Melody uses music to help individuals living with mental illness find community
Take a moment and think of one or two your favorite songs. Why does a great song make you feel so great? Perhaps it’s because music has been shown to reduce stress and aid in relaxation. Billy Joel, in an interview with Rolling Stone, stated: “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity.”
Take a moment and think of one or two your favorite songs. Why does a great song make you feel so great?
Melody, a recent Augsburg College graduate in Music Therapy, knows the value of music with regard to mental health. She recognized how her expertise could benefit Avivo’s Community Support Program in Minneapolis, and worked with staff to create a weekly music therapy group, called Melody’s Melodies, for individuals living with a mental illness.
“Music therapy is using music to help an individual reach a goal,” says Melody. “Music helps people orient to reality. It helps them remember things. I think the setting helps people relax.”
Melody’s Melodies changes themes every week, using different musical instruments each session. One session might be guitars and singing, and another might be a drum group. All sessions are followed by a group discussion of lyrics, rhythms, or anything else a participant has on their mind. Melody just wants to get people talking.
“Music is a catalyst. A more inviting way to talk about what you’re going through.”
“When you’re playing [or singing] together, it’s less scary, less intimidating,” says Melody. “Music is a catalyst. A more inviting way to talk about what you’re going through.”
Melody wants her music therapy sessions to be a welcoming, inviting, experience. She’s happiest when she sees everyone participating, talking, and experiencing a sense of community. According to Melody, talking (or singing) in group is a healthy coping strategy, which can be important for those living with mental illness or battling addiction.
“When you make eye contact… When everyone’s singing together … That’s satisfying.”