Music Therapy for Community Wellness

By Steve Baldridge

“Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.”
-- E. Y. Harburg

 Have you ever been listening to the radio and a song comes on that makes you want to laugh, cry, dance, or even scream? When you hear your favorite song from the Beach Boys, Beyoncé or the Beatles, your thoughts and emotions change. And, perhaps more interestingly, your brain and body actually change.

 You see, emotions have a greater impact on our health than we realize. Emotions affect our bodily functions like wakefulness and sleep; anxiety and calmness; even the way we perceive pleasure and pain. And music affects our emotions.  When we hear music, our thought patterns change and our brains give us a dose of feel-good endorphins that calm our tensions and excite the everything-is-pretty-good centers in our brains (okay, that’s not the technical term, but you get the point).

 Research tells us that music, by triggering these brain reactions, can make our brains think better. Music can normalize our heart rates, blood pressure, breathing, and our levels of stress hormones.

 University Hospitals Connor Integrated Health Network and The Samaritan Hospital Foundation have collaborated to provide a wide range of Music Therapy services to our patients and the general community. But what exactly is Music Therapy?  Music Therapy is evidence-based (based on science and research), clinically applied (used to improve health), individualized therapy provided by a credentialed professional.  Music Therapists have a bachelor's degree or higher in music therapy plus 1200 hours of supervised clinical training, and are board certified. A Music Therapist knows not only music, but human physiology and medicine as well. Music therapy is a great way to boost overall well-being for patients, caregivers, and the general public. All who participate can benefit.

 Here in the Ashland area we are fortunate to have University Hospitals Music Therapist Angelique (Angel) Foss, MS, MT-BC who works with UH Samaritan’s physicians and staff in inpatient and outpatient settings to help patients with management of pain, anxiety, and stress.

For the community at large, Angel utilizes individual or group sessions focused on health and wellness education. Some of these community programs include Drums Alive! drumming groups, community music making, instrumental groups and workshops.

Angel reports, “We just wrapped up 4 months of Drums Alive! with participants of all ages.”  Angel also recently conducted a rhythm workshop in collaboration with Ashland’s Studio Rise.”  Coming up, Angel will be holding a session with Catholic Charities Golden Center Group on June 11th at 11:00 am and will be at the Council on Aging in Ashland on August 1st at 1:00 pm. You can get more information on either of these sessions by contacting the hosting agency or contacting Angel Foss at 419-289-0491 ext. 3038.

 Looking a bit further ahead, Angel is already planning Drums Alive! at two levels of intensity for this summer and fall:

 Drums Alive! (For all ages)
Drums Alive! is a movement and drumming wellness activity that takes a “whole mind, whole body” approach. It incorporates movement, music, sound, rhythm and relaxation to engage your mind and your body into extraordinarily FUN physical activity! Join Angel for a fun "moving" experience! Classes will be held every Tuesday at 4:30 pm beginning in September.

 Drums Alive! (For Seniors)
This series is specially targeted to seniors, who may be less mobile than a younger crowd.  Angel will kick off this program at the Stroke Screening Event on Wednesday, June 12th from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm.  During this event, Angel will be offering samples of Drums Alive!  Classes will then be held every other Wednesday at 1:00 pm through August.

 Both Drums Alive! classes will be at held in the UH Administrative Services Building, 663 East Main Street, Ashland, OH 44805.   Please register for either program by calling 419-289-0491 ext. 3038.

For more articles about Music Therapy at University Hospital click here.

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