Faculty: In Their Own Words – Michelle Yaciuk
Michelle Yaciuk, Assistant Professor of Music Therapy, has taught at CMU since January 2016. She is also the owner of Prelude Music, which provides music therapy and music education services for children and youth.
What are you teaching right now that you're most excited about?
Music Therapy Methods for Children II. The students do a project where they give a mock presentation, pitching music therapy to an organization that doesn't already offer it. It's interesting to see students come up with the organizations they would ideally work with and the populations that they want to serve, and see how and where they want to push the field of music therapy.
What are you researching and writing?
I'm turning one of my keynote presentations on how early childhood educators can use music in the classroom into either a textbook or a workbook. Hopefully I'll be able to pair the presentation and the workbook together, and get the use of music in daycares and preschools to be a little more effective and meaningful for everybody.
Where or how do students give you hope?
What's really fascinating about young people, of this generation in particular, is their passion and their desire to make the world a better place. Seeing their energy, seeing how they want to help people, and seeing them putting their gifts and their talents to use is really inspiring.
What do you most long for in your work?
Maintaining my authenticity to self, no matter what role I'm in or who I'm working with. If I'm in my teaching role, I want to be authentic to who I am so that students get a real understanding of the type of work that I do. In my therapist role, I want to be authentic for my clients so that I can hold a space for them to achieve—and help them achieve—their own authenticity.
Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?
I have a program called Sing It Girls, which is a group vocal session for girls between the ages of 7 and 13. It's a place for these girls to come together through group singing and work on creating a sense of community, while dealing with anxiety and stress and (developing) self-esteem. Young women love to sing, but they (can) also have some self-confidence issues. By pairing something that's a strength and something that they're working on together, it creates this interesting project.
What saying or motto inspires you?
"Luck favours the prepared." I take that with me and think about it, and I try to foster that with my students. It's the idea that you can't jump through the doors that are open for you if you haven't done the work ahead of time.