Tag Archives: Music Therapy

Lifeworks Music Therapy

submitted by Jenna Horgan, MT-BC, neurologic music therapist


Music is a rich part of our lives and is important in cultures throughout the world. It has the ability to elevate our mood, decrease anxiety, and provide a sense of comfort. We might listen to music, sing, or play an instrument in order to raise our energy level, relax, or express ourselves.  In the words of individuals from music therapy sessions at Lifeworks Burnsville, “Music makes us want to dance and sing!”

Lifeworks Music Therapist, Jennie Delisi with Bobbie Jean Ashton in a music therapy session

Music therapy helps individuals develop cognitive, physical, social,and communication skills that encourage independence and build confidence.

Music therapists work in a variety of clinical settings including day programs, nursing homes, hospice, schools, correctional facilities, and rehabilitation centers. Components of music therapy include singing, music listening, moving, playing instruments, songwriting, and discussion.  According to the American Music Therapy Association,

“Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain, (therefore) music can stimulate cognitive functioning and can be used for remediation of some speech and language skills” (http://www.musictherapy.org).

Lifeworks employs two board- certified neurologic music therapists, Jenna Horgan and Jennie Delisi. They provide group and individual music therapy at 6 Lifeworks locations.  A Lifeworks Career Development or Social Enrichment music therapy group often has the primary goals of improving social and communication skills. Each person in the group is working on specific and measurable objectives to reach their goals. Session plans are designed to address these goal areas, and data is kept on each person’s progress.

Lifeworks incorporates assistive technology into its music therapy program, making music more accessible for participants. Lifeworks music therapists use an IPod Touch, communication devices such as Dynavox, switches, and recording technology for music making and songwriting. One of our musical groups, the AT Real-Time Band, uses these technologies to perform songs like “Tequila” and “Hot, Hot Hot”!

Watch a video of a music therapy session:

If you would like more information about individual music therapy services at Lifeworks, please call Jennie Delisi at 651-365-3740 or email her at jdelisi@lifeworks.org.


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Teaching the Teacher: A story of music, art, and friendship

submitted by Kath Pengelly, volunteer coordinator, Lifeworks Services 

A huge thank you goes to Jenifer Berndt, from Lifeworks Eagan for introducing us to her friend, extended family member, and general all around great guy, Dane Smith. 

Dane is a Music Education student at the University of Minnesota and just about to embark on his final adventure as an education major – student teaching. One of his last classroom requirements was to spend time working with people with disabilities so that he will enter the work force with some knowledge and experience about different student populations. 

Dane Smith with Lifeworks Eagan staff Jenifer Berndt

Dane Smith with Lifeworks Eagan staff Jenifer Berndt

Dane agreed to practice with Glen, a member of the Lifeworks band, Musical Syndrome, once a week for six weeks to help Glen improve his bass playing skills. 

I asked Dane to talk about his experience with us. He said it was very positive, he really looked forward to coming each week, he especially enjoyed working one -on-one with someone. First of all because this was new for Dane, spending one to one time with Glen helped build his confidence as a k-12 Music Educator, and secondly because Glen plays the bass and Dane’s instrument of choice is the euphonium. Dane also went on to say that coming to Lifeworks was, “cool” because at first Glen was really shy but the more time they spent together Glen began to feel comfortable and show what he is all about. Dane said that Glen especially came alive when they made time to do improve with their instruments. 

A big lesson learned by Dane was that as a student teacher he has an inclination to depend on his student’s facial acknowledgement. Because Glen maintains a thinking face Dane wasn’t sure at first Glen was enjoying their lesson but as the weeks passed, Glen definitely let Dane know time together was fun. 

I also asked Dane what his greatest surprise about being with people with disabilities was and he told me that he had not realized that there is a true and talented art community among the disability population.

Dane will be busy these next six months learning the ins and outs of his students at Eagan High School and Chelsey Heights Elementary but he says that he will be back in the summer to spend more time with us. 

Have you ever heard of the idea, pay it forward? Jenifer Berndt introduced Dane to Lifeworks, Dane took it one step further and introduced me to his instructor at the U of MN, Kathleen Seifert, who has promised us more students. You just never know who is out there waiting to hear our story and help. 

Good luck to Dane as he begins this next chapter in his life journey to becoming a music educator. I know he will do well. Anyone who has carried a seven pound euphonium and marched in all kinds of weather for the U of MN Golden Gopher Marching Band has that can do spirit a teacher needs for success. I know Glen says thank you too.

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Filed under Client Stories, Music Therapy, Volunteers