The Impact of Songwriting for Veterans

Metro Music Therapy has the privilege of working with numerous impactful organizations who strive to make a difference in the lives of others. One organization that MMT has a long standing relationship with is Music Therapy of the Rockies located in Colorado. Music Therapy of the Rockies mission is to provide quality services and life-changing opportunities for veterans across the country. As part of this initiative, Music Therapy of the Rockies began songwriting retreats for veterans who suffer from PTSD and other service-related injuries. The retreats originated in Nashville, TN on Amy Grant’s farm where they remain each year. 

Mallory Even, Owner and Founder of MMT, and Laura Lenz, Assistant Director, have been fortunate enough to attend multiple veteran songwriting retreats in both Nashville and Atlanta. Each retreat is a two and a half day experience consisting of music therapy groups and songwriting sessions with a professional songwriter telling the veteran’s original story. Mallory Even shared that “veterans learn to play guitar and receive a guitar to keep” once the retreat finishes. “The entire weekend ends with a concert in which each veteran’s song is showcased” says Even. 

So, how does music therapy play a direct role in each songwriting retreat? “Music therapy is integral to the entire weekend and to the schedule and set up of the retreats” shared Even. Laura Lenz shared that “Board-certified music therapists are trained to recognize and support the veterans’ experiences in such a way that their safety and well-being is always at the forefront.” Music therapists apply their training in recognizing and understanding the neurological aspects of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and Traumatic Brain Injuries to structure the musical experience for the benefit of the veteran. Application of counseling skills and facilitating the veteran’s experience in a comfortable, safe environment ensures a successful songwriting session.  

When asked why this experience is so beneficial to veterans, Mallory stated that “when veterans share their story through song, they own a piece of it that they may never have been able to before, and tell it in a way that is their choice.” Those involved in the weekend activities offer a safe, non-judgmental environment to offer the ability to share some of their darkest and hardest stories to tell. “This process can be very healing not only in the moment, but long-term” says Even. When looking at the long-term benefits, there have been countless accounts from attendees of praise and gratitude for the veterans songwriting retreats. “Music Therapy of the Rockies is engaging in research to take brain images before a retreat and then the same images of the same veteran six months after a retreat…their preliminary results are showing increased blood flow in the brain and Music Therapy of the Rockies truly believes this is the physiological benefit of the retreat experience” Mallory shared. In addition, Laura mentioned that she has spoken to many of the veterans post-retreat and there is a “universal expression of appreciation for the tools they are taught during these retreats such as using their guitars to help them through stressful times and utilizing the techniques of music and relaxation throughout their day.” 

Freely sharing and letting the music write difficult stories is a beautiful, heartfelt process to watch for all involved. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific highlight of each retreat, but Mallory states that “it’s the people, hands down! The music therapists, the veterans, and the songwriters.” While Laura agrees, she adds that “it is one of the highest honors of my life to be allowed the opportunity to be a tiny part of being in the presence of these remarkable people whose stories are told in such a glorious way through the songwriters’ talent and compassion along with the music therapists who are so dedicated to the entirety of the people and process.” 

We are forever grateful to work alongside Music Therapy of the Rockies and be a part of their amazing work for our veterans. Metro is also fortunate to host our own retreats in the Atlanta area which are graciously funded, planned, and led by Music Therapy of the Rockies. We, at Metro Music Therapy, continue to live by our mission statement of, “We Can Help.” Our team members are dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of those who sacrificed so much. We try to accurately express our thoughts and emotions upon attending veteran songwriting retreats, but as Laura beautifully said, “words truly don’t capture the experience.”

 

Welcome, Anna!

Metro Music Therapy is happy to introduce our newest team member, Anna Kiefer! Anna made the recent move from Pittsburgh, PA to join our MMT staff. Learn a little more about Anna down below…

Originally from Waycross, GA, Anna earned her degree in music therapy from The University of Georgia. Upon completion of her schooling, Anna interned at Therabeat, Inc. located in Woodstock, GA where she had the opportunity to work with individuals of all ages and abilities. Anna has experience working with the special needs population as well as group settings for memory care/assisted living facilities and children in daycare. Anna provides adaptive lessons for voice, piano, ukulele, and guitar also! 

When asked what she is looking forward to most about joining the MMT team, Anna stated “she is excited to work with people of all ages and backgrounds around the metro Atlanta area.” Anna is a fun-loving spirit who enjoys being silly when working with children!

Outside of her music therapy work, Anna loves cooking dates and playing tennis with her husband. Her playlist includes the Beatles, Avett Brothers, and Lake Street Dive. While she doesn’t have any pets, Anna hopes to soon adopt a dog to add to her new Georgia home. 

One fun fact about Anna is that she enjoys refurbishing old, used furniture that she finds online as part of a newly discovered “quarantine hobby!” 

We are thrilled to have Anna join our music therapy team! Click on the  “Our Team” tab on our website to read Anna’s bio. 

Interdisciplinary Care is Key

Music therapists are able to work in a variety of settings. School systems, hospitals, private practice, correctional facilities, nursing homes/assisted living centers, hospice facilities, psychiatric hospitals, and veteran-care centers are some of the most common locations music therapists provide services. Did you know that music therapists co-treat with numerous professionals on a treatment team? This collaboration between professionals allows for the client to receive the best services possible. 

What does co-treating look like for a music therapist? It’s a music therapists job to share their knowledge on the profession for the benefit of the client. This can include sharing client progress at a treatment team meeting or receiving updated patient information to adapt the intended music therapy session to best meet the clients needs. Music therapists understand and respect that each member of the treatment team plays an important role in the delivery of services to the client. 

Music therapists often work alongside other therapists (Speech, Occupational, Physical, Activity, etc.), nurses, social workers, chaplains, counselors, and doctors to ensure the client’s care is at the forefront. In collaborating with these professionals, music therapists are able to remain up to date with the proper documentation and notes necessary to provide high-quality services. A treatment team is a necessity for excellent patient care and provides well-rounded expertise from multiple domains. 

Online Wellness Session for Veterans

Veterans are Hurting.

With the recent news of the events in Afghanistan, we know that Veterans are hurting, feeling overwhelmed, and may be triggered by what they see and hear on the news and social media. Our team is inviting Veterans to join us online on Tuesday, August 24th @ 8:00pm for a free Music & Wellness session.

The Metro Music Therapy team will be speaking for a few minutes, sharing ways to decompress, de-stress, and to set yourself and your loved ones up for success when life feels out of control.

After the speaking portion, one of our team members will lead the participants in a live music and relaxation exercise, wherein each attendee can participate in the way that they feel most comfortable.

Veterans of all ages are welcome to attend – please share this information within your personal and professional circles!

Registration is FREE and must be completed to gain access to the Zoom call — Registration closes at 1pm eastern on August 24th!

REGISTER NOW

MMT Intern Introduction!

Metro Music Therapy is pleased to introduce our newest music therapy intern, Kiele Kaupe! 

Kiele, a Georgia native, is currently finishing up her Music Therapy degree from Georgia College and State University. Her primary instruments are the euphonium and trombone, but she enjoys playing the guitar and ukulele as well! Kiele has experience working with a variety of populations throughout her schooling including older adults in assisted living and memory care, adults with intellectual disabilities, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  

When asked what she is most excited for during her MMT internship, Kiele stated that she is looking forward to working with the numerous populations MMT has the privilege of serving weekly! The ability to share music therapy with the metro Atlanta area and surrounding communities drew Kiele to MMT. Kiele said that she “loves the overall energy, excitement, and caring nature the MMT company has” which solidified her choice in becoming part of our team.

In her free time, Kiele enjoys reading books, watching movies, and practicing yoga. She loves road trips and discovering new places with friends. One fun fact about Kiele…she loves watching Bob Ross videos even though she doesn’t know how to paint! 

We are so happy to have Kiele with us the next six months! Stay tuned for updates!

Creativity Creates Continuity

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic caused a drastic shift in our everyday living. Zoom calls, working remotely, and social distancing quickly became part of our lives. The music therapy profession was also in constant flux. Music therapists were required to think outside of the box if clients were going to continue to be served. Music therapist’s creativity was tested like never before!

While the pandemic was and still is a challenge, the field of music therapy has continued to grow. Metro was able to reach new clients that were not possible pre-pandemic. Thanks to the addition of telehealth via Zoom, clients throughout the U.S. and internationally have the ability to receive music therapy services from our Metro team! The Covid-19 pandemic showed us that there are no boundaries for music therapy, and for that we are grateful. 

So, how do music therapists use technology? The options are endless! Whether sessions be in person or via telehealth, iPads, cell phones, computers, speakers, and instrumental tuners are commonly used technology resources. Such technology aids in session continuity. Chord charts, metronomes, and music streaming apps are easily accessible to a music therapist and help us focus the session on the client’s needs. iPad apps are easily downloaded to aid in therapy sessions. Depending on the client’s preferences, apps like music beat makers, visual aids, song creators, virtual instruments, and music game-based activities create a fun and goal-centered session. While the world of technology keeps evolving, so does our field! The music therapists at Metro continue to find innovative ways to provide the best services possible in an ever-changing world. 

Sing, Strum, & Play!

Music therapists use numerous props and instruments when working one-on-one and in group sessions. Music therapists must be proficient on multiple instruments. Piano, guitar, percussion, and voice are most commonly used and studied. Years of training are needed to ensure high quality services are being provided.  

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) has established competency-based standards ensuring quality education and clinical training requirements are met. Music therapists are required to compose songs with simple accompaniment, arrange and transpose music compositions to fit the clients vocal range, utilize multiple accompanying patterns on all instruments used, and understand varying genres of music to best emulate their sounds and styles vocally and instrumentally. High- caliber musicianship and creative facilitation makes Metro a winning combination! 

Highlight on Veteran’s Services

Music therapists have the privilege of working with a wide variety of populations, one of which being military personnel. Our profession is grounded in our service to our American soldiers and veterans. Music therapy began post-WWI when musicians were requested to provide music for thousands of veterans who had suffered emotional and physical traumas. Soon after, music therapy  evolved and has grown into the  profession we know and love today. 

Metro Music Therapy is honored to have worked with countless veterans over the years through the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and other organizations dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our service members. One of Metro’s own, Hayley Oliver, currently provides music therapy services to a handful of veterans through an outpatient PTSD program and WWP clients. She began her work with this population during her internship and has had the privilege of working alongside other music therapy professionals, songwriters, and veterans at 3 songwriting retreats in Nashville, TN as a board-certified music therapist. 

Music therapy services are effective in group or one-on-one settings. Hayley states that “both can be excellent tools for veterans, and each format has its own strengths.” Through individual work, music therapists are able to tailor every detail of the experience to the specific veteran’s needs and preferences. “Sessions can progress at the veteran’s pace, and an intimate, therapeutic relationship can be formed” says Hayley. On the other hand, group work allows veterans to collaborate and bond not only with the music therapist, but also with the other participants. This, in turn, offers opportunities to socially engage with peers in fun, recreational activities, as well as foster a supportive and safe environment for moments of vulnerability and deep interpersonal connection. 

A variety of music therapy interventions can be used to attain specific, time-bound goals set for the individual or group. Interventions such as lyric analysis and songwriting address mental health needs by providing opportunities for healthy trauma processing. Hayley adds that “these interventions provide a structure for self-expression, allowing veterans to explore memories and emotions in a safe, supported environment.” Other interventions include instrument playing, singing, or learning an instrument to help with coping skills, physical, and neurological goals while aiming to decrease anxiety, depression, intense anger, and suicidal ideation. Hayley states that when working with a veteran with a traumatic brain injury, “music interventions are designed to strengthen relevant regions of the brain specific to the veteran’s needs, abilities, and interests.”

So, why and how is music therapy for veterans beneficial? Music therapy uses music, a unique and powerful tool, to play a role in all forms of wellness for the client. “An ever growing body of research shows us just how integral music is to every aspect of our lives, from our social and spiritual practices to the rhythms of our heart and breath.” New neural pathways are able to be formed simply by listening to music. Hayley goes on to say that “research into the psychology of music shows us the invaluable role music plays in emotional wellbeing, both individually and collectively.” 

When asked what her favorite part about working with veterans is, Hayley stated that it involves “watching them rediscover their sense of identity and personal power.” Veterans can often feel a loss of control and disconnect from themselves, but with music therapy they are able to feel capable and empowered in all aspects of their lives. Hayley says that she is “honored to be a part of their journeys.” 

If you would like to begin veterans services for yourself or a loved one, please visit our contact tab on the website or fill out our Client Intake Form on the New Clients tab. 

Thank you veterans for your service. We would be happy to serve you.

Interested in Music Lessons?

Did you know that Metro offers adaptive music lessons? Whether you or your family member are wanting to learn a new skill or find a creative outlet, we’re here to help! Our talented team teaches voice, guitar, piano, and ukulele lessons to people of all ages. 

At Metro, we personalize all lessons to meet the individual’s needs. Our music therapy background and training allows us to focus on any physical, emotional, cognitive, or social adaptation needs while enjoying the process of learning a new instrument! If music lessons interest you, please give us a call at (404) 510-3799 or email the director, Mallory Even, at mallory@metromusictherapyga.com.

We would love to serve you! 

Metro Serves All

The end of summer is quickly approaching! As enjoyable as this summer was, it’s time to start planning ahead for the fall and back-to-school months. The services Metro Music Therapy offers could be the perfect addition to you or your family’s schedule!

At Metro, we provide one-on-one and group services spanning multiple domains and diagnoses. Our team’s experience as board-certified music therapists allows us to cater to all client’s needs by tailoring each session to meet their desired goals and objectives. Our team serves the following populations…Developmental Delay, Autism, At-Risk Youth, Grief & Loss, Mental Health, Veterans, Refugees, and Hospice & Palliative Care. Visit our homepage, and click each box to read, in detail, exactly how we approach and carefully consider the needs of each client. 

If you think Metro would fit well into your weekly routine, give us a call or reach out via email! We would love to serve you in the near future. The end of summer is a perfect time to bring enhancement into your life! We look forward to hearing from you!

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