Missed Music Therapy Awareness Week? Here Are Some Of Our Favorite Posts From The Week

West Music Therapy Company Celebrated Music Therapy Awareness Week This Year By Posting Informative Music Therapy Videos To Their Social Media Pages. Here Are The Best Posts From The Week.

Music Therapy Awareness Week took play during the week of March 1, 2021, and West Music Company has done a lot to celebrate and spread awareness. Located in Iowa, West Music has been especially focused on educating Iowans about the benefits and misconceptions of music therapy.

In addition to offering individuals virtual music therapy appointments and video subscription programs, West Music posted a wide array of educational music therapy content to their social media pages.

Did you miss these great posts for Music Therapy Awareness Week? Catch up on some of our favorite posts here. 

a teacher and a student in a guitar lesson
For people of all ages, music therapy can be helpful for improving an individual’s communication abilities. 

Social and Communication Skills

Some of the standout posts from the West Music Facebook page specifically address the ways that music therapy can help individuals improve their social, communication, and language skills. 

Rachel Burchett: SoundReach Sing-Alongs

Rachel Burchett is very familiar with all of the social benefits of group music therapy sessions and activities. Working as a music therapist with West Music for six years, Burchett has seen firsthand the ways that music therapy can help individuals improve and maintain their social connections. 

In her video on West Music’s Facebook page, Burchett discusses the ways that she encourages social interactions amongst her music therapy participants. 

During her time working for West Music, Burchett has directed an ensemble called SoundReach Choir. This choir is a performing group for individuals with various special needs — and no musical experience is necessary to be involved with the group. 

“Through my work with SoundReach, I have seen firsthand how collaborative music making experiences can be a great avenue for building social skills and community connections,” Burchett said in her video. “As our singers get together each week to prepare for our concert of well-known music, I always enjoy seeing their excitement at seeing each other.”

Noelle Guldner: Social Skills in Times of Isolation

Noelle Guldner is a music therapy intern at West Music. In her video, Guldner comments on all of the ways that music therapy can be used to address social skills, such as positively interacting with peers in a variety of ways. 

“One way that I address this goal is through a “hello” song that I use with adults with special needs,” Guldner said. “This song gives simple directions to encourage positively interacting with peers.” 

During this song, Guldner’s participants will follow the song’s directions, such as waving to another friend in the room. 

Hayley Graham: Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

A board-certified music therapist with West Music, Hayley Graham is especially knowledgeable about the ways that individuals can work on their communication skills during music therapy sessions. 

At the start of her video, Graham emphasizes that while it is important to work on verbal (or spoken) communication, it is also important not to neglect skills associated with non-verbal communication

“One way we can do that is by choice making,” Graham said. “This can be a verbal choice, and it can also be presented as a visual choice.”

In her music therapy sessions, Graham will present her clients with two different instruments or two different ways to move. From here, participants can use either their voice or their movements to indicate which choice they want to make. 

a woman walking
Pain can sometimes prevent us from staying active. With music therapy, patients who are experiencing discomfort can find the strength to complete necessary tasks or walk without pain. 

Motor Skills

Social skills are important to develop, but motor skills are another area of daily functioning that can be improved through music therapy. 

Lucy Schipper

Lucy Schipper has been a board-certified music therapist for over 20 years. 

In her video, Schipper covers how music therapy can be used to address motor skills, such as walking or marching. Schipper also shared a recent experience she had with a hospice patient who was working on moving around his room.

“I was visiting with a hospice patient who was trying to take just three steps from where he was in his room to the edge of his bed.” Schipper explained. “But he was feeling so much pain, he felt paralyzed by that pain to not even be able to take one step.”

After Schipper presented her patient with familiar marching songs that had strong, full, rhythmic sounds that engaged his internal rhythm, her patient was able to focus on the pleasurable music and be distracted from his pain. 

“Our brains are only able to focus on one thing at a time, and he was able to take those three steps to bed,” Schipper said. 

a woman and a young girl in a singing lesson
Expressing emotions is an essential part of maintaining our overall well-being. Fortunately, music therapy can help individuals process their life experiences. 

Emotional Skills

West Music’s posts also focused on how music therapy can help individuals work on their emotional skills. 

Madi Pote

When working on emotional skills with individuals and behavioral and mental health, Madi Pote likes to utilize songwriting

Pote mentions that songwriting during music therapy sessions can be:

  • Original
  • Piggy Back
  • Fill-in-the-blank

In her Facebook video, Pote specifically describes her methods for incorporating original songwriting into her music therapy sessions. 

To start, Pote has her group discuss what a main idea could be for their original song. Ideally, the topic of the song is something that everyone in the group can relate to. After each group member responds individually to the main idea, Pote puts all of the responses together to make an original song.

Following this, Pote and the group figure out what the melody and main chords of the song will be. 

a piano with sheet music
Over the course of Music Therapy Awareness Week, West Music shared lots of information about what individuals can gain from music therapy sessions.   

If people are unaware of what music therapy is or what music therapists do with their clients, people might also be unaware of all of the social, emotional, and physical benefits that participants receive. Through Music Therapy Awareness Week, West Music Therapy Company has worked to spread the word about all of the positives of music therapy. 

Annabeth Collis
Annabeth Collis is a writer from Buffalo, NY.
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