Student Spotlight: Chantelle Mack

The music therapy student discusses the complex role of identity in music therapy, praises her canine companion, and picks her favorite songs of the moment.

March 20, 2023

What’s it like to study at Berklee? Our Student Spotlight series asks current students all about their Berklee experience—what they’re learning in class, what kinds of projects they’re involved in onstage or behind the scenes, how they recharge, and of course, what they’re listening to. This week, get to know Chantelle Mack, a ninth-semester pianist from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who’s currently completing her internship for her music therapy major.

young woman walking in a city with a large white dog

Tell us about your path to Berklee. What made you decide to come here?

I studied classical piano under the Royal Conservatory of Music growing up and participated in local music festivals. I knew I wanted to stay connected with music, but I hated the nerves of performing. I was also influenced by my parents’ work at the family-owned pharmacy and could see myself working in healthcare. I learned about music therapy and the undergraduate program Berklee offered. Music therapy seemed like the perfect path to meld both influences.

What's been your favorite class so far, and what has it taught you?

My favorite class was Advanced Music Therapy Practicum 2 with Dr. Ming Yuan Low. I appreciated the perspective it was taught with, which challenged everything I knew about myself and the way I viewed the world. This was the start of my self-exploration through the different sociocultural identities I held and what makes me me—as well as what I could bring to the therapeutic practice in music therapy.

What's a project you've worked on since coming to Berklee that you've been especially excited about?

I am currently completing my music therapy internship at the Center for Discovery, working with pediatrics and adults with multiple disabilities and complex conditions. At the center, I’ve received trainings in clinical improvisation and in-services that evoke responses and support expressive freedom that inspire me to continue this work within the therapeutic process between the therapist and client. I am personally exploring a psychodynamic perspective of music therapy—this approach has allowed me to analyze the significance of sociocultural identities in music therapy while focusing on celebrating and supporting strengths and abilities. I have had the privilege of improvising with people in therapy every day for the last six months and could not be more grateful for the relationships I get to carry with me.

How do you typically recharge or find new ideas outside of class?

One of my favorite things to do is spend my day with my dog, Lint. I adopted him over the pandemic at home, and he’s traveled from Canada to Boston, back to Canada, and now to upstate New York where I am completing my internship. We do everything together (as you can see from our photo!) from attending class to finding new cafes in Back Bay to hiking in the Catskills every weekend since we moved. I am so lucky to call him family, and am eternally grateful to have a piece of home away from home.

What careers are you interested in pursuing in the future?

I look forward to obtaining the MT-BC [Music Therapist–Board Certified] credential and working as a music therapist in the near future. I will be pursuing a Master of Music Therapy [degree] with a counseling concentration at Slippery Rock University beginning fall 2023 to continue self-exploration through a psychodynamic lens of music therapy. I am passionate and dedicated to advancing the work of music therapy as an anti-oppressive practice with a focus in identity work.

When you think towards your own future, who inspires you most?

This is such a difficult question, it’s hard to just choose one person. I like to think that I take inspiration from everyone I interact with, no matter how big or small. I am inspired by the work ethic I’ve seen growing up from my mom and dad, the not-so-gentle push I’ve been given by professors to nurture my learning, and the dependability of my family and friends. 

What's one piece of advice you'd give to your high school self?

If I could go back and give my high school self one piece of advice, it would be to keep your options open, and to continuously foster connections with people in your network. You never know who may know who, that could be of guidance or friendship in the future. 

Chantelle's Favorite Songs Right Now

We asked Chantelle to share five of her recent favorite songs. Here's what she said:

1. “Hello, Anxiety,” Phum Viphurit

A simple feel-good song that’s on my daily playlist, as ironic as the lyrics are!

2. “tolerate it,” Taylor Swift

This album was a pandemic favorite—thinking about it brings back memories from stress baking and listening to the album on repeat.

3. “Nobody Gets Me,” SZA

There’s something so pure about the vocals. Chills listening to this, every time!

4. “Japanese Denim,” Daniel Caesar

Obsessed with the level of storytelling through lyrics and musical color ever since I heard him live.

5. “Need the Sun to Break,” James Bay

A song that brings me back to summers on the road to the campsite. There’s something about the type of music that works with his voice so well.

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