“There is so much to explore and it is a new adventure each day. I feel this is where I’m supposed to be.”
May 5, 2017
The Spectrum team is tremendously excited to welcome Sheralyn Fenton to our staff! Sheralyn will be the inaugural instructor in our dance department, a piece of the overall creative arts therapy puzzle that has been part of our vision from the beginning, and one we are thrilled to put in place.
Sheralyn’s skills don’t stop at dance. A graduate of Nazareth College, Sheralyn is also a music therapist. In addition to spearheading our dance initiative, she will take on music therapy clients here at Spectrum as well. We asked Sheralyn a few questions about her background and passions, and here’s what she had to say.
Q: Which came into your life first: music or dance, and how old were you when you began to take a serious interest in both?
A: I grew up in a home filled with music. My entire family sings and I used to dance all the time in my crib. My mother put me in dance when I was 2 years old and I fell in love. As a kid, my mother also put me in voice lessons for a short time and I began to foster my love for singing. I didn’t get super serious into music until I was in high school. I had played clarinet since 4th grade and sang in choirs at school and in church. However, I became really serious about singing when my newly hired choir teacher put me into NYSSMA my junior year of high school. I began to have a love for classical singing and this inspired my interest in going to college for music. I studied music therapy in college as a vocalist and I fall more in love with music everyday. Dance and music go hand in hand and I am so grateful to be allowed to opportunity to pursue both in my professional life. Both of these creative arts areas are huge passions of mine, especially tap dancing.
Q: What made you decide to become a music therapist?
A: Honestly, my love and ability for music pushed me to audition at Nazareth College. Originally, I was going to go to school for Pharmacy so I hadn’t auditioned at any other schools than Nazareth. I knew they had a wonderful music program and I noticed Music Therapy on their list of offered programs. I thought I would give it a try, though I knew nothing about it. It seemed to be a vocation that combined the medicine I was interested in and the music I was passionate about. After being accepted into the program, I observed a session involving an older adult with aphasia and the way the music, client, and therapist worked together in that short amount of time, completely hooked me. I was in! Since then, music therapy has become a passion for me as well. There is so much to explore and it is a new adventure each day. I feel this is where I’m supposed to be.
Q: How do you infuse adapted elements from your music therapy practice into your dance instruction?
A: It’s really accommodating that I have the music therapy training to assist in this dance instructing experience. Through my training, I have the skills to adapt vocabulary, approaches, equipment, and thinking. Music therapy is a practice in which you are always thinking on your feet even if there is a plan. This will cross directly into the dance instructing. In addition, I have learned a lot regarding working with people and these soft skills and sensitivities to others needs and abilities will correlate with the dance teaching experience. Through music therapy, I have also worked with many populations and this understanding of needs which may arise in a particular population assist tremendously when planning what to teach and with what approach. I am mostly excited to start collaborating with the individuals through tap dance so that we can collectively create a positive learning environment that fosters their growth, ability, and knowledge.
Q: Do you have a favorite performance memory (with music, dance, or both)?
A: Musically, I would say my favorite performance memory was my senior recital at Nazareth College. It was so amazing to perform classical repertoire that had been worked so hard on. It was also terrifying, but that’s what made it invigorating. Honestly though, I have always felt more comfortable performing dance if there is a talent show or any performance opportunity. I am known as only a vocalist to some people, but even still I’ve always felt more secure when dancing. I’ve never really figured out why, but I’m sure it relates to the amount of recitals and dance competition performances I’ve participated in. I absolutely loved performing tap dance solos in competition and I miss those days tremendously.
Q: Share an example of a moment in your career when you’ve observed a student or client overcome an obstacle through music or movement and your guidance.
A: From my experience at Monroe #1 BOCES, I have seen many students struggle with agitation. Music can provide relief in that it’s a distractor, motivator, relaxer, and more. Some of the most rewarding moments in therapy have been using this element of music to assist in calming a student. I can’t think of one specific example, but this moment with a student can be so powerful. In this example, the obstacle the student faces is his/her own emotions. Through music and guidance, the student can feel at peace and calm even if it is only for a moment. These moments make a therapist feel successful even if not one goal on the student’s list is met.
Q: When you’re not at Spectrum, what do you like to do for fun?
A I really enjoy watching television, spending time with family playing cards and enjoying each other’s company, spending time with my dog and fiancé, and spending time with friends. I also spend my time pampering women and making them feel special through Mary Kay. In addition, I absolutely love performing in musicals because it blends all of my passions into one: dance, music, acting, and people. I would say that I dance for fun, but I get to do that at spectrum now too 🙂
To learn more about taking dance lessons with Sheralyn, give us a call at (585) 383-1999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org