Flint School of Performing Arts unveils new music therapy program

Music Therapist Breanne Bishop will be conducing individual and group music therapy sessions at the Flint School of Performing Arts. Photo by Ben Gagnon

Music Therapist Breanne Bishop will be conducing individual and group music therapy sessions at the Flint School of Performing Arts. Photo by Ben Gagnon

FLINT — The Flint School of Performing Arts is now offering music therapy sessions to address a wide scope of health-related needs that affect mid-Michigan residents.

Last Monday, the FSPA held a community-wide open house at the Flint Institute of Music to introduce its new program and its newly hired music therapist, Breanne Bishop.

“The mission of the Flint School of Performing Arts is to provide music and dance for everyone,” said FSPA director Davin Torre. “Music therapy will answer the needs of a broader community than we’re currently able to do.”

Bishop, who will be conducting individual and group music therapy sessions at FSPA, said that she’s looking forward to kick-starting the program.

“I’m very excited to work with a variety of different people,” she said. “The doors were opened, and this was where I was meant to be.”

Bishop, 23, received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Therapy and a minor in psychology from Western Michigan University. She completed her music therapy internship at Marwood Nursing and Rehab in Port Huron, where she also co-treated with art therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.

During the open house, Bishop explained how music therapy is used to address an extensive range of cognitive, physical, social or emotional needs. She also described how music therapists implement clinical and evidence based interventions to focus on non-musical goals, such as helping stroke patients to regain mobility or Alzheimer’s patients to remember names.

One important intervention technique that Bishop turns to is group instrumental play, in which clients learn how to compose songs and/or play music.

To illustrate how group play operates, Bishop handed out a variety of percussion instruments to volunteers in the audience and led them into an improvisational song. She then directed the audience to generate its own beats and taps to accompany her while she played guitar and sang.

This type of group exercise, Bishop said, reaps many benefits for clients because it helps to stimulate brain activity and cognitive/ motor skills, while helping to build social interaction.

Bishop has also seen success in individual sessions.

During her internship, she helped a stroke patient to pronounce the names of her family members.

“I wrote a song for her that included all of her family members’ names and sang it together with her,”

Bishop said.

“Three months later, her granddaughter came to visit…and the patient was able to shout out her granddaughter’s name for the first time in years. It was a beautiful moment.”

In addition to clinical intervention, Bishop and the FSPA will also be offering music lessons for clients who wish to expand on what they’ve learned through therapy. Clinical intervention will be covered by Medicare and some insurance plans, while music lessons will cost the same as typical classes at the FSPA.

Music therapy sessions at the FSPA will take place on Thursdays between 1 and 5 p.m. Individual sessions for adults and children of all ages are available in 30 or 45 minute time slots, while group sessions for all ages are available for 45 minute sections.

Call the FSPA at 810-238-1350 ext. 3 or email Breanne Bishop at bbishop@thefspa.org for more info or to register for sessions.

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