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.
When I walked into Music Therapy Connections exactly one month ago, I was wide-eyed, slightly dazed, and excited to cross the threshold from student to professional. In the past two months a LOT of major life changes occurred: I finished my 6 month internship, got engaged, moved to central IL, and started my first job as a music therapist. It’s been a whirlwind of transitions and adjustments, and I wanted to share an inside view of what my first month at MTC has been like.
My first week consisted of an orientation and meeting my students and clients for the first time. As a brand new face at MTC, I was concerned about making a great first impression not only on Katey, Rachel, and Alisabeth, but also on my new clients, students and and parents.
As a therapist, building a relationship with clients is so important to building a foundation for building trust and a safe space for the client to grow and develop. What if I don’t connect with my students? What if I get overwhelmed with the new environment and can’t find my stride right away?
Even in those moments of doubt, I quickly realized that the environment at MTC is one of the most supportive places to grow, to be vulnerable, and to gain support from their team of seasoned and driven music therapists. It was clear that I was in good hands, and I couldn’t wait for what next week would bring.
My second week involved leading my first group for older adults at an assisted living facility and also observing Alisabeth’s early childhood music classes for children ages 0-5. I loved seeing how the music engaged each child, facilitated pre-academic skills, and fostered so many positive interactions!
This week I appreciated interacting with clients of all ages and walks of life. The range of different clients that MTC serves is wonderful, and it’s pushed me to expand my song collection and adapt each song to meet the specific needs of each client.
A big part of my third week was devoted to advocacy and reaching out to local businesses to talk about music therapy. This involved calling facilities, meeting with administrators and even demonstrating examples of a typical music therapy session. Because music therapy is an emerging profession, advocating for the evidence-based efficacy of music therapy is a huge part of what music therapists do.
This experience was a huge learning experience. I didn’t always have all the answers and I experienced several rejections from various individuals, but I’m glad that I gained opportunities to advocate for music therapy and insight into the small business aspects of the profession.
Week four was special to me because I recently became board certified, and I also got to share a special moment with an older client of mine. In previous sessions, I had noticed that this client often didn’t sing along with me or actively play the instruments that were given to her. But this week, as I played and sang “Blue Suede Shoes”, her eyes lit up, she smiled and began to dance along to the beat while pointing to her bright yellow socks.
It was such a joy to see how this song became an opportunity for her to express herself and engage with others around her. It was a privilege to share in that moment, and it definitely ended my week on a good note!
This first month has taken me so many places, from figuring out many new responsibilities to developing relationships with each new client and student. Today in our weekly music therapist supervision meeting, Katey asked me to share how I felt like on day one versus how I feel today.
Honestly, I’m still in the process of working through my challenges and fears by trial and error, but I’m glad that MTC is the perfect place for me to grow. As the music therapy team all sat in a circle in matching bean chairs, Alisabeth stated such a comforting truth: “We’re just… this big circle that just supports each other”. As I close out this first month, I couldn’t agree more.