Morris earns Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain

Colorado College music alum Daniel Morris '16 was recently awarded an English Teaching Assistant Fellowship with the Fulbright program. He will be going abroad to Spain this fall as part of the U.S. government's flagship international exchange program.

Morris double majored in music and in psychology while at CC and stayed with the Music Department as its paraprofessional for two years following graduation. While deciding what to pursue next, Morris worked for Overland Summers, planning many biking trips across the U.S. and Europe, before enrolling in the music therapy master's program at Colorado State University.

"When I think back to my musical journey at CC I think of the bluegrass ensembles, the concert and jazz bands, my piano teacher, and of course the professors and staff in the music department who encouraged me," said Morris, whose primary instrument is guitar but he also took lessons and played in ensembles on trumpet, saxophone, and upright bass. "Having such a wide breadth of musical experience helped me become a better overall musician. I am able to apply my knowledge of classical, jazz, folk, pop, world music, and music technology to my music therapy practice all the time. In practice it allows me to improvise, sight read, compose, or accompany at a moments notice on a variety of instruments — pretty cool."

Morris said his fondest memories of CC include trips with professors Ofer Ben-Amots and Michael Grace, as well as traveling to the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown festival with Keith Reed and experiencing the Billy Joel symposium held at CC in 2016 co-organized by current Music Department chair Ryan Bañagale. 

"In many ways, Dan’s Fulbright work is an extension of the incredible work he undertook as a music major here," said Bañagale, who explained that Morris composed a new "fight song" for the school as part of his music major capstone project.

"Although not specifically a music therapy or Spanish-language project, the methodological approach taken in composing his song reveals an impulse to understand how music forms real and imagined communities," Bañagale said. "He examined the theoretical concepts of 'communitas,' ultimately exploring how members of the Colorado College community across time and space relate to each other through their shared musical experience of the school. I can’t wait to see what he is able to accomplish in similar regard while aborad in Spain."

Morris has traveled to Spain previously on vacations and while leading a trip for Overland, but it will be his first time in the La Rioja region, where he will live for all 10 months of his fellowship. He said his primary goal while in Spain is to gain a better command of the language so he can practice music therapy in the U.S. with Spanish-speaking people. He would eventually like to pursue a PhD in the neuroscience field and continue researching the positive effects of music listening, training, and therapy on the brain.

"As a part of my community project in Spain I plan to implement a community music therapy project of some kind, depending on the needs of the community," he said. "This may be with older adults with degenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS), or populations with TBIs or strokes, or youth with developmental disabilities. I have experience working in all of those areas in music therapy. I am also an active participant in the Brainwaves Research Lab here at CSU working on research studies using EEG."

The English Teaching Assistant programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. They help teach English while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S.

Colorado College students and alumni have a strong reputation in the Fulbright program. Earlier this year, Colorado College was named a top producer of U.S. Fulbright student grantees among baccalaureate institutions by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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