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Meet Rachel: A Therapist's Perspective on Music Therapy

Posted Dec 16 2009 12:00am

Music therapy has allowed me the opportunity to meet some beyond fantastic people. Rachel Rambach of Listen and Learn Music is absolutely one of the most kindhearted, passionate music therapists I've met so far in my career of nearly two months.

Today, Rachel has offered to answer some questions for you about her experiences with music therapy and what it means for children with special needs.

Erin: Rachel, you have so much to offer the special needs community that I'm astounded nearly every time I visit Listen and Learn Music. Can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in the career and field of music therapy? How did you decide that you wanted to be a music therapist and that it would be a meaningful career?

Rachel: I first became interested in music therapy while in college, as a voice performance major. I knew I wanted to have a musical career, but I wasn't satisfied with performance alone. When I found music therapy and realized I could use my talents to help people, I was sold on it! Initially, I wanted to work with senior citizens - people with Alzheimer's Disease, like my grandmother. I saw how she responded so positively to music, and I wanted to bring that to others like her. I enjoyed the work I did with seniors in graduate school, but realized after a couple of practicums that I was meant to work with children. That is what I have been doing ever since, and I feel like I grow as a music therapist every day.

Erin: Tell us more about your current jobs as a music therapist. Where do you work, and what do the settings involve? What kind of diagnoses affect your clients?

Rachel: I currently work in two settings - 1) I am the full-time music therapist at The Hope Institute for Children & Families in Springfield, Illinois. I am the first music therapist they've had, so I built the program when I started here almost three years ago (right out of internship). I work mostly in the classroom with groups of 8-10 children, all of whom have multiple disabilities such as ASD, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, behavior disorders, etc. 2) I have a private practice, Music Therapy Connections, in which my students come to me in my home studio. Most of these students are afflicted with ASD, though I also teach lessons (voice, piano, and guitar) to many typically developing children.

Erin: How would you say is the best way for parents to reinforce the skills developed and improved while in music therapy when the child is at home?

Rachel: I make monthly CDs for all of my students, which contain the songs we are currently using to address targeted skills and objectives. Parents are encouraged to play the CD for their children often (on a daily basis) to reinforce what we work on during our weekly session. The idea is to generalize the skills from the song in music therapy to any setting.

Erin: At what age and/or stage of development in a child's life do you think music has the greatest impact? Why?

Rachel: The earlier, the better. I lead a music therapy group made up of children with down syndrome; when we first started, most of the children were less than 6 months old. Now almost 3, their parents and I are seeing their continuous progress in music therapy as a result of early intervention. They were introduced to new sensory experiences at such a young age that now, they are comfortable trying anything I bring to our sessions.

Erin: Thank you so much, Rachel, for being our very first interview in the series. We look forward to seeing your publication, Listen and Learn Music, grow and prosper in the near future!

To find out more about Rachel and her work, you may visit her blog or her Youtube channel.

Do you have a question for Rachel that wasn't answered in this Q-and-A session? You're in luck! Just leave your additional questions in the comments on this post, and Rachel will return to answer them very, very soon! Please come back to leave your questions; there will be something exciting to happen. You don't want to miss it!

Learn more about how you can be featured on Music Therapy Perspectives!

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