Music on the frontlines to me, is a chance to step away from the isolation. A chance to experience something meaningful and bring about opportunities of rehabilitation where time has stood still. Human connection can still be achieved six feet away with a barrier of a mask or even miles away through a screen. The word community is something I think about every time I enter a facility in person or online, knowing we can all make a difference together is empowering and something I will never forget during such an important time of world history.
A challenging part about being a music therapist is keeping the creativity fresh and flowing. In a time where factors become limited, such as not being in person, not being able to come in close contact, not being able to sing etc. It becomes a necessity to be flexible, confident in modifying and implementing new ideas whenever challenges come at you. However, this has also created opportunities for growth and strength.
First time I met David (pseudonym) , I could tell right away he had experienced many different seasons in life. For every season he had a story. Not only did he have a story but a gifted way to share the most tiny but impactful details of it. I learned about the many encounters he made with people in the place he grew up, the various roles he played in each environment and what that was like for him. As he was telling each story, it felt like I was right there with him. In every detail, he had a specific song. By the end of the session, we had played about five different tunes that expressed exactly how he felt in every story. After every song, he would breathe out a huge sigh. Some sighs felt like a huge weight off his shoulders and others felt more like he surprised himself. He always had something to say at the end of each song and after his big sigh. Sometimes he would say, “I tried so hard not to cry throughout that whole song that I had to close my eyes.” Other points, he exclaimed “wow, I can’t believe I remembered that.” We have had a couple of sessions together and he has expressed hardship being in the new facility for a few months. Oftentimes, music can be an escape.
Written by Leah Callao, MTA
This blog post was written for our #MTOnTheFrontlines series, which will continue to feature many stories from our 30 years on the frontlines of music therapy. Together we will explore the different destinations (positive outcomes), journeys (processes), and the company (our clients) we have kept along the way.