With the power to soothe and excite, it should come as no surprise that music also has the power to heal. Touted since the days of Aristotle in ancient Greece, an ever-growing body of research continues to back music's healing power.
Jody is the site director of music therapy clinical services at the Michigan State University Community Music School, Detroit (CMSD), where she partners with the Children's Hospital of Michigan to provide music therapy through a grant funded by the Children's Foundation. Jody is also the president and founder of Creative Arts Therapies Inc., a company that provides contractual music, dance movement and art therapy services to agencies and individuals throughout Southeastern Michigan.
“The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program,” says Stark. “That's kind of long and wordy, but basically it's using music in a structured manner to improve the lives of all different types of clients and individuals.”
What is it about the power of music that's so therapeutic in so many ways to so many people?
“When words fail, music speaks. That's one of my favorite quotes, I believe by Hans Christian Andersen. There is something about music. It's happening in the here and now. It's nonverbal, and it's connecting us. I like to emphasize that therapeutic relationship. We connect with individuals, and we provide those transformative experiences through music. Music moves us. It engages us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and cognitively.”
How has music therapy evolved?
“One area that it's evolved in is the medical arena. We've got quite a body of literature and evidence that proves the effectiveness of music and music therapy. That has been an area that has opened up to music therapist as we've seen how effective it can be with patients, regardless of what we're addressing. We could be addressing pain control, working with children during procedures to help them to be calm, and to just simply normalize the environment in the hospital that can be quite scary.”
Stark says she’s fortunate to have been working at CMSD since it first opened in 2009.
“What excites me about working at the Community Music School, Detroit is that we're really taking the outreach mission of MSU to individuals in Detroit and to people who may not be able to access music otherwise.
"Our largest current grant is from the Children's Foundation, and it funds services at the Children's Hospital of Michigan. We are onsite at Children's Hospital. What’s most important is our work at the bedside working with children individually.”
Stark talks about how she plans and implements a music therapy session.
“It's all tailored to the individual; no two sessions are alike. If I'm walking into a room and I am seeing a child for the first time, I know what they're in the hospital for. Situations can range from infants in the neonatal intensive care unit to older teenagers and even young adults who started their treatment at Children's and are maybe returning for chemotherapy or rehab. We understand what they are there for. If it's for rehabilitation or if they've maybe been in a car accident or had a traumatic brain injury, we would be on the rehab unit working perhaps to help a patient learn how to walk or learn to speak again.
“If we're working with children on the burn unit who might be having burn dressing changes, it's more of an immediate intervention where we're trying to help distract them from the pain of those procedures. We're there to normalize the environment for the family and for the patient. It really is family-centered care and sometimes the family needs support certainly as much as the patients in terms of what they're facing with their child being hospitalized. So if I'm walking into the room and I have a sense of what I will be facing, I first and foremost want to introduce music therapy services and introduce myself. I want to give them a sense that I'm not there to do a procedure.
“I'm there to provide something that maybe is more normal in their environment or in their lives, whether they play an instrument or whether they just enjoy music and love listening to it. Most adolescents and children do. Things we can do in music therapy include playing instruments, singing songs, composing music or songs about their frustration that they're in the hospital or what they miss about not being home. It can be listening to music. We can focus on relaxation, breathing techniques, and learning to cope with pain. It really runs the gamut of a number of different types of interventions.”
“I am so passionate about my work. I love my work. I love that I've been able to work in a number of different settings and with a variety of populations and individuals.
Sometimes our impact is immediate. If a child is at the hospital and in pain or crying and needs to have assistance with falling asleep or relaxation, we can help with that. It surprises me how quickly they can fall asleep and be able to have some relief from pain and have a chance to relax.”
What do you suggest for someone who thinks they have a loved one or a friend or a family member who could benefit from music therapy?
“Going back to that quote where words fail, music speaks, patients can benefit from an experience that is transformative, goal directed, and a stress reducer. Perhaps their loved one is elderly and is experiencing dementia. Often music elicits long-term memories. I've had elderly clients who could no longer speak. They lost that ability because of dementia, but they are able to sing every word to a song from their youth. We've had loved ones come to music therapy groups so they could see their loved one come back alive through music and dance and interact with them and see the joy that music brings when it elicits those long-term memories. Music impacts us physically, emotionally, and cognitively. So with the variety of goals that we focus on through music, I think certainly they should consider music therapy as an alternative.”
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Russ White 0:00
With the power to soothe and excite. It should come as no surprise that music also has the power to heal. touted since the days of Aristotle in ancient Greece, an ever growing body of research continues to back music's healing power. Today we're speaking with Spartan Jody conradie start PhD, a Board Certified music therapist with over 35 years of experience. Her work and research has contributed to that growing body and has impacted numerous populations, including psychiatric cognitively impaired Autism Spectrum Disorder, veterans medical and hospice. Jody is the site Director of Music Therapy clinical services at the Michigan State University community music school Detroit, also known as CMS D, where she partners with the Children's Hospital of Michigan to provide music therapy through a grant funded by the Children's Foundation. On top of that Jody is also the president and founder of creative arts therapies Incorporated, a company that provides contractual music, dance movement, and art therapy services to agencies and individuals throughout southeastern Michigan. And it's a pleasure to welcome Dr. Stark to MSU. Today, today, welcome.
Jody Stark 1:26
Thank you, Russ. It's a pleasure to be here.
Russ White 1:28
Could we start? Would you define music therapy for us and tell us a little bit about how it works?
Jody Stark 1:35
Sure. Well, I'd like to start by sharing the American Music Therapy Association definition. And they define it as the clinical and evidence based use of music interventions, to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who is completed and approved music therapy program. So that's kind of long, and wordy. But basically, it's using music in a structured manner, to improve the lives of individuals, all different types of clients. music therapists complete an undergraduate or an equivalency degree program, 1200 hours of clinical training, including their internship, and then we pass a board certification exam to become an MT VC, which is a music therapist board certified. And by the way, music therapy. The first program was in at Michigan State in 1944.
Russ White 2:45
So cool, and what is it, Jody about the power of music that it's so therapeutic in so many ways when a lot of other vehicles can't reach people who need this therapy?
Jody Stark 2:57
Well, I think when "Words fail, music speaks," that's one of my favorite quotes, I believe by Hans Christian Andersen, there is something about music. It's happening in the here and now. It's nonverbal. It's connecting us. And I like to emphasize that I like to emphasize that therapeutic relationship. We connect with individuals, we provide those transformative experiences through music. Music moves us, it engages us, both physically, emotionally, spiritually, cognitively.
Russ White 3:42
And how did you initially become interested in music therapy?
Jody Stark 3:45
Well, my parents didn't play instruments, but they loved music. They provided a musical training for me starting with Oregon lessons when I was quite young. And then in elementary school, I started on the clarinet. And as I moved into high school, I expanded to play the saxophone. And music was just something that I was fortunately good at, it provided experiences for me that I wouldn't have had without music, I was able to, to tour Europe actually in, in college with our Chamber Orchestra. So it opened up the world to me, but I didn't really want to go into performance. I was interested in providing those experiences really, for anyone regardless of ability. And I was in a puppetry church troupe, actually in high school and we went to a school back then it was segregated, but there was a school for children with disabilities. And I just something clicked I wanted to provide what I felt like I had access to To people regardless of their ability, and Dr. Stark, we talked at the beginning in the open about you've done this for over 35 years, how
Russ White 5:08
has music therapy evolved, or a lot of the principles still the same, or maybe a little of both?
Jody Stark 5:14
Well, actually, one area that it's evolved in is the medical arena, we've got quite a body of literature and evidence base, again, is our research literature that proves the effectiveness of music, and music therapy. So that has been an area that has opened up to music therapist, as we've seen, how effective it can be with patients, regardless of what we're addressing, for example, pain, pain control, working with children during procedures to help them to be calm, to just simply normalize the environment in the hospital, that can be quite scary. So that would be one major development.
Russ White 6:00
And how long have you worked at the community music school Detroit, and tell us a little bit more about being the site Director of Music Therapy, clinical services. And what that involves?
Jody Stark 6:11
Well, I've been fortunate to work there since its beginning, since it was first opened up in fall of 2009. And what excites me about working at the Community Music School Detroit is that we're really taking kind of the mission of MSU, to an outreach to the individuals in Detroit, to people who may not be able to access music. And that's what we do there.
Russ White 6:41
And tell us a bit about your work now with the Children's Hospital of Michigan, your current project,
Jody Stark 6:47
right, so I do coordinate the music therapy clinical services at CMS-D. We have private clients that we provide at our building at the MSU Detroit center in Midtown. But we also have off site services through grant funding, for example, at sites such as the coalition on temporary shelter, cots for children, but also our largest current grant is from the Children's Foundation, and it funds services at the Children's Hospital of Michigan. So I provide the clinical supervision for that program, as well as provide clinical services part time,
Russ White 7:28
how would you say the pandemic has altered your program and what you do?
Jody Stark 7:32
Well, it's altered it quite a bit like it has I think everywhere, in terms of our individual clients, we provide those services through zoom are through telehealth. So I am sitting in my living room by by piano with my microphone, and my camera, and my lighting, to work with my individual clients, and they are in their homes. And although we were not sure how it would work, it's been actually quite successful, and I think has helped prevent a sense of isolation, especially for our individuals, our clients with disabilities who may not understand what's happened in terms of being isolated. So I think it's provided that connection and familiarity with their, their therapist. In addition to providing those sessions virtually, we are on site at Children's Hospital. And of course, we've had major changes in terms of isolating the children again, more in their rooms, we our play rooms are closed, we used to do a weekly music therapy group where children who were able to, to leave their hospital room could come to what we call the play room and be in a group and have kind of a sense of community and work with their peers and music. But now we aren't able to allow children out of their rooms, other than for medical reasons, of course, but so it's even more important that we reach them, we actually are doing closed circuit TV programs twice weekly with myself and my colleague. So we provide music therapy via the closed circuit TV and they can turn on their TV in their room and and watch us leading songs or programs about springtime or different themes. But of course, it's even more important is our work at the bedside and working with children individually. We always of course are very aware of infection control, but that has been heightened with COVID. So we need to have our peepee currently we're wearing two masks N95 mask, a surgical mask, and then also a face shield. And whenever we are working with children, but it's very important for normalcy, I think, to be able to still have that human connection. We actually have buttons with our picture on them so that the children can see what we look like under those masks. But it's interesting, we're able to still provide those services, do music with children, provide distraction during procedures or pain crises that children might be having. So it's as important if not more important than ever,
Russ White 10:36
and Dr. Stark, could you walk us through sort of how you plan and then conduct a typical music therapy session, if there is such a thing as a typical one, you probably tailor them to the individual, but just give us sort of a sense of how a therapy session goes, What instruments you play, that kind of thing?
Jody Stark 10:54
Sure, you're exactly right. It's all individual. And it's there's really no session that would be alike, just to be specific about at the hospital. If I'm walking into a room, and I am seeing a child for the first time, of course, I know what they're in the hospital for. And in the hospital, it can range from infants in the neonatal intensive care unit, to older teenagers and even young adults who started their treatment at Children's maybe returning for chemotherapy or rehab. So we understand what their what they are there for. So if it's for rehabilitation, if they've maybe been in a car accident, or had a traumatic brain injury, we would be on the rehab unit working perhaps to learn how to help walk again, or to work with our rehab therapist, learning to speak. If we're working with children, for example, on the burn unit who might be having burned dressing changes, it's more of an immediate intervention where we're trying to help distract them. Of course, from the pain of of, of those procedures, we're there to normalize the environment for the family for the patient. It really is family centered care. And sometimes the family, the parents need support as certainly as much as the patients in terms of what they're facing with their children or their child being hospitalized. So if I'm walking into the room, and I have a sense of what I will be facing, I first and foremost want to introduce music therapy services introduce myself, I want to give them a sense that I'm not there to, to do a procedure, I'm there to provide something that maybe is more normal in their environment or in your lives, whether they play an instrument or whether they just enjoy music, love music, listening to it, and most adolescents and children do, of course, and I talked to them about what we can do. So things we can do in music therapy include playing instruments, singing songs, it can be composing music, composing songs about their frustration that they're in the hospital or what they miss about not being home, it can be listening to music, so it can be focusing on relaxation, breathing techniques, learning to cope with pain, sometimes chronic pain, such as children with sickle cell. So it really runs the gamut of a number of different types of interventions.
Russ White 13:44
Is there a way to tell if you're having a positive impact? And is this something most patients need to do forever or a couple of years helps or I imagine it's very rewarding to do this for you.
Jody Stark 13:56
It is incredibly rewarding. I am so passionate about my work, I love my work. I love that I've been able to work in a number of different settings in a variety of populations and individuals in terms of seeing how it can work. Of course sometimes it's immediate. So if a child is at the hospital and in pain or crying, needing to have assistance with falling asleep or relaxation, there's the evidence right as pretty surprises me even how quickly they can fall asleep and be able to have some relief from pain and and have a chance to relax for other patients in terms of there are a couple of private clients that I've worked with actually since I started at the community music school. One of them her parents have given consent for me to discuss her. She Her name is Julia Yeah, she's, she's sight impaired and multiple impaired in terms of variety of disabilities. She's nonverbal, but she's incredible, incredibly musical. I have had incredible experiences with her musically in terms of her singing, harmonies, counter melodies, rhythmic she's just a incredible musician. Even though she is not verbal. She's really not a verbal individual that uses expressive speech. A lot of what I work with her on is just even saying hello. And same, yes, if she's ready for music, she often comes into the music therapy room in her wheelchair, very shy, very quiet. And I get her out of her wheelchair, put her in a chair, start the music, and it's like the sun comes out. She sings she harmonizes she plays the drums, she shakes the shakers. It's just incredible to see the transformation. And so for her, this could be a lifelong, a lifelong therapy. I think she would always benefit just like all of us, we always can benefit from creative expression. And for her, it's in addition to working on goals, you know, motor skills or speech expressive communication. It's enjoying being with someone in music and that creative expression.
Russ White 16:47
So Jody, what would you suggest for someone joining in on our conversation? Who thinks they have a loved one or a friend or family member who could benefit from music therapy? What should they do?
Jody Stark 16:57
Well, going back to that, quote, where Words fail music speaks. I think if they feel that they could benefit from an experience, that would be transformative, certainly goal directed, whether it's to reduce stress, perhaps their loved one is elderly, and is experiencing dementia. We haven't really talked about that. But often music elicits memories, long term memories. And again, I've had elderly clients who could no longer speak, they've lost that ability because of dementia, but they are able to sing every word to a song from their youth. We've had loved ones come to groups when I was music therapy so that they could kind of see their loved one, come back alive, really through music and dance with them and interact with them and see the joy that music brings when it elicits those long term memories. But music impacts us again, physically, emotionally, cognitively. So with those all those different variety of goals that we that we focus on through music, I think certainly they should consider music therapy as an alternative.
Russ White 18:19
Would you like to tell us a little bit more about the creative arts therapies your company and how it you know how you involve that in your work with MSU.
Jody Stark 18:27
So Creative Arts therapies, Incorporated, is is my is a company I started back in 1991. So a bit before I was able to be involved with community music school Detroit, and we have dance movement therapy, art therapy and music therapy. And we contract throughout the Southeast Michigan. And again, we work with those variety of populations from senior facilities to to working with children at schools, psychiatric hospitals, so really and wide for a variety of clientele.
Russ White 19:05
Well, Dr. Jody Stark, it's been great learning more about music therapy, particularly at the community Music School of Detroit and all this great, rewarding work you do. What else would you like to leave us with about music therapy and the music therapy clinical services at CMS-D?
Jody Stark 19:23
Well, we would love for you to anyone who's interested in music therapy to contact us cms.msu.edu or certainly you can Google community music school Detroit and you'll find us there also just our deep appreciation to this Children's Foundation and, and the CEO and President Larry Burns for the funding of the music therapy program at that Children's Hospital of Michigan. We wouldn't be existing without the Children's Foundation and we've met so many Wonderful families and patients and been able to provide services to them that would otherwise not be able to be provided.
Russ White 20:07
Well, Dr. Stark thank you so much for telling about this important work you're doing and Spartans Will.
Jody Stark 20:13
Russ White 20:14
Go White!, that's Dr. Jody conradie Stark. She is the site Director of Music Therapy clinical services at the Michigan State University Community Music School Detroit, again, cms.msu.edu and I'm Russ White, this is MSU Today.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai