact of introducing music as therapy in people's lives. Hannah is a music therapist at Hug Music in Forest Hills, New York. Previously, she worked with Korean immigrant older adults at the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Both jobs have been very different but rewarding, she says.

At the YWCA, Hannah would typically meet with five or six Korean women in collaboration with an art therapy program. They would initially be self-conscious and afraid of sharing their feelings; however, Hannah was able to help them open up about themselves after listening to music and singing Korean songs from their childhood. "Korean people do not like to reveal their life stories, especially those of an older generation. But through art and music therapy, they eventually expressed what they were thinking about their life and their family and the problems they were going through at that moment," she says.

Whereas her older clients were hesitant to participate in activities, Hannah finds that the children she works with now are excited to explore and try new things. The children, who range from 2.5 to 14 years old, have learning disabilities, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and/or emotional problems. Hannah lets them take the lead and then identifies what they need in that moment and interacts accordingly.

When she is not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading self-development and Christian books, writing in her journal, and making music videos for YouTube. One day, she would like to work with people who have been traumatized by war in other countries and help them heal through music. Compassionate, dedicated, and musically talented, Hannah Bae has found her calling as a music therapist. 

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