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Summer Solstice 2018

The David Cutler Conservatory
Exploring Mental Health Series

April 16, 2018

A Healing Musical Journey

Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Hopewell’s Musical Journey Group allows the residents to venture down this creative path, connect with their own rhythm and find harmony within.

Hopewell’s Musical Journey Group has been experimenting with instruments and voice for over a year and they continue to explore melodious possibilities. The program was envisioned as an alternative to traditional music therapy for adults dealing with mental illness. Music has been shown to be healing and to enhance brain function, hand-eye coordination and maintain focus. Based on the belief that music is a powerful therapeutic tool that helps in recovery, the program allows residents to reconnect with their emotions and express themselves through creative means.

The group meets for an hour every week and is open to all residents. Participants utilize yogic breathing techniques and visualization and practice listening while using instruments including guitar, keyboard, wind, percussion and vocals. The majority have no prior musical training or experience, but they are learning more about music and themselves as they play together.

Leading this talented group are Bob Weirich, Hopewell’s Education Program Coordinator, and Jim Miller, a professional musician who has experience working with physically or developmentally disabled adults. Jim said, “We have people on different levels of musicianship and we operate as a democratic anarchy.” The interaction of sound, lyrics and personalities is a challenge and the participants are encouraged to take care of themselves and voice their needs.

Chris attends the group because he loves to sing. His voice rose through the room as the words, “I can’t help falling in love with you,” rolled out of his heart, followed by a rendition of “Sounds of Silence.” Chris looks forward to Musical Journey Group each week saying, “It is really therapeutic and relaxing and lets many of the negative emotions out.”

Christina has been to several other facilities and has never been offered a musical program. She said, “This is a new way to express myself. I have never played guitar before and I am now learning. They are very patient with me.” Christina looks forward to performing for other residents and staff.

Results of the program have been excellent. Residents report increased self-awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem. Their socialization skills have improved through group collaboration. Jim stated, “We talk about different
things when we get together to play. Music is a healing process."

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