HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Maggie Carchrie thought she wanted to study musical theater when she was a teenager, but that changed after her mother showed her a segment on the benefits of music on CBS News Sunday Morning.
"She yelled at me, 'Come in you gotta see this,' and I watched it, and I knew exactly that that's what I wanted to do," Carchrie said. "That was the first time I heard about music therapy."
Today, she uses her talents to help people in the Greater Hartford area. She has been working as a board-certified music therapist for 21 years.
Her concentrations are in memory care, helping people living with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and people living with intellectual disabilities.
"The socialization piece is huge," Carchrie says about how she tries to get her students to interact as a group with their peers. "They tend to isolate or just stick to their friends or housemates they feel comfortable with, so I try to do a lot of cross socialization."
Carchrie uses the freedom of choice to empower her students.
"The fact that they are so regulated in what they do, and when they do, and how they do, they have little autonomy over themselves. This is a great opportunity for them to actually be asked how they are and to give an honest answer."
Carchie's students enjoy the experience they get in the sessions.
"I like to see the people. I like to see Maggie. I like the singing the most," Kendall Blum said, who attends sessions with her husband Dick Blum.
"I love it because it's fun. It makes me feel better," Scott Stonecipher, another student, said.
Both the Jewish Association for Community Living and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford sponsor the program. Previously, the music therapy program was held in different group homes, but as the program expanded, it was moved and worked into the special needs program at the Mandell Jewish Community Center.
Six years ago, the music therapy program served 17 residents. Now, the program has grown to 40 people, and a waitlist.
Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com