WINDSOR, Ont. -- Alison Moraites knew she'd made the right career choice the first time she played for a patient.
The fourth-year music therapy student at the University of Windsor always had a passion for playing music and helping people, but everything came together on her first placement.
"You actually see the effects the music can have right away," said the 21-year-old Toronto native, who is one of three graduates who will relate their experiences in a unique evening of song tonight at Vanier Hall.
The free event in the Katzman Lounge at 7: 30 p.m. is sponsored by the University of Windsor's school of music and the music therapy program. Moraites will be joined by fellow students Christina Bell and Jordan Sherman.
Moraites is currently placed in the pediatrics ward of Windsor Western Hospital, where she performs for many bedridden children, some of them cancer patients.
"It's the most amazing experience you can imagine," she said. "The kids are in extremely sterile surroundings and don't have much opportunity to hear music or interact with people outside the hospital environment."
Each of the students will relate her and his experiences with actual case studies. In Moraites' case, she has also worked with long-term care patients with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as with high school students.
Bell and Sherman are currently in placements at palliative care centres.
Once music therapy students complete four years of class study and four six-hour placements, they must put in 1,000 hours of practicum work before earning their degrees.
The University of Windsor's is one of just a handful of music therapy programs in Canada, and just one of two in Ontario - the other is at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener-Waterloo.
"I was drawn to Windsor," Moraites said, "because of the focus of the program."
Students get a well-rounded grounding in music performance, theory, history and clinical experience.
Moraites is a flutist, which she has been playing since Grade 5. "I picked up the instrument in school. I think that's part of the reason I love working with kids."
She hopes to get into a music therapy program at a school board in Toronto once she graduates.
While in Windsor, she had to learn the piano and guitar as part of her studies. She counts herself a pretty good guitarist now, with hundreds of songs in her repertoire.
"You have to be ready for almost any kind of audience," she said.
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