Senior Care Patients and Music Therapy Students Erich Each Other’s Lives

Music therapy students are enrolled in a special program that’s run by Southern Methodist University in Dallas Texas. These students are part of the Meadows School of the Arts. This semester the students are involved in a music therapy program at the Presbyterian Village North senior care center in Dallas. The idea was to give the students some experience with seniors in a senior care facility in order to get their degree. Mary Ann Hyde, who works at the PVN, had gotten in touch with the dean of Meadows School of the Arts to arrange for this program. Dean Sam Holland contacted Dr. Robert Krout, who heads the SMU music department, and the new program was born.

The goal is for the students to complete 1200 clinical hours that include 180 clinical hours of classwork. The remaining 1020 hours are spent once a week, fulfilling their internship at the senior care facility. This program is open to students in their fourth semester. The responsibility of music therapy is more than just playing musical instruments and singing for a group of about 15 residents. The students are placed on a rotation of several students at a time working with a small group of residents for an hour on Wednesdays. The students are required to set goals for the residents. These goals include physical endurance, cognitive skills, problem solving, fine motor skills, socialization, and self-expression skills.

The seniors and the students begin each session sitting in a circle, prior to the therapy. The students get creative. One song was called K-K-Katy. It was first sung in its original form, and then the students substituted Katy’s name and gender for each of the residents in the program. This helps the residents learn to recognize each of the residents in the program. Usually, the students will ask each resident what song was most meaningful to that person. When that isn’t possible, the students will research what songs were popular when the resident was in his 20s. The students can’t cure many of the diseases, but they can provide a meaningful experience for the residents.