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Transcending Languages and Bridging the Gap, One Note at a Time

female music therapist playing guitar while burn patient listens

Angela sings for a patient before a procedure.

Angela Espinoza, Shriners Children’s Texas Board-certified Music Therapist

Music has always been a big part of Angela Espinoza’s family. Her grandfather was a pastor and musician, her father is a music teacher and worship pastor, and she and her brother played multiple musical instruments growing up. So, it was natural for her to pursue a music-related career, eventually leading her to become a board-certified music therapist at Shriners Children’s Texas.

Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Angela graduated from Belmont University and completed a college internship at TIRR Memorial Hermann in the Houston Medical Center. She discovered music therapy through a Google search and instantly told herself that this was “exactly the career” that she needed to pursue.

After more research, Angela became completely captivated by all of the career possibilities. She was excited to learn about the science and data behind music therapy’s usefulness, and how it benefitted patients of all ages and backgrounds.

“I sat in front of the computer for hours soaking up everything that I could,” Angela said. “There’s research backing this. People can tell that this is working.”

Angela received firsthand experience on the impacts of music therapy while participating in short-term internships in college. She fondly recalls working in an afterschool program with preteens who came from other countries as refugees. Most didn’t speak English, but they bonded through learning music.

Angela, Kechi and Lakeisha

Angela smiles alongside Kechi, a Shriners Children’s Patient Alumna and America’s Got Talent finalist, and Child Life Supervisor LaKeisha Holmes.

Angela came to Shriners Children’s Texas shortly after her college graduation and described it as a “super perfect fit.” She loves working with all types of children, but she said she has always wanted to work with Spanish-speaking children, which happens to be a large portion of the patient population in the Texas hospital.

“Giving back to my community is a big life goal of mine,” she said. “Connecting with children and forming relationships through music while patients are here is very important to me.”

Every patient interaction is different, depending on their treatment plan, but Angela said she is consistently amazed at how music therapy soothes children who often face long and painful healing journeys. Her day can include encouraging self-expression and promoting self-confidence through therapeutic songwriting and music lessons in the outpatient setting. She can also be heard using music and music activities to increase physical endurance during patients' physical therapy sessions. Some days can include just quietly listening to popular songs as a child tries to relax following a painful procedure.

Music therapy is currently offered at seven Shriners Children's locations, but Angela hopes that it will be offered at all locations one day.

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