News & Resources

Q & A on Music Therapy

Jul 9, 2024

Banoo and Medhi at the Center

If you swing by Circle Center and hear drum beats, bells, guitar chords, tambourines, and beautiful singing, then Rachel is in the house! Rachel Holliday, BC-MT is a Board-Certified Music Therapist who leads our twice weekly music therapy program. We’ve all become “Rachel Groupies” you might say, so we sat down for a Q&A with her to learn more about the impact music therapy is having at Circle Center.

Q: What is Music Therapy, exactly?

A: In its simplest terms, it’s a type of treatment where music is used to help people improve their health and well-being. It can include activities like listening to music, singing songs, playing instruments, or writing music. Music therapy helps with emotional and mental health, learning skills, and physical issues.

Q: What are the benefits of music therapy for older adults, particularly those with Alzheimer’s or dementia?

A: Music therapy holds the potential to be an extremely powerful treatment, especially for older adults with a diagnosis of dementia. It can foster social connections, improve communication, and enhance overall quality of life. Music therapy can also be beneficial in supporting brain health and cognitive functioning. This is because music activates the part of the brain that helps stimulate other parts of the brain to improve mood, support memory recall, and much more.

Q: What do you like most about working with our participants?

A: I appreciate how open and receptive they’ve been to music therapy. Every week is packed with amazing moments of human connection, self-expression, sharing, laughter, and fantastic dance moves. Hearing their beautiful voices grow louder each week during our ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ songs is, pardon the pun, music to my ears!

Q: How can family caregivers integrate music at home to help their loved ones?

Rachel says:

  • Utilize music platforms that, if possible, do not have commercial interruptions.
  • Allow your loved one to choose the music that’s played. If this is too difficult of a task, play your loved one’s preferred music.
  • Choose music that fits the mood you are trying to establish. If someone is feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try soothing, pre-recorded music. If pre-recorded music is too over stimulating, try gentle singing while holding your loved one’s hands. This can support further connection and feelings of safety.

Q: Great ideas! Where can our readers go to learn more about music therapy?

A: Start with the American Music Therapy Association. Their “Facts about Music Therapy” tab contains information on the many populations music therapists serve and how we utilize specific interventions to help them.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

A: In the few months since coming to Circle Center, I’ve seen the participants’ confidence in music grow, they have started to bring forth new ideas during our session activities, and many of them have become more connected with each other, especially the quieter participants!

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