Local artist known for her music therapy and impact on students, especially children

Family, friends and colleagues paid their respects and bid farewell on July 2 to Sara Rogers, a cherished member of Buffalo’s music community who was tragically killed in a collision with a bicycle on June 17. She is remembered as someone whose musical reach was widespread. . But above all, she touched the lives of many through her work in music therapy.

Rogers was one of three people hit by a car on South Park Avenue near the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino while riding their bicycles. As the investigation continues, police believe the driver may have had a medical emergency at the time of the incident.

“Someone recently said she’s a musician who talks like she sings,” said Jennifer Guillow, executive director of the Buffalo Community School of Music. “She sang everything she said, and it was such a beautiful way to say it. She really touched every life she came in contact with.

Rogers also served on the faculty of Villa Maria College and worked at institutions such as Our Lady of Victory Human Services, Liberty POST, and Buffalo Niagara Music Therapy Services.

Much of his individual music therapy work remains available via his YouTube channel.

At Buffalo Community Music School, Rogers served as a trumpet teacher, served on the faculty of early childhood education, and most recently served as chair of the school’s music therapy department. Guillow says Rogers gave everyone her voice, but her specialty was working with children.

“Once in the middle of winter we had a young boy, an autistic child, who was too nervous to come to school. So she put on her winter coat and she went outside and she sang to him for 30 minutes while he calmed down,” Guillow said. “It was such a beautiful shot of who Sarah was. Her work with children, all over Western New York, was amazing and beautiful.

Rogers provided original material to rock of feelings, a grassroots program that uses music and movement to focus on the social and emotional development of very young children. Feelings Rock founder Katie Webster remembers first meeting Rogers at an event that had several people living with autism in attendance.

“She had her guitar and her drums, and she invited them to play instruments, to try them. And she just had that sparkle in her eye,” Webster said. “When she connected with the people who were present there, you could tell that everyone who approached her loved her.”

One of Rogers’ songs, “Mixed Feelings Goodbye”, is regularly used in Feelings Rock classes. Webster says that while working with Rogers to compose the music, they discussed the mixed emotions of ending a class, from the sadness that it was ending to the happy optimism that they would see each other again next time.

Upon learning of her friend’s death, Webster spent the next weekend listening to this song over and over again, noting the new context.

“When I was listening to it, I just, so much more feelings coming up. Anger when it happened. Confusion, how could this have happened to Sara? That kind of thing,” said Webster: “She was definitely someone who wanted people to feel all their feelings, and so I guess in order to honor her, I let myself feel all the feelings I’m having right now.”

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