FAQs about my music therapy sessions
1. What is the role/purpose of the music therapy program –how do you adapt that role to the different age groups of patients? And to their different conditions?
Music is an incredibly flexible tool that in the hands (or voice) of a music therapist can be melded into exactly what a patient needs in that moment. The needs of the patient may be for soothing and pain abatement – I can play a quiet simple chord progression and sing a simple melody that can lull a child in distress into a state of calm, even sleep. I have used repetitive drumming patterns to create a state of predictability upon which a teenager can express feelings of loneliness, fear, gratitude, or resiliency. I have worked with patients to play through their favorite songs, or create an original musical composition. When possible and appropriate, I like to record these into an audio file that the patient can then keep. Sometimes my goal for a child is to simply explore musical play – to be silly within the music and have a good time. This is a way to elevate their mood and improve their perception of their current situation. It also reminds the kids, especially those who are not musicians, that there are ways of having fun in life that they may not have discovered yet. This is essential for kids with new injuries or new limitations.
Patients of all ages and ability levels can benefit from music therapy interventions. Adaptations based on a patient’s interests and their physical, cognitive, or musical abilities are made in the moment. I assess the level of functioning and the need for change through consultation with the staff and family members, as well as with the patient when that patient has a particular desire in mind. Being with a patient in the music together creates magical moments of connection and understanding, through which patients can meet and sometimes exceed their goals.
My goals fall into the realm of psychosocial or developmental growth, pain reduction, or improvement of their physical or speech functioning. I use the motivating factors in music which are psychologically and neurologically hard wired, to achieve change in functioning. There in lies the difference between music therapy, and entertainment or eduction.
2. Give me an idea of the range – kinds of instruments, types of music?
The types of music depend on the style that the patient prefers. Research (and common sense) shows that when a patient is introduced to their favorite type or style of music, they will be more engaged in the process. This requires a high level of versatility on the part any music therapist. The instruments we use are a comb