Connecting Across the Country: A Virtual Music Therapy Session Reenactment

If you’re wondering what a virtual music therapy session might entail, search no further! Just as before, our clients participate by singing, dancing, playing instruments, writing songs, relating songs back to their personal experiences, and listening to music.

For more, check out this session reenactment, designed to connect Brenda*, a 77 year old woman isolated in a memory care home in Portland, and her daughter Madison who lives on the east coast.

Image description: A Zoom call with three people calling in from their homes. Madison (top left) and Brenda (top right) are smiling . The music therapist is on the bottom of the screen, playing a guitar.

Riley, board certified music therapist, initiates the call. Brenda calls in with staff assistance and her daughter Madison joins from her home. They smile and wave at each other and jump right into “Oh! What a Beautiful Morning.” During the song, Riley asks what makes each of their mornings ‘beautiful,’ with Brenda describing ‘the flowers outside,’ and Madison sharing a picture of her garden.

The group keeps warming up by singing a few classics: “Sentimental Journey” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Madison grabs a tin can to ‘drum along’ while Brenda dances to her beat!

Image description: Madison (top left) appears to be creating a beat using a pen to hit a tin can. Brenda (top right) is smiling. Riley, the music therapist (bottom), is playing the guitar and singing.

They sing “Home on the Range” and Madison talks about growing up in spacious coastal Oregon. The family fondly reminisces about their vacations along the coast flying kites, swimming in the cold water, and building sand castles. With Riley’s facilitation, they compile their memories into an original song called “Sweet Days With You.”

Image description: The three participants are stacked on the side of the screen. A word document takes up the majority of the screen. The document has lyrics which state: “Such sweet songs with you, my love / Swimming along the sea / Building castles and flying kites / It was just you and me / We didn’t know who was watching us / We just kept swimming along / And oh, did we shiver once we got in / But we swam along in song.”

Madison asks for a copy of the song and Riley notes to send her the lyrics and a recording later that day. The session wraps up with a few deep breaths of gratitude. Brenda and her daughter share about their plans for the rest of the day and set up a time to listen to the recording together later on in the week.

Image description: The three participants on the Zoom call are smiling and holding their hands to their heart.

*All names and anecdotes are fictional.