Intern shares love of music


GREENVILLE — State of the Heart Care has had the pleasure of working with music therapy intern, Kristina Simer, for the past 6 months.

As a requirement for her B.A. in Music Therapy through Slippery Rock University, Kristina must complete 1200 hours of clinical experience. Kristina will finish up her time working at State of the Heart this month. Music has always been a strong influence in her life and her high school band director helped foster her passion. Kristina’s love of music combined with her personal experiences with physical therapy lead her down the unique path of music therapy. Music Therapy is an established health care profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.

As a musician, the flute is Kristina’s main instrument. She is also a vocalist and plays the guitar, piano, trumpet, saxophone and percussion. Music Therapists use clinical interventions and techniques unique to each patient’s cognitive level, function and their plan of care. Kristina stressed the importance of looking at each individual patient at their specific time in their journey. One example she gave was working with a patient with dementia who was having a bad day. The goal for that patient was reminiscence, so she created a plan to play songs that evoked memories of times past for that patient. In this particular case, the patient was immediately transported to a happy time in her life. In addition to playing several instruments, music therapists need to be familiar with many different genres of music from many different time periods. Often times a music therapist will learn new songs between visits to meet the needs of their patient.

Kristina believes that working with hospice patients has helped her learn her strengths and weaknesses. When asked about the challenges of working with patients with a life limiting illness Kristina finds it helpful to remember that “It’s my job to create an atmosphere for them and a connection to them.” She is also an advocate for music therapy education as it is often misunderstood. Kristina led a presentation to the staff and volunteers of State of the Heart on what music therapy is and what it is not. “One distinguishing characteristic of music therapy is that patients often help make music, they don’t always passively listen,” Kristina shared.

When asked about working with Kristina, Amy Pearson MT-BC for State of the Heart Care said, “It has been a rewarding experience working Kristina and seeing her growth as music therapist. She is highly motivated to learn and has been an asset to the agency by providing additional music therapy visits.” Kristina is State of the Heart’s ninth music therapy intern. Seven of the past interns currently work as music therapists and 1 is a music educator. State of the Heart accepts interns for a 6 month term and to be qualified for an internship, one must have completed a bachelor’s degree in music therapy from an accredited university. For more information about music therapy, internships or other services offered by State of the Heart Care, please visit our website at

Kristina Simer Simer Courtesy photo

Kristina Simer Simer Courtesy photo

Staff report

From State of the Heart Care

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