Saturday, April 12, 2014

You are different from the others that come in and play music

     I was doing a music therapy group for an assisted living facility in Eagle, Idaho.  I always work to make sure I am having meaningful interactions with the residents.  After the group one of the residents came up to me and said, "You are different from the others that come in and play music.  I feel like you are with us rather than above us." 
     I loved this.  I think in her own way she encapsulated exactly what I am trying to do with music therapy at an assisted living.  They have a lot of people who come in and play music for them.  I do music with them.  I'm not trying to perform.  I'm trying to interact with them.  I'm listening to their past with music, and I am learning what is meaningful to them.  I am sharing a part of myself through music and having them share a part of themselves.  In other words I use music to make connections.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Music Night in Meridian - July 18th


You are cordially invited to attend a special music night event at Meridian City Hall on July 18th. It is an open house type event that will go from 6-8pm. You can show up whenever you’d like. Some things to note:

· The purpose of this event is to raise awareness about the benefits and purpose of music therapy. Board-certified therapist, Matthew Jordan, will share some insights from his years of experience as a music therapist as well as demonstrate through music exercises and games what music therapy is all about.

· It will be less structured to allow for questions, conversations, and for people to come and go as they please. We will also provide information on ways people can access this therapy, including the self and family-direction programs.

· We will need some help eating all the ice cream that will be brought!

Also, we would love it if you could pass this information along to others you may know of who may be interested in exploring the possibilities of music therapy and enjoying an evening of fun and music. 

An RSVP is appreciated, but not required. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Music therapy helps a young man with developmental delays work on motor skills

One of the fun things working with special needs individuals is that they are a mirror of what you do.  I quickly find out the phrases that I say most because they start saying them.  I find out what I normally do at the end of a song because they start doing it before I can do it at the end of a song.  They also will follow my movements.

I was sitting at the piano with a young man with developmental disabilities.  He has some problems with sensory issues as well as problems with his motor skills.  Because of that, he moves very deliberately and slowly.  I am working on having him move through instrument playing a lot.  Then something fun and exciting happened when I was playing the piano with him. I tap my foot while playing the piano with out thinking about it.  He looks down at my leg while I am playing and then he starts tapping his foot in perfect rhythm while he is playing the piano with me.  We were really jamming together!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Music Therapy helping a young man with sensory processing difficulties

Music therapy is great when working with anybody who has difficulty with sensory issues.  This is very common in people with developmental delays, especially autism.  Music therapy helps by getting the individuals to engage in a sensory experience in a way that is more motivating because it is paired with music. 

An example is a young man that I have been working with.  He is very sensitive to touch.  He has a real problem using his hands because of it.  However, music is a really motivating thing for him.  He will use his hands when it involves drumming or playing other instruments.  His family was surprised to see him playing the instruments at all.  They were really surprised when they took him to a graduation and watched as he clapped for each of the graduates.  Because of his sensory issues he has not really clapped before.  The music therapy has helped lower his uncomfortableness with touch.

Monday, May 13, 2013

An important part of music therapy. Emotions.

I normally blog about a specific experience that I have had with a client, but this time I want to write in general about something that I think is so unique to music therapy.  When I work with people, I have specific goals that I am trying to reach.  Most of the time the goals are focused on social skills, speaking, motor skills, or communication.  But I think that music therapy has a very unique and special way to help people, which many of the other available therapies never seem to address: the emotions of the people that I work with. 

Emotions effect so many aspects of our lives.  If someone is in a good emotional state, than they excel in every other thing that they are working on.  Music has such a powerful way to effect our emotions.  When I am working with people, I am always mindful of their emotional state, and how the music therapy can help lift the clients.  I love when I can come and help someone go from agitated, frustrated and sometimes depressed to engaged, happy, and calm.  I never discount the power of the music to help the clients emotionally because once they are in a good emotional spot they will meet the other goals so much quicker.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Unexpected connection with a young boy with autism

I love a good surprise.  A great one happened to me recently.  The week before I have to admit was not my best session with a young boy with autism that I work with.  He was distracted, and I could not get him to focus on me.  One of the things that was distracting him was a book.  I decided to make up a song for the book while he was reading it.  I thought it did not really work that well because he did not engage in the song.  He simply kept reading it as though I wasn't doing anything.

The following week I went to see him.  The session started great with a lot of interaction.  He then went and got the book from the previous week.  He opened up the book and looked at me.  I started singing the song, and he sang it with me while making eye contact.  It was a good surprise.  I love a good surprise.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A man with autism opening up communication with his mother in Mountain Home

I have really enjoyed working with a young adult man with autism.  He had some very limited communication when he was going to school, but has stopped any form of communication since leaving school. 

As part of music therapy, I have been having him indicate with gestures and signing yes what music he wants to do and/or what instruments he wants to play and wants me to play.  The more that I have been doing with him, the more he has been readily letting me know what he wants.

His mother told me, she has been doing the same thing, and has been very happy because he has been communicating with her.  I love how music therapy can open doors of communication. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Music therapy with a young man with autism

It has been really fun working with this 7 year old boy with autism that I see.  The music therapy has been really great at helping him make social connections.  It has been fun to watch him begin answering questions in the context of the songs, singing with me, and asking me for his favorite music.

At the last session, during one of his favorite songs, he made a point of looking at me to make eye contact and make sure that we were in sync musically.  That was so huge because eye contact in general is a difficutl thing for people with autism.  But not only was he making eye contact, he was making eye contact for a specific social purpose!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Music Therapy helps a young adult increase motor skills

Music therapy is tricky.  Not in a bad way, but it is tricky.  People who have difficulty moving their arms often have physical therapy where they make them do a series of exercises to increase their range of motion and their stamina.  Here is where the music therapy is tricky.  I work with people and make them do "exercises" while playing instruments.

It has been fun working with a young adult man who has significant difficulties in moving his arms.  But he loves to play the rhythm instruments.  He has been able to really improve how much movement he has, and has increased how long he do play the instruments.  He even has a huge smile while he is doing it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Music therapy gives unique connection for a young adult with autism

I am working with a young woman with autism who recently became an aunt again.  Her little nephew (2 months old) was with us in our last session.  The young woman talks only rarely, but will sing if I give her prompts.  Lately I have been working with her doing improvisational song writing.  We make up a song about anything and she smiles as she sings our simple made up song.  This time we did a song about her baby nephew.  She got the pattern of the song and sang more than I have heard her sing during this intervention.  The most exciting thing was to watch her look at her nephew and she sang with more tenderness than I have ever heard.  This is the first time I have seen her even look at her nephew.  It was a sweet experience to see.