In working as a music therapist and music teacher, Lori D'Amore-Morefield, a St. Marys native and current resident of Newbury Park, Calif., has learned the power of song.
While D'Amore's musical abilities and related occupations have taken her across the country, it is in St. Marys where she says her passion for the art form took root. She credits the late Kronenwetter and the late Nick Sinibaldi with "instilling that love of music in my life."
After graduating from St. Marys Area High School in 1980, D'Amore went on to study music therapy at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1984. She served her music therapy internship at Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center in Manhattan, where she worked closely with children in Harlem.
Following her internship in New York City, Lori returned to Pennsylvania to work as a special education teaching associate in Smethport.
Lori said she made the decision to pull up stakes and make the move westward to California after vacationing there.
D'Amore moved to California in 1986, where she met her husband, Brian Morefield. The two were married in 1989 and began residing in Newbury Park, a suburb of Los Angeles. They are the proud parents of daughter Hilary Morefield, 20, who is currently a junior at the University of California-San Diego, and son Aaron Morefield, 18, a freshman at the University of California-Riverside.
After setting up residence in The Golden State, Lori went to work as a music therapist, conducting therapeutic activities with geriatric, skilled nursing, and psychiatric patients as well as drug and alcohol rehab patients.
She also supervised music therapy practicum students and a music therapy intern from California State University- Northridge.
Music therapy has increasingly gained traction as a legitimate method of treatment for a variety of ailments and has been widely acknowledged for its restorative and even curative properties.
Los Angeles Times Music Critic Mark Swed in a Jan. 22, 2012 article credited advancements in the field of music therapy with helping Parkinson's patients to walk, the autistic to express their emotions and stroke victims to regain speech and motor movement.
"There are theories that music exists to exercise the mind and to help coordinate its separate functions," Swed writes.
"Music lovers intuitively know what researchers have verified, that music modulates our moods, helps us move, stimulates our language skills, strengthens our memories and can wondrously bring about emotional responses without their bothersome consequences."
Over the course of her career in the field of music therapy. D'Amore has held the position as vice president of the Western Region of the National Association for Music Therapy, where she planned and implemented two music therapy conferences.
D'Amore also served as vice president of the Music Teachers Association of California, the Conejo Valley branch, and was the Western Region Representative for the National Association for Music Therapy, Clinical Training Committee.
She also teaches piano. What began as a side job with D'Amore giving piano lessons to doctors and nurses has become a full roster of 43 students a week at her in-home studio.
D'Amore also works as the music specialist two days a week at Cypress Elementary School in Newbury Park, a position which she has held for the past 14 years, along with being a First Communion mentor at St. Julie Billiart Catholic Church.
D'Amore does so while maintaining her board certification as a music therapist, the attainment of which requires 100 hours of continuing education over a period of five years.
Music therapy and musical instruction are intertwined for D'Amore, who in addition to providing treatments to patients has always enjoyed working with children and imbuing in them a musical appreciation as she said Kronenwetter and Sinibaldi did for her.
"I consider myself very blessed and lucky to be able to work in the education of children," D'Amore said. "I want them to enjoy music and be able to express themselves within this genre."
The neighborhood of Newbury Park where D'Amore now resides is roughly 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean coastline and is nestled in amid a bounty of natural preserves and parks.
D'Amore said in her free time she enjoys taking walks and soaking up the California sun. She speaks of her neighborhood and neighbors, fondly jokingly relating that she is "known as the unofficial mayor of Newbury Park," adding, "I love this suburban community and its people."
While D'Amore said the cross-country jaunt keeps her from returning to visit St. Marys often, she added that when she does, catching up with family and friends is always worth the trip.
Dâ€™Amore is the second child of St. Marys natives Joseph Dâ€™Amore and Mary Jane (Mallison) Dâ€™Amore.
She is sister to Doug Dâ€™Amore ( Jenny) of Lock Haven, Charlene Dâ€™Amore and Stefanie
Dâ€™Amore of Carlisle, and local couple John Dâ€™Amore (Tina Moore).
And while D'Amore may be "spoiled by the Californian sunshine," she said the mystique, charms
and creature comforts of north central Pennsylvania are not lost on her as she still "misses
the fall leaves and cream-filled doughnuts."