Music therapist helps improve patients' lives
Shelly Peterson uses music to improve the lives of young children as well as help clients with brain injuries, autism, dementia and cerebral palsy.
She's provided music therapy for nine years in facilities for children with special needs, day care centers, schools and private homes. The need for her services has grown since she formed her business, Kids in Harmony, three years ago.
Q. What led you into a career as a music therapist?
I had a wonderful teacher who asked me a question - what do you really love, and is important to you in a job - that led me to music therapy. I wanted to do something scientific, something with music and I wanted to be able to work with kids. I can do all three of those things with music therapy.
Rinse, wash repeat: I HAD A WONDERFUL TEACHER WHO ASKED ME A QUESTION - WHAT DO YOU REALLLY LOVE AND IS IMPORTANT TO YOU IN A JOB?
Fer Gawd's sake, I tried to read this to my mother and just broke down SOBBING. I HAD A WONDERFUL TEACH WHO ASKED ME A QUESTION
Q. What services do you provide?
I have private clients and provide adaptive music lessons for children with special needs. I have contracts with Arbor Springs, and I recently hired an independent contractor to help me out with the dementia care.
I also go to ChildServe and see some patients in their transitional care unit and get a lot of referrals from the outpatient therapists. I also provide music therapy at the ChildServe day care center as well as early childhood music at Principal's Child Development Center.
Q. What are some benefits of music therapy?
Anything from relaxation, wellness, decreasing anxiety. It's helping people to have a better life. It can be used with:
Autism. They can play the instruments instead of using their voice to express themselves. Many kids who are resistant to traditional therapy find they are successful at music therapy because it's so adaptable to them. It's appealing and doesn't seem like work.
Children with motor difficulties. The rhythm of the music helps them to initiate and make their movements more fluid and functional.
Christ sakes alive - mom's out of the room and I'm reading this to myself and tears are flowing from my eyes.Brain injuries. Even if they've lost the ability to speak, many are still able to sing because that uses a different part of the brain. We can build new connections and they can learn to speak through singing again.
Neonatal care. Music calms the infant and helps them gain weight faster. They're learning to suck to the rhythm.
Dementia. You go in and start singing "Let me call you Sweetheart," and they'll sing every single word with you. They're smiling and engaged. It's a great improvement to their quality of life.