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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Experiencing Music Therapy with Sarah Blackner

Chronicles of Boston Breakout: Day 3 
After visiting Dr. Seibel, we went to the Boston Medical Center (Integrative Medicine) to participate in a session of music therapy with Sarah Blacker. We were graciously welcomed into the music therapy circle, along with a group of around twenty patients dealing with cancer. Here is a little about Sarah Blacker and the sessions:
Board-Certified Music Therapist, Sarah Blacker, who is also a nationally touring and recording singer/songwriter, graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and who previously worked at BMC practicing inpatient Music Therapy for 2.5 years, will be providing the opportunity to sing your favorite songs, engage in drumming or playing instruments, and also to write your own original songs.
The session started off with Sarah going around the group singing as we all introduced our names through song, while playing on a small instrument we had chosen ourselves (i.e. maracas, guitars, drums, bells). I chose the drums (we had just been told by the doctor that drumming increases antibody production, so why not?). Next, she asked us all what music meant, and we came up with phrases like "music is happiness," "music is life," and "music is expression." Through using our phrases, Sarah helped us improvise a song. During our songs, people were given the opportunity to perform solos and express themselves. Two solos especially stuck out to me (besides the blues solo I ended up singing): an older man's solo and a young child's solo. The older man sang a long folk-like tune with purity and sincerity. It was beautiful and touching. The little boy, around six years old, shy and unwilling to sing at first, opened up and sang with a quiet determination. While listening, I felt a deep sense of empathy, a sense of understanding communicated by music, where words would have failed.