On a typical Saturday morning I set off in my car, re-useable plastic bags in tow, to the nearest grocery store. CBC Radio accompanies me on most journeys around town and today was no different. This particular morning, I tuned into a show I found most interesting. So interesting in fact, that I sat in the grocery parking lot listening for 20 minutes! The show was called Wandering, and was featured on White Coat, Black Art. The show began by stating that “Every five minutes, someone in Canada is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease”. Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, and is characterized by impairments in cognitive functioning, memory, thinking, language and personality. As a music therapist working at several facilities supporting those with this disease, I am continually looking for new approaches and developments to integrate into my own work. This is exactly what I found when I heard the phrase “people with Alzheimer’s can have new adventures”.
I had never thought of music therapy as an adventure before! I, as tour guide, am leading my group through the jungles of tone, melody, rhythm, and lyrics. Of course music is an adventure! It transports us mentally and emotionally. Music can bring us back to old memories, to familiar feelings, and to new places we have yet to experience. I use these connections to music in my interactions with residents. Depending on the outcome I want to achieve, the music I select takes them on their own journey. To encourage reminiscing, I might choose an old song from childhood to transport the residents back to that time in their life. On the other hand, playing music from a different country and talking about the instruments used takes them to a place perhaps they have never considered.
This concept of a musical adventure applies to all clients I work with, not only the elderly. With young preschool children, bringing in a novel instrument and letting them explore a new sound can be another way to provide a musical adventure. Watching the children try different ways to play the instrument and then hearing them answer the question “what does it sound like?” shows that they are engaged in this journey as well. A musical experience can offer everyone opportunities to step outside of the ordinary and to be transported into both new and familiar places.
JB Music Therapy continues to provide musical adventures for children and adults with special needs. Our summer camps focus on using music, art, and movement to inspire campers to explore their world and to unleash their own voice. Our camps focus on increasing social skills, attention and communication. We strive to provide each camper with opportunities for self-expression and keep our number small to ensure every camper has a successful experience.
Registration is now open online for all camps!