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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Healing Tunes - Music Therapist Is Sharing The Magic Of Music

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Sophia Varcados.
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For some, music can be a great companion through good and bad times. On Sunday, a northern Illinois music therapist gives insight on how these tunes can also be used for healing.  

Jen Conley is a board-certified music therapist and a licensed professional counselor. She said music is gratifying but some people don’t recognize its deeper power. 

“What they often don't realize is how profoundly music affects us physiologically and neurologically,” Conley explained. “It affects your heart rate, your brainwaves, your neurotransmitters, your hormones, your blood pressure.” 

She said the harmonic tunes are hardwired within us and the most primitive region of the brain is linked to music and movement.  

Conley shared a preview of the upcoming experience.  

“I'm going to talk a little more broadly about music therapy, how I've used it professionally,” she added, “what it might look like, tell some stories, because honestly, whenever I talk about music therapy, I have to share music. It's my medium, and stories are what we relate to as humans.” 

She said she will also share ways to use music as a stress reliever and a sleep aid.

In addition, Conley added that music is a great way to communicate with dementia patients because they keep their rhythmic sense, which mostly involves the right hemisphere of the brain.

“They will move in rhythm, they will smile, they will remember complete songs from the 40s or 50s or 60s," she said, "and not be able to sign their name.”

Conley noted that everyone is musical because it impacts many regions of the brain. Therefore, she is encouraging people to appreciate and embrace the magic of this medium.

The Zoom event is a part of the Northern Illinois University Art Museum’s “Well, Thank You”: The Arts as a Means to Well-being art exhibit. Music for Self-Care and Healing takes place virtually from 2 until 3 p.m. April 11.  

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.