by Robyn Roste/Special to Langley Advance Times
In its simplest form, music playlists are a list of tracks in the order they will play. However, the act of putting together an effective playlist to create a specific atmosphere is not as easy.
Author and music therapist Jennifer Buchanan believes playlists have the ability to act as a bridge to help us feel, create, and connect. She shows readers how to use them with purpose and intention in her new book, “Wellness, Wellplayed.”
“Playlists are so powerful and engaging for people and I wanted to give some weight to it,” she said.
“There is no other activity that we know of that can stimulate more areas of the brain simultaneously then listening to music that inspires us.”
Buchanan’s book is intended to help even the least musical person understand how a playlist can impact our body and mind. It teaches readers how to compile a playlist that delivers exactly what they need in that moment.
“The book is focused mostly on mood, memory, and motivation,” Buchanan told the Langley Advance Times.
“I put together ideas collected over the past 30 years that have worked in a clinical way, for the public to work towards their goals.”
Although music has long been used therapeutically, music therapy as a profession is much newer. When Buchanan discovered the term she felt like it “called out” to her, as she had already witnessed what music could do for people.
When she was a young teen growing up in Langley, her grandfather suffered a major stroke impacting his mobility and speech.
Buchanan was asked to play music for him at an extended care hospital in Surrey.
She saw her grandfather’s disposition transform as she played his favourite songs and this soon became a regular Friday evening activity.
“I had the opportunity to connect with my elders going through really deep transitions,” she said. “These people became my friends on Fridays.”
Buchanan received her bachelor of music therapy from Capilano University and then moved to Calgary to complete an internship and become a certified music therapist.
Music therapists help foster a desired change, such as stress relief, improved speech, increased focus, recovering lost memories, and much more.
She stayed in Calgary and opened JB Music Therapy, where she and her team design and personalize therapy plans for their clients, people ranging from two months old to 104 years old.
They work in all sorts of settings like intensive-care units, rehabilitation centres, continuing care facilities, corrections facilities, and classrooms. They also offer online music therapy.
“As music therapists, we’re doing deep emotional and physical work,” Buchanan said.
Through her 30-year career, many clients have appreciated the in-person sessions and wanted to continue the work on their own between appointments. That’s where the idea for “Wellness, Wellplayed” was born.
“I asked, how can we use this really simple exercise of a playlist and make it more intentional?” she said.
“The book helps you with distilling down what is the music for you, for the goal you hope it to achieve. It’s for anyone who is feeling stuck and could use a little boost.”
“Wellness, Wellplayed” is available as an e-book at most online book retailers and at wellnesswellplayed.com.
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