Music Therapy - Private Practice
What exactly is Music Therapy?
The clinical definition of Music Therapy is that Music Therapy is an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs for individuals of all ages. Music therapy improves the quality of life for persons who are well and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities or illnesses. Music therapy interventions can be designed to:
· promote wellness · manage stress
· alleviate pain · express feelings
· enhance memory · improve communication
· promote physical rehabilitation · increase attention span
Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in a wide variety of healthcare and educational settings. It works well integrated with other therapies.
Quite simply, Music Therapy is using MUSIC for non-musical goals.
Anyone who has an interest in music, whether it’s singing, playing an instrument or listening to music can benefit! Whether it’s a stressed-out parent, an at-risk youth, a preschooler or a school age child or youth, music therapy is a flexible modality that can be used to work towards non-music related goals (as well as music-related goals at times).
My present day application of music therapy has been seen in all sorts of settings with the general population. Being one of the few music therapists in the area that isn't tied to an organization or institution, I have the flexibility to work one-on-one in a setting that makes sense for the individual's situation.
1. Preschool setting – During the 2000s, I created and ran my own MUSIC 4 KIDS™ program in various preschools and daycares in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago. MUSIC 4 KIDS™ reached hundreds of children in various settings over the years at St Paul's Christian Preschool (Crystal Lake) , Young Scholars Childcare Center (Island Lake), Little Angels Preschool (Barrington), Montessori's Children's House (North Barrington) and Noah's Ark (Barrington). MUSIC 4 KIDS™ was all about musical expression and experiences for young children of preschool age and younger . Children were encouraged to express themselves through music and music-related activities. Each class offered a multitude of experiences that enrich their lives. The aim of the class was for children to enjoy their musical experiences and that enjoyment built their self-esteem through positive and fun group interactions. It also offered an avenue for appropriate self-expression. In our preschool music classes together, I was able to incorporate fun relaxation techniques with all the preschool children I worked with. I gave them opportunities to express themselves through singing, the use of rhythm instruments, dancing with scarves or ribbons and trying out various musical props I brought in.
In these mainstream settings, I often encountered children who have not been evaluated, but were struggling to fit in or keep up with the preschool expectations. This allowed me an excellent opportunity to incorporate even more of my music therapy skills.
2. At-Risk Youth – Depending on their interests, many at-risk youth respond very well to music therapy. Whether it’s using piano or voice lessons as the main focus, songwriting to provide an appropriate channel to express feelings or tapping into their individual music interests, music therapy can show youth how to channel emotions and strong feelings into musical outlets as well as encouraging a healthy hobby.
3. ADD/ADHD/Anxious Youth – Depending on their interests, many active and anxious youth respond very well to music therapy. Whether it’s using piano or voice lessons as the main focus, songwriting to provide an appropriate channel to express feelings or tapping into their individual music interests, music therapy can show youth how to channel emotions and strong feelings into musical outlets and give them tools to deal with anxiety or their extra energy.
4. Apathetic/Depressed/Bored Youth - For those kids that don't seem to have much passion for life, I find that many times they also have trouble connecting with others. When conventional methods don't work, I have found that one-on-one drumming sessions have been a great connecting point to help build a relationship and to inspire. Most youth enjoy playing my kid's size djembe while I tap out a foundational, simple beat on the bongos. There is something magical about rhythm that seems to resonate within them and often brings a smile to their face! For many of these youth, music is the one part of their life that they do have some passion for.
5. Middle school/high school kids – I teach private piano and voice lessons and as part of my teaching style, I am employing music therapy techniques that I believe contribute to improving self esteem and building confidence while teaching them discipline (to practice consistently) and giving them performance opportunities. I coach them through the experience by making sure they are thoroughly prepared and then I describe what they should expect. Many in-studio practices and larger dress rehearsals help build their readiness and ultimately help them deal with performance anxiety. They come to realize that they CAN do it! It's not about being perfect.
I have also introduced visualization to many of them and this is a great life tool for them to have. They picture themselves overcoming a challenging situation and that helps build their self-image and confidence as they learn to work through these challenges.
At this age, being bullied can be a huge problem and really cause them to doubt themselves or feel like they can't handle themselves when being picked on. Some may resort to cutting or extreme reactions, like suicide. I might suggest they find a song that they feel expresses how they feel in those difficult moments and then we work through that song and then move on to look for examples of songs where the under-dog prevails and triumphs. Not only do I meet the youth where they are initially, but I try to guide them and provide them with tools to help them move into a better, more positive place.
6. Adults in Music SOS – Music SOS™ stands for Music for the Stressed-Out Soul. With this small class, I incorporate guided imagery along with beginning yoga and breathing techniques for stressed out adults. Visualization is used and there is a theme or topic for each class. It's an opportunity for adults to take time out from their real life and give themselves a much needed break. Then they feel more equipped to go back to their life and many times life is a little easier to handle.
7. Adults taking private lessons – Most adults who start taking lessons as adults are doing so for themselves because they didn’t or weren’t afforded the opportunity when they were younger. There is usually much more going on than just improving their musical skills. These lessons are often about breaking through fears or old bad habits (negative self-talk, tension building up in the body) that have built up over the years. I employ lots of music therapy techniques, especially relaxation & visualization along with physical movement with the music.
My original music therapy education/experiences
After graduating from college with my degree in Music Therapy, I initially was employed in a residential facility (Little City in Palatine, Illinois) as a music therapist back in the early 1980s and I was involved with individuals with disabilities working in a group setting. Goals, which were not musical, would usually be directed around increasing attention span or appropriate behavior in a small group setting.
Contact Lori at 847.815.5050 or email Lori for more information.