-As a group of older adults enters the music therapy circle, they hear their name being sung within a hello greeting song.
-A child is prompted to use ASL and communicate “all done drum” before switching to a new instrument.
-When an adolescent is admitted to an inpatient unit, they are encouraged to pick a song that depicts their current emotional state and analyze the lyrics or musical components.
All of the above examples display the ways in which music therapists support change and transitions within sessions. No matter the age or ability, transitions are challenging. It is such a common human experience to view change, whether it is life-altering or within the day to day, with negativity and fear. We see this in moments such as clients hesitating to join the circle, resisting exploration of a new instrument or simply saying "no" to new musical experiences. It is our role as music therapists to encourage our clients to embrace change with flexibility and openness. Luckily for us, we have the motivating modality of music to create the space for change to occur. The ultimate goal is that our clients are able to cope with and perhaps even celebrate new changes both within and outside of the music therapy space.
One way I have been fostering client flexibility involves the transition to a new season- autumn! This past week, clients in my older adult groups were able to choose a (real!) leaf with a song title written on the back. After singing and reminiscing about all things apples, campfires, crisp air and bicycle riding, clients got to hold on to their leaves as a representation of the changing seasons.
Although change can take significant energy and attention, it is also the first step (or should I say leap) towards growth.