Two alumni from the Conservatory of Music share their Biola experience and how it equipped them to pursue their current careers. Hannah (‘13) and Jonah (‘16) Gallagher, completed their undergraduate degrees at the Conservatory and are both pursuing a career in music in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hannah completed a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance, pursued graduate school at the University of Iowa in the area of music therapy and is currently a music therapist at Abilitypath, a non-profit working with adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jonah completed a Bachelor of Music in Composition, pursued graduate school at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the area of composition and is currently a copyist, creating legible sheet music for composers, and the managing associate of the Del Sol String Quartet.

Although Hannah graduated from Biola before the music therapy degree was available, she recognizes her Biola education uniquely prepared her to serve the population with whom she currently works.

“Biola provided a strong music education, which has made it possible to provide music therapy services with musical integrity,” said Hannah. “Even though I was not familiar with music therapy during my time at Biola, the university shaped my thinking and my passion to be kingdom centered. We have been called to care for the sick, hurting, poor and marginalized. I get to use the music skills I developed at Biola to provide music therapy to individuals from all walks of life.”

Since Hannah’s time as a student, the Conservatory has designed a music therapy degree program which will allow future Biolans to pursue music therapy as a career. The program will launch in Fall 2021. Hannah commented on the significant impact and value this new program will add to the Conservatory.

“I’m so excited that the Conservatory is adding a music therapy degree,” said Hannah. “As believers, we can use our musical gifts and talents to serve God and others in so many ways. Music therapy is an extremely tangible and practical way to serve God and His Kingdom, using music in a therapeutic way to help others.”

Similarly, Jonah’s time as a student in the composition area gave him the skills and the spiritual foundation he needed to continue on to graduate school and his current position as a copyist.

“The mentors and teachers who worked with me at Biola pushed me toward good and challenging things in my life,” said Jonah. “My education taught me to think for myself, try hard at what I’m good at, and to go through the doors that God opens for me. Biola taught me to think for myself. I had to really own my faith or abandon it. It wasn’t always easy but Biola was the furnace that helped forge my faith into what it is today.”

As Hannah neared graduation from Biola her plan was to pursue ethnomusicology, but God had other plans for her.

“After applying to a few graduate programs in ethnomusicology, I realized God was closing those doors,” said Hannah. “During that time, I was working at a group home for teenage girls with developmental disabilities and behavioral disorders and providing respite care for a man who was a quadriplegic. I was so energized being in that field of work, but was also trying to figure out how I could combine my passion for music with the jobs I loved. My dad then told me about music therapy, I researched it, applied to the University of Iowa's master's degree in music therapy and got in!”

Jonah, on the other hand, knew that he wanted to pursue composition since high school, though he did not know exactly what that would look like.

“Every turn has been unexpected,” said Jonah. “I didn't know I would end up in San Francisco, I certainly didn't think I would be living here for more than a couple years. I didn't know I would have such a knack for engraving and publishing, and I didn't know how valuable my organizational skills would be either.”

Hannah and Jonah are two examples of students who are pursuing careers in music after graduating from Biola. To learn more about the Conservatory, the composition area and the Conservatory’s newest degree program in music therapy, visit the Conservatory of Music website.

Listen to a clip of “Midnight Road Trip” for wind ensemble composed by Jonah Gallagher.