Here’s the short, official version, with the pertinent biographical details:
Rachelle Norman, MA, MT-BC is a native Kansan, spending time in Lakin and Wichita as a youth. Rachelle obtained her bachelor’s degree in music therapy at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana. She completed her music therapy clinical internship with Dr. Barbara Reuer at MusicWorx of California in San Diego, then returned to Kansas to establish Soundscape Music Therapy in Newton, Kansas, where she has served the Wichita metropolitan area since July of 2004. She moved her practice to the greater Kansas City area in May 2008, and now she lives in the Northland, on the Missouri side of the KC Metro.
Rachelle completed her Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She is active in the American Music Therapy Association and currently serves on the national government relations committee as the representative for the Midwestern Region and on the Missouri state task force for public advocacy, as well as the board for the Kansas City Metro Music Therapists.
Rachelle is an active member of several groups focusing on eldercare in Kansas City, including Kansas City Partnership for Caregivers, Senior Awareness, Professionals in Aging of Jackson County, Northland Professionals in Aging, and the Mental Health and Aging Coalitions in Missouri and Kansas.
Rachelle’s primary instruments are the oboe, piano, and guitar, all of which she uses in music therapy sessions, along with her voice and percussion instruments. She’s married to Nick, who works with family programs on Ft. Leavenworth, and she is the mother to Alice, who loves to dance and sing already!
And here’s the longer, more revealing version of my philosophy on life and music:
I’m a music therapist.
I believe that I am here on this earth to help people live better lives through music.
I’ve always been a musician. I was in the children’s choir at church. I started piano lessons in grade school. Once, I played some kind of mouse character in a musical. (I think I sang a solo.) I started playing the oboe in sixth grade (after a year on the flute), and I’ve continued with oboe and piano ever since. I’ve sung in choirs off and on. I went to band camp. I played in bell choirs. These days, I play the guitar and jam country-style with my family and dance with my daughter in the living room. I can’t imagine life without music.
I’ve also always been a Christian. My family is full of teachers and preachers, so maybe caring for others is just in my nature. I desire to serve God by serving His people here on earth – all people, no matter what their faith, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. I pray for justice and for healing, and then I do what I can to make that happen for each person I get to work with, according to their own definition of healing. It seems that I’ve always known that I’ve been called to a life of service to others.
I found out about music therapy when I was a junior in high school, and I knew immediately that music therapy was the field for me. Having to justify my choice in college admissions essays, I wrote about two of the people I admired most: Leonard Bernstein and Mother Teresa. At the time, I wrote that I wanted to be a cross between these two amazing people. Now, with two degrees and several years of professional practice under my belt, I think the description still holds up. Here’s why:
Leonard Bernstein was, first and foremost, an incredible musician – composer, conductor, pianist. His world was the New York Philharmonic, Broadway, Harvard – the world’s most prestigious institutions. Bernstein didn’t stay up on his high podium, though. He brought music to regular people, through Young People’s Concerts and lectures broadcast on TV. He pushed for music in education. He refused to be snobby in his composition style, writing choral music and operatic arias as well as jazzy songs and the amazing dance music of “West Side Story.” He loved teaching young musicians, and he advocated for peace and against discrimination. This was a man who believed that music could – and should – change the world. I remember when Leonard Bernstein died, although I was quite young at the time. Somehow I knew that his was an example to follow.
Then there is Mother Teresa. Here is a woman whose life was marked by humility, living with people most often forgotten by the world, providing dignity and love in the most meaningful ways. She was called by God to a new place, to a new ministry, and she went, despite all of the difficulties and hardships she faced. She didn’t intend to draw attention to herself, but the world could not miss the beauty of her life’s work. This woman won the Nobel Peace Prize, and accepted it in the name of the poor and for the glory of God. She knew her mission, and she followed it to the end. I remember when Mother Teresa died, too, and I remember when the world found out that even in the midst of such beautiful, selfless work, Mother Teresa had her own inner darkness to contend with, the deep and painful feeling of being separated from and rejected by God. Mother Teresa carried the burdens of others on a deep, mystical level, with a level of compassion and understanding that is surely a model for me.
So, here is what I know:
I believe in the power of music to change the world, and I want to share it with those who may not normally get to it.
I believe that God has put me in the position of caring for others through music, according to their needs, no matter where they come from or what they believe.
I am following in the footsteps of people who made a huge difference in the lives of others – some who are recognized as public figures, and some who I only get to meet a few times in the nursing home before their earthly lives end. I carry their legacies and their music into the world today.
I know that life is precious and beautiful, no matter how young or old or rich or poor or cranky or sweet a person is. Every person deserves to have a voice and to be part of the music.
I feel privileged to be part of this world, and part of the music, and I look forward to sharing in the music with you.