Born in the sunny south of Italy, Maria-Battista Hancock grew up surrounded by music. “In my family, I like to say we had music for dessert,” says Maria. It was through music that Maria learned how to speak English, and through music that she found her calling—music therapy. “My cousin Giovanna is a few years younger than me and has Down syndrome. She's non-verbal, but when we played music as a family, her face would light up and she would try to sing along,” says Maria. “It was then I realized music is so much more than just performing.”
After studying voice, music history, and composition at the Italian Conservatorio di Musica di Rodi, she completed her music therapy training at Temple University in Philadelphia. She is now the Expressive Arts Department Chair & Internship Director at Hochstein School of Music and Dance and is a singer-songwriter as well as a music therapist. Maria often writes songs to help her clients achieve specific goals, some non-musical. "Music therapy can help people connect socially, to speak better, and to know who they are in the world and find their own voice," says Maria.