Jenny Hoi Yan Fu MA, LCAT, MT-BC
Membership Spotlight Questions
- Describe your career as a music therapist—education, populations served, etc.
I went to New York University for my MA in music therapy. From then on, I have completed Level I & II Certification training at the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy and was trained under Dr. Diane Austin in Vocal Psychotherapy. I co-founded MAR Passages with my then classmate Mechelle Chestnut in 2004. I’m currently in the Vocal Psychotherapy trainer’s training program with Dr. Austin and am working towards Level III Certification training at the Nordoff-Robbins Center. I have helped developed the music therapy program at Strivright / The Auditory Oral School of New York with children with hearing impairment for over a decade and have joined the Nordoff-Robbins Center as a supervisor and clinical staff member in recent years. I am an adjunct faculty member at SUNY Fredonia teaching Theory of Vocal Psychotherapy & Vocal Psychotherapy Practice. I have traveled to China in the past years conducting workshops and presentations. I am also a PhD student at New York University.
- What brought you to the field of music therapy or why did you decide to pursue music therapy as a profession?
A high school teacher once told me about the field of music therapy, knowing my love of people and of music. There was not much resources available to me back then in Hong Kong, where I grew up, so when I first came to the United States for college, I went for psychology. I never forgot about music therapy though and I continued to research on the field during my undergraduate years. In the meantime, I took classes in the music school and participated in numerous chorus ensembles. There was one particular semester when school works got so overwhelming that I remembered purposefully deciding not to join any extracurricular music activities, thinking that I would then have more time to study. I was completely wrong and that semester was devastating without music in my life. I knew then music therapy would be my only choice moving forward. And, here I am!
- What suggestions do you have for novice music therapists?
Do not forget that first connection you made with music and what music meant to you. Continue to make music for yourself to keep that feeling alive!
- What are some of your favorite resources (Websites, books, blogs, journals, etc.)?
Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy is a one of my favorite online resources that is open source and free to anyone who is interested. I especially enjoy the international perspectives from scholars around the world. Music Therapy Perspectives is another favorite in terms of the variety of research and clinical work it represents. Qualitative Inquiries in Music Therapy: A Monograph Series is an absolute favorite. Healing Heritage: Paul Nordoff Exploring the Tonal Language of Music, consists of Paul Nordoff’s edited lectures “Talks on Music”, is a great resource in understanding and exploring the underlying power and potentials of music.
- Tell us about one of your most favorite moments of being a music therapist.
One of the most powerful clinical moments happened when I surrendered and listened. I had been working with this then 7-year-old girl with a co-therapist for months at the Nordoff Robbins Center for Music Therapy. She did not have any diagnosis and appeared to be smart and witty. Her mother was concerned with her performance at school and suspected that she might have ADHD, and would like to explore alternative methods before getting her officially diagnosed and treated with medication. Sessions with this girl had always been scattered and it was difficult to have her interested in participating in any music making for more than a few minutes. On this particular day, she came in and immediately got interested in the reflective surface of our new piano. “What do you think? What if we jump into the mirror?” I took it as one of her many ways of getting distracted and ignored it. The session went on as we tried to redirect her into some form of music making but nothing seemed to work. Coming from a moment of “why not”, I asked her about the mirror she mentioned earlier on and what would happened if she jumped into it. With encouragement from both me and my co-therapist, she finally joined in the conversation. She improvised singing and acting out a story about Wonderland, with colorful characters and scenery. Not only did she make up lyrics that rhymed, the melodies she created leaped and flowed as I improvised on the piano along her. The level of attunement between us was unprecedented as we listened and answered each other’s ideas in the music. The connection was so powerful that for a moment we were all transported into her imagination and were able to take a glimpse at the beauty of her inner world. The song ended that session but our exploration though Wonderland continued through the rest of the clinical year. We went on adventures together and created a world that was full of challenges, excitement, and of course, songs. When I shared the recordings of these moments with the mother at the parent conference, she was touched and “enlightened”. She never knew of this place in her daughter’s imagination and these creative potentials her daughter possessed. The family was thankful and dedicated themselves in finding other creative outlets to nurture their daughter’s musicality. With a growing sense of self-confidence and ability to share her inner world, she was able to develop a healthy relationship with her sister and performed exceptionally well at school as mother reported. Wonderland had become one of the most important resources for her that we returned for visits once in a while even as our work developed and moved on.
- Describe a challenge you have had in your career and what you did to overcome it.
There were definitely moments in my career when I found it hard to trust my own ability to be a good enough therapist. There were moments of doubts when I was presented with new challenges and moments of uncertainties when I was not confident that my work was “interesting” enough to talk about. With therapy, supervision, and people who know me and believe in me, I come to understand these feelings and where they come from, and therefore work through them gradually as I find my truth and the strength to overcome.
- What goals do you have for the next few years?
I plan to finish my trainer’s training in Vocal Psychotherapy and the Level III Certification in Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, and eventually becomes a trainer in both advanced methods. I will continue pursuing my PhD degree and focus my research on my interest in these two advanced methods and their contributions to music psychotherapy. I hope to find further opportunities to contribute my knowledge and service to assist the development in the field of music therapy in China.
- Do you have hobbies outside of music?
I do belly dancing!
- Why you are a member of MAR-AMTA?
Being a member of MAR-AMTA helps me stay connected and updated to news and events in my region. Our regional task force has been extremely helpful in recent years working with the Office of the Professions and keeping us informed and updated with the most current developments.