There is not a single day where I do not love my job. There are moments when it gets tough (i.e. getting instruments thrown at you, working with individuals with terminal diagnoses, when you feel you can’t get through to a client, etc.), but the positive moments FAR outweigh any of the little frustrations or rough situations. Last week I had some amazing music therapy moments that I want to share. Here is one of them!
At the start of my shift the other day I was given a referral for individual that had not spoken to anyone in over 24 hours. They refused to say a word to any visitors or staff. When I met with the client, they were hesitant to speak with me, barely even making eye contact or acknowledging my presence. I began singing to the client, using their name and singing what I thought might be familiar songs. I noticed while I was singing that I began to get a few glances. When I asked if they wanted to look at any of the instruments I brought, they responded “yes” with a head nod.
From that point I knew I was in! I asked yes/no questions to get a better idea of the individual’s preferences. I found out from my questioning that they wanted to hear “Old MacDonald”. I sang a verse of Old MacDonald using the correct words and sounds. On the second verse, I named a cow but sang the wrong animal sound. The client stopped playing the instrument and pointedly starred at me to let me know I was wrong. I asked, “So, what sound does a cow make?”. The client quietly whispered “moo”. With each verse, the client began interacting more and more, naming animals, their sounds, and singing all the words by the end of the song. Throughout the rest of the session the client was grinning ear to ear, talking openly with me, answering all of my questions, and singing along with every song! Their silence was broken. By providing a familiar experience and a relaxed setting, the client was able to drop their defenses and engage with a staff member. I was able to provide a positive experience in an uncomfortable setting and start a trusting relationship that will hopefully transfer to some of the other staff members.
I love the power of music therapy!