Another Music & Memory℠ Milestone: 3K certified organizations and counting

Another Music & Memory℠ Milestone: 3K certified organizations and countingIt’s official. We’ve now surpassed 3,000 MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Certified Care Organizations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe. In just the past eight months, Music & Memory has added one thousand more care settings, as personalized music continues to demonstrate a host of therapeutic benefits:

  • Participants are more upbeat, often regaining lost ability to communicate verbally;
  • Visits with family and friends improve;
  • Better moods lead to calmer social environments and closer relationships with care professionals;
  • Staff enjoy their jobs more;
  • Growing evidence supports field observations that personalized music can be a viable alternative to antipsychotic medications.
  • Benefits of Personalized Music Not Limited to Nursing Homes

“This past year has been an exciting time of growth and expansion,” says Dan Cohen, Executive Director. “We’re hearing stories of how personalized music is helping in so many new and creative ways, from improving PT and OT visits to easing pain.”

Since our founding in 2010, Music & Memory has grown exponentially. Thanks in part to a Sundance Audience Award winning documentary about Music & Memory’s work, personalized music became the standard of care in a thousand facilities between 2010 and 2014. Only a year later, Music & Memory was implemented in another thousand facilities, as state health and aging departments, led by Wisconsin, began to adopt the program. By July of 2016, the program surpassed three thousand facilities. This encouraging trend is expected to continue.

Growing Evidence That Personalized Music Helps to Reduce Use of Antipsychotics

A recent study by Brown University researchers documented reduced behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia in nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD) who participated in a Music & Memory program. In a retrospective data analysis of long-stay nursing home (NH) residents with ADRD, the researchers concluded: “From 2012 to 2013, residents in M&M NHs demonstrated greater 180-day improvement in behavioral symptom frequency and antipsychotic medication use than pair-matched controls.”

Worldwide Expansion Includes Hospitals in Australia

As interest and news of success stories continue to grow, Music & Memory’s personalized music program is spreading to a wide range of care settings, including hospices, adult day health centers, home health care and hospitals. In Australia, the personalized music program was introduced last year to Australian aged care facilities by the Arts Health Institute and has now been expanded to acute healthcare services and hospital dementia units.

“We are grateful to be growing, even as we have a long way to go,” says Cohen. “With 60,000 health care organizations in the U.S., we continue to work hard to spread the benefits of personalized music to all who might benefit, whether living in a care community or at home.”

Founded in 2010, MUSIC & MEMORY℠ is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of people with cognitive or physical conditions through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life.

Source :

A Neurologists View of Music Therapy in Patients With Brain Trauma

A Neurologists View of Music Therapy in Patients With Brain TraumaDementia, strokes, Parkinson’s and other neurological illnesses are increasing in numbers as the baby boomer demographic grows older. Adding to this burden of care for the numbers of people with these illnesses are those who are younger and have suffered severe brain trauma. While mortality is decreasing, likely due to improved in-hospital care, it may mean that there will be more people living with the consequences of the brain trauma and requiring significant care giving. Nearly half of severe traumatic brain injury survivors have disability related to the injury after one year, some with minor cognitive, motor, or sensory problems, others in prolonged coma or minimally conscious states. It is rewarding to read about the use of music therapy used as a way to improve some function in these patients. Concetta Tomaino, a pioneer in the field of music therapy for 38 years, worked as a clinician, scientist and administrator. In partnership with Dr. Oliver Sachs, she demonstrated that music has the “power to help stimulate patients with Alzheimer’s Disease; help Parkinson’s patients learn to walk again; help restore speech to a patient who has had a stroke. . . ” We asked Dr. Baxter Allen, a neurologist in fellowship training in the area of brain trauma, to give us a description of how sound is received and incorporated in the brain and to discuss research in the area of music therapy and its ability to aid in recovery of brain injured patients.
— Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, Publisher

“Music is a world within itself with a language we all understand” – Stevie Wonder

Music has been a part of the world since before history was recorded: the songs of birds, the pitter-patter of raindrops on the earth, the low bay of the wolf resonating over a wide range. While writing, or at least some symbolic representation of language, came to human communication sometime between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago, the earliest known musical instruments are more than 40,000 years old. Human language is now thought by many to have come from music, rather than the other way around. Indeed, as humans develop during infancy and childhood, concepts of rhythm and tonality, or prosody, supersede the development of speech. And when children are learning, music and song are frequently used to aid the process (e.g. the Alphabet Song).

The importance of music does not end with childhood development. For centuries, music has been used to calm and relieve stress, to promote unity in a group, and to excite people. Babies calm with lullabies, adults can be more productive, or even be lulled into spending more money in stores. And more recently, research has shown that learning and playing musical instruments throughout life can improve cognitive functioning and delay the onset of dementia.

But what about music as a therapeutic tool?

Music has been used in some capacity to heal since at least the Ancient Greeks, with such philosophers as Aristotle discussing its cathartic effects on human emotion. In modern medicine, music was used in the therapeutic setting in the 18th and 19th centuries to treat a wide variety of diseases, although it is not clear how effective these interventions were.

By the 1950s, with the formation of the National Association for Music Therapy, rigorous educational models in the practice of music therapy, in combination with research, brought the field into the modern era. Music therapy was incorporated into psychiatric institutions, nursing homes, rehab centers, and hospitals, mostly to help ease pain and anxiety. By the late 1970s, people like Dr. Concetta Tomaino and Dr. Oliver Sachs started to realize that perhaps it could be useful in more than just easing pain, that it could be a tool to aid in the recovery of function.

Music and the Brain

The processing of sound is a complex process in the brain. Sounds vibrate the ear drum and activate the cochlear nerve. This nerve brings data to the cochlear nucleus, which sits in the lowest part of the brain (the brain stem) and passes information up into bilateral superior olivary complexes, which sit in the pons. These structures pass information higher into the thalamus, which acts as a relay of sensory information to the cortex and as a regulator of consciousness. Finally, in the cortex, sound is processed into more consciously recognized patterns, such as speech, music, etc. In this way, sounds have an effect on the most primitive and most advanced parts of the brain.

More recently, scientists have found that music and speech are processed by overlapping but different areas of the brain, showing how music is likely a fundamentally different product in the brain than speech.

While the data presented in the above figure show some of the cortical areas that process speech and music, there are many other areas that will be activated by speech, song, or both.

RELATED: Jenny Burton: “Singing is the Best of Who I Am”

Music Therapy and Brain Injuries

Over the last several years, music therapy has been shown to be effective in aiding recovery of brain injured patients. Multiple studies have demonstrated that music therapy is beneficial in patients recovering from strokes.

In retraining speech in patients suffering from aphasia (inability to speak), Cortese et al used a technique called melodic intonation training to improve communication. Not only did it improve the rhythm (or prosody) of speech, but also helped patients improve their abilities to name objects, to comprehend speech, and to communicate overall. Schlaug et al have shown that melodic intonation training engages areas of the brain used for processing music (mostly in the right hemisphere) and changes brain connections allowing these areas to be used in speech as well.

In helping patients recover motor deficits after stroke, Ripollés et al used music supported therapy to restore connections between auditory and motor areas, leading to functional improvement in weakened hands.

Even in comatose patients recovering from severe traumatic brain injury, Park et al showed that stimulation with familiar sounds (e.g. family members’ voices and favorite types of music) were more effective in arousal than non-familiar sounds (e.g. general music and TV sound).

In more chronic diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, music therapy can improve daily functioning in multiple domains. Music therapy can specifically improve motor function, cognitive function, functional gait, balance, tremor and bradykinesia (i.e. slowness of movement).

The Future

There has been an exponential increase in the utilization of music therapy in brain injured patients over the last several years due to the low risk and generally low costs of these interventions. There is still significant work to be done, to best delineate how these therapies are effective, to see to what degree they are effective, and to determine which interventions in particular are most useful. Thanks to the pioneering work and tireless promotion of practitioners like Drs. Sachs and Tomaino, that future is possible.

Source :

Brain Picks up the Beat of Music Automatically

A sense of rhythm is a uniquely human characteristic. Music Cognition scientist Fleur Bouwer discovered that the sense of rhythm — also known as the beat — is so fundamental to humans that we recognise patterns in music even without paying any attention or receiving any training. Based on these findings, Bouwer will obtain her doctorate from the University of Amsterdam on Wednesday 8 June.

What most people call the sense of rhythm — the mechanism that enables us to clap along or dance to music — is an intangible ability that is exclusive to human beings. For example, imagine a barrel before it is placed inside a barrel organ. On the barrel, you can see exactly which tones will be played and for how long they will be audible. However, the regularity of the rhythm cannot be read on the barrel. This rhythm exists only in our heads, where our brain recognises patterns in the sounds. This helps us to predict the music, enabling us to synchronise our actions with it, i.e. dancing, clapping, singing or playing the violin.

Swaying back and forth

Human beings are the only species that recognise these patterns and scientists suspect that an evolutionary development is at the root of it. Music can work as a social lubricant within a community and a sense of rhythm enables us to make music with others or sway back and forth on the bleachers of a football stadium.

For five years, Fleur Bouwer plumbed the depths of the human sense of rhythm in order to map out the fundamental brain processes that lie at its roots. She discovered that both training — i.e. music lessons — and concentration — i.e. paying attention to the music — are unnecessary in recognising rhythm. Even the brains of untrained listeners can recognise the rhythm of a piece of music, even when performing a completely different task.

However, the PhD candidate would like to dispel one misunderstanding: the fact that nearly everyone is capable of recognising musical rhythm does not mean that everybody can dance to that rhythm. ‘This requires more complex motor skills on top of the ability to recognise the rhythm, and unfortunately these skills are not as universal to humans as the sense of rhythm.’

Parkinson’s disease

Although training and attention are not necessary for picking up rhythm, they do help. Professional musicians have been shown to be better than normal people at predicting notes in a rhythm based on the rhythm they recognised in an excerpt of music. This ability was its strongest when the musicians were concentrating hard. Bouwer: ‘My results show that, to a certain extent, the sense of rhythm is a fundamental brain process that develops unconsciously. However, training may well help you to make predictions based on the rhythm. This is useful when playing music or dancing.’

Bouwer hopes that knowledge of musical perception can ultimately be used to help people. ‘The brain scanner displays activity in the motor networks when people listen to music with a clearly discernible rhythm. I find that particularly interesting. Maybe we can eventually use this relationship between musical experience and the motor system to help people with motor-system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. However, before we explore this possibility, we must gain a better understanding of the fundamental processes. My research contributes to this.’

On 7 June, a symposium will be held to mark the conferral of Bouwer’s doctorate, at which international scientists will share new insights into sense of rhythm and the brain.

Source :

Doctors Now Prescribing Music Therapy

Doctors Now Prescribing Music TherapyDoctors Now Prescribing Music Therapy for Heart Ailments, Brain Dysfunction, Learning Disabilities, Depression, PTSD, Alzheimers, Childhood Development and More.

Music has proven time and again to be an important component of human culture. From its ceremonial origin to modern medical usage for personal motivation, concentration, and shifting mood, music is a powerful balm for the human soul. Though traditional “music therapy” encompasses a specific set of practices, the broader use of music as a therapeutic tool can be seen nowadays as doctors are found recommending music for a wide variety of conditions.

1. Music Helps Control Blood Pressure and Heart-Related Disorders

According to The Cardiovascular Society of Great Britain, listening to certain music with a repetitive rhythm for least ten seconds can lead to a decrease in blood pressure and a reduced heart rate. Certain classical compositions, if matched with human body’s rhythm, can be therapeutically used to keep the heart under control. The Oxford University study states, “listening to music with a repeated 10-second rhythm coincided with a fall in blood pressure, reducing the heart rate” and thus can be used for overcoming hypertension.

2. Listening and Playing Music Helps Treat Stress and Depression

When it comes to the human brain, music is one of the best medicines. A study at McGill University in Canada revealed that listening to agreeable music encourages the production of beneficial brain chemicals, specifically the “feel good” hormone known as dopamine. Dopamine happens to be an integral part of brain’s pleasure-enhancing system. As a result, music leads to great feeling of joy and bliss.

It’s not only listening to music that has a positive effect on stress and depression. The Namm Foundation has compiled a comprehensive list of benefits of playing music, which includes reducing stress on both the emotional level and the molecular level. Additionally, studies have shown that adults who play music produce higher levels of Human Growth Hormone (HgH), which according to Web MD, is a necessary hormone for regulating body composition, body fluids, muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, and possibly heart function.

For more on how music can be composed to benefit the brain, read about States of Consciousness and Brainwave Entrainment.

3. Music Therapy Helps Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

Music therapy has worked wonders on patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. With Alzheimer’s, people lose their capacity to have interactions and carry on with interactive communications. According to studies done in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, “When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements.”

4. Studying Music Boosts Academic Achievement in High Schoolers

Early exposure to music increases the plasticity of brain helping to motivate the human brain’s capacity in such a way that it responds readily to learning, changing and growing. “UCLA professor James S. Catterall analyzed the academic achievement of 6,500 low-income students. He found that, by the time these students were in the 10th grade, 41.4% of those who had taken arts courses scored in the top half on standardized tests, contrasted with only 25% of those who had minimal arts experience. The arts students also were better readers and watched less television.” This goes to show that in the formative stages of life, kids who study music do much better in school.

5. Playing Guitar (and Other Instruments) Aids in Treating PTSD

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shared a study in which veterans experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experienced relief by learning to play guitar. The organization responsible for providing guitars, Guitars For Vets “enhances the lives of ailing and injured military Veterans by providing them free guitars and music instruction.” Playing music for recovery from PTSD resembles traditional music therapy, in which patients are encouraged to make music as part of their healing process. Guitar is not the only instrument that can help PTSD. In fact, Operation We Are Here has an extensive list of Therapeutic Music Opportunities For Military Veterans.

6. Studying Music Boosts Brain Development in Young Children

A research-based study undertaken at the University of Liverpool in the field of neuroscience has light to shed on the beneficial effects of early exposure to music. According to the findings, even half an hour of musical training is sufficient to increase the flow of blood in the brain’s left hemisphere, resulting in higher levels of early childhood development.

The Portland Chamber Orchestra shares, “Playing a musical instrument involves multiple components of the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (nerves outside the brain and spinal cord) nervous systems. As a musician plays an instrument, motor systems in the brain control both gross and fine movements needed to produce sound. The sound is processed by auditory circuitry, which in turn can adjust signaling by the motor control centers. In addition, sensory information from the fingers, hands and arms is sent to the brain for processing. If the musician is reading music, visual information is sent to the brain for processing and interpreting commands for the motor centers. And of course, the brain processes emotional responses to the music as well!”

7. Music Education Helps Children Improve Reading Skills

Journal Psychology of Music reports that “Children exposed to a multi-year program of music tuition involving training in increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers.” In the initial stages of learning and development, music arouses auditory, emotional, cognitive and visual responses in a child. Music also aids a child’s kinesthetic development. According to the research-supported evidence, a song facilitates language learning far more effectively than speech.

8. Listening To Music Helps Improve Sleep

According to The Center for Cardiovascular Disease in China, listening to music before and during sleep greatly aids people who suffer from chronic sleep disorders. This “music-assisted relaxation” can be used to treat both acute and chronic sleep disorders which include everything from stress and anxiety to insomnia.

9. Playing Didgeridoo Helps Treat Sleep Apnea

A study published in the British Medical Journal shows that people suffering from sleep apnea can find relief by practicing the Australian wind-instrument known as the didgeridoo. Patients who played the didgeridoo for an average of 30-minutes per day, 6 days per week, saw significant increases in their quality of sleep and decreases in daytime tiredness after a minimum period of 3-months of practice. Dr. Jordan Stern of BlueSleep says, “The treatment of sleep apnea is quite challenging because there is not a single treatment that works well for every patient. The didgeridoo has been used to treat sleep apnea and it has been shown to be effective in part because of strengthening of the pharyngeal muscles, which means the muscles of the throat, as well as the muscles of the tongue.”

What else is music prescribed for?

This list is only a small sample of what doctors, therapists and healers are doing with music. We’d love to hear from you. What other thereapeutic uses does music have? Post your answer in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Source :


Before my Son Died, Music Mattered More Than Medicine

Before my Son Died, Music Mattered More Than MedicineMy kids were playing on the floor, while I made dinner and listened to music. Then, his song began to play. It was the song that I sang to my son Micah the day before he died. Suddenly, I was swept away by the music and back in Micah’s hospital room. Micah died years ago, but as Micah’s song played, my mind, body and soul journeyed back to that moment with Micah. I stopped cooking, as tears rolled down my cheeks, uncontrollably. Micah’s twin brother, Zachary, looked at me and instinctively knew why I was crying. He smiled and said, “Mama, it’s a Micah song!” I smiled back.

Music is powerful. Micah was hospitalized for months before he died, and oftentimes, he found music to be more healing than medicine. Here’s why:

1. Music connected us
Music brought our family together during extraordinarily difficult times. As music filled Micah’s hospital room, the songs nurtured our relationships. We bonded over music because it gave us a shared experience that wasn’t about the next medical procedure.

2. Music is accessible
The comfort of a song can reach the most fragile of infants and the most elderly of adults. During much of Micah’s hospitalization, he literally could not move his body. Music defied this profound barrier. Even when Micah could not move, he still loved to listen to music.

3. Music nurtured us
Music weaves itself into whatever it is that we’re experiencing and makes it better. When we were physically and emotionally exhausted, overwhelmed, and terrified, music comforted us. When we were overjoyed and optimistic, music celebrated with us.

4. Music travels through time
Songs write their own stories into our life. We shared songs with Micah that we enjoyed when we were children. We learned songs in Micah’s hospital room that will remain with us, always. Music takes us back, and keeps us present.

5. Music is fun
Some of my most treasured memories with Micah happened through music. We danced, sang, and rocked in a chair, just listening, together. Music allowed us to escape the chaos of the hospital by giving us a sense of normalcy. Micah loved music, and we loved sharing music with Micah.

After Micah died on December 11, 2012, we wanted to find that one thing that brought Micah joy, and give it to other families. Music was it. We created the Micah Smiles Fund to expand the Music Therapy Program at our children’s hospital. The Micah Smiles Fund initiated a Music Therapy Fellowship Program, where an established music therapist mentors a recently credentialed music therapist, while providing the healing sound of music to pediatric patients and their families. The result is pure music magic.

We’ve been lucky enough to meet some of the families who’ve been touched by the Music Therapy Program, including teenagers with chronic, life-threatening conditions, young children who are hospitalized and too frail to play outside, and babies in the neonatal intensive care unit who are alone in an isolette and desperate for loving interactions. Giving music to pediatric patients and their families, in honor of Micah, provides us with a great sense of peace.

To ensure the Micah Smiles Fund continues to reach families in the hospital, we host an annual benefit concert, where all proceeds go directly to the hospital’s music therapy program.

Source :

Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care | Gwen’s Story

Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care | Gwen’s StoryGuest blog post by Jennifer Buchanan of JB Music Therapy – a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta. “Our mission at JB Music Therapy is to transform lives through excellence in clinical practice and education by bringing music into the foreground. JBMT has been providing music therapy services since 1991. We offer personalized programs for individuals coping with brain injury, mental health issues, learning challenges, dementia, palliative care, addictions, long-term care, autism, as well as youth at risk.”

The Music Therapist’s primary aim is to assess, identify and provide music experiences that will evoke the greatest positive response from individuals and groups in the areas of: comfort, communication, self and social expression, mood, motivation and perception of self-worth.

Music Therapy is the study and practice of how music affects people. Our music therapists use music as their primary intervention when working with all population groups. The music therapists will incorporate singing, vocalizing, instrument improvisation, exploration of unique sounds and other sensory and sensitive experiences. Tempo, timbre, melody, harmony, pitch and genre of music are always considered – with the primary aim of supporting the needs of the clients/patients by easing anxiety/stress, opening doors to communication, engaging and creating opportunity for inclusive social interactions.

Integrating music with supportive care of the dying is becoming more common in hospice and palliative care programs. Our clinical work has indicated that music therapy in Palliative Care can:

  • Help to Decrease Anxiety.
  • Help with General Feelings of Discomfort.
  • Address Spirituality
  • Enhance Quality of Life.

A certified music therapist is a graduate of a Canadian Association for Music Therapy recognized music therapy education program. Music Therapist Accredited (MTA) is given to music therapists who have completed their education (undergrad or masters) in music therapy, a 1000-hour internship, and have passed the Certified Board of Music Therapist’s exam.

Gwen: will you remember me?

Being aware of your personal soundtrack can have some profound consequences.

For Gwen, music enabled her to become all that she could be just a month before she would die. Gwen, a fifty-five-year old blonde beauty, sat in a warmly decorated room near the window. Sixteen months prior, she was diagnosed with cancer. Now she sat in a hospice room near the outskirts of town. She was a model patient going through many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. After her initial diagnosis and for several months, her family and friends were not aware of her cancer. Gwen would rarely ask for help. The care staff were just around the corner and would often enter her room to check on her. Except for occasional pain medicine she would smile at them and say, “I’m okay.’ Her husband had passed away many years before and she would often say she was glad he went first as this would have been very difficult for him.

She never expected the breast cancer to metastasize at such a rapid rate until she heard those fateful words, “There is nothing more we can do for you but give you a comfortable place to rest.” She had dreaded telling her only daughter and her sister the news. When she told them, they both broke down in tears and were soon making sure the doctors had done everything they could. Now in hospice, Gwen did all she could in her fragile state to prepare her loved ones for the inevitable.

When I was introduced to Gwen, she was wearing a colorful head scarf that covered what was once blond hair. Pictures of her and her family were all around the room, interspersed with colorful paintings and drawings.

“Come, sit close to me, I have been expecting you,” she said.

She pointed to the chair next to her chair by the window and rested her hand on my shoulder as I sat down. She turned slightly and in a sweet, gentle voice said, “I have had a lot of time to process what is happening to me, and understand I must die. I am worried about my daughter, Hailey, and my sister Julia. They are very angry. She took a deep breath and said, “They are not accepting that this is happening to me or to them.” She brushed a few strands of what was left of her hair away from her eyes and said, “I need you to help me.”

She pointed to several pieces of art around the room that she had created over her lifetime. She spoke of how her daughter was as passionate about painting as she was. “It’s in the genes,” she assured me and mentioned to me her sister had started taking lessons over the past few years. She told me that she had some ideas of how to integrate art and music while also helping her daughter and sister come to the understanding that she is going to die—and soon.

Just as my grandmother had a plan years earlier reaching into a desk drawer for my grandfather’s favourite song, Gwen’s plan also rested in the desk drawer she had asked me to open. “Take out the small stack of papers.”

I looked at the ten songs in front of me.

“Will you please play the songs on your guitar on Saturday and meet us here precisely at 2:00 p.m.?”

Before I had the chance to say, “I don’t work weekends,” her blue eyes crinkled and she touched my shoulder again. I would change my weekend plans.

That Saturday, I had the songs prepared and arrived precisely at 2:00 p.m. Her daughter and sister were sitting on either side of her. She asked me to sit in the corner on a chair. Once we were all in place she sat up a little further in her bed. She started by saying, “Thank you for coming.” She then turned to her daughter Hailey and her sister Julia and said, “I invited you here today because we need to say goodbye.” Silence. “I know that this is hard for you as it is for me, so I came up with an idea that could perhaps help all of us. Hailey will you please go into the side closet and take out the piece of canvas I asked Julia to bring last week.”

Hailey slowly walked over to the closet, opened the door, and brought the canvas that had been leaning against the wall inside. “Julia will you please reach into that top drawer and bring out the pastels that one of the nurses brought for me.” Julia walked to the end of the bed and opened the top drawer where the pastels were. There were many colors.

Once the two women were back on either side of Gwen, they heard her speak again. “I have asked Jennifer to play ten songs today. During the first song I am going to start drawing and when the song ends I am going to pass the canvas to you Julia and you are going to continue the picture adding in whatever the music brings to your mind.

“When the second song is finished then you will pass the canvas to Hailey who is going to continue from where you left off. We will pass the canvas back and forth after every song for the first nine songs and then relax and reflect during song number ten. The tenth song is a special song I have selected for the three of us.”

Julia and Hailey stared at Gwen not saying a word. Gwen’s determination was clearly visible on her face and to say anything would break the spell she had on all of us. Hailey passed the canvas to Gwen and reached into the box on Julia’s lap to select a couple of pastels. I took a deep breath. When Gwen looked at me and nodded slightly I started to play. I could not see what was being created on the canvas, but I could definitely see a transformation happening on the faces of the three women. The canvas did what it was supposed to—passing between each family member at the end of each song. No tears were shed, just a change of focus and an occasional smile as they passed on their contribution.

We sang many powerful songs. What a Wonderful World. Lean On Me. You’ve Got a Friend. Soon it was time for the last song. I was nervous as I strummed the first few chords as I knew there would be no more pastels on the canvas, only reflections of what was created. The highly emotionally charged song Gwen selected as the last piece was Louis Armstrong’s, “Wonderful World.”

Gwen put a few finishing strokes on the canvas and then held it up for each of them to look at. The tears they held back released and two arms went behind Gwen in an embrace as they gazed at the piece of art they created. I finished the last words and put my guitar down quietly. Gwen passed the canvas in my direction as both her daughter and sister’s faces were now embedded in both of her shoulders. I carefully put the canvas on a high shelf looking down on them so it could dry. It was a beautiful meadow with flowers of many colours. I left the room so the women could say goodbye.

Gwen had set the intention of using her life’s music soundtrack as the backdrop to already powerful relationships. It was a non-verbal means of sharing herself and her heart, and those songs allowed her to say a touching goodbye.

Source :

Music Therapy or Music Education?

Music Therapy or Music Education?How is music therapy different from music education? Why should my child receive music therapy if they have a music class at school? Do they work on the same things? If these are some of the questions that have crossed your mind then continue reading as the purpose of this blog post is: to explain the differences of music therapy and music education, how the goals are different within these two music settings, and to clarify any misconceptions.

First, some basic definitions:

  1. Music therapy addresses non-music goals with music and is administered by a board certified music therapist. Goals may be similar to occupational therapy or speech therapy but the difference is the modality and innovative intervention of music by a professional music therapist. Requirements to be a Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) are a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy, a six month internship in a clinical setting, and passing the Certification Board for Music Therapists exam.
  2. Music Education (whether it be music lessons, band, choir, orchestra or general music) is the teaching and learning of music concepts. Requirements for music educators are a bachelor’s degree, student teaching internship, and certification. However, these requirements may vary from state to state.
  3. Kindermusik is a type of music education specifically tailored to using activities promoting child development. Requirements to obtain a license are some type of musical background or skill and completion of the Kindermusik training. Fun Fact- Ms. Laura used to be licensed in Kindermusik!
    In addition, music therapy promotes growth and development of appropriate social skills, self-expression, fine and gross motor skills, academic skills, etc. These skills are often associated with the child’s Individual Education Plan and may be addressed in other therapies. Also, music therapy treatment is goal directed, individualized, and re-assessed every 6 months to promote the client’s success. Music education may follow a general curriculum and is not addressing specific areas of deficit, while in music therapy that is the focus of treatment.

In regards to mental health, music therapists are present to counsel groups or individuals on objectives addressing self-care, positive coping skills, positive leisure activities, wellness, effective communication, assertiveness, time and anger management, etc. Each session, I explain what music therapy is and ask for the patient’s perceptions of music therapy so I can clarify any misconceptions. Occasionally, patients have an expectation that they are attending a “music class”. I always emphasize that this is similar to other groups that they attend, however, we are addressing these objectives, as listed above, with a music intervention.

Lastly, here at Key Changes we do provide music lessons, adaptive music lessons, and music groups. This can present a gray area as these services may be more music education based. I try to educate the difference of these two settings and how music therapy would look different from a general music group or lesson.

Now a question for you- How would you explain the difference between music therapy and music education?

Source :

Le Professeur Erik SCERDER qui Favorise Enormément l’Utilisation de la Musique

Le Professeur Erik SCERDER qui Favorise Enormément l'Utilisation de la MusiqueMuziek & Hersenverbindingen
Prof. dr. Erik Scherder heeft aangetoond dat muziek een positief effect heeft op de verbindingen tussen de verschillende gebieden in het brein.
Tussen taalgebieden, het geheugen, het bewegingscentrum en tussen alle gebieden waar betekenis wordt gegeven aan zintuiglijke prikkels.

Muziek raakt iets aan, waar een ziekte als dementie geen vat op heeft

Hulpmiddel in de zorg
Mensen met dementie krijgen door het luisteren naar muziek herinneringen terug. Kinderen met autisme leren zich door muziek beter te uiten. Mensen die een herseninfarct hebben gehad, kunnen met behulp van de muziek hun spraak leren verbeteren. Doordat muziek positieve gevoelens oproept, kan het ondersteunen bij stressvolle momenten in de dagelijkse zorg.

Tegen stress, pijn & angst
Ook in het ziekenhuis wordt muziek ingezet als middel tegen pijn, stress en angst, bijvoorbeeld ter voorbereiding op een operatie. En zo zijn er nog veel meer voorbeelden te noemen. Alle reden om vaker muziek in te zetten als hulpmiddel in de zorg.

Het lost taken op
Hoogleraar klinische neuropsychologie Erik Scherder heeft zich verdiept in het effect van muziek op de hersenen.’Door muziek te maken worden taken opgelost die je als man van zestig minder goed zou doen, omdat er een leeftijdsgerelateerde achteruitgang is.’

Als je luistert naar muziek waar je van houdt ontstaan er verbindingen in je hersenen

Kurt Masur
Van de vorig jaar overleden dirigent Kurt Masur komt de uitspraak
“voor iedere muziekdocent die je ontslaat, moet je honderd politie-agenten aannemen”

Ontwikkeld van empathie
Erik Scherder is te veel wetenschapper om de aansprekende oneliner van Kurt Masur zonder reserves te onderschrijven. Maar in feite im-pliceert hij iets vergelijkbaars wanneer hij erop wijst dat muziek beluisteren, en vooral zelf muziek maken, enorm bijdraagt aan de ontwikkeling van het empathische vermogen.

Kinderen & Muziek
Daar is namelijk wél onderzoek naar gedaan. Scherder: “Gottfried Schlaug heeft aangetoond dat bij kinderen die musiceren de ver-bindingsbalk tussen de beide hersenhelften, het corpus callosum, groter wordt. Die hersenhelften gaan daardoor beter met elkaar communiceren. En dat is ongelooflijk belangrijk.”

Kan muziek zorgen voor meer empathie in de wereld?
Een vioolconcert in plaats van een vuurgevecht

waar zit empathie?
Hij pakt het plastic hersenmodelletje dat voor hem op tafel ligt, trekt de twee helften van elkaar, en wijst met de vingers naar de doorsnede. “Kijk, hier. Vooral de overbrugging van de voor- kant, orbitofrontaal, naar achteren is enorm belangrijk voor de sociale cognitie. Empathie dus. Bij musici zie je het volume van dit soort baansystemenen sterk toenemen.”

De Franse geriater Yves Rolland
Toonde aan dat mensen met alzheimer minder snel achteruit gaan als ze regelmatig bewegen, twee keer per week een uur. In zijn experiment bewogen 67 mensen met alzheimer van gemiddeld 83 jaar twee keer per week een uur.

Het ging om stevig wandelen, maar ook om oefeningen voor  uithoudingsvermogen, kracht in de benen, en balans. Er was  ook een controlegroep, 67 vergelijkbare patiënten kreeg de gangbare normale zorg.

Minder achteruitgang
Na een jaar was de achteruitgang in het uitvoeren van normale dagelijkse activiteiten, bijvoorbeeld opstaan, aankleden, lopen en naar het toilet gaan, bij de getrainde patiënten minder dan bij de ongetrainde. Het verschil was ongeveer een derde. Dus als degene met alzheimer goed beweegt levert dat gemak op voor mantelzorgers en verzorgenden.

Favoriete muziek maakt het hele brein actief
Dat is wat we willen!

Heavy metal goed?
Maakt het nog uit wat voor muziek er beluisterd of gespeeld wordt? “Over dat luisteren, daar is literatuur over. Ze hebben non experts naar allerlei soorten muziek laten luisteren, klassiek, tonaal en ato- naal, maar ook naar heavy metal. In de studies kwam heavy metal eruit als angst- en stressverhogend.

Chronische stress
De hartfrequentie gaat omlaag, de bloeddruk gaat omhoog. Dat is een klinisch symptoom van mensen die heel lang chronische stress ervaren. Die muziek heeft dus een negatieve impact op je systeem – als je er niet van houdt tenminste.”

Rood of Groen?
Scherder pakt zijn laptop erbij en scrollt door de resultaten. Fascinerende aanblik. Hoe langer de rode lijn, hoe sterker het gevoel van agitation bij de luisteraar. Bij een lange groene lijn is sprake van veel joy.
Scherder laat zien hoe de lijnen bij klassieke muziek eruit-zien. Een prachtlied van Schumann, erg groen, dus met veel joy. Arnold Schönbergs Erwartung, heel erg rood.

Beethoven, Schönberg of heavy metal iedereen zijn eigen smaak

Houden van maakt verbinding
“Maar als je luistert naar muziek waarvan je houdt, en dat kan dus ook Beethoven of Schönberg of heavy metal zijn, dan zie je heel andere waarden en dat is ook best logisch.

De Pariëtaallob
Als je er niet van houdt, doet alleen de pariëtaallob het een beetje aan de achterkant en de precuneus wordt actief. Hou je er wel van dan zie je in de hersenen allerlei “samenwerkingen” in het netwerk ontstaan, waarbij niet alleen de pariëtaallob, maar ook de dorsola-terale prefrontale cortex een rol speelt. En dat is wat je wilt”.

Ook al klinkt jouw gepingel nergens naar de hersencellen worden toch actief

De professor speelt viool
Erik Scherder is inmiddels ook zelf aan het musiceren geslagen. Hij speelt nu al twee jaar viool. “In het programma dat ik met de Finse violist Pekka Kuusisto donderdagavond in het Concertgebouw mocht doen, kom ik in het donker spelend op”.

Het is niets en toch…..
Simpel melodietje. Het lijkt natuurlijk nergens op dat zeg ik ook tegen het publiek. “U vond het niks, en ik ook niet. Maar laten we even in mijn brein kijken.

Wat zien we?
De prefrontale cortex doet echt goed mee! Er worden daardoor taken opgelost, die je als man van zestig anders minder goed zou doen, omdat er een leeftijdsgerelateerde achteruitgang is.

Sommige hersencellen gaan dood, maar zeker niet allemaal

Wat gebeurt bij dementie?
Veel mensen denken dat bij dementie hersencellen afsterven. Maar dat is de halve waarheid, zegt Erik Scherder “Sommige hersencellen gaan dood, maar zeker niet alle. Een kenmerk van dementie is atrofie, oftewel verschrompeling.

Kleiner cellen
Een kenmerk van dementie is atrofie, oftewel verschrompeling. De zenuwcellen worden kleiner, maar er is nog wel degelijk sprake van stofwisseling in die cellen”. Wat dat betekent?

Maar te reactiveren
Er zijn in de hersenen nog gebieden die je kan reactiveren. Je kunt ze niet genezen, maar wel weer in beweging breng-en. Bijvoorbeeld door letterlijk te bewegen of door te gaan luisteren naar muziek.

Wat bleek? Met een aspirientje trad er al een geweldige verbetering op

Pijn bij dementie
Erik Scherder: “Als mensen met dementie pijn hebben, kom je er vaak niet achter. Omdat het pijnsignaal er niet is. Of het is er wel maar ze kunnen het niet meer aanduiden en de verzorgenden of arts herkennen het niet”.

Dementerende ouderen met pijn kunnen agressief, verward gespannen of onrustig worden. “Maar dan denken partner of verzorgenden niet direct aan pijn”, zegt Scherder.

Onrust & Agressie
Dementerende ouderen met pijn kunnen agressief, verward gespannen of onrustig worden. “Maar dan denken partner of verzorgende niet direct aan pijn” zegt Scherder.

De bestrijding van pijn staat echter nauwelijks op de agenda bij ouderen met dementie. Uit onderzoek blijkt bijvoorbeeld dat kankerpatiënten met Alzheimer aanzienlijk minder pijn-
stillers krijgen dan degenen zonder dementie. Zegt Scherder verbaasd. Dus als je oud wordt met een dementie, is pijn opeens geen item meer?

In deze studie werd het Haldol vervangen door een gewoon aspirientje

Het aspirientje
Erik Scherder spreekt graag over de wetenschappelijke studie rond een groep ouderen met dementie die kalmeringsmiddel haldol kregen omdat zij aan ‘matige agitatie’ leden.

Dit betekent, dat al deze ouderen vaak onrustig waren. Helaas waren zij niet meer in staat om te vertellen wat hen scheelde. In deze studie werd het antipsychoticum Haldol vervangen door een gewoon aspirientje.

Wat bleek? Er trad een geweldige verbetering op. Hun stemming verbeterde en ze namen vaker deel aan sociale activiteiten, zegt Erik Scherder. Hij weet zeker dat dementerenden zich prettiger zullen voelen en mobieler worden als hun pijn wordt behandeld. Pijn weerhoudt je immers om mee te doen met activiteiten. En het kan zelfs leiden tot depressie.

Bij alzheimer wordt veel vernietigd behalve het zogeheten S1-gebied

Aanraken & Knuffelen
Mensen met Alzheimer aanraken, knuffelen en strelen is heel belangrijk zegt Scherder. Bij alzheimer worden veel pijnkernen vernietigd, behalve het zogeheten S1-gebied:

Dat is het primair somatisch sensorisch gebied waar alle zintuiglijke prikkels binnenkomen. Wat dat betekent? In het eindstadium van alzheimer, komt de tastprikkel nog aan. De tastzin blijft het langst in intact. Communiceren met mensen met vergaande alzheimer gaat dus het beste via de tastzin, zegt Scherder.

In een verrijkte omgeving is er muziek en zijn er creatieve activiteiten

De verrijkte omgeving
In een verrijkte omgeving krijgen mensen met alzheimer veel meer prikkels. Waardoor hun hersenen meer & beter gaan functioneren. Dat blijkt uit de vele prachtige neuro-biologische studies.

In een verrijkte omgeving is er muziek zijn er creatieve activiteiten, mensen met wie je kan praten en met wie je kan eten. Er is voldoende daglicht en je komt buiten. Mensen die hangen of slapen, missen de totale invloed aan prikkels en informatie, en zakken sneller weg in de alzheimer.

Als praten niet meer kan is contact nog mogelijk via de muziek en het bewegen

Eenvoudige middelen zijn het
Muziek is een geweldige prikkel voor de hersenen. Het heeft  een positief effect op het gedrag en kan taalstoornissen ver- minderen.

Mensen met alzheimer leven vaak op als ze muziek horen die ze van vroeger kennen. Dit laat zien laat zien hoe je met een- voudige middelen kunt bijdragen aan meer welbevinden en meer kwaliteit van leven voor degene met alzheimer.

Het zingen van een liedje tijdens het wassen, zachte muziek bij het opstaan, een dansje in de kamer, even naar buiten. En als praten niet meer kan is contact nog mogelijk via de muziek en het bewegen.

Muziek maken is dus op alle fronten levens bevorderend. Waarom dan bezuinigingen op het muziekonderwijs?

Dat is idoot
“Dat is niet te rijmen. Het is idioot. Ik laat geen gelegenheid onbenut om dit te benadrukken. “Hij wijst op projecten, ook in Amsterdam, waar kansarme kinderen met muziek in aanraking worden gebracht wat op den duur allerlei economisch meetbare voordelen voor de maatschappij oplevert, om nog maar te zwijgen over de persoonlijke ontwikkeling van de kinderen zelf. Waarom stelt Den Haag daar dan niet veel meer geld voor beschikbaar, zou een vraag kunnen zijn.

Waarom niet meer geld voor muziekonderwijs?
Dat zou een vraag kunnen zijn.

Erik Scherder in de Tweede Kamer?
Scherder: “Met de politiek aan tafel komen is lastiger dan je denkt. We hadden ooit 5 afspraken met de Tweede Kamercommissie van de PvdA en die zijn alle vijf afgezegd. En niet door mij. ”

Ik zou zeggen: “laat me net zoals die Franse econoom Thomas Piketty in de Tweede Kamer een presentatie houden om te tonen waar de cen- ten heen moeten. Kost ze een half uurtje.”

Ga aan de slag met het Beknopte 5 Stappenplan en geeft dat muziek-geluk aan degene met alzheimer en realiseer tegelijk hiermee zorggemak laat-je-hersenen-niet-zitten-

Tekst op deze pagina is uit een interview van Erik Voermans

Source :

Top 12 Brain-Based Reasons Why Music as Therapy Works

Top 12 Brain-Based Reasons Why Music as Therapy WorksThere are over 5,000 board-certified music therapists in the United States. And there’s one question we get asked daily:

What is music therapy?
According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

Simply put, we use music to make your life better. Whether you need help socially, cognitively, physically, emotionally, or developmentally, music can help you get better…and music therapists are well-trained on how to do that.

What’s more interesting, though, is why it works. When used properly, music can be an incredibly powerful treatment tool. And not just because it’s fun, relaxing, and motivating, but because music has a profound impact on our brains and our bodies.

So here are my top 12 brain-based reasons why music works in therapy:

  1. Music is a core function in our brain. Our brain is primed early on to respond to and process music. Research has shown that day-old infants are able to detect differences in rhythmic patterns. Mothers across cultures and throughout time have used lullabies and rhythmic rocking to calm crying babies. From an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes language. We don’t yet know why, but our brains are wired to respond to music, even though it’s not “essential” for our survival.
  2. Our bodies entrain to rhythm. Have you ever walked down the street, humming a song in your head, and noticed that you’re walking to the beat? That’s called entrainment. Our motor systems naturally entrain, or match, to a rhythmic beat. When a musical input enters our central nervous system via the auditory nerve, most of the input goes to the brain for processing. But some of it heads straight to motor nerves in our spinal cord. This allows our muscles to move to the rhythm without our having to think about it or “try.” It’s how we dance to music, tap our foot to a rhythm, and walk in time to a beat. This is also why music therapists can help a person who’s had a stroke re-learn how to walk and develop strength and endurance in their upper bodies.
  3. We have physiologic responses to music. Every time your breathing quickens, your heart-rate increases, or you feel a shiver down your spine, that’s your body responding physiologically to music. Qualified music therapists can use this to help stimulate a person in a coma or use music to effectively help someone relax.
  4. Children (even infants) respond readily to music. Any parent knows that it’s natural for a child to begin dancing and singing at an early age. My kids both started rocking to music before they turned one. And have you seen the YouTube video of the baby dancing to Beyonce? Children learn through music, art, and play, so it’s important (even necessary) to use those mediums when working with children in therapy.
  5. Music taps into our emotions. Have you ever listened to a piece of music and smiled? Or felt sad? Whether from the music itself, or from our associations with the music, music taps into our emotional systems. Many people use this in a “therapeutic” way, listening to certain music that makes them feel a certain way. The ability for music to easily access our emotions is very beneficial for music therapists.
  6. Music helps improve our attention skills. I was once working with a 4-year-old in the hospital. Her 10-month-old twin sisters were visiting, playing with Grandma on the bed. As soon as I started singing to the older sister, the twins stopped playing and stared at me, for a full 3 minutes. Even from an early age, music can grab and hold our attention. This allows music therapists to target attention and impulse control goals, both basic skills we need to function and succeed.
  7. Music uses shared neural circuits as speech. This is almost a no-brainer (no pun intended), but listening to or singing music with lyrics uses shared neural circuits as listening to and expressing speech. Music therapists can use this ability to help a child learn to communicate or help someone who’s had a stroke re-learn how to talk again.
  8. Music enhances learning. Do you remember how you learned your ABCs? Through a song! The inherent structure and emotional pull of music makes it an easy tool for teaching concepts, ideas, and information. Music is an effective mnemonic device and can “tag” information, not only making it easy to learn, but also easy to later recall.
  9. Music taps into our memories. Have you ever been driving, heard a song on the radio, then immediately been taken to a certain place, a specific time in your life, or a particular person? Music is second only to smell for it’s ability to stimulate our memory in a very powerful way. Music therapists who work with older adults with dementia have countless stories of how music stimulates their clients to reminisce about their life.
  10. Music is a social experience. Our ancestors bonded and passed on their stories and knowledge through song, stories, and dance. Even today, many of our music experiences are shared with a group, whether playing in band or an elementary music class, listening to jazz at a restaurant, or singing in church choir. Music makes it easy for music therapists to structure and facilitate a group process.
  11. Music is predictable, structured, and organized–and our brain likes it! Music often has a predictable steady beat, organized phrases, and a structured form. If you think of most country/folk/pop/rock songs you know, they’re often organized with a verse-chorus structure. They’re organized in a way that we like and enjoy listening to over and over again.
  12. Even sound waves that make up a single tone or an entire chord are organized in mathematical ratios–and our brains really like this predictability and structure.
    Music is non-invasive, safe and motivating. We can’t forget that most people really enjoy music. This is not the most important reason why music works in therapy, but it’s the icing on the cake.

Source :

Cabinet de Musicothérapie Sandrine Bedu