Music Therapy Week Answers Questions, Demonstrates Success

Imagine the value of an emotionally disturbed child learning to vent anger on a drum instead of on the world. Think how precious it would be to see a relative ravaged with Alzheimer's experience moments of peaceful joy when a familiar tune is played. These successes are what music therapy is all about.

Tennessee Technological University, which offers the only music therapy degree program in the state, will showcase music therapy techniques and results during Music Therapy Awareness week Feb. 23-28.

So, what is music therapy, and why would anyone want to learn more about it? Emotional stress, Alzheimer's, autism, mental retardation, learning disabilities, physical handicaps Ñ these conditions and more separate millions of people from their world. Music therapy can help people create a connection with their therapist, family and friends.

For example, Alzheimer's patients can reconnect with their world simply by hearing a familiar song. The learning disabled can learn routines and appropriate behavior through rhythm and lyrics. Patients participate better in physical therapy if done to a rhythmic or favorite tune. Individuals in worlds clouded by emotional distress can find expression for their emotions.

Tennessee Tech music therapy students and faculty will lead demonstrations and share information during activities designed for anyone interested in learning or using music therapy.

  • Monday, Feb. 23: Music therapy students will display instruments and information from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the University Center's ground floor.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 24: Those curious about music therapy will find this night the most informational. From 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the downtown First United Methodist Church's old worship service area, students will demonstrate how they use therapy for chemically dependent, developmentally disabled and geriatric patients.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 25: Students, faculty and staff will join a drumcircle -- improvisational drum playing led by faculty member Joseph Rasmussen -- from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., music therapy professor Michael Clark will lead a relaxation session.
  • Thursday, Feb. 26: The Magic Bean will host singer/songwriter night. Between performances, students will lead the audience in some music therapy exercises.
  • Friday, Feb. 27: Music therapy introduces itself to the masses with an information booth at WalMart from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 28: High school seniors visit the university for music therapy activities.

Organizers encourage anyone involved or interested in public schools, special education or geriatric health care not to miss the Tuesday night session.

For more information, call Clark at 372-3065 or visit the music therapy web site by choosing the Music and Art department's section on Tennessee Tech's homepage at
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