Giving Thanks for Music Therapists

Incorporating Music in Health, Healing, & Comfort

 

Like many of you, I incorporate music into my life. I play an upbeat playlist, while I work or clean. Maybe you like to play guitar and sing a sad or fun ditty depending on your mood. We turn to these things in order to express and process a full range of emotions: to celebrate, to energize, to soothe, to make us forget our troubles for a time.

In this post, I want to honor and give thanks to Music Therapists for bringing music (and often dancing) to the field of therapy. I’m going to dial down and highlight the therapy they bring to people in nursing homes and for end of life care. I hope this post will help you understand the significance of music to the world of therapy and how these professionals bring these two worlds together.

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

What does a Music Therapist do?

When I was in Highschool, one of my friends said that she was interested in pursuing a degree in Music Therapy and I was pretty clueless about it. However, when I started working with Bear Paw Creek, I became aware of the profession again. Over the last few years, as I’ve been following the work of Music Therapists online, I’ve seen the influence they’ve had in areas of therapy, research and education. And they’ve earned my respect.

When people hear the words, “Music Therapist” often they can have one of two reactions. 

One reaction is to wonder whether music is effective for therapy.

For that reason, many studies have been done to explore the healing effects that music therapy can bring to people. Here is a link for an excellent resource discussing the benefits of music for end of life care: A critical realist evaluation of a music therapy intervention in palliative care.

The truth is, that most of us don’t need to read studies to prove to us that music has a huge impact on our wellbeing.

For example, these weeks I have been a struggle with anxiety and sadness. Like many of you, the first thing I reach for is music. Whether I’m singing in my car or listening through headphones on the computer while I work, I’m putting on the music that helps me cry or lifts my spirit. 

Reaching for music is what many of us do. We play our favorite playlist, pick on a guitar sing a sad or fun ditty, these things we instinctively feel are good for us: body and soul.

The second response we may give is, “Do we need therapy professionals who specialize in Music as a form of Therapy?”

Some may wonder why a separate profession is required for the use of music as therapy. If it’s good, and we know it is, why don’t we just incorporate it into care? Do we need a music therapist to make that happen? 

The education of the Music Therapist and integrates the study of music with the study of health, development, and psychology. They not only understand music and its effects but they also study to understand people, therefore, they can match the therapy with the client.

Erin Seibert expresses the true value of Music Therapy. She also gives fascinating insight into the origins of Music Therapy in this TEDx Talks Video. Please take the time to watch this powerful, clear presentation:

The Influence of Music Therapy in Elder Care and Palliative Care

 

 

 

To illustrate the impact that Music Therapists are having in other types of care and therapy, I just want to highlight elder care and end of life care (which is called palliative therapy.)

When my mom passed, I was overseas and unable to get there before she died because it was so quick. She was surrounded by my dad, my sister and people who love her and by music, as they sang to her the hymns that she and they loved. The comfort was not only for her but also for those who loved her. It also comforted me to know that she was comforted even as I was trying to get a passport to come to her side. This is palliative care.

I used to visit one of my aunts who was bedridden in a nursing home. It hit home to me that the videos and music she had were very dependant on what was brought to her. When I was visiting there were a few things she loved: Chocolate, laughing at funny memories, having cream rubbed into her hurting feet and being sung to. My aunt had a beautiful voice when she was young and a bunch of people who loved her provided her with music and videos to watch. If we didn’t bring her music and sing to her, she wouldn’t have had music in her life. This is elder care.

What about people who don’t have family members or friends to visit them?

This Podcast, from Collective Music Therapy, is very poignant and illustrates the role that Music Therapy may play in the case of someone who doesn’t have a relative or other loved one to bring them comfort during end-of-life care.

Music Therapy in Palliative Care: The Beatles reinterpreted to ease the end of a journey.

And what of the elderly and dying who’s loved ones are able to care for them? 

Often the work involved in caring can break down the relationship through stress and weariness that comes with the territory. Music Therapists can create a bridge that reconnects family members as husband and wife, parent and child, or sisters instead of simply caregiver and patient. What they bring into the space is an opportunity to rest, reconnect and laugh together.

“The long and short of it is that, as care recipients’ health declined, caregivers were at increased risk of moving further and further away from their pre-illness identity in the context of their relationship with the care recipient. That means caregivers interacted less and less as a spouse, parent or child with the care recipient: acts of love (i.e., eating dinner with my wife) transformed into mechanicals acts of service (i.e., feeding dinner to my wife) that became less about fulfilling the need to relate meaningfully to a loved one and more about meeting the “next” need.” A Possible way Forward with Hospice Caregivers during Pre-Bereavement by Noah Potvin Ph.D., MT-BC

Music Therapy can reconnect the caregiver and the patient, giving them access to memories and music that is meaningful to both of them.

About 2 years ago I wrote a post called Recreational Activities for Dementia and Alzheimer Patients. In it, I shared a video by Simon McDermott – The Songaminute Man, who reconnected with his dad through music. His latest video is below and he is offering an album of his father’s music to raise money for Alzheimer’s research here: www.songaminuteman.com

I have watched the past few years as Music Therapists have been among the forefront of addressing, you guessed it, music therapy among the elderly in all kinds of settings. Here are some of the articles and podcasts coming from the Music Therapist community on that subject and many of them are very poignant:

Also, from a son’s perspective:

You can see the influence Music Therapy is having in elder and palliative care.

Take that influence and multiply it across many disciplines, from childhood development to early education and also working with troubled teens and adults with depression, PTSD, addictions, the list goes on. I’ve been writing articles for Bear Paw Creek for just a few years now, standing as if from the outside, looking in. And this community of professionals called Music Therapists really impresses me. I look forward to seeing more of what they will do for the world of therapy in the future.

I hope you take a moment to learn about this profession and discover how what they are learning can impact our lives for good. Give thanks with me for the Music Therapists among us. And take the time to read some of the articles and consider how to apply some of what they are learning and teaching to your own life, at home, in school with someone you love who is elderly. 

 

For those who work specifically in Elder Care, thank you!

Here are some resources for you on our blog:

Something to do:

In this post, I’ve talked about the way that Music Therapists reach out and bring comfort and healing to the elderly. You can be a part of this as well. In this season of thanks, here is a list of games with bean bags to use with any age. These games would be perfect to use as a mixer for children, youth and the elderly. Take these games to a nursing home and bring young people with you to play them. 

 

Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She has a high respect for business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds. She enjoys helping them tell the story of their company, products, and services, connecting them online with those who would like to find them by the written word. You can find Jenette’s business website at www.mywordsforhire.com.

Music Therapy and Movement Props

For our long time customers you know that Bear Paw Creek got started all because of Music Therapy.

You can read about it on our About Us page, but here is a synopsis.

With a passion to create an income from home and inspired by my sister, Kathy Schumacher, MT-BC, a traveling music therapist, we (Christopher and Janet Stephens) opened Props & Bags, Etc in January 2000. I meshed my love of sewing with the creation of a unique line of movement props along with solutions for organizing and transporting them.

Today I have three special links to share all about Music Therapy! 

Music Therapy and Movement PRops

Movement Props In Practice by Music Therapy Connections

I was thrilled last month when Rachel Rambach sent me an email telling me about her and Katie Kamerad’s latest CMTE course, based all around Bear Paw Creek movement props: bean bags, stretchy band, balloon ball, scarves, and wrist jingles.  Here is what they say about it: 

Movement props are an essential part of our music therapy toolbox.

“We love them because they are incredibly versatile: most of our props can be used with a variety of populations, from our early childhood classes, to individual music therapy sessions, to our older adult groups.In these settings, we use movement props to address a multitude of goals and objectives — in many cases, within one single song.

We’ve written a collection of songs specifically for use with movement props, and in this course, we’re sharing them with you.Not only that, but we’re showing you exactly how we implement these songs and use movement props in practice through footage from our classes and sessions.

The tools and techniques provided in this course will give you a solid foundation for incorporating movement props (and our adaptable song collection!) in your own practice.”

 

Click on the image to learn more!  Even if you don’t require the CMTE credits, it’s worth the investment to get access to their songs and intervention ideas!  AND this course is part of our biggest back to school sale this month!  Six days left to enter (Winner will be drawn 8-29-18.)

 

Movement Props in Practice by Music Therapy Connections

What is Music Therapy?

This is one of those questions that receives many answers.  There has been an interesting documentary just released to the public that goes about answering this question.  It showcases the history, research, different interventions, literacy, eldercare, movement, and much more.  I hope you’ll take the time to check it out.

I also came across an interesting research article based in the UK all about “How Music Helps with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Music Therapy”.

They answer the question as follows:

Music therapy is classed as a form of expressive therapy that works to improve physical and mental health through the expression of emotions. There are two forms of music therapy, and these are called active and receptive. In the former, you will create music with your therapist or group (depending on the type of therapy you have sought).

This helps you to deal with emotions, alleviate stress, and can even relieve the symptoms of conditions like Alzheimer’s (something we will look at later). Receptive music therapy, on the other hand, is where you listen to music while you draw or partake in other relaxing activities.

In short, music therapy tends to consist of three potential activities: playing music, singing, or listening to music. You can either create your own music or learn to play specific pieces that you will practice and develop over time – it depends on your personal preferences. You also have plenty of choices, as you can decide what kind of music therapy you take as well as the type of music that you play.

The author continues on with six more specific parts discussing music therapy and it’s uses.  Click on the image below to head to the full article.

7 Parts to Music Therapy

 

 

Leave a comment with HOW you answer the question!

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

AMTA Regional Conference 2017

AMTA Regional Conferences 2017

 

 

Since 2013 Bear Paw Creek has been advertising or sending donations/door prizes to the regional music therapy conferences.

This year we will also have our products on display at the GLR Conference! It’s already full swing and it sounds like loads of fun.

I’d love to have some social media fun and get some glimpses of what’s going on this year!

Read on!

Regional AMTA Conferences 2017

Tag Bear Paw Creek – To Win!

The internet and social media has opened up a whole new world for Bear Paw Creek.

With it, we are able to connect one and one and build relationships across the globe. I love it!

I thought it would be fun to play a little game during the weeks of the AMTA Regional conferences.  Our products will be showing up in giveaways and also in some exhibit halls.  If you spy some, take a picture, and tag us with @bearpawcreek or #bearpawcreek.

At the end of the conference we will giveaway a $50 gift card to use in our store!

Tag Your It @bearpawcreek #bearpawcreek

[Tweet “Music Therapist Regional Conferences – let’s have some fun! Tag @bearpawcreek or #bearpawcreek to be entered to win a $50 gift card!”]
Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

What Does a Music Therapist Do Anyway?

Learning about music therapy.

 

 

When I was in high school, I remember one person saying she was interested in going into Music Therapy. I also remember thinking, that’s a thing? It seemed like something pretty neat, but I had no context for it.  

 For many years that has been the case with the majority of people, but thankfully that is changing. 

Music and emotions.

I’m going to talk to you about music from a layperson’s perspective here.

Let’s not make it complicated, we all know that music impacts us, don’t we? That’s why we put on certain kinds of music when we need motivation to work hard physically (whether it’s on the basketball court or mopping the floor). Melancholy music suits us when we have a broken heart. Joyful music is used in all kinds of celebration. Orchestral music, while it doesn’t have a literal story line often tells of a mood that we can collectively agree on. Composer John Williams is well known for writing the theme music which carried us along in our favorite films.

We know this, we know that somehow music gets into us and the effect runs deep.

Music therapists study the scientific components of what happens emotionally and neurologically to a person when music is played, then uses that knowledge to integrate music in therapy. More study is being done on the effects on the brain and development of children when music combined with music are a routine part of their lives. The possibility that music aids in healing is being explored as music is brought into hospitals for children, babies and older patients. Children and young persons with autism are benefitting from therapy involving music, often one on one with a therapist. And there is some exploration of bringing music therapy into schools.

So much has been gained in the area of research, but I hope to see it continue so that more people can benefit from music therapy.

It seems to me that music therapists, while relatively new in profession, bring to the table one of the oldest friends of mental and emotional health, making it accessible to those who need it most. You see, those who are very young, very old, physically or mentally sick often don’t have access to music the way we do. 

If a teen with a broken heart can find a little comfort in the rhythm and words of this song by going to Youtube and dancing to something like this. Dancing in itself can be soothing. But the key thing is having that access.

When I was going through a really devastating and depressing year I listened to these songs over and over. Medicine for my soul indeed!

[Tweet “We know that somehow music gets into us and the effect runs deep.”]

One of the problems is that not everyone has access to music.

The residents in elder care depend on family, friends and recreation directors to bring music into their lives. Without them, the lives of many elderly in eldercare facilities wouldn’t have the music they love. And it’s important to have the music they love, not only for their emotional wellbeing, but also for mental stimulation that good memories bring.

Research in music therapy helps professionals who work with aging persons know what a difference music in their lives makes. I think it would be wonderful if each nursing home had a music therapist either on staff or hired to work with the recreational activity director.

How about in our schools? How about in conjunction with children who have anxiety? Or how about just to break the ice so all of the kids feel more connected to each other. I hope the trend for more and more research and more music therapists in each town and city continues. And it is, read this article to see it from one music therapists perspective as she sees her profession become more understood and recognized: And What Exactly is That Anyway?

 

Would you like to learn more about music therapy?

Here are some links for you to explore if you would like to know more about what music therapy is, what is does and the research that is ongoing with music therapy:

About music therapy:

http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/

Music therapy in hospitals:

http://www.musicasmedicine.com/about/mtinhospitals.cfm

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/healing-with-music-therapy#1

Music therapy in schools:

http://mtp.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/04/14/mtp.miv012.extract

http://www.musictherapy.org/assets/1/7/MT_Music_Ed_2006.pdf

http://www.coastmusictherapy.com/our-services/in-school-programs/

Music therapy in eldercare:

http://www.ascseniorcare.com/music-therapy-seniors/

https://www.longtermsol.com/benefits-of-music-therapy-for-seniorsblog/

http://www.caringheartsofrochester.com/the-benefits-of-music-therapy-for-the-elderly/

Now it’s your turn, help spread the word about music therapy and its benefits!

http://sessioncafe.com/lets-flourish/

You can read this very personal post from Janet, founder of Bear Paw Creek, about the therapy her daughter received while fighting cancer:

Fighting cancer and music therapy

Comment below and tell us what songs lift you or soothe you. Do you have a favorite song or style? I bet you can still a song you learned when you were little… ahh the power of music.

Afte that, would you please share this post and others like it, so that we can start to get the word out and help people understand what music therapy is and what it’s potential is for future therapy? Thank you! 

 

Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She has a high respect for business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds. She enjoys helping them tell their story, connecting them to customers online.

You can find Jenette’s business website at www.mywordsforhire.com.

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#AMTA16 Giveaways

Where to Find Bear Paw Creek #AMTA16

 

 

Another year is quickly flying by.  This week brings the annual music therapy conference. I’m excited to share where you’ll be able to find Bear Paw Creek’s movement props and instrument storage bags.

 

#amta16 giveaways from Bear Paw Creek

Music Therapy Ed Happenings

Kat from Music Therapy Ed reached out to us a few months ago to see if we wanted to give some giveaways again this year. Of course we did! 

They have a whole lot of fun going on and from videos show casing their booth in years past, it’s always a PARTY at their booth!  They are doing a scavenger hunt again and have lots of great giveaways lined up. Including t-shirts for the first 20 VIPs to stop by.  Read all about it in their post:   #AMTA16 Scavenger Hunt & Prize Details

 

You like our T-shirt design? We're giving away free T-shirts to the first 20 VIP subscribers who stop by our booth at #amta16. Will we see you there?

 

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[Tweet “Music therapists make a difference! Are you heading to #AMTA16?”]

Music Therapy Connections Excitement

It’s through Kat from Music Therapy Ed that I ever got connected with Rachel Rambach of Music Therapy Connections.  It’s been exciting support each other.  She provides great music to use with our props, and we supply the props!

This fall she released “Songs for Movement Props.”    This inspired me to put together a set of movement props that will be added to the site soon.  All of you attending the American Music Therapy Conference will get the first sneak peak at them!

The set will include 1 connect-a-stretchy band, Balloon Ball, set of 13 Chiffon Scarves, and a set of 4″ square bean bags.  The total MSRP is $80 but they will be 10% off at conference selling for $72. She will have limited supply of them available, so make sure to stop by.  They all work great with the songs as listed here:

  • “Stretch in the Morning”
  • “In a Circle”
  • “‘Round the Rainbow”
  • “Grow Flower Grow”
  • “Movin’ in the Circle”
  • “I Have a Beanbag”
  • “Beanbag in My Hand”
  • “Bop Bop the Balloon Ball”
  • “I Have a Balloon Ball”
  • “See the Scarf”
  • “Colors of the Rainbow”
  • “We’re Gonna Wave”

Movement Prop Set for Listen and Learn Music from Bear Paw Creek

So stop by at the Music Therapy Connections booth and sign up to win a set packaged in our “Music Therapy Makes a Difference” tote bag!

 

 

 

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West Music

You will also be able to find more of our movement props at West Music’s booth.  They have been selling our products since 2001! 

They carry the stretchy band, bean bags, hoop and ribbon streamers, balloon ball, Qchord Gig Bag, and the Tone Chime Case.

Make sure to stop by and check them out and tell them you appreciate them supporting American Made products.  When you buy our products you are supporting USA based manufacturing and local small businesses.

Bear Paw Creek is thankful for our partnership with West Music for fifteen years.

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.
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