|I have a wonderful opportunity teaching “jam sessions” to a group at a mental health facility. Each patient’s initial diagnosis was one so severe, it inhibited them from functioning in the community. Presently, the group has living arrangements away from the facility, and spend several hours at the facility to prepare their full return to the community. Most, if not all of them take medications, and side effects are evident (e.g. lethargy.)
The first time I went to jam, I played Michael McDonald’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” We were in the cafeteria, and many of the group were sitting in the back of the room. Some had their heads down sleeping, others looked as if they were not in the present time. When the music came on it was a true awakening. Those that were dancing really moved to the music. (Trust me, although we did not look like the Rockettes, we all felt the music.) When I looked along the periphery of the room, the sitting patients were alert. I caught some of them singing, tapping their feet, and clapping their hands. Everyone was smiling. I am still amazed each week at how the music elevates their persona. At times, I feel like I achieve more in that 45 minutes than I do sitting in a quiet room on the computer for 4 hours.
Music has encompassed my entire life. I find myself always trying to listen to a tune when I’m in a loud restaurant. When I go to the symphony, or see a concert or a Broadway show, the music enters through my entire body and often moves me to tears. I have become dependent on music to influence my mood and my performance. When I want to relax, I listen to classical or jazz music. When I want to lament over something, on goes a country ballad. When I run or work out, I listen to rock or pop. Music is truly a healing and motivational modality. The most impressive part is that there are no side effects (except for the disturbed person on the stair master next to me, impatiently listening to me sing a Brooks & Dunn song playing on my headset.
Dyan Quesada, MPT, ATC