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Where music speaks

SHERIDAN — His goal was always to come back to Sheridan. Then, his goal was met last summer. Andy Edmundson returned to Sheridan and, with over a decade of experience in music therapy, started his Sheridan-based business, “Possibilities Music Therapy Service.”

“My father inspired me,” Edmundson said of his decision to start with music therapy. His father was a patient in hospice care and Edmundson was touched by the loving care his father received. He wanted to do something more in that area but didn’t feel drawn to the medical aspect.

“Then a friend recommended to me to look into music therapy,” Edmundson said.

Edmundson was intrigued. A former Sheridan High School band teacher, Edmundson went on the quest to discover more about music therapy and met with a director of a music therapy program.

According to the American Music Therapy Association website, music therapy treatments promote positive effects in mental health, Alzheimers, depression, palliative care and pain management to name some areas. Music therapy provides an opportunity to communicate for those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.

The idea clicked for Edmundson. He enrolled in a two-year training program to become board certified in music therapy. He began music therapy in 2002 and concentrated on hospice therapy in honor of his father.

Since the beginning, Edmundson has provided music therapy to a variety of groups including youth with special needs and adults in hospice care hospitals, nursing homes, and skilled nursing facilities. He has conducted workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.

“It’s amazing how music therapy works for pain control,” Edmundson said. “When you’re making music, you’re really not concentrating on the pain.”

Edmundson engages participants in what he calls “active music making” where everyone is given an opportunity to play. He provides a variety of instruments including shakers, drums, finger castanets, tambourines, bells, tone bars, or rain sticks. Participants receiving music therapy do not have to have prior musical experience.

“You don’t have to know anything about music to participate,” Edmundson said. “Music therapy gives someone the opportunity to be creative and expressive within a safe and comfortable place without having to worry about making right or wrong.”

Edmundson’s objective is to get everyone involved in the moment with the music. Barb Blue, director of the Sheridan Senior Center’s Day Break program met Edmundson and was intrigued with the idea of his music therapy.

“He had brought all his instruments to tell us what music therapy is and what he does,” Blue said. “He has such a caring heart and I was excited to see if the folks in Day Break would enjoy him.”

The Senior Center Day Break program provides onsite daytime care services for older adults who may not be able to stay safely alone at home.

All of the Day Break attendees and staff participated in Edmundson’s music therapy session on March 17. And the group did enjoy Edmundson’s visit.

“We got smiles out of everyone,” Blue said following Edmundson’s visit. “They loved him.”

Edmundson is reaching out about his program to a variety of organizations in the Sheridan community. He is scheduled for a return session with the Senior Center’s Day Break clientele and program team members to have his music speak again there.

By Lois Bell, Sheridan Senior Center


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