Jax Conference Shows The Healing Power of Music Therapy

Nov 22, 2013

The American Music Therapy Association's four-day annual conference is underway at downtown Jacksonville's Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel, with hundreds of music therapists from around Florida in attendance.

The theme this year is Voices of the Sea: Music Therapy @ Florida, highlighting Florida's vibrant and expanding music therapy scene.

Credit midiman / Flickr

Author, musician and AMTA spokeswoman Robin Spielberg performed for more than 1,300 music therapists at Thursday's event as the keynote performer.

Spielberg spoke with First Coast Connect about her new book, Naked on the Bench: My Adventures in Pianoland, and her personal experience with music therapy.

Music can be used as an expressive form of therapy, and has offered incredible results over the years. It has been shown to treat a wide variety of conditions, including autism and Tourette's Syndrome.

Spielberg said she has worked alongside music therapists, and the evidence shows music can be used in a variety of applications and situations.

"I've never met two therapists that do the same thing," Spielberg said. "It's a very individualized approach."

She said music therapists work with everyone from children with autism, to alzheimer's and cancer patients, to veterans with PTSD.

As a result, patients are recovering faster, requiring less pain medication, and enduring shorter hospital stays. She said this is something doctors, hospitals and insurance companies simply cannot ignore.

"It's a very exciting time for the growth of this profession," Spielberg said.

Spielberg said stroke patients have even been known to recover from strokes faster with music therapy.

"Your brain is wired for music," she said. "It can help in so many ways."

Spielberg said music therapy helped when her daughter was born prematurely at just 23 weeks and weighing just under one pound.

"We played some of my music by her incubator," Spielberg said. "Nurses noticed her blood pressure stabilized and her oxygen saturation levels increased."

She said the practice is done for all babies now.

"If there are people out there thinking about a career in music and also have a love for helping others - here is a career where the two intertwine," Spielberg said.

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