By Tara Schafer
Eight years ago, Bailey Schulte, now 20, played “Amazing Grace” on the piano over the phone for her dying grandpa.
“My parents were at the hospital with him,” Schulte said. “He was getting bad and we knew he was going to die.”
Her sister called her mom so she could tell her grandpa that she loved him one more time, and Schulte had been playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano at the time. Her mom, Lori Schulte, set the phone by her grandpa’s ear. She said that his whole body relaxed when he heard the song.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but that was like music therapy. At least, it’s similar…the same idea.”
Now, Schulte is a junior at Western Michigan University studying music therapy,
Music has been a part of Schulte’s life for as long as she can remember. Her mom taught piano lessons from their home, so she was able to learn from her mom when she had spare time.
“I was sad that I wasn’t a normal student and I didn’t have a weekly lesson time,” Schulte said. “I remember my first time going to a real piano lesson, the instructor told me I had a bad hand position.”
Schulte used her piano skills to volunteer at Green Acres Assisted Living in Ionia once a month.
Schulte’s friend, Brenda Hafner, said that she wasn’t surprised when Schulte chose to go into music therapy. “She’s always been able to find a way to use her talents to help people,” Hafner said.
Schulte’s schedule includes a full day of classes, working in the evenings, and two hours a day to practice piano.
“It’s a strange dynamic. Music is supposed to reduce anxiety, but for me music is the thing causing the anxiety. It’s hard to manage,” Schulte said. She says that she suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome and insomnia.
One of the pieces she is memorizing for her sophomore jury is Schmetterlings (Butterflies) by Edvard Grieg. It is one of her favorite pieces that she is learning this semester.
Her roommate and cousin, Nicole Schulte, said despite the challenges, “I know she’s where she wants to be.”
Bailey Schulte planned on being a music therapist since she discovered it while she was in high school.
“I’ve never considered switching my major,” Schulte said. “I’ve thought of a Plan B, just in case I don’t succeed. But I have to succeed, for my grandpa, so I can be there for someone else like I was there for him.”