'Artists Among Us' Gala 2022

Power of Music Therapy

Hope Bridges Society 'Artists Among Us' Gala

When one thinks about music, it’s usually associated with fun activities. Whether it’s a concert, playing music for yourself, going to a club, or anything in between, it’s safe to say music plays a huge part in most people’s lives when it comes to recreation. However, music can be much more than a way to have fun, it can also be a way to heal, both physically and mentally.

Every Tuesday, the Hope Bridges Society brings in musical therapist Kate Ager to work with people through music therapy. Ager explained music therapy is “The use of music by an accredited music therapist to work towards non-musical goals,” which could include physical rehabilitation, developing confidence and self-expression, building relationships, and many more.

Regarding the physical aspect, Ager explained music can be used as a tool to work towards many physical goals, like improved fine motor skills or stronger lung capacity.

“Through singing, using your breath intentionally, it can help you improve lung function. For fine and gross motor skills using instruments such as playing keys, holding drumsticks, keeping rhythm, and even just walking to music can all help to improve fine and gross motor skills. And dancing, of course,” Ager said

“The growth can be anywhere from being able to have full range of motion to even just being able to move in very small ways, depending on the person that is in therapy.”

Physical therapy obviously is nothing new, as things like rehabilitation and physiotherapists have been around for a very long time. However, Ager explained what makes music therapy so effective is the use of music, which can make the therapy more engaging and fun, rather than seem like a chore.

“A large factor is motivation, most people if they’re exercising or doing anything, they do listen to music, it keeps you focused and provides motivation. But another strong reason that it’s so motivating is the rhythm, keeping you really engaged with the rhythm and being able to match it and keep you going.”

While the physical benefits of music therapy are great, that’s only half the equation, as it also works with people on an emotional level as well. One of the biggest benefits to this is giving clients an avenue for self-expression. Some people may struggle with self-expression, and music therapy can create opportunities for this, which in turn would also develop emotional maturity and confidence.

“Using music you can be loud and silly, which there’s not that many other places in this world where you can be you and just express yourself freely. Giving people choice, giving people the opportunity to write their own music and express themselves that way, or just being able to be silly or to be serious or whatever is right for them is very important.”

The best part of musical therapy is it often accomplishes many goals at once, there usually isn’t a singular focus. For example, if one of the goals is to develop fine motor skills by playing an instrument, this would also help build confidence and also give the person a way to express themselves. The multi-faceted nature of music therapy is one of many reasons why it can be such a powerful tool for healing and development.

On top of all of the listed benefits, Chairperson and Founder of Hope Bridges Society Sheila Konschuh added at the end of the day, music is just a fun thing to do both alone and with a group.

“There is such opportunity for friendship and self-expression in a supported place. There’s so much joy, and of course, joy is connected to better health and better outcomes in general. When people are able to express themselves and be happy and joyful or express themselves in any way, it leads to better outcomes,” Konschuh said.