What is Music Therapy?

What is Music Therapy?


hi my name is Amy Standridge and I’m a
board certified music therapist and owner of oak song music therapy and
consulting services here in San Antonio I’ve been a music therapist since the
year 2000 I have a master’s degree in music therapy from Colorado State
University and a master’s degree in music education from the University of
Texas at Austin music therapy is a clinical and evidence-based used of
music interventions to bring about functional change music therapy takes
place within a relationship between an individual or group and a qualified
music therapist a music therapist who is qualified has been through an
educational program for music therapy as well as a six six month clinical
internship and a certification by the certification Board of music therapists
all that to say is there’s a considerable amount of training and
education and to be a music therapist now that does not mean that you can’t
use music at home with your loved ones part of my work is a music therapist in
San Antonio is doing music therapy groups at senior living communities and
so I get to go out and work with a group of seniors usually with Alzheimer’s and
related dementia and we use music participation and listening and singing
and playing and dancing together so music therapy is more than just the
music therapists coming in and playing music for the clientele so in a typical
music therapy session we will start with a Hello song the same song every week so
people understand that we’re beginning our group and then we’ll typically move
into some singing of some familiar songs and move on to some more energetic
activities using instruments or props or movement music but the main focus of our
sessions is live music making it’s not the music therapist as entertainer and
so there’s a reason why we use these we use music to make improvements in older
adulthood and in particular with dementia and that is because music is
processed globally in the brain if you think about what comes in what goes into
a music experience we don’t just sit like a bump on a log and listen we’re
engaging more ways than that sometimes we tap our
toes sometimes we sing along brain is processing music on different levels it
is a whole brain activity that involves listening which involves one area of the
brain and moving which involves another area of the brain and motion and senses
which involves another area of the brain and this is why music is so effective so
the first thing we typically do in a music therapy group is group singing at
familiar Tunes my favorite to use as you are my sunshine it’s really a class
favorite it’s something that everybody knows and what we have found is that
what research is found is that music continues to to be processed and even in
a middle to late stages of dementia and so that means sometimes a person if they
can’t speak in the sentence can still sing a song sometimes people can still
sing an aria that they learned when they were young and a lot of times if we
don’t know the music don’t know remember the lyrics we can still sing along we
can hum along research has also shown that group singing can decrease the
stress hormones in the brain and can increase feel-good hormones such as
oxytocin in addition to the brain changes that happen in terms of hormone
and mood when we’re singing it’s increased communication sometimes
singing a song will bring back memories that have long since been forgotten and
that’s a really beautiful thing that happens in a music therapy session and
again I’m speaking in this video more of the theoretical background about of
music therapy and in another video in this series I will give more examples
and use some instruments and show you how you can use music at home in a
typical music therapy group after we’ve oriented to the situation by
a Hello song it’s some-some group singing of familiar tunes and what I
find is that occasionally a person in the group was very quiet beforehand will
light up when they start hearing their favorite song and at first they might
not sing along and that’s okay it takes a while to warm up and that’s why we do
singing at the very beginning it’s something that everybody has access to
and they’re in their memories especially with familiar music and so we’ll thing
you are my sunshine and I’ll look around the room and a
couple people will be singing and then we’ll sing the verse again we’ll repeat
it because we need to be able to repeat the information several times so really
good people warm that and engaged as a musician sometimes I think or doing this
again this is getting boring but usually for
my clientele and my group they’re just getting warmed up so watching the same
verse over and over again and we’ll get more participation as time goes on I
have one particular client who when I come into the group she’s usually
sitting in her chair with her eyes closed and it takes a while and I sing
to her anyway even though I’m not sure she’s sleeping or she’s still alert I’m
gonna sing to her anyway so I come right up into her and I’ll tap on her leg and
engage her and then without fail she opens up her eyes and starts singing
along sometimes it’s just lalala or making a sound ah but it’s still singing
it still counts it’s so it’s a singing is a really great way to initiate and to
improve that communication to get that flowing and then eventually she’ll start
talking so that’s really lovely so we’ve talked about singing with music what
happens to your brain when you’re singing with me is that singing music
and so but music is not only singing another thing we do in our groups is
movement to music I typically don’t use a lot of recorded music in my sessions
because live music is just more engaging but for movement to music activities a
lot of times we will use a recorded music so we’ll have a theme in this case
my next theme coming up is football in marching band so I’ll look up some theme
songs and download something from YouTube in terms of a theme song and
we’ll do some movement we’ll start with tapping toes will tap heels all march in
place and then we get into some upper extremity movement too and what the
research has shown is that music and rhythm Prime’s the motor system for
movement if you think about when you’re sitting quietly in your home and some a
dog or something knock something over onto the floor he’s startled you don’t
hear the noise and then think about it and go huh I’m supposed to be scared and
then startled it’s an automatic response and so the same thing happens with music
it’s an automatic response to move meant some people will move more than
others because everybody’s at a different stage of dementia and physical
functioning in my groups but without fail people will be tapping their toes
tapping their hands clapping to a beat music makes movement more fun it’s more
interesting to tap your toes to a beat than it is to do an exercise at least in
my personal experience when you go to the gym you typically have recorded
music in your ear it keeps you motivated and so as we age and we need to stay
moving music is the perfect complement to that research is also shown that in
Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders that the rhythmic
function of music actually improves gait significantly and again this is
precognitive I’ve seen this work with individuals who have have Alzheimer’s
and related dementia and have had a stroke and have had different physical
disabilities that respond to this gait and to gait to the music to the function
of music to improve gait and again this is precognitive it just happens if you
think about it too much it doesn’t work if you don’t think about it it works so
for example you may have seen a video that has been going around on YouTube or
Facebook if you do social media that’s a physical therapist walking with an
individual who has Parkinson’s disease and finds that when she plays music for
him while he walks his gait stabilizes he’s better able to initiate gait he’s
better able to facilitate changes and surfaces when you go from carpet to hard
floor it’s the rhythmic function of music gets your motor system primed for
that gait so there’s actually a lot of great research about about this that
maybe in a future video we could talk about and more fully but what we have
found the research shows that the rhythmic function of music significantly
improves gait and older adults this decreases can decrease fall risk
it can make us happier healthier and able to exercise longer being on our
feet is so important we’ve talked about now how our brain engages with singing
we’ve talked about how music can help with movement and the third thing is
that we typically do in a music therapy group is instrument play I brought some
instruments with me today in a later video I’ll give
more examples on how to use those instruments but what we find is the
research has shown that the vibrotactile responses in individuals with late stage
dementia stays intact very late so if you are have a drum seated in your lap
that you’re playing those vibrations are being internalized it’s much more
salient and understandable than if you are listening to or watching somebody
else play an instrument so when we’re playing instruments we’re listening to
music we’re engaging with it we live our mood is lifted we’re exercising more and
we’re also planning movements so I am gonna use an instrument I was gonna wait
but I’m gonna use some instruments just to kind of show you so this is just a
basic tambourine that I bought at five and below it costs three dollars it’s
perfectly lovely and so if I were to play this with my hand I’m hearing the
move I’m hearing the music I’m also using my body I’m using my hand to
strike the tambourine it’s not hard you can do it pick one of these up and start
today but if I have this instrument in my lap and I’m tapping it in my lap or
somebody else is sitting across from me tapping the instrument I’m also getting
all of those vibrations through my legs up through my torso into my brain again
a multi-sensory way to experience music so that’s why instruments I that’s why I
use instruments with my older adults and they’re fun you know it’s interesting
when I pass them out occasionally and someone will will initially say no
because we’re asking them to try a lot of new things that’s okay
I’ll come around back I’ll come around again I had a situation where I did a
drumming activity with a memory care unit and I gave a drum and a mallet to
one one client and I gave a shaker or something it’s a very simple egg shaker
to another client and when I circled back around because
moving around the room mr. M was holding the drum mrs. P had the mallet and she
was hitting the mallet so they were working together they were interacting
they were making choices the eggshaker was no place to be seen and both of them
are experiencing the benefits of music movement to music hearing music and
participating an instrument play we have talked about how music is process in the
brain how its processed globally all regions of the brain are activated some
would even say your brain lights up like a Christmas tree when you’re
participating in music we talked about music and movement how more than Prime’s
the motor system for movement about how music can keep us active longer into
life we’ve listened we’ve heard about how we can when we walk to an external
beat that’s similar to our usual cadence that we can walk better and more
efficiently and have better balance and we’ve learned that you can play musical
instruments without investing a lot of time and money and in training now as a
music therapist I have had a considerable amount of training but that
doesn’t mean that you can’t go by tambourine and play so I would like to
now just share a little bit about my business
oak song music therapy and consulting services is a business here in San
Antonio my area at my phone number will say five one two but I do not live in
Austin and I would love to have you contact me if you are interested in
perhaps providing some music programming for your residents in your senior living
community if you are interested in individual music therapy in this video
we’ve really talked about group music therapy but individual therapy is also
very powerful and in individual music therapy we can really hone in on what
your goals are for your loved one or your patient or yourself and work
one-on-one together and it’ll look the similar we’ll just singing movement and
instrument play but it’ll be one-on-one and I also offer consulting services and
that would be if you are interested in finding out more about how you as an
activity director or as caregiver in your home or with a different clientele
can learn how to use music better I can help you put together a consultation
package for you if you’re in interested so thank you for listening
and I will see you in a future video

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