Hide   Volume
The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

New Music Therapy Practicum Brings Music to Children


Photo credit:

Written by: Communicator StaffFebruary 14, 2013

Nothing soothes the soul like music. Or so music therapy students set out to show. Beginning this spring, those students who are working their way through their music therapy practicums will get the chance to share this medicine with Fort Wayne’s children.

According to Nancy Jackson, an associate professor of music and the director of music therapy at IPFW, students are required to do a minimum of four semesters of direct patient clinicals, which they have done through different community placements. Through the programs new partnership with Lutheran Hospital, music therapy students will now be offered the chance to work with pediatrics patients, an option not previously offered by IPFW.

This new practicum avenue was made possible in part by the Blue Star Connection, a non-profit that works with music therapy programs in hospitals across the country to bring music to children. Jackson noted that Blue Star’s contribution to the program was much different from their normal donations.

“Blue Star was unusually generous. We said this is what we’d like to have, this is what we’d like to do, and the boxes just started arriving,” said Jackson.

Ordinarily, donations made to IPFW’s music therapy program allows them to go out and purchase a few instruments at a time that students are able to take along with them to their practicums. Blue Star, on the other hand, donated instruments directly to the requests of the program, shipping guitars, bells, recorders, an electronic keyboard small percussion instruments among others.

This semester, two music therapy students along with a board certified music therapist will be visiting Lutheran hospital for a few hours every week to bring these instruments and their learning to the children, a great opportunity for a hospital without a music therapist on staff.

Practicum students are able to provide assessments, treatment and treatment evaluations of patients, which may include the use of singing or instruments on the part of the student or the patient to help them relax or provide distraction from pain and discomfort. While Jackson says this allows students to practice their skills at the same time that it allows them to figure out which type of patients they would like to work with in the future, it also serves the larger function of taking patients out of an emotional state that hinders their healing.

“Music is intrinsically and inherently a human activity. It connects us with our full humanity. If you think of children in a hospital, they are away from their normal surroundings, including family, and when you bring music into the environment you are showing them the completeness they have in themselves. You relieve that fear, relieve that anxiety and this allows them to heal,” said Jackson.