From the Bandstand 4: Sara Rogers in Buffalo

In the fourth and fifth installments of "From the Bandstand," a series in which musicians write into about their experiences, two former Rochester songsmiths Sara Rogers and Meg Williams discuss the their moves from the ROC to Buffalo, NY and Nashville, TN respectfully.

From the Bandstand 4: Sara Rogers in Buffalo

Growing up in the suburbs outside of Buffalo (in the town of Williamsville), I was eager to go to college in a new city with new people, new places, a bigger Wegmans, and new musical opportunities. So I ended up at the University of Rochester in August of 2011, made my way to Nazareth College the following year, and then spent an extra year living with my awesome roommates and completing my full-time music therapy internship.

My five years in Rochester were nothing short of incredible. Rochester certainly helped me to become the music therapist and musician I am today. But, earlier this year, as I was job-searching and contemplating/stressing-out-about my future (pretty much something you do every day when you’re 23), I found myself wanting to return to my hometown. I moved back in with my parents in July, and I am LOVING it. While the free rent, free food, and being surrounded by my wonderful family and friends are huge perks, I am truly here because I want to bring my music therapy to Buffalo and give back to the community that made me ME.

It was tough finding work in my field, but keeping an open mind, staying positive, making connections, asking people for help, being nice, following up, and working hard helped me to land three super cool music therapy positions. I am currently teaching music lessons, leading classes, and providing music therapy services through The Community Music School of Buffalo, Buffalo Niagara Music Therapy Services, and We Rock the Spectrum-Buffalo Northtowns/Kid’s Gym.

During a typical week, I get the opportunity to dance with a room full of happy kids, play through jazz standards with multiple memory care groups, teach a ukulele 101 class, and sing Billie Jean at the top of my lungs while my client rocks out at the drum set. I wouldn’t trade the paperwork and driving-all-over-town for anything! This may not be what I had imagined my first year as a MT-BC (Music Therapist-Board Certified) to look like, but it is extremely rewarding nonetheless. Every day I am reminded why I chose to pursue this field.

While I am not music-therapy-ing (made that up), I am still maintaining an active performance career! I dearly miss the plethora of musical projects I was blessed to be a part of in ROC (s/o to Meg Williams, MWB, Upward Groove, The Greece Symphony Orchestra, almost every ensemble at Nazareth College, B-Free, K.C. Sullivan & Dylan Niver/Jive Soup, The 5-Second Rule Brass Quintet and many others). The Buffalo music scene is different and I am still getting the chance to play with new musicians every week.

Buffalo may be my hometown but I was not on the music scene until very recently. I started finding opportunities for myself in Buffalo, which was an awkward and uncomfortable experience but incredibly fun. Being a college student (especially one in music school) was a HUGE resource for meeting talented musicians and making connections at various venues and I have been provided with more musical happenings than I could ever fit on my plate. I have had an awesome run playing and sitting in with all types of musicians, from jazz to rock to classical, on various instruments. Eventually, I would land a permanent spot in Steve Balesteri’s Uptown 7 here in Buffalo. Steve keeps us busy with all kinds of parties and events.

I’m excited about what the future holds in the Buffalo, with all of the rapid growth this city is currently witnessing, and I can’t wait to be a part of it – as both a musician and music therapist.

— Sara Rogers


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