Emily Layla Emadian Guthe
Class Year: 2009
Major at MC: Music Theory & Composition
Senior Thesis Topic: The Composition of Jazz Songs Through the Study and Analysis of Selected Jazz Repertoire
Current Town/City of Residence: Wickliffe, OH
Occupation: Music Therapist
Family: Boone Guthe, husband
PHOTOS: Left, One of Emily's music therapy sessions during her internship with a 15-year-old with Hodgkins Lymphona. Right, Emily dipping her wheel into the Mississippi River after completing two days of RAGBRAI, a bike ride across the state of Iowa
Describe your career path since graduating from MC.
When I graduated from Maryville, I was hired as an Admissions Counselor. I began working there the summer after I graduated. I became the Alumni Choir Assistant for the Concert Choir and was also teaching private piano and voice lessons. I was able to work specifically with Off Kilter and realized that, as much as I loved singing in choirs, I loved being able to lead sectionals and the choir as a whole. Which led me to pursue my masters in Choral Conducting at the University of Tennessee.
I continued my work as an Admissions Counselor during my time at UT but my efforts became more focused on Fine Arts recruiting. As I finished my masters in Choral Conducting, I was working as an intern at Church Street United Methodist in Knoxville and as part of my job there, I accompanied the youth choir on a summer tour to Canada. We did a concert for a low-income nursing home in Toronto. During the concert, I spotted a woman in the front row. She had her head down and looked to be sleeping. But, as soon as the choir started singing, she lifted her head up and began conducting the choir. Her gesture would expand as the choir would crescendo and would become smaller as the choir softened. She did this throughout the concert and I couldn't stop watching her. After the concert was over, my director went and spoke to her and asked if she was a musician. She shook her head "no" but the nursing assistant who was wheeling her back to her room said "She was the principal violinist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for 50 years". As soon as I got back from the choir tour, I began researching music therapy programs because I knew I wanted to be the one to facilitate those types of musical experiences.
I was accepted to the University of Iowa for their master’s program in Music Therapy. Throughout my time there, I knew that I wanted to work in a medical setting. When I finished the program, I was accepted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for my 6-month internship. Then I began applying to hospital positions throughout the country. It is sometimes difficult to find music therapy positions in hospitals because they're so coveted. I was humbled and excited when I received a job offer from Cleveland Clinic. I've been working here since August 2016 and have loved every single day. It is a blessing to be able to wake up in the morning excited to go to work. Music therapy is my passion and I am fortunate to be able to work in my field every day.
Describe your job or a typical day “in the office.”
I'm not sure there is a "typical" day in the office. That's one of the things I love most about my job. I get to see new patients every single day. Typically, patients are referred to music therapy by nurses or physicians to for assistance with pain management, decreasing anxiety, assisting with restlessness or agitation, promoting physical rehabilitation, or assisting family members with grief and bereavement as a family member passes away. I use patient-preferred, familiar music to help normalize the hospital environment as we work toward those non-musical goals. Allowing the patients to choose their own music also promotes self-expression and helps them feel like they have control in an environment when their choice is often taken away.
So, when I come into the office in the morning, I check the patient list to see who is new on our consult list. I prioritize patients based on specific needs. Then I grab my cart full of instruments and begin my journey through the hospital to specific patient rooms. Most commonly, we receive referrals from the intensive care unit, cardiac intensive care unit, the pediatric floor, and the neonatal intensive care unit. Sessions can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the needs of the patient. Once the patient is on our list, we follow them throughout the hospital, even if they are transferred to another floor. I will generally see them once or twice a week during their hospital stay.
Our patient list changes throughout the day, so there is always someone new to see. It's a fast-paced job that continues to challenge me every day!
How did your MC experience prepare you for your vocation and/or life?
Maryville gave me the wonderful foundation upon which I was able to build all my skills. My time at Maryville taught me hard work and dedication and pushed me to explore areas that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to explore. I had incredible mentors and am grateful to still be in touch with them. They not only helped me through college, but through life's challenges as well. I'm forever indebted to them for their kindness, harshness (when necessary), love, and generosity.
What has been your most exciting/enjoyable professional experience to date?
I'm not sure if this counts as a professional experience, but I think the most exciting thing that has happened to me thus far (in my short 5 months of professional life) was getting the job at Cleveland Clinic! As I said, music therapist positions in hospitals are coveted jobs. When music therapists are hired in a hospital, they usually stay for a very long time. So, there aren't many positions available. And they are very competitive positions. When I applied to the position, I was still in internship so I figured there were other, more qualified candidates for the position. I actually didn't think I would ever hear back from them, to be honest! I remember the day they called to say they wanted to interview me in person. Boone and I were on our anniversary trip to New York City. We were visiting a church downtown and were in the sanctuary when I got the call. I looked at Boone and said "should I answer it?!" I felt like I shouldn't be on my phone in the church sanctuary. He, of course, told me I should answer, and I scheduled the interview right then and there!
I came out to Ohio to interview, went through the 3-hour process, and was offered the position on the spot. I was so surprised that I wasn't sure what to say. So I asked them if I could think about it. When I got back down to the lobby of the hospital, Boone was waiting for me and I had (happy) tears in my eyes. He thought the interview went poorly so he comforted me and I played into it. Then, once we got into the garage, I told them that I had been offered the position and we did a happy dance in the parking garage! It was a pretty exciting couple of weeks and I'll never forget it!"
What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
My husband and I are avid cyclists. We love to pick new rides to do all over the country. I finally conquered my first century (100 miles!) and can't wait to do another one! We also got my dad interested in cycling. One of our favorite rides takes us to the mountains of Greenville, South Carolina. It's our yearly family vacation and it's a blast!
What’s your best memory from your years as a student at MC?
I have so many memories from Maryville. I think my favorite memory was going to Scotland with the choir. Singing in some of the most amazing venues, seeing a new part of the world, and exploring with some of my closest friends was definitely one of the highlights of my time at Maryville.
Complete this sentence: My classmates may be surprised to learn that I _____________.
My classmates may be surprised to learn that I am pregnant with our first baby. We are beyond excited and will welcome our new little one in May 2017! It's been such a fun journey so far, I can't wait to see where life takes us next.