By Nicole Craven
So many of us have a strong connection to music. We hear a certain song and it takes us back to a memorable summer in our teens, we sing a lullaby to our child and feel a sense of peace, we feel the stress melt away from a bad day as we listen to a favorite song. When I tell people I am a music therapist, most comment about how therapeutic music is for them. Many of us have had cathartic experiences as we listen to a certain piece of music or make music to help us relax. It’s as if music has a magical healing power.
But did you know that there is actually a lot of research and scientific knowledge around how music impacts our brain and development? It’s not just magic! In fact, board-certified music therapists use this knowledge every day to help people of all ages, abilities, and stages of life to improve their lives. Music therapy is used to improve cognitive functioning, gross/fine motor skills, social and emotional development. In addition to being strong musicians, music therapists need to have a deep understanding of development (from birth to end of life), counseling techniques, psychology, and medical diagnosis.
So how can music therapy help seniors, those in memory care, or hospice patients? At Sing Explore Create we sing, play instruments, compose, rewrite lyrics, engage in active music listening activities, and find other ways to help clients participate. The best part for clients is there is NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! We find ways for clients to participate in a way that is comfortable for them and help them to grow from there.
Engaging in music interventions offers many benefits to our clients. For seniors, drumming and singing can have health benefits similar to engaging in other physical exercises. It can also assist with speech and motor rehabilitation. Making music with others has also been shown to reduce depression in older adults. For those in memory care, the area of the brain where music is processed is one of the last to be affected by Alzheimer’s. Because of this, singing familiar songs and listening to music (preferably live music) can assist in recall and language skills, as well as decrease agitated behaviors for these folks. Finally, music therapy can provide a comfortable environment for seniors and hospice patients to spend time with loved ones, creating positive and meaningful memories. Musical experiences may open the door to conversations with loved ones and reminiscing about the past.
Our team of music therapists is fortunate to facilitate these musical moments in our clients lives and help clients connect with family members in such a meaningful way. We take great care to get to know our clients and develop a program tailored to their unique needs and that incorporates their musical preferences. We would love to meet you or your loved one. We welcome you to connect with us to learn more about how music therapy services may best serve you.
About the Author: Nicole Craven, MA MT-BC, co-founder and Director of Sing Explore Create, LLC is a board-certified music therapist and music educator. She is dedicated to providing opportunities throughout the South Shore for people of all ages to experience the benefits of engaging in the arts and using music to enhance their lives. You can reach Nicole at 781-803-2117 ext. 4, and learn more at www.singexplorecreate.com
Reprinted from the April 2019 edition of the South Shore Senior News.