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Music Therapy at Shell Point

This week I had the privilege to co-treat with Ana-Lopez, the founder and lead music therapist for The House of Music Therapy. We worked with a group of elderly in an assisted living and memory care facility. This group’s ages range broadly, and cognitive abilities varied, but we knew the activities that we wanted to engage them in. We engaged them with the group, leveraging a couple of sings alongs, as they scanned for the first time who the people next to them were as they joined together singing.

Then we transitioned onto a movement activity were Ana utilized a familiar tune to start activating their muscles from toe tapping to raising their arms. This portion of the session

made the clients utilize their breath, multiple muscle groups, and their brain as they listened and watched what movement they were supposed to carry out. The specific rhythmic cue that Ana was providing for the clients, through the timing of what she was playing on the guitar, gave them an instinctive pulse to know when to do the specific movement.

One of the last activities we did for this group was a fill-in-the-blank cognitive exercise. Using popular tunes from the time period that the clients would be familiar with. I sang the chorus stopping before the last word and resolution of the sentence. The melodic structure of a musical phrase pushes our brains to finish and recall that last word.

The clients were ecstatic when in unison many of them sang that last word. They were able to place the specific words in time which allowed for reality orientation and verbal processing of what they were expressing. After the sentence was completed, we progressed through the song that was now humming in their minds.

This was a wonderful group that highlighted that music is one of the first things we learn and one of the last things we forget to do… if we ever really “forget” to be musical. Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope today is filled with beauty!

Madeline Peterson, MT-BC
Staff Music Therapist

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