Therapists Making Music
Music has always been an integral part of Hawaii with the hula and kanikapila-style jam sessions that add to its diverse culture. But today a local non-profit is playing a slightly different tune by using music as a form of treatment for people with disabilities in the state.
Sounding Joy Music Therapy, Inc. started in 2002 and is the only organization in the state providing such therapy. It’s considered as a profession worldwide with the exception of Hawaii, says President Keiko Kajiwara. That’s why Sounding Joy plans to introduce a bill next year to recognize this treatment as an official profession for therapists.
“We have to figure out a new way and pattern of communication beyond words, and that is music,” said Kajiwara, who now has about 200 clients and 150 more wait-listed.
Qualified therapists use different musical elements (sound, rhythm, melody and harmony) and instruments to promote better communication and mobilization for clients, most of whom are autistic.
Dr. Reiner Haus recently visited from Germany to speak to college-aged students on the importance of the study. Hawaii Pacific University students role played in order to understand music therapy better.
“Self-experience is the key experience to being successful at this profession,” said Dr. Haus, who has been visiting from Germany for the past four years. He is in strong support of creating a bachelor’s of arts degree for Hawaii students interested in majoring in music therapy.