I now have just 4½ weeks left of my Music Therapy Internship here at West Music. Here are a few of the highlights I have experienced so far:

  • I decided to bring my violin to my DD sessions the week of St. Patrick’s Day. I played Irish jigs, and it was amazing how some of the clients who don’t usually respond much to anything lit up when they heard the fiddle music. There were many smiles and several clients moving to the music who usually don’t participate in movement interventions.
  • I have loved almost every group geriatric session I have led. I enjoy listening to the stories and memories of the clients, and I love the looks of excitement on their faces when I use a song that is especially meaningful to them.
  • I have been “taking the lead” in the biweekly hospice sessions of a man diagnosed with end-stage Parkinson’s Disease. Each week, it is like a scene from the movie, “Awakenings”. The first time I saw him, he was sitting at a table in the common room with his eyes closed, drooling and unresponsive. The other residents in the room said, “Oh you won’t get anything from him.” As I began singing, though, I started to see his lips moving. When I sang Love Me Tender he was definitely mouthing the words to the song. I continued to sing, and he suddenly opened his eyes and sang along with us. At subsequent sessions, I’ve always found him with eyes closed, and residents and staff always say, “He is sleepy today” or, “He won’t answer you.” Every week, though, a little bit of music gets him awake and singing. We have now progressed to having short conversations, and I have learned a bit about his life. He has also expressed music preferences and chosen songs. I feel like music is magic for this client!
  • SoundReach Choir was a wonderful experience. The clients were so warm and caring, and were sweet and friendly to me from the first moment. They obviously enjoy the group and look forward to it all week, and it gives everyone (no matter their abilities) a chance to shine and take pride in their accomplishments. I got the experience of leading a rehearsal by myself one week, and although they made a point of telling me, “You’re not Kyle!” They also made sure that I knew that, “We love you, too!” I especially enjoyed teaching a few girls a simplified version of the Boot Scoot line dance for our Country and Western themed concert. The way they got into the movements and laughed and gave each other hugs and high fives reminded me of the way my college friends and I used to go Country and Western dancing together (I went to college in Texas!). I’m so glad these girls had the opportunity to have a similar, normalized experience!
  • I enjoyed visiting rehab sessions with Kyle and seeing some of the NMT techniques that I have read about for papers in class in action.
  • Finally, last week was the first session of the group I created for my “internship project”. It is a group consisting of six children between the ages of 2½ and 6. Two have Down Syndrome, four are on the autism spectrum, and two are nonverbal. I was scared to death, not having any idea what behaviors to expect. Although I can’t say every moment went exactly as I planned or that there were no moments of chaos, I felt that overall the session went well, and I am looking forward to trying some new ideas with them. I am excited to work with this new population!

~Erin Moore, MTI