MusicNOW, the partnership program that serves members of the community no longer able to come to the concert hall, continues at Rose Schnitzer Manor in February 2017.

Last year, Marylhurst University’s music therapy program partnered with the Oregon Symphony, Earthtones Music Therapy Services, Alzheimer’s Association of Oregon and Mary’s Woods Continuing Care Retirement Community to develop MusicNOW, a music-interactive program for memory care and assisted living residents.

“Music has the power to enhance lives in so many ways,” said Scott Showalter, president of the Oregon Symphony.

Laura Beer, chair of Marylhurst’s Department of Counseling and Creative Therapies, agrees. “Intonation, rhythm, and simplified speech and song are powerful musical tools that create a bridge to anyone communicatively and socially isolated by disease.”

Patricia Chang, MusicNOW, Music Therapy, Marylhurst UniversityThe West Linn Tidings reported on the program when it began in spring 2016. While the professional musician performed, the continuing care residents joined in, “singing, conducting and playing instruments, making an unlikely musical happening. There were laughs, smiles, clapping, dancing, swaying, arm waving, and a few tears — from the people watching the residents have such a good time.”

Marylhurst music therapy students, working as interns at Earthtones Music Therapy Services, facilitate the group sessions under the supervision of professional therapists. Pictured here is Patricia Chang at her second MusicNow session, at Mary’s Woods Continuing Care Retirement Community.

“We’re learning all the time what works and what doesn’t work in this program,” said Monica Hayes, education and community programs director at the Oregon Symphony. “I’ve already seen such changes in people’s level of engagement. This is amazing. We’re reaching people in different ways.”

Watch a video to see the MusicNOW program in action.