Sometimes it is easy to take for granted what a rewarding job I have. I share music with people 5 days a week! However, I am doing more than sharing music. Music brings about smiles, laughter, stories, tears and shared experiences. And these experiences are what drive me to continue and are what keeps this job anything but dull!

This past week I had one of these experiences. An elementary student, Andy*, who I see for music therapy sessions once per week, loves music. Not only does he love to sing, but he loves to play instruments and his favorite way to do this in music therapy sessions is through my iPad. So we have a routine of math-instruments-story and once we are done with these, he gets to play on the iPad.

When Andy has the iPad, he immediately navigates to “GarageBand,” an application for recording music. On this app, there is a variety of instruments to play including drums, keyboard, and guitar. I have been noticing the last couple of weeks that Andy finds chords based on what sounds good to his ear. He has been finding these quickly on the keyboard. This past week, however, he opened the guitar and started “strumming” on some chords. He soon seemed to hear a song in those chords and before I knew it he was playing a song! I did not recognize the tune, but I was pretty confident it was a song, because there was a repeating chorus that kept coming back. I grabbed my phone and recorded him playing.

When I took Andy back to his classroom, I shared with his teacher what had happened and showed her the video clip. She and the other teacher in the room were amazed. We asked Andy what song it was. Andy has autism and does not often verbalize, so we asked his twin brother in the same classroom if he knew what song it was. He replied “…by Kenny Chesney!” With a little help from the internet, I was able to find the song he was talking about and take it back in for Andy to listen to. When he heard it, his face lit up.  

I walked away that day amazed at this student I have the privilege of working with. How inspiring! He may not be able to communicate much with spoken words, but he communicates very successfully with another meaningful tool – music. And who knows? Maybe Andy will be the next Kenny Chesney.

~Lindsay Helmuth, MT-BC

*names have been changed