Red River Valley Summer 2017
A publication of the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association
An Interview with Kamica King
I had the pleasure of talking recently with Kamica King who many of you know, most of you have heard about, and with whom lots of you have sung at the SWAMTA regional conference in Fort Worth where her award-winning song was featured (See updates from Central Texas Music Therapy Association elsewhere in this issue).
Kamica, how did you first hear of music therapy?
I was an undergraduate majoring in music with a dual minor of psychology and communications at Western Connecticut State University. I wanted to use music as a tool to help kids with special needs. A few people listened to my ideas and casually told me that I should look into something called music therapy, but I never took it further at that time. Then as a senior, I was involved in a leadership program on campus. In this program we had to formulate a service project and I ended up creating an event series for students with special needs on campus to have a more integrated social experience.
Partnering with the Western Connection program to serve their students who were college-aged high school graduates with special needs, the most powerful event in the series was our performance night at the university coffeehouse. As a few of the students performed while the rest cheered on- including university students- I witnessed the transformative power of the arts as a great equalizer for people with special needs. Up there on the stage, all you saw was a singer, a poet, and the students were recognized for their talent and by their name, not their needs.
It inspired me to look for an opportunity to combine all of my education and experiences into something that would meaningfully serve others with special needs.
So how did you decide music therapy was really for you?
I searched online, found information about music therapy and learned that I really fit the profile of someone who would do well as a music therapist! My experience with my service learning project created a deeper desire for me to use music with special needs populations and I figured out that that meant going back to school for music therapy. Further conversation and classroom observation with the music therapy faculty at SMU solidified my decision. I knew I was "home"!
Tell me about your educational journey.
After WCSU, I went on to earn my music therapy equivalency at SMU. Making this possible was a challenge at first as financial aid was not available for this non-degree program and the classes were scheduled throughout the daytime. Thankfully I found flexible full time employment and had professors who worked with my schedule. I definitely see the lack of financial aid and the daytime course scheduling of music therapy equivalency programs as a barrier for the non-traditional student who has a bachelors in a related field but wants to transition to music therapy. I hope the tide is changing as new programs and distance learning options sprout up.
Speaking of master’s degrees…
Yes, I am a hopeful Masters of Arts in Music- Music Therapy candidate at TWU in December 2017!
It looks like your foreseeable future is bright. What about in the next five years?
I hope to grow my own business, King Creative Arts Expressions, into a larger company with subcontractors, other MT-BCs. My company is a blend of music therapy and the performing arts. In it, I work to connect those who need music in some capacity with those who can provide it. I have had great opportunities and publicity already. Musically, I've won awards for my writings through SWAMTA and WRAMTA, have had song placements in film and marketing campaigns with national reach and most recently, am a featured singer-songwriter in Which-Wich's "Perfect Your Craft" Campaign. I have also gotten to do wonderful music therapy work, having served as the inaugural music therapy service provider starting the Bridge Beats Music Therapy program at the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, working with kids with special needs in the school setting and as a music therapist in oncology at UTSW. All in all, I plan to continue to serve others the best way I know how!
I know you’re a long way off, but what legacy do you hope to leave the field of music therapy?
My dream is to plant and grow new music therapy and/or music enrichment programs, events and experiences, as well as breathe new life into existing ones. This brings me back to my years working in program development and coordination in the education, youth and community programs space. I worked for University programs in different capacities, and on the education team locally for the Dallas Regional Chamber. In those moments, I didn't realize how valuable and directly applicable the skills I was building in other fields would be to me within music therapy years later.
I love creating, connecting and empowering others whether through music therapy, performance or public speaking and I can see myself doing this on a national, no, worldwide, level. I plan to spread music far and wide. I know that I want to make as much of a positive impact on the world that I can with the tools that I have. This is exciting!