Lily B. Bowers ’15 chose Shenandoah University because she loved the strong conservatory, small institution size and travel opportunities. “By coming to Shenandoah, I had anywhere from seven to 20 people in a class, and I loved learning in that environment,” said Bowers.
One of Bowers’ fondest memories at Shenandoah was traveling to Ireland with the Global Citizenship Project. She also loved having President Tracy Fitzsimmons as her teacher for her First-Year Seminar class during freshman year. “We had such a great class, both including students in and out of the conservatory,” said Bowers. “I loved this because I was able to make friends with students in so many different majors.”
Bowers is a board certified music therapist at The Virginia Home in Richmond, Virginia. The Virginia Home is a facility for adults with various physical disabilities. She works with the residents through music therapy intervention, which includes songwriting for self-expression, adapted instrument playing to address fine-motor skills, music discussion, singing, performing, music and relaxation, and music for family and end-of-life support.
She also has several non-music responsibilities as well, such as helping feed residents, working with music volunteers and performers, and assisting with special events. “I come to work with the mindset that I want to help out however I can and be part of the team to ensure our residents have the best quality of life,” said Bowers.
The most rewarding part of Bowers’ career is seeing clients reach their goals both within and outside of music therapy. Recently, the facility had 70 residents come together to put on a music production called “Rolling Through the Decades.” Bowers said the idea was to showcase individual strengths, music preferences and encourage group cohesion and self-confidence. The production gave each resident their moment to shine, either through a song, narration, or commercial. And, the weekly rehearsals also fostered creativity, communication, attention to task, self-esteem, memory and promoted a sense of accomplishment.
Bowers’ education from Shenandoah prepared her for her career by giving her music therapy training both in and out of the classroom. In addition to lectures, she completed four practicums in different settings, and then had the opportunity to go to New York for an internship. Learning proper technique with former piano professor Elizabeth Temple has also played an important role in her current job. “I play instruments throughout the day and do so many hands-on activities, so overuse is common,” said Bowers. “Thanks to her, I still remember ways to address this, and it transfers over to my clients who play adapted piano to address fine motor skills!”
Bowers’ advice to students is: “When I graduated from college, Charles Gibson was the guest speaker at commencement and he mentioned a simple quote that has stayed with me: ‘Stay thirsty!’ Within the field of music therapy, this is something that is so important, because honestly, no two days are alike! There are so many great things to learn, and you work with so many different populations and cross paths with many people. I love learning and incorporating new interventions and continuing to learn how I can better serve my clients and collaborate with other healthcare professionals. ”