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Hope

I’m a person who runs on hope. I don’t mean that I’m just an optimist; I am fueled by hope. I am motivated by the potential, and driven by the endless possibilities I can see just over the horizon.

One of my favorite things about the profession of music therapy is that we get to focus on the good in a person. Sure, we can work on goals related to “deficits,” but what comes out in the music are the strengths of the individual, the beauty of their uniqueness, and their best and most endearing qualities. I get to focus on the hope.

As a music therapist, it isn’t my job to give up on you (in fact, I hope that is no one’s job!). It’s my job to work with you, and let your best self emerge, live, and breathe in the music, so that when you walk out of our session, you are “putting your best foot forward,” and letting your own unique strengths carry you onward.

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In the past few weeks, it has been more difficult for me to feel hopeful. These are uncertain times, and I have struggled, like many, many others, with losing my usual schedule and the ability to carry on “business as usual.”

I have been clinging to the hope that I may be able to offer music therapy telehealth services, despite the difficulties inherent in working from home in a rural location (read: my internet is slower now than it was in the 90s). This past week, I was finally able to test out a session, and I was thrilled to discover that the results exceeded my expectations!

Although lacking many of the benefits of an in-person session, this session demonstrated to me that it is indeed possible to offer something of value, which may help to ease the isolation many are experiencing due to the current guidelines set out by public health officials.

Therefore, I would like to offer my services via a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

Hope lives on! Can you see the possibilties? I can!

New! Pre-Registration now open for 8-week Anxiety Reduction Music Therapy group – held in downtown Bloomsburg

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Bloomsburg Music Therapy will offer an 8-week music-based anxiety reduction group for adults of all ages. The program aims to:

  1. provid experientials of music-based mindfulness techniques participants can use at home
  2. build resilience “from the bottom up” through improvisational music therapy

No experience necessary! There are no pre-requisites, musical or otherwise. All necessary equipment will be provided and included in the cost of the program.

The program will require pre-registration and pre-payment. The total cost of the program will be $160/person, and includes all 8 weeks.

This article offers a overview of music therapy and some of the research on music therapy and anxiety.

I need to give credit where credit is due – the Better Breathers Support Group over at Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital suggested our community could benefit from a program like this and they are my inspiration!

Please contact info@bloomsburgmusictherapy.org for more information.

Music Therapy for Respiratory Support

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Music therapy can be an excellent complement to standard pulmonary rehabilitation, and has been found to be especially valuable for its ability to address emotional support and overall wellness.

Therapeutic singing makes practicing diaphragmatic breathing enjoyable, helping to pass the time more quickly and encouraging treatment adherence. Likewise, using beginner-level wind instruments such as melodicas, harmonicas, or recorders to practice pursed-lip breathing as part of a group adds an element of social support.

Music therapists are trained in methods of music-induced relaxation to reduce anxiety, decrease pain, improve mood, and further encourage deeper, more relaxed breathing in ways that may be easy and enjoyable even for individuals who do not typically like standard relaxation exercises.

The most vital component of a music therapy session for the pulmonary rehabilitation client, unlike another type of music experience, is the relationship built within the music. The relationship drives the gains made in the therapy, and sets music therapy apart from other experiences.

Check out Bloomsburg Music Therapy’s piece on Mindfulness in Music Therapy to learn more.

From Mood to Motor: using music therapy to prolong wellness for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease


Current research provides a strong argument for including music therapy (from Parkinson’s choirs to gait rehabilitation) as standard treatment protocol for a variety of Parkinson’s symptoms. Although researchers are just beginning to develop an understanding of the neural mechanisms responsible for improving symptoms of Parkinson’s, we have compelling evidence for the power of music in managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Why music? Music has been vital to the human experience for all of human history – socially, culturally, ritually, and even medicinally. With modern brain science technology, we are able to confirm what we’ve always known intuitively-that music plays a positive and significant role in health and wellness.

Music is processed throughout the brain, giving it the unique ability to be used in the development, preservation, and rehabilitation of various skills (speech, motor, emotional, cognitive). Preferred music is known to boost dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in initiating movement, reward-seeking behavior, focus, planning, mood, motivation, movement, attention, and sleep. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you are probably familiar with the role of Dopamine in the progression of the disease; decreased dopamine is responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. When people listen to music they enjoy, a dopamine surge is created, providing a mood boost, and, for individuals with Parkinson’s, support for the mechanisms of the motor cortex.

Whatever the cause, engaging in regular, structured, and FUN music activities is beneficial for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Interested in joining a local therapeutic singing program? Contact Bloomsburg Music Therapy today!

For more info, visit:

https://www.parkinson.org/blog/research/Music-Therapy-Parkinsons-Disease-Feel-Rhythm

Using Music Therapy to Support a Mindfulness Practice (whether or not you’re into meditation)

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Sometimes, the people who could benefit the most from a mindfulness program are the ones who find it the most challenging; It’s difficult to relax, it’s hard to clear your mind and be in the moment, let alone stay focused. It may even be *uncomfortable* at first, or you may feel more anxious once you stop moving, and start trying to turn your attention inward.

The power of music as a therapeutic modality is in it’s flexibility, it’s enjoyability, it’s propensity to modulate our mood and mindset. Music is universal, and indeed, everyone is born with a neurobiological predisposition to be musical. Some neuroscientists even believe that music evolved in the brain before speech!

All of these aspects and more make music a perfect medium for inducing mindful engagement. Whether i’m working with a young child who requires the music to change frequently in order for them to remain engaged, or an adult struggling with anxiety or worry who needs a focal point to remain in the moment, I have found that music is the ticket.

Achieving mindful engagement through music can look very different from person to person, and I’ve used almost every instrument in my collection for this purpose!

Why do you need a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) to use music to “relax?” You may be doing just fine listening to music that soothes you, and you may not need any help finding the right music. Music therapists are trained in creating a music experience to support the needs of the individual at that time. This may include a live music experience, or assisting agencies or individuals in creating playlists that minimize risk to the patient/client/resident, while inducing a relaxation response.

More importantly, music therapists are trained to respond in the moment to physiological changes observed in the client, to meet the individual where they are at, and to adjust the intervention as needed to best facilitate therapeutic (non-musical) goals.

 

To find out more, or to schedule a music & wellness event, contact Bloomsburg Music Therapy at 570-316-1899 or e-mail info@BloomsburgMusicTherapy.org.

Parent-infant bonding using music

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Did you know . . . . newborn babies demonstrate a preference for music heard frequently while in the womb? This is because hearing begins at about 16 weeks gestation, giving the growing baby plenty of auditory information about it’s family! Babies are already familiar with mom and dad’s voice because they’ve had a preview from the womb.

Infants show a preference for infant-directed song over infant-directed speech, according to a 2016 study in the journal Child Development, and singing to your baby can be a wonderful way to build healthy attachment. While singing, parents and babies engage in eye contact as well as close physical contact, both of which help to build a strong bond, and even increase brain development and even protect against postpartum depression in moms!

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Even when babies are in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), they can still benefit from music therapy, which can help to mask some of the noise from hospital machines, replicate mother’s heartbeat as heard in the womb, increase nutritional intake, and support parent-infant bonding even in such a fragile state.