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nce you see it, you never forget it. The viral video clip from the

documentary “Alive Inside” is of a patient named Henry. Henry

is an elderly African-American man who suffers from dementia

and spends most of his time hunched over in his wheelchair, quiet and

all-but-unresponsive. He has difficulty answering the most basic questions

and has trouble remembering anything — that is, until he hears music.

Once he’s given headphones and he listens to his favorite songs playing

from a tiny grey iPod, he’s instantly animated. His legs bounce, his eyes open

wide, his arms swing and he sings — he is, in a sense, brought back to life.

Henry’s case is just one of many that prove the health benefits of music,

which we’re learning more

and more about as time goes

on. These days, it seems like a

month doesn’t go by without a

new article detailing a research

breakthrough in the healing

power of the medium. One recent

story in Time Magazine (“This

is How Music Can Change Your

Brain”) touted the positive effects of music on the development of the

brain, another published by Reuters claimed that music can “bring troubled

families together.”

This is the kind of news that inspires Lycoming alumnus Tony

Rombola ’14, who recently began a career in music therapy.

“In my opinion, music therapy allows people to tap into the innate

understanding of music and express themselves using a medium that may

not be verbal or written,” Rombola said. “It is a way of expressing that does

not require the person to consciously think about feelings and standard

emotions. I think it helps people by allowing them a creative outlet for

their issues that are different than the typical learned behaviors.”

At Lycoming, Rombola majored in music and psychology. He was a

member of all three choirs, the concert and jazz band and worked on the

radio station as well. He says that during his time at the college, he learned

about much more than music.

“I feel that Lycoming taught me how to begin to understand people of

all walks of life and how to take the proper steps to approach and engage

in discussion with others whom I may not understand,” he said. “I learned

the level to which people were accustomed to expressing themselves and

how to begin to push them into further levels.”

After graduating, Rombola was able to find work in his field as a music

therapist in the People Helping People department at St. Gabriel’s Hall

in Audubon, Pennsylvania. He works to help students create music as a

means of expressing themselves and coping with their day-to-day lives.

“Our stance is that we should give hope, self esteem, and coping skills to

all of the kids that pass through our department,” he said.

Rombola plays a multitude of instruments, including the electric and

upright bass, several variants of the guitar, ukulele, something called a

“ipu heke” drum, sitar, accordion, keyboard, rababbah and ocarina, and

sings as well. He has been involved with music in some form or another

for fourteen years. But he says he couldn’t have gotten to where he is today

without Lycoming’s music department.

“I would like to extend my immense gratitude to the music department

for teaching me about more than just how to make music,” he said. “For

teaching me how to be an artist, allowing me to pursue my ideas and

encouraging them, and for giving me a new perspective on how others see

the world.”







Tony Rombola ’14

helps students

create to cope.

By Matthew Parrish ’06


“we should give hope, self

esteem, and coping skills

to all of the kids that pass

through our department.”