Music therapy delivered virtually despite global pandemic

Participants interact during virtual music therapy with Onalee.

Western Michigan University Music Therapy students rely on academic field placements to gain valuable experience before graduation. Covid-19 has made that difficult during the summer semester as many placement locations have limited or restricted visitors. WMU Senior Day Services has music therapy students come in to provide services for participants each semester. Despite the global pandemic, Music Therapy instructor and field placement coordinator, Deanna Bush, saw this semester as no different. Instead of having a student come into our building, virtual music therapy was chosen as an alternative. Onalee Melton was assigned to WMU Senior Day Services and conducted four- one hour therapy sessions each week. Nonetheless, participants enjoyed sessions with Onalee. 

Bush said, “I have been pleased with the outcome of music therapy this semester.  I feel that despite having screens between us, we were still able to make both human and musical connections while offering meaningful experiences for group members and student! Through this type of service delivery, our students are learning skills that might not otherwise be in the forefront but are of huge benefit that will serve them throughout their careers as music therapists”.  

“This semester has been a learning experience for everyone involved. Although the remote nature of the music therapy sessions included a large learning curve, fun and success was had by all”, said Onalee.