In May of 2007, music therapy professor Karen Wacks, traveled with eight Berklee students to Kenya on a service learning trip sponsored by Musicians for World Harmony (MWH), a nonprofit group created by former Ugandan refugee, Samite Mulondo. Since that time, the relationship with MWH has continued and professor Wacks is currently with Mulondo in Uganda, developing a feasibility study on using music performance and therapy for the Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA) ex-child soldiers to address post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Children between the ages of 5 to 17 are still forcefully abducted, forced to kill, and be trained as rebel fighters or commanders’ wives. In addition to physical disabilities or even death, less perceptible but important psychosocial damage is inflicted upon children by armed conflict and violence. Music has been proven to provide the safety, comfort, and connection so needed for a child’s mental, emotional, and spiritual development.
The following post was written by professor Wacks.
I have been in Uganda since last Saturday afternoon and now it is a week later. This is some of the most intense work I have done thus far in my career as a music therapist. There is no comparison to any other population or life situation.
When thinking of building this trip in the future, it will take a very special type of individual who can handle witnessing the level of suffering and pain that all of North Uganda is experiencing. Every family has been touched in some way by the killings, the abductions and the residual effects of the war.
Mid-March every year, music therapists in the New England area start to get excited: the annual regional conference for the American Music Therapy Association is almost here. 2012 will be my and my peers first year attending, and not only attending- but also presenting.
For the past nine months, we have been diligently working to collect data that supports our hypothesis that music can be used to treat feelings of isolation in seniors. We have gone to senior centers and collected this data using a self-created questionnaire that assesses whether or not there is a significant rise in self-rated feelings of inclusion, commitment, attention, and accomplishment. The questionnaire is given both before and after a group music therapy session, in hopes that the post scores will show raised levels of the dependent variables.
Live from New York … It’s Saturday night! Well, okay, we’re actually coming at you from Boston, and at the time of this posting, it’s Friday morning. But we’re feeling a big connection to Saturday Night Live as of late. Just recently, the show featured Karmin, some of our favorite alums featured in PULSE’s Practical Skills Level 1. And now … drum roll please … we bring you our newest addition to the Study Room – Practical Skills Level 2! And, as part of it, we feature another SNL star — the house band’s keyboardist, Tuffus Zimbabwe, who shares his path to success in the Career Opportunities section of the unit.
Practical Skills Level 2 helps students continue working on the real life skills that will take their music to the next level. It focuses on helping students hone their writing and communication skills, explore the different careers available to musicians, and understand the importance of defining what you and your music are all about. With plenty of videos and downloadable worksheets, the unit helps aspiring musicians to develop the tools needed to get noticed in the music industry, and to investigate potential careers in music.
Now, without further ado, meet Tuffus Zimbabwe. He is a Pianist, Composer, and Arranger and a City Music and Berklee alum. He might look familiar from his great gig as the keyboardist in the Saturday Night Live band. In this video, he shares his educational journey and how he got to where he is today.
Do you think that music has the power to heal? Then meet Sarah Blacker, a Music Therapist and Singer/Songwriter (and Berklee alumna!) who uses music in her work with people with disabilities. Learn more about what it takes to be a music therapist, and start thinking about the different ways that music can be developed into a career.
Log-in to www.berkleepulse.net to check out the rest of our career videos featuring Music Educator Darcel Wilson, Guitarist/Performer Jeff Gitelman, who’s played with the likes of David Bowie and Alicia Keys, and Chris Rival, a Producer/Engineer who owns his own recording studio in Greater Boston.
One of the great things that we take away from these career video profiles is the strong sense of identity that each of these musicians possess. Don’t you feel like you understand them or have a grasp on the direction in which they want to take their musical careers? That’s because they’ve all had to look introspectively to realize what they want to project as part of their musical identities. In the “Defining You” section in Practical Skills Level 2, you’ll learn about Marketing and Branding basics with Mike King, Director of Marketing for Berklee Media.
In the “Working With Words” section, we tackle a topic that many musicians don’t like to address: writing. Learning how to communicate your ideas and your mission effectively could get you just as far as a hit song. But we won’t have you writing novels or sappy love poems. The subject matter of this work is way more interesting, because it’s all about you.
An artist statement, biography, resume, or a blog all have some do’s and don’ts that are good to have under your belt. In this next video, Katie Barnes, City Music Boston‘s Recruitment and Enrollment Coordinator, explains the basics of a bio and how you can make it your best!
Now check out the Bio in action with these City Music students who share excerpts from their bios and tell you why it’s an important tool to have in your arsenal.
There are worksheets that go with each segment. Here’s a quick preview of what you would use when developing your bio.
Want to learn more about Berklee PULSE? Take the tour on youtube, like us on facebook, or follow us on twitter. You can find more about the Berklee City Music Program here.
Heather Foxwell shares more insights from her internship as a Music Therapist in this week’s blog
It is so nice to follow patients over a period of time to see the progress you have actually made with them.
I am finding as my internship rolls to a close that there are some positive patterns happening with many of my patients. Some of the main goals often expressed in end-of-life palliative care, is to just make the patient comfortable, and increase their quality of life. In music therapy, this is often done through decreasing such things as: anxiety, agitation, loneliness, and providing a means for self expression through music.
I am finding that there is an increase to quality of life for many of my patients. I am not only seeing this on a day to day basis, where they will often slip back to their baseline, but I see it as a gradual progression that I am just becoming aware of now. Continue reading →
In the next two posts, Music Therapy intern Heather Foxwell shares some final thoughts and personal stories as her internship winds to a close.
It’s easy to forget just how much of an impact you can have on a person simply by playing some music with them. Also, it is even more surprising to realize that you not only impact the patient you work with, but the entire family. I got to really experience this at the memorial service last week for Season’s Hospice bereaved families.
One family came up to me afterward and greeted me as if I was one of the family; a very warm embrace, hug, and heartfelt wondering of how I was doing and what I would be doing after my internship. They expressed that my presence, though quite brief with their deceased loved one, was very calming and transformative for both the patient and the family.