Alumni and Past Graduate Assistants

Meghan feeman

Music Therapist for WoodsEdge Learning Center of the Kalamazoo RESA.  Previously employed with Hillside Learning and Behavioral, Rehab Without Walls and Past BRAIN Lab Manager

Education

  • M.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University, 2017
  • B.F.A., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University, 2013

Research

  • Neuromusicology
  • Music and physiology
  • Music and attention

Biography

Meghan is a board-certified music therapist who received both her undergraduate and master's in music therapy at Western Michigan University. She completed her internship in Cleveland, OH at New Avenues to Independence working with adults with developmental disabilities. Before returning to Western for her master's degree, she worked for Bridges of Indiana providing music therapy services for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. It was during her clinical work that she became fascinated with music's impact on arousal and attention skills, particularly with individuals with Autism. Meghan's master thesis studied the arousal hypothesis by measuring how arousal (as measured by electrodermal activity (EDA)) impacted test performance. She would like to continue her knowledge in research as well as continue work with children with developmental disabilities.

Amanda Ziemba

Programs Manager and Training Coordinator at Institute for Therapy through the Arts and Past BRAIN Lab Manager

Education

  • M.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University
  • B.A., Individualized Degree: Music Therapy, Keene State College

Research interests

  • Neuromusicology

Biography

Amanda L. Ziemba is a board-certified music therapist who received her master's degree in music therapy at Western Michigan University. She completed her bachelor's in music at Keene State College, NH in 2008. Her thesis focused on investigating the impact of music listening on pain perception and pain tolerance.

She was a past Lab Manager for the BRAIN Lab at Western Michigan University.

Ann Armbruster

Elementary Music Teacher and Past Graduate student for the BRAIN Lab

Education

  • M.M. Music Therapy, Western Michigan University
  • B.M., Music Education, Alma College, 2008
  • A.A., Elementary Education, Washtenaw Community College, 2004

Teaching interests

  • Elementary vocal/general music

Research interests

  • Neuromusicology and music education
  • Music therapy and children with autism

Biography

Ann E. Armbruster, music educator in Kalamazoo Public Schools, and received her Master of Music in music therapy at Western Michigan University (WMU). While at WMU, she has completed music therapy clinical work in school, psychiatric, and health care settings, culminating in her internship with Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2010, she presented her research on music therapy with children with autism at the American Music Therapy Association National Conference and also co-presented an in-service on music therapy for Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. She held a graduate assistantship at the WMU School of Music, served as the president of the WMU Student Music Therapy Association, and has completed Level 1 training in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.

Armbruster has a Bachelor of Music in music education from Alma College. She completed her student teaching in St. Johns Public Schools' middle and high school orchestras and was the orchestra director for the Gratiot-Isabella Regional Education Service District middle and high school orchestras in 2006-2007. In 2006, she spent two months in Kerala, India teaching and studying music via Alma College's Posey Global Leadership Initiative. She was the principal cellist and concerto competition winner with the Alma Symphony Orchestra and also performed with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Armbruster has adjudicated for the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association Solo and Ensemble Festival and Battle Creek Central High School choirs. She was a counselor at the Michigan American String Teachers Association string camps for six years.

In 2004, she graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in elementary education from Washtenaw Community College.

Among her awards are the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs Music Therapy Award and the Birmingham Musicale Music Therapy Award (2010). At Alma College, she was a finalist for the Barlow Award, the most prestigious award for a graduating senior recognizing academic achievement and meaningful contributions to the Alma College campus (2008). She received the Alma College Harlan R. McCall Memorial Scholarship, recognizing outstanding students preparing to teach in elementary or secondary schools (2008). Additionally, she was an Americorps Service Scholar (2007).

Rebecca Bumgarner

Education

  • M.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University
  • B.M., Music Education Washburn University

Research interests

  • Neuromusicology

Biography

Rebecca Bumgarner received her master's degree in music therapy at Western Michigan University. She completed her bachelor's in music education at Washburn University in Topeka, KS in 2007. Rebecca has conducted student music therapy services at nine separate sites and completed her 10-month internship in Kalamazoo Public Schools in 2011.

Sheridan Brown

Music Therapist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.  Past Research Assistant for the BRAIN Lab

Education

  • M.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University
  • B.S.-M., Music Cognition & Psychology, Northwestern University

Research interests

  • Neuromusicology

Biography

Sheridan Brown completed her master’s degree in music therapy at Western Michigan University in the spring of 2021. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Music at Northwestern University in 2015, where she earned a double major in music cognition and psychology.

Dustin White

Past Exercise Physiology Graduate Student

Education

  • M.S., Exercise Physiology, Western Michigan University
  • B.S., Exercise Science, Western Michigan University

Research interests

  • Pediatrics with special needs

 Julia Mccarren

 Past Research Assistant for the BRAIN Lab

Education

  • M.M. Music Therapy, Western Michigan University, 2021
  • B.M., Music Open Studies, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Research interests

  • Neurological and Psychiatric Conditions
  • Memory

Biography 

In 2016, Julia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Open Studies at UIUC. Her undergraduate curriculum consisted of courses that combined her interests in Music/Vocal Jazz and Psychology to prepare her for graduate study in Music Therapy.  Julia has experience teaching and providing services to a variety of populations.  She assisted with a music and arts program that offered creative activities to incarcerated youth in Champaign, IL. She spent a summer in Lumbini, Ecuador teaching English and Arts/Music to children in an indigenous community.  Julia previously worked as a Vibrant Life Activities Assistant at New Friends Dementia Community in Kalamazoo.  In the future, she looks forward to providing music therapy services, counseling, and care to individuals with neurological and psychiatric conditions.
 

Lai Yiu Yeung

 Past Research Assistant for the BRAIN Lab

Education

  • M.M. Music Therapy, Western Michigan University
  • B.A. (Hons.) Music, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2017

Research interests

  • Music and Mood
  • Music and Physiology
  • Neuromusicology

Biography 

Lai Yiu completed her music therapy internship at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri and received her music therapy degree in the fall of 2020. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she received her bachelor's degree in Music at HKBU, with a minor in psychology. Her thesis was a field study on music education for Hong Kong children with autism. As a piano major, she worked as a private piano tutor and worked for multiple children's choirs by teaching and providing piano accompaniment. She is a member of Hong Kong Tutors Union and the Hong Kong Piano Teachers Association. Before coming to the US, she volunteered to assist music therapists in Hong Kong, in which she provided musical and procedural support to sessions. Lai Yiu is interested in working with children in a hospital setting. 

Amy Diffenderfer

Hospice music therapist in the Minneapolis area.  Past Research Assistant for the BRAIN Lab

Education:

  • M.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University, 2020
  • B.M., Piano Performance, and Pedagogy, Anderson University, 2015

Research Interest:

  • Neuromusicology
  • Music and eating disorders
  • Music and mood

Biography:

Amy completed her internship at Park Nicollet in Minneapolis, MN. She previously studied Piano Performance with a focus on Pedagogy at Anderson University in South Carolina. She teaches private and group piano lessons, has performed in musicals, and was the Directory of Music at St. George Episcopal Church in Anderson, SC for one year before moving to Kalamazoo. In the future, she would like to conduct further research into treating eating disorders through music therapy to add to the current foundation of knowledge and research.

bekah Morano

Past Research Assistant for the BRAIN Lab

Education:

  • M.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University, 2021
  • B.A., Music and Psychology, Augustana College, 2018

Research Interest:

  • Memory and music
  • Rhythmic entrainment
  • Music and mood

Biography:

Rebekah completed the Music Therapy Graduate program at Western Michigan University. Originally from Colorado, she received a Bachelor of Arts in both music and psychology from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Her primary instruments included the clarinet and piano. She also worked as an organist for a local church in Portage and an accompanist for the Kalamazoo Children's Chorus. She completed her internship at Metro Music Therapy of Bailey Colorado.  Her research interests include music therapy and memory recall, the use of rhythmic entrainment for stroke rehabilitation, and the use of music to improve gait in individuals with Parkinson's Disease.

Taylorlyn Mehnert

Past Research Assistant for the BRAIN Lab

Education:

  • M.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University, 2021
  • B.M., Music Therapy, Western Michigan University, 2019

Research Interest:

  • Music and Trauma
  • Neuromusicology
  • Multicultural Music Therapy

Biography:

Taylorlyn completed the Music Therapy Graduate program at Western Michigan University where she also completed her B.M. in Music Therapy. During her undergraduate, she worked in the BRAIN Lab on a study with Alycia Sterenberg Mahon related to music and nostalgia. Taylorlyn then went to San Diego, California for her internship at MusicWorx Inc. There, she gained experience with a wide variety of populations including drug and alcohol rehabilitation, military and veterans, medically fragile children, geriatrics, individuals with Parkinson's, individuals with developmental delays, individuals who are hospitalized, and several others. Among many other interests, Taylorlyn enjoyed working with groups of individuals with trauma and hopes to continue her understanding of how music functions in this population both clinically and through research.