Thursday, July 28, 2011

OnSong: A Tool for Healing

When we were answering our support emails we ran across something that peaked our interest and we wanted to learn more. Melissa is a Music Therapist-Board Certified and we wanted to know what a Music Therapist does and how she was using OnSong, so we asked. Her response and explanation moved us and we wanted to share her story and profession. We would like to thank Melissa for sharing with us and hope that her story moves you as much as it has moved us.

I'm a contract music therapist, so I work in a lot of different settings, but mostly with children with disabilities or adults with brain injury/stroke.

With the adults, I may sing familiar songs with them to regain speech, or play instruments to familiar songs to regain control of an arm. The age range can be from 20 to 90, so songs familiar to each person are totally different. These guys are constantly requesting new songs, from Elvis to Kid Rock, from BB King to Nickelback, from Johnny Cash to Sugarland, and so on. There's no way one person can memorize all of that. I used to keep a binder of songs I knew, but OnSong is so much lighter and easier. If I need to change something, I can do it on the spot. I can add new songs quickly. I can change keys without having to transpose in my head (especially with songs that have a lot of different chords). I don't have to pause for long songs like American Pie to turn a page. I can look up songs by name, by artist, by genre (I have my books set up in genres like classic rock, country, pop, oldies, etc.) depending on what the client is able to tell me about what they like. I will never have to buy another fake book... ever! This is the biggest, bestest one! :)

I'm just starting to use it with the children because I've only had my iPad about a month, and I'm still exploring what the possiblities are. Yesterday I was working with a child with autism who is having difficulty learning to read. I've been using song lyric puzzles to encourage reading and expand her reading vocabulary, but I was limited by the visual aids I had prepared and with me. If I had a spontaneous idea, I had to wait until the next week to try it. This happened yesterday but I had my iPad, and the song I thought of was in OnSong. In seconds I had the song to sing for her, then could show her the lyrics and have her read them back to me. I could zoom into certain words if she got lost or had trouble. When I asked her questions about the lyrics to test comprehension, I could enlarge the answer if she needed help finding it. I have several children I can do this same activity with, and the variety of songs I can use for their reading skills is no longer limited to what I have time to make visual aids for. The visual aid is right there with the song, and the songs I have quick access to is limitless. I can't wait to try this with the other kids!

In the past I've given adapted guitar lessons to kids with disabilities, and I could see using OnSong as a tool with that, and an easy way to email/send/print copies for the kids to take home to practice.

Music Therapist-Board Certified