Tamara Adams will be a pioneer in the music therapy field when she returns to her home island of Barbados, so it’s natural she would receive her training from our pioneering Expressive Therapies program.
This year, Adams, a 39-year-old international student, is receiving her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Music Therapy specialization – a journey she began in 2013. She says the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences' offerings of Therapeutic Applications of Drumming, as well as Voice and Music Therapy “seemed most relevant to a Caribbean population.”
“Lesley University was touted to be a pioneer in distance learning and education of young women, and Cambridge was recommended as a location that suited my personality as an individual coming from a small island,” Adams says.
Adams, whose mother was from Trinidad and father was from Barbados, started playing piano when she was in elementary school. When she was 14, her mother enrolled her in formal voice training, a month before she died. Eventually, Adams earned her bachelor’s in sociology from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, and a bachelor’s in occupational therapy from York St. John University College in the United Kingdom.
“Back in 2002, when I was completing my first degree, I carried out a search of opportunities for further study and that was when I first came across music therapy as a profession,” Adams says. “The more I found out about it, the more it seemed to be a perfect fit for both my love of music and my deep desire to help people.”
She began volunteering at the Children’s Development Centre in Barbados, where she was advised to pursue occupational therapy, explaining OT was better known at the time than music therapy. Nevertheless, she says, “Throughout my professional training in OT, I maintained my interest in music therapy and later on, after completing a short course at Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre in London, I began to take steps to apply to Lesley University.”
But the road to achieving her goal was obstructed. She got into Lesley’s graduate program, but, “Unfortunately at the same time I received my acceptance letter, my father passed away suddenly and I had to defer,” she says.
In 2013, when Lesley’s low-residency program was first offered, she says, “It seemed serendipitous that I was able to pursue music therapy while remaining in my home country.”
She adds, “Thanks to NER-AMTAS (New England Region-American Music Therapy Association Students), in 2015, I was able to attend a service trip to Grand Cayman and actually see music therapy in practice firsthand. In 2016, I was awarded a Barbados National Development Scholarship, which allowed me to pursue my degree on campus full-time.”