Within the world of music therapy tablets have been recognized by some as a therapist’s best friend, and yet other professionals question the appropriate application of this technology to add to rather than detract from sessions. While no session and setting is the same, this is a short sharing about an opportunity for musical engagement and growth that would not have been possible without technology. 

As a new tablet user, this technology has not been fully incorporated into my practice, but I am experimenting with various applications to enhance what I do as a music therapist. It is quite common for music therapists to receive requests for favorite songs from clients and their families, and as the years go by it seems that as a professional I am increasingly able to provide these requests in the moment. However, it is still quite common to get a request that I am unfamiliar with. 

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of working with stroke survivors and their care persons. Many of these stroke survivors have varying degrees of aphasia though many are able to sing and some have started participating karaoke multiple times each week. One such survivor, let’s call him Andy, approached me with several ideas for songs to share with the group. While I was not able to play all of these songs on the spot it was possible to use the internet to locate complete lyrics and even watch karaoke videos on YouTube for these songs. Andy sang each of these songs, looking at the tablet for the lyrics while another tablet was used to locate lead sheets for the songs. In that moment Andy was able to share his love of music as he sang all of his favorite songs. Unlike in other settings, I would not have the opportunity to learn Andy’s requests for a future visit.  Instead this technology allowed for an interaction that would have otherwise been impossible. Andy was able to express himself through the use of an AAC device to request songs, the tablet and internet access allowed for instant accessibility to the requested songs and Andy was able to engage in one of his favorite pastimes. In this unique situation, technology was a boon, and without it, an opportunity for self-expression and interaction may have been minimized.

~Lindsey Wilhelm, MA, MT-BC