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Online and Back Again

By Allie Haryanto RMT

With vaccines on the horizon and restrictions slowly ending, face-to-face interactions will be upon us once again. From online sessions to shared playlists, technology has played an integral role in how we have all been supported and grown with music this past year. The question now is, how can we ever go back?

I began a music therapy program at a school during the

COVID-19 crisis in Victoria, and all my sessions were online. Using a combination of online video-conferencing platforms and more user-friendly technologies, the music therapy program was deemed a success and was approved to continue on into the next school year. With schools opening back to face to face learning, I needed to turn a program designed for online to in person!

Here are some tips and tricks I learned when adapting online to in-person, and how to go back seamlessly if needed.

  • Smaller group sizes mean more opportunity for all participants to contribute to the experience. Online platforms are built for small groups with automatic muting. Students gave me feedback that they loved the opportunity to really get to know their groupmates in small group sessions. In-person I have found this is also true!

  • There are opportunities and enjoyment in music videos. Receptive music experiences can sometimes be enhanced with visuals. Online it is a great way to keep participants engaged, and in person it sparks conversation about what is seen. It can also inspire participants to create their own!

  • Pay attention to the body. Our bodies provide so many opportunities for music experiences. From singing and dancing, to body percussion and sensory stimulation, music therapy doesn’t necessarily need a room full of instruments. Get creative and encourage participants to explore music in ways they may not expect!

  • In the event that we need to back online, schedules and communication are key! It is very easy in this pandemic world to send a text and delay something, but whenever possible keep your regular session time. This dedicates time to music therapy no matter where we are, and accessible communication is the key to adaptation.

Music therapy is as flexible as the music therapists who practice it. Who knew all it took was a global pandemic to show us what was truly possible!

Allie is a Registered Music Therapist who was based in Melbourne, Australia until a few weeks ago when she moved to be with her family in the USA. She has a passion for creating new programs for her clients and knows SBMT's Director Megan as her first supervisor when she was studying to be a music therapist at Melbourne University!

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