Resounding Joy Heals Through Music
Coupling art with science, music therapy aims to improve the social, cognitive, psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of individuals and communities. It tackles issues such as anxiety, stress, and pain management.
“You can’t stop sound,” says Barbara Reuer, founder and CEO of Resounding Joy. “It just goes through us, in us, around us. That’s why it’s such a powerful tool.”
Reuer is an internationally recognized and widely published expert in music therapy. In 1987, she founded MusicWorx Inc., a music therapy agency that serves medical and hospice patients, persons with special needs, and individuals dealing with various psychological issues. In 2005, Reuer founded the non-profit organization Resounding Joy to also reach underserved populations.
The organization’s mission is to use therapeutic and recreational music programs to improve the overall wellbeing and quality of life for individuals and communities, while expanding international awareness and increasing access to the power of music for social, community, and clinical uses.
“Music therapy can be extraordinarily effective,” says Jessica Blaisus, Resounding Joy’s Director of Development. “It can be the only thing that breaks through somebody’s pain or anxiety.”
The sessions may include therapeutic singing and music-making on various instruments for individuals or groups, song-writing and lyric analysis for expression, guided music-based relaxation and meditation, drumming circles, and overall community building and peer support.
The Resounding Joy team comprises of interns, board-certified music therapists, board members, and a number of volunteers, coined ‘Joy Givers’ and ‘Joy Makers’. The music therapists identify low-income facilities (specifically for older adults) that need supportive services as opposed to clinical music therapy, and then send Joy Giver volunteers.
Joy Givers—as well as Junior Joy Givers aged 6 to 18—receive recreational music training led by the organization’s therapists through the Mindful Music program, which fosters intergenerational relationships and provides seniors in nursing homes with invaluable social experiences. Joy Makers primarily provide administrative, event, and fundraising assistance.
The organization serves people of all diagnoses and age ranges, from newborns in neo-natal intensive care to 106-year-olds! Their broad services are provided to support veterans, teen parents bonding with their babies, older adults, and hospitalized children and their families.
Powerful and cost-effective music therapy services are offered through four main programs—Healing Notes, Mindful Music, Semper Sound, and Sound Minds—which benefit low-income and underserved communities. Other programs are created as requested by community members. Every session begins with an assessment, and then the therapist works with the client to determine which goals to focus on throughout treatment.
“We work with populations that we’ve identified that have a very specific need,” says Blaisus. Resounding Joy has more than 50 partnerships throughout the community. Their services are fueled by individual donations, community fundraising, and philanthropic grants.
“We provide services that meet clinical, corporate and wellness needs. Each session looks completely different based on the person(s) we are working with,” says Lindsay Zehren, a Resounding Joy therapist who also leads their Drums Alive DRUMTASTIC class and yoga sessions at the Music Wellness Center.
“Things are always going to be changing and there’s always going to be interesting community classes and music lessons,” says Reuer. “You don’t have to be a musician to come to us. But if you want to be one, we can help you with that. We work with whatever ability you have and go from there.”