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The Therapeutic Power of Music - Alexandria "AJ" Denne
As so aptly stated by rock legend Elton John, "music has healing power." In the world of music, there are singers, musicians, lyricists, producers, and engineers. Certainly, talented people create and bring music to life for others to experience and enjoy. There are also Music Therapists out there making a direct impact on their patients and in the community by implementing music as part of the treatment and rehabilitation plan. Meet Alexandria "AJ" Denne, MM, MT-BC - a Music Therapist - making a difference in the community. The Good Deed Brigade sat down with AJ to find out more about this wonderful and fascinating form of therapy.
What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is an evidence-based practice serviced by a board-certified music therapist who graduated from an accredited music therapy program at the collegiate level. A music therapist will manipulate and adapt different elements of music in order to help a client or patient reach a non-musical goal. For example, using music to help someone relearn how to speak or walk again. In my position with Brooks Rehabilitation here in Jacksonville, we use a branch of Music Therapy called Neurologic Music Therapy. This kind of music therapy is rooted in neuroscience research and consists of interventions that fall under 3 domains: motor, cognition, and speech/language. This niche of music therapy is primarily used in neurorehabilitation settings.
Why did you decide to go into music therapy? I first encountered music therapy when a small group from my marching band went to the Pittsburgh School for the Blind and Deaf to show the students our instruments. My band director's daughter resided there at the time and I later found out that we were part of the music therapy session. My second encounter with music therapy was when my dad was at a rehabilitation hospital after a motorcycle accident. He received services from Music Therapy. I always knew when the Music Therapist had been with him because he was more alert and responsive. Although he ultimately passed away as a result of these injuries, I am grateful to have experienced being on the other side of the services. It has enabled me to truly understand what some of my patients and their families are experiencing at the hospital and I am better able to provide appropriate services to them.
Do you play any instruments? I do! My primary instrument is flute, but I when I did college marching band I switched to the trumpet. For music therapy though I primarily utilize the guitar and piano amongst a whole host of percussive instruments as well.
Do you have to be musical to participate and benefit from music therapy? No! You do not have to have an ounce of musical talent to benefit from Music Therapy. What makes this field unique is that it is adaptable for anyone and everyone. Music is the modality that we use in order for people to reach their goals. I like to say that I am a therapist first and a musician second.
What are the goals of music therapy? The goals in Music Therapy are very dependent on the age, population and/or diagnosis of a person. At my job, we use Neurologic Music Therapy, meaning that all of our interventions are rooted in neuroscience research. Because I work partly in a rehabilitation hospital our primary goals will fall within the domains of motor, cognition, and speech/language. I work in a geriatric population as well, so those goals are centered around increasing memory, orientation, social interaction, and physical movements as well. Ultimately, Music Therapists use music as a modality to help each person reach non-musical goals.
Here is a link to read more about the Music Therapy program offered at Brooks Rehabilitation: