This is the time of year that holiday music plays on the radio, on television, in the streets and in the air. Whether or not you like holiday music, it has the ability to signal that Fall is almost gone and the winter solstice is coming. The days are getting shorter and the temperature is going down. From the beat of the drums to the strum of a guitar, music has the power to communicate and inspire. And that is specifically the goal of the music partnership ARC has with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (BKCM). Prior to the pandemic, the ARC Day Habilitation program was traveling to the Brooklyn Conservatory each week for music therapy. BKCM has now figured out a way to make these sessions COVID friendly and offer them remotely.
Each week, five different groups of ARC individuals receive 30 minutes of music therapy with Jake, who is a certified music therapist. This gives ARC residents and Day Habilitation participants the opportunity to connect with music. They are able to dance, sing, clap and do anything the music inspires them to do.
The specific purpose of music therapy is to use music as a tool to accomplish individual therapeutic goals with a certified professional. Therapists are not facilitating to perform but to increase socialization and help individuals connect with their feelings. According to the BKCM website, “Music activates, inspires, and stimulates emotional expression. Music relaxes, calms the nervous system and is helpful in restoring internal balance. Music connects us to ourselves and to others. Music is life affirming.”
Each session begins with a “hello song” ritual which helps acclimate everyone to music time and get a sense of the mood of the day. After that, requests are taken and the participants get to jam out to songs by their favorite musicians like Michael Jackson and Elvis played by Jake on the guitar and piano. As a facilitator, one of Jake’s prime beliefs is that music is for everyone. “Your talent level does not dictate whether you should play. There are lots of benefits besides stardom. It’s for everyone to enjoy. It’s about community and being in that moment together.”
So, the next time a song inspires you to sing aloud, think of the ARC individuals and do it loud and proud!