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  • Kayla Shafer, Founder, Music Therapist

THERAPY vs. entertainment

"Can your musicians provide entertainment for a birthday party coming up?"

As a new small business, it is tempting to say 'yes' to these offers, and I admit, we have, from time to time. These requests often come from well-intentioned assisted living or long-term care facilities hoping to schedule meaningful activities for their residents. By saying yes, we have held the hope that our birthday party entertainment will help us "get our foot in the door" or provide the chance to offer an in-service, or, or, or...

So far, the foot in the door only starts to hurt after awhile and the in-service never gets scheduled. We continue providing entertainment when our music therapists can do so much more.

Why is this a problem, do you ask? Because music therapy is not entertainment.

Let's go back to the original question. Just as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, all music therapists are musicians but not all musicians are music therapists. There is a difference, in the form of a degree in music therapy. Additionally, music therapy may be entertaining, but it is not entertainment. That is to say, entertainment is not the goal of a therapy session.

Imagine you are at a restaurant for dinner and there happens to be live musicians playing that evening. You listen while you eat, the music may spark conversation between you and your company, and you may even sing along or clap from time to time. These are the goals of performing musicians: to help you relax, have fun, and enjoy yourself. There is nothing wrong with these goals.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with performing musicians providing entertainment for monthly birthday parties at long-term care facilities. Absolutely nothing. But again, this is not music therapy.

Music therapy IS the use of specifically designed music interventions to achieve non-musical goals, delivered by a credentialed professional through therapeutic interactions. A therapy session with older adults might include:

  • Drumming to increase sustained attention

  • Singing to increase or maintain vocal strength and support

  • Movement to maintain range of motion and strength

  • Songwriting to facilitate reminiscence and life review

  • Listening to practice intentional relaxation

At Keynote, we want to improve your residents' health, well-being, and quality of life through specific goal-oriented therapeutic interventions. We would love to talk with you about how music therapy can add to the dynamic services you already provide.

Contact us today!

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