When Hannah Standiford ’17 graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory’s Professional Studies Program for Music Therapy Certification Eligibility, she knew exactly what her next step would be: return to Indonesia to study the nation’s music, courtesy of a Fulbright Scholarship.
“I didn’t think I’d get a Fulbright,” said Standiford, 27, of Richmond, a guitar teacher whose interest in Indonesian music began when she became involved with a gamelan (Indonesian court music) ensemble based at the University of Richmond. She received a Darmasiswa scholarship for the 2014-15 school year, which allowed her to travel to Indonesia to study gamelan music. However, while there, she discovered keroncong music, which is played on western instruments, like the ukulele. She learned she received the prestigious Fulbright in March. According to the Fulbright website, approximately 1,900 Fulbright Scholarships are awarded annually.
Standiford, who earned a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 2011, performed keroncong with street musicians, and in the process, developed a deeper understanding of the passage of time within both music and daily life, as she notes in a short TED talk, in which she performs keroncong music on a ukulele.
Not many western tourists visited the Indonesian town where she lived, and while she was a seasoned traveler, she felt a fair amount of culture shock there. People were more communal and less concerned about privacy than she was used to – she keenly felt her “foreignness” – but the music, which she needed no language fluency to learn, made any discomfort worthwhile.
She’ll focus on keroncong music and incorporating traditional Appalachian music into its performance for her Fulbright studies. Both types of music share a similar ethos, said Standiford, citing their use of similar instruments and how each can be picked up by just putting in hours of playing. She also brought keroncong with her back to Richmond, playing it with her band, Rumput. When she returns to Indonesia on the Fulbright (she applied through VCU) she’ll be a street musician once again.
Standiford anticipates merging some of her passions by exploring music therapy and ethnomusicology upon her return from Indonesia. Her interest in music therapy grew stronger several years ago, as she played music for Alzheimer’s patients at VA hospital. Often, the patients were not verbal, but Standiford said when she played a Beatles song on her guitar, they’d begin to sing along, displaying what she calls “everyday magic.”
Shenandoah offers one of two music therapy programs in Virginia, and Standiford said Associate Professor of Music and Director of Graduate Music Therapy Studies Anthony Meadows, Ph.D., MT-BC, FAMI, LPC, played a large role in her decision to attend Shenandoah, to which she traveled twice a week over the course of two years as she conducted her studies. “Meeting him in person kind of sealed the deal for me.”
“Hannah is an inquisitive and thoughtful student. She is an outstanding musician who has the ability to connect deeply with clients and support them through a wide range of challenges,” Dr. Meadows said. “Hannah has a bright future. Her love of music, and passion for indigenous Indonesian music, will open many doors and give her unique opportunities to combine her passions for ethnomusicology and music therapy. Music therapy is developing ways of acknowledging and integrating the music of diverse cultures, and Hannah stands right that the forefront of that work.”