Laura Anderson’s lifelong love of singing was inspired by her grandfather. In a family where both sides of the family are musical, her grandfather’s voice provided a soundtrack to growing up.
“In my family, the sound of music was always around us,” says Anderson, now a licensed psychologist and assistant professor in the School of Nursing. “Some of my earliest musical memories are hearing my maternal grandfather, always singing. He had a wonderful voice and I loved listening to him.
“There was a cantata in our community, part of a Christmas chorus that my sister, my mom and I sang in together every year,” she says. “We also sang at church on Christmas Eve.
“In fact, I have been singing most of my life.”
Anderson says there’s research to support the belief that music is a good way to exercise self-care and get some immediate stress relief.
“The goal is to stay healthy, productive and happy. Those of us who are health care practitioners and researchers are often stressed; you can easily get compassion and caretaker fatigue. In my practice, I have worked with many nurses,” she says.
“Additionally, as a psychologist, I am able to translate and implement the interventions we study and test in the School of Nursing.
“Some of these include weight self-management, cognitive behavior therapy for stress management and weight control, anxiety and depression, self-care for busy professionals — and health care workers,” Anderson says.
“Everyone needs to practice self-care. It is just like it sounds: holistically taking care of yourself in a meaningful and intentional way.”
Anderson says this began for her when she left home after being accepted into SUNY Geneseo.
“I came from a small reservation town, and the move away from home was a big change,” she says. “One of the things that affected me most was adjusting to being an undergraduate away from home.”
Anderson resumed singing while at Geneseo, this time with the Chamber Singers, the college’s internationally touring co-ed choir.
“Singing with the chorus at the university was really uplifting for me,” she says.
“They came into my life when I was emotionally in need of the mentoring and support that singing and being with the group brought me. The camaraderie, especially.
“Singing with the Geneseo Chamber Singers,” she says, “was one of the best experiences of my undergraduate career, and it became a powerful part of my life.”
These days, Anderson does her singing as a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.
“I had the opportunity to join when I returned to Buffalo after my postdoc. I remember the first time I sang on stage with the full chorus and orchestra. There was a palpable, musical energy. Seeing JoAnn Falletta spring from her podium — truly one with the music — delighted me,” she says.
“A few years ago, I attended a BPC concert after taking a leave from the chorus,” Anderson says. “I was not on stage with my fellow choristers and found I felt a sense of grief or loss about not being with them,” she says.
“That is the moment I decided to apply for a job at the School of Nursing and re- audition for entry into the chorus. Feeling stressed at work, I realized I need music in order to maximize my success.”
Anderson says singing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus brings positive change to her life. “I am calmer, happier, more centered and balanced in my life. Singing makes me a better mother, a better wife, a better faculty member and a better psychologist,” she says.
Anderson notes the choral director at Geneseo was a strong influence and meaningful mentor to her in music, and “made a big difference during a difficult part of my life.”
“Dr. Robert Isgro was a truly unconditional support figure for me. The Geneseo Chamber Singers toured Spain with him. He and the chorus truly became my family and I just knew I would never stop singing,” she says.
“Dr. Adam Luebke is currently at the helm of our BPC, and he is doing a wonderful job in a similar role. We are also a big family with a shared mission.”
At Geneseo, Anderson quickly discovered psychology was her intellectual love and that she could retain music as a personal love. “I am not sure I have the talent to earn a salary in music. I could have built it into a career, perhaps, but I fell more in love with psychology.
“Music is where I go for self-care, and a hobby as well,” she says.
“Working moms — and I am one — tend to care for everybody else all the time, so this gives me my own time.
“The difference it makes when the soundtrack of your day is happy and upbeat, versus sad, or melancholy, can be amazing,” Anderson says. “My patients have often told me that they leave my office feeling better than when they arrived.
“I am honored by this, of course, but I can sincerely say the same of the chorus. “I always leave feeling better than when I arrived,” she says.
“The time commitment pales in comparison to the emotional payoff. My love and practice of vocal music makes my inner house a home.”