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What is music therapy and how does it work?

The question (ok, three of them in one) I have been asked most often in my personal and professional life after I tell someone that I am a music therapist, "So, what is music therapy, how does it work, and who do you work with?"

Music Therapy, as defined by the American Music Therapy Association, is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

Therapy can be a scary word. Many times, when I say that I provide "Music Therapy," it is automatically assumed that I work with people who need help, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional help. Yes, this is true, but it puts the field in a bubble. Music therapy is so diverse. Read up on it, google it, read about the small things that it helps with in everyday life, beyond this simple blog post.

My name is Adrienne. I am a wife, mother, aunt, sister, friend, and I am a board certified music therapist and licensed creative arts therapist. I love my job. I bring music to people everyday. We sing to support speech, we play instruments for sensory stimulation and movement, we write songs for expression, we analyze lyrics for emotional support, we improvise to facilitate creativity, we use art and movement interventions, and so much more. Music is the key ingredient in all of this. Music is universal. Everyone has a musical preference, even if it's silence...silence is still a preference. Music therapy is for every age, every ability and disability.

Have you ever had a time in your life that you have turned to music for comfort? If you can't think of there a song that you have been listening to on repeat this past week or month, if so think of something significant in your life, even in this does the song and that life experience correlate?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, the song "Smoke Clears" by Andy Grammar quickly became the top played in my playlist, and when I looked into the lyrics to see why it was so catchy to me, I realized why. The lyrics state:

"You'll never be alone

Even when your world explodes 'Cause after all the smoke clears I will be right here"

My daughter heard every line every time I sang it (alone in the car, on full blast, at the top of my lungs). It's meant to be a love song, but to me, I was singing it for her without even realizing. Those words have significance from me to her.

So, why music therapy?

As a music therapist, I am here to facilitate that experience. Assessments are always the first (possibly second and third) sessions, as every person is different, as is musical preference. I have met people who relax with a genre of music that I work out with, and there is no way I could anticipate that! Music is so personal. I am trained to identify the best music therapy intervention for where someone is in that moment, and even that is ever changing! I have provided adaptive lessons for individuals who may have physical difficulties. I have provided regular music lessons for individuals who have anticipated a significant life change and saw the need for something constant to support them through it. I have provided music therapy sessions with an art or movement base. I have provided group and individual music therapy sessions....sessions in hospitals, in homes for individuals who could not leave, in nursing homes...and the list goes on. Oh...and important to mention...I have provided music therapy to individuals who have no music background whatsoever! This list is endless!!!

I am so excited to be working with the KEYS program to expand Colleen's vision for her KEYS kids and the community, offering and providing music therapy. Every session is unique and different and so personal. If you are interested in learning more about music therapy or how music therapy would be beneficial for your KEYS kid or a member of the community, there is a small chat button in the bottom right corner of this page, and we are here to answer any and all questions or set up an assessment for you or someone you know! We are looking forward to hearing from you!!!

Signing out for today....

and remember, it's all about the smiles!!!


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