What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy has been widely used as a treatment option to support healing. Music therapy can range from active approaches like playing a musical instrument and singing to receptive approaches which focus on listening to music.
Music therapy can be focused on achieving neurological results through the use of music to influence functional changes in the brain.
Music therapy has had good results with individuals suffering from dementia or recovering from a stroke. While the evidence base is still developing, in this post I will look at seven ways that you can use music to support your mom or dad.
Seven Beneficial Ways to Use Music
Active Music Therapy
- Playing a musical instrument.
Reading music and translating that language into the movement of your fingers is a complex activity that can challenge the neural networks. It also brings joy to the individual. If your mom or dad played an instrument at one time, encourage them to take it up again.
Learning a complex instrument like the oboe or saxophone may not be in the cards, but many retirement residences and senior centers have bell choirs. These bell choirs are great ways to participate in a group setting with a musical instrument (a bell of a particular tone) and make music together. A good choir director can create some pretty amazing music!
- Singing has a great capacity to move the individual.
Music and singing touch people in ways that almost nothing else can. They can move us in powerful and deep ways. Individuals with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia will respond to music when they might not respond to other stimuli.
One experience I had with a woman (we’ll refer to her as Dorothy) illustrated the power of music for me. Dorothy was fairly advanced in her dementia. We started working together doing exercise and activities. One activity that we did which really made her light up was to sit at the piano and sing. Some of her favourite songs were from the Sound of Music. I would sit at the piano with her beside me in her wheelchair. I would pick out the melody and we would sing. This gave her great joy and helped motivate her to begin to communicate.
Singing praise and worship songs can also have a big impact on the spirit of your mom or dad. There are lots of choirs that cater to seniors who just want to sing.
- Move to a beat.
Rhythm work has been very effective in helping individuals who have suffered a stroke recover their ability to walk. Exercises