“We all respond to music, music inspires the soul,” said board-certified music therapist Deforia Lane, who came to Breckenridge not only to give National Repertory Orchestra musicians experience in music therapy but also to bring hope, fun and laughter to those with disabilities.
Lane said she has witnessed music’s ability to reduce anxiety, physically relax and create hope for patients. As part of its Education and Community Engagement program, the NRO has the ability to bring these opportunities to organizations throughout Summit County, and the musicians are able to play an active part in community growth.
Lane instructed NRO musicians recently in hands-on practicum experiences in music therapy at hospitals, hospices and community centers. Lane highlights practical strategies to make music a part of the social interactions with patients.
Lane serves as associate director of the Seidman Cancer Center and director of music therapy at University Hospitals of Cleveland, Seidman Cancer Center and Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. She received her master’s degree from Cleveland State University and earned her Ph.D. in music education from Case Western Reserve University. She holds board certification as a music therapist and is certified by the American Music Therapy Association for Faculty Authorization. Lane has designed and implemented music-therapy programs for such diverse populations as the mentally handicapped, abused children, geriatric clients, behaviorally and psychiatrically disturbed, adult and pediatric cancer patients and the terminally ill.
Lane was able to bring her gifts to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, and along with three NRO musicians, they brought the joy of music to campers of the BOEC summer program.
For more than 35 years, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center has helped people with disabilities develop their potential through outdoor adventure experiences and offers a wide range of adaptive programs for people with special needs — mental and physical disabilities, serious illness and youth-at-risk. Most courses are based out of the Griffith Lodge in Breckenridge, and activities include rafting, adaptive cycling, high-ropes course and rock wall. During each weeklong session, there are six participants, eight volunteers, including a brain injury specialist from Craig Hospital, six interns, two instructors and a course director.
This past week, the BOEC campers were able to have a completely different experience with music therapy. As a health profession, music therapy is used to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals. Music therapists provide a unique form of treatment that includes creating, singing, moving to and/or listening to music. Through this musical involvement, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives.
Reaching out to BOEC
Deforia opened the session by saying, “We are all going to make music together, get to know each other and have fun.”
She made it all about the campers in the BOEC program, and her goal was to get them to participate and respond. There were individuals present with a wide range of disabilities, and Lane was sensitive to each specific need. Each camper received an instrument — egg shakers, drums or bells — and she used repetition and rhythm to issue cognitive responses from the campers. Every name that was spoken or instrument that was identified was given its own rhythm so campers could play and sing the name back. It was truly amazing to watch the campers respond and repeat back the exact rhythm Lane played.
Lane then had the musicians — a flute, clarinet and bassoon player from the NRO — play and demonstrate their instruments. They would show the campers how low and high it could go, play a melody from one of their favorite pieces and ask questions to get everyone to participate. The campers responded very well, signaling their enjoyment by shaking their egg shakers wildly.
NRO bassoonist David Young was one of the musicians in this outreach with Lane.
“It was a joy to get to work with the folks at the BOEC,” he said. “Deforia is really an inspiration. To see both how skillfully and naturally she works with folks with all varieties of needs is simply incredible. For me, this experience allowed my own love of music to overflow as an invitation to others to love music, as well.”
Young said when he sees how positively his music affects people who deeply need more positive things in their lives, the effect is reciprocal and his own love for his art grows.
“Whether it is young children, those with special needs, elderly folks or even just the general public, we’re all people,” he said. “And as people, we long deeply for connection, whatever superficial barriers we might put up otherwise. Music, and especially common participation in music through music therapy, breaks through those barriers and allows us to share in the joy of uninhibited interpersonal connection.
“By the end of the hour-long session, I genuinely felt like I had gained a few new friends.”
Michelle Lewandowski is the marketing and public relations intern for the NRO.