Olivia Barnaclo is a senior at Walnut Hills High School who volunteered with Melodic Connections last summer and also at our annual fundraiser Greenhouse Rock! She discovered her passion for music therapy at a very early age.   When she was six years old her grandmother had a music therapist visit during her hospice treatment.  The music therapist invited Olivia to play the piano for her grandmother, and she remembers feeling a connection to the possibilities and power that music holds, even at the age of six.  She kept on playing the piano, developed as a singer, and taught herself the ukulele.

Last spring Olivia did an online search for music therapy volunteer opportunities, found Melodic Connections, and spent a week with our music therapists at summer camp with campers ages 8-13.  “It was my first time working with special needs  students,” she says, “and it helped me learn about different populations and the ways music can reach them.  Seeing it everyday for a week was awesome.”

Olivia’s mom explains that the volunteering experience came within a year of a car accident that left Olivia with a severe concussion.  They were uncertain if her recovery had progressed enough for her to participate, but it ended up being a healing experience.  “She came home so happy and energized, her mom said.  “She couldn’t stop talking about the kids. In spite of her constant headache she enjoyed every minute and fell in love with the students.  I hadn’t seen her that happy in months.”

Olivia’s favorite moment from camp came when a camper she had been trying to connect with finally strummed the guitar with a giant pick while she played the cords.  “He had been so shy all week,” she said.  “It was so mind blowing to finally see him open up.  He was so excited to play the guitar —  strumming with so much passion.  I loved it!”

It’s not surprising that Olivia plans to turn her passions into a career.  When she graduates from Walnut Hills this spring she plans to attend college and study music therapy.  We have a feeling we’ll be seeing Olivia again!


Olivia keeps pictures of her summer volunteering at Melodic Connections in her locker at school.