Blog Category: Power of Music

The Intersection Between Music and Medicine

NPR’s Robert Siegel, host of All Things Considered, recently spoke with the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, and Renee Fleming, world renowned soprano and Artistic Advisor at Large at the Kennedy Center. Their conversation centered on the work they are doing jointly to advance the study of music and medicine.

This weekend both Collins and Fleming will be collaborating at Sound Health, a two-day event exploring connections between music, health, wellness and science.

Listen to, or read, their ideas on how the brain responds to music.

 

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Veterans and the Power of Music

by: Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC

A Time to Reflect

As we come closer to Memorial Day, I often think about those incredibly brave individuals who have lost their lives in order to help protect our freedom. They made the ultimate sacrifice to help us preserve the liberties we often take for granted. There are many men and women returning to civilian life burdened and battered by the trauma of war. Their families also feel the psychological effects of having a loved one on in battle.

I think of this and I wonder, “What can I do to show my appreciation? How can I help?”

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And then a new partnership presented itself, giving me the chance to give back! For the past several months, I have had the incredible opportunity to help out many post-combat veterans through what I know best, music! With a team of music therapists from Roman Music Therapy Services, I have been able to act in support of a new clinical program called “Home Base.”

Dedicated to Healing

Home Base is a program run through Massachusetts General Hospital (M.G.H.) and the Red Sox Foundation. It involves an intensive 2-week clinical program to help post-combat veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI(Traumatic Brain Injury) and other psychological disorders brought on by their experiences. The range and intensity of therapies and interventions in this program are vast. Music was brought on board to help transition the veterans and their families into the program.

By leading two group drumming experiences per clinical period, we have been able to help promote community by building trust and camaraderie among the veterans, families and staff members. Simultaneously, we are working to reduce the anxiety and stress related to being part of such a program. Since February of this year, we have served 30 veterans, 21 family members and 6 staff members.

Serving Veterans and Families

At the end of each drum circle, we invite the group members to provide us with their reflections on the experience by writing them down on index cards. The following quotes are from the veterans and their family members:

  • “Cohesive; Barrier crossing”
  • “Total transformation of everyone’s attitude. Everyone was closer and more open.”
  • “This was a powerful way to see how we (strangers) can work together.”
  • “This was a great way to bring the group together right off the bat. Perfect icebreaker. Also really nice to play some music again.”
  • “Fun! Great way to get to know each other. Fun to watch other people have fun.”
  • “Nice to be able to share a side with family that isn’t all gloom and doom.”

While our contribution to the overall treatment plan could be considered small, the feedback from those experiencing these musical moments shows that it provides an essential amount of balance and relief during their strenuous journeys. As far as I’m concerned, I am honored to provide a service that can bring smiles and laughter to people that are fighting and coping with a very real and difficult battle everyday.

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Magical Musical Moments: Seniors

By: Laura Micheli, MA, MT-BC

 Music Touches People of All Ages

In my work I am fortunate to encounter many “magical musical moments” with so many different people.

Photo of Laura Micheli, MA, MT-BC

Laura Micheli, MA, MT-BC

I’d like to share one particular moment working with a group of seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This particular group meets weekly for music therapy on the skilled nursing floor. There are 12 participants that join the group each week along with interchangeable staff members. The entire group, staff included, love the music therapy group! They sing the songs between sessions together, and have learned and utilized musical tools for specific individuals needs to support communication and positive behaviors. And it’s a mood booster for everyone!

One particular resident has had some great “magical musical moments” in the music therapy groups. She has later stage dementia and this has affected her communication abilities. She is generally very quiet, never initiates speech, and rarely answers questions verbally. Her peers notice her quiet nature. They say things like “Come on say something” or “She won’t tell you anything” and become frustrated by her lack of what they perceive as presence.

Music Can be Its Own Language

In our music therapy groups this woman is greeted by her peers in a supportive way because I, as the music therapist, model how we treat our peers of all abilities. Remarkably with music she can access her speech again. During one music therapy group I left a pause in the hello song I use every week where the lyric “beautiful” was supposed to be sung. She immediately sang music-for-seniors“beautiful” with just one pause. The other seniors smiled and cheered for her! From there she sang missing lyrics from all familiar songs and answered simple sung questions such as “How are you today?” Many of her peers commented after the session how wonderful it was that music could reach her in this way. Not only did she benefit from the musical stimuli but her peers saw her as a person again, something totally invaluable as a human being and especially as a human being with a disease such as dementia.

Her caregiver noticed such a difference in her when music was present that she purchased an iPod and asked me what music she should add to her playlists to help support and connect with her. Music is utilized throughout her day to connect with others and express herself. And this is just one reason why I love my job. I get to witness, experience, and create these amazing “magical music moments” that can change a life for the better.

If you are interested in learning more about how music therapy can benefit seniors, read more.

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Drum Circle+: Community Building in Action

Have you wondered what Drum Circle+ is all about?

Drum Circle+ is a drum circle facilitated by a Board Certified Music Therapist from Roman Music Therapy Services. In one of our events, you will get all of the benefits of drumming including reducing stress, improving physical health and wellness, increasing brain functioning and building community.

Drum Circle in ActionResearch suggests music can enhance brain functioning in the moment and over time. This is useful for a wide range of individuals and groups. Our music therapists are able to meet your group’s unique needs, whether it be for staff wellness or development, a professional workshop or an energizing community event.

Watching a Drum Circle+ in action.

To give you an idea of what happens at a Roman Music Therapy Services Drum Circle+ event, check out the video below from the Malden Access Television Open House Showcase.  In this interactive and engaging drum circles for all ages, we explore one of the oldest known instruments. The Music Therapists of Roman Music Therapy Services use the drum circle to engage everyone in fun-filled and purposeful music making that can leave a lasting impression!

Recorded May 16, 2015, at MATV’s 9th annual Open House Showcase.

Call us to learn more about how we can create a Drum Circle+ experience to meet your needs.

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Why We Love Repetition in Music

As music therapists,  we use music to help people with varying needs access their full potential and grow through the music. Some of the benefits of using music are that it is motivating and can help to stimulate and focus a person’s attention. This is in part due to the repetitious nature of music.

In this video, Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis talks about the “exposure effect” and how repetition invites us in to participate in the music instead of just passively listening.

Thank you, Kristina Rio, for sharing this interesting and thought-provoking TED Talk!

We can share the benefits of music therapy with your team, group or organization. If you are interested in a participatory music event, review our website for ideas.

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Early Childhood Mental Health: A Growing Concern

Early childhood mental health is a growing concern.

Often mimagesproutingmelodiesisunderstood, Early childhood mental health is also overlooked or underestimated. Research shows that exposure to ongoing toxic stress in early childhood can have significant impacts on development early in life, and may lead to long term consequences in education, health and financial prosperity. Continue reading

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