As a music therapist, I am deeply aware of the power and possibility of what intentional music can do for someone’s life. When it comes to working with older adults, I am often tagged in videos like this one below. I want to share with you what I see when I watch this video.

What I love about this video:

This is a wonderful example of how music can invoke memory recall and engage the brain in a different way than most other daily activities. This video is sweet, endearing, and moving. As a music therapist, there is nothing I love more than seeing beautiful moments in music.

What I want you to know:

This type of musical engagement with iPods is not music therapy. Though playing preferred music for residents in a care facility may invoke memory responses, it is missing one thing: intention.

A music therapist offers almost all live music in a therapeutic session during which the therapist can assess and address not only memory, but also motor, speech, social skills and more. Another distinct difference in these programs is that when a resident reaches a point where memory is invoked, the music therapist engages him or her in a way that promotes a positive and safe experience and understands how to encourage memory recall again.

Of course, the final difference is that this program requires administrators to take a training. A board certified-music therapist, on the other hand, is required to complete a bachelors or masters degree in an accredited music therapy program, complete a 1040 hour internship, and then pass a board certification exam and maintain that certification with continuing education.

I am so happy that there are iPod programs to bring music to facilities that may not have access to a music therapist. I absolutely love what I do. I love being able to help people with clinical music therapy. It is my passion and my purpose.

I hope you’ll enjoy this video of music therapy with an older adult.

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