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Jaclyn Ford

Jaclyn Ford
“Music is always all around us. Even our organs are making a sound. Your heart is beating. Sometimes your stomach is growling. Even if it’s irregular, the client is already bringing their own instrument to the session just by being there.”

Jaclyn Ford is a music therapy major in her senior year at Baldwin Wallace University. She started taking piano lessons in kindergarten and continues to this day. As a child she was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, which is a malformation of the brain causing symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and impaired coordination.

As a child, Ford had an invasive surgery due to Chiari malformation. She remembers being disappointed because she had to take a year away from piano lessons in order to recuperate from the surgery. Her interest in health began in middle school when she transitioned from a physical therapist to a physical trainer in order to help her develop more strength. “I liked being able to combine what music can do for your emotional health and what exercising can do for your physical health. It catered to me as an individual and it was motivating at that point in time.”

These experiences have led to her studying at Baldwin Wallace University. During her time there Ford has worked at an assisted living facility with a woman who has dementia, a home for the terminally ill, a school for children and a hospice. During her sessions she primarily accompanies on the piano and guitar, but says that percussion instruments are convenient to bring for clients because “musical training isn’t necessary to play a drum.”

Ford finds it important to spend time observing her clients before conducting a session with them. “When working with clients, it’s important to build a good rapport from the beginning, not pushing them past what they’re comfortable doing.” She never wants to go in blindly so she learns what types of music they enjoy and tries to figure out their personality. She says that with children, drum circles typically work really well. The drum circles teach them group interaction and turn-taking because they have to be quiet and listen to the other children during solos.

Ford believes that music therapy is a field that is growing. “The fact that music can be used to help people is not widely known but there is an increasing awareness and more jobs are becoming available.” Some of the research pieces being produced to raise awareness are the “Journal of Music Therapy” and “Music Therapy Perspectives. "These pieces help promote the field of music therapy as research driven both for insurance purposes and a respected treatment modality. A new direction is seeing music therapy in corporate firms to increase interaction between employees and to help promote more efficient work habits.”

What Ford enjoys most about music therapy is being able to help people. “Music therapy to me is a holistic approach to bringing an improved quality of life to any person, whether they’re struggling with an emotional disorder, terminal illness, or physical disorder. You can see visually the benefits of how music can motivate and relax. It’s fascinating to see their mood improve. We bring something so special to them that nobody else can.”