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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of  Music
October 25, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Faculty of Music

Evening was a mix of sadness and celebration

Twentieth Anniversary of Laurier's Undergraduate Program in Music Therapy held on February 16

Feb 23/07

On Friday, February 16, the Faculty of Music celebrated the 20th Anniversary of its undergraduate Music Therapy program. The event, months in the making, was a mix of sadness and celebration. Dr. Charles Morrison, Dean of the Music Faculty, and Dr. John Weir, president of Laurier when the undergraduate program was established, were some of the guests who honoured Dr. Rosemary Fischer and remembered Ms. Caryl Ann Browning—Dr. Fischer founded the program and Ms. Browning, a graduate of Laurier’s undergraduate and graduate programs in Music Therapy, passed away suddenly on February 7.
Dr. Fischer read an email she had received from Ms. Browning the day before she died in which she suggested what each should wear for the planned celebration of Dr. Fischer.  Ms. Browning ended her letter insisting that they should have fun on the 16th, and Dr. Fischer implored the gathering that they try to follow the instruction.
Dr. Morrison, who arrived at Laurier one year after the Music Therapy undergraduate program started, said that he was immediately impressed by Fischer when he met her: “I immediately found her to be an extraordinary human being who possesses an extraordinary amount of passion and wisdom for teaching.”
Dr. Morrison also pointed out that Caryl Ann Browning had given a lot to Laurier’s Music Therapy programs—a member of the first graduating class of the Master’s of Music Therapy program in 2003, she received the Governor General’s Gold Medal for having the highest grade point average of all the university’s graduate students that year. At the time of her passing, Browning was a supervisor of undergraduate and graduate students in the Music Therapy program, and Morrison noted that Browning’s contributions illustrated Dr. Fischer’s influence—Ms. Browning had been one of Dr. Fischer’s first music therapy students.
Dr. Weir called himself ‘a bystander’ to Dr. Fischer. “I watched as she put it [the music therapy undergraduate program] together, laying the foundation for what we have now. We were a small institution and had to be careful about what ventures we took. But the people who prepared the program made such a compelling argument as to the need for it, that it was obvious we had to start,” he said. “Rosemary Fischer arrived here and immediately started doing spectacular things.”
Dr. Weir also spoke about a music therapy conference he attended at the university, a few years into the program: “I still get emotional when I think of it now. During the conference a rhythm band comprised of challenged kids played on stage in the recital hall. They were so proud to be doing what they were doing. It was an epiphany for me as to what Music Therapy can do.”
When Dr. Fischer spoke, she made frequent reference to her friend Ms. Browning then announced that the university is establishing the Fischer-Browning Award in Music Therapy which will be given to support the work of a full-time music student in financial need.
The formal presentations ended with Ms. Browing’s 2003 MMT colleagues playing, singing a composition that she had written in class.

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