Music Therapists Help Students Practice Mindfulness

April 16, 2024

Two music therapists from EverHeart Hospice recently presented on music and mindfulness at Greenville Middle School. Mr. Joel Turner, school counselor at Greenville Middle School, developed a 19-week mindfulness series for his 8th students based on topics of interest such as goal setting, kindness, public speaking, art therapy, relationships, self-acceptance, and music/music therapy. EverHeart Hospice was contacted by GMS to present to these students.  

Music therapists Amy Pearson and Jeralayne Ruiz recently joined Mr. Turner and 41 students at Greenville Middle School for the music and mindfulness presentation. After first providing some education on music therapy, the discussion shifted to mindfulness. Students shared many phrases they associate with mindfulness including awareness, non-judgement, self-care, relieving anxiety, and more. After this, it was on to the music! 

Engaging in the music  

The music therapists planned two main activities that provided hands-on musical engagement with grounding elements of mindfulness.  

For the first activity, the music therapists facilitated a drum circle comprised of various percussion instruments. In this activity each student added their own beat until all participants were playing their unique beats at the same time, forming an ensemble. In a post-drum circle discussion, the students shared their individual experiences of drumming and of drumming as a group. One student shared that he felt that he was “not alone,” touching on the social element of group drumming.  

The next activity involved listening to two different orchestral selections and drawing what the music evoked. Some shared images they drew that the music evoked, such as a battle or a rainy day. Other students shared the feelings that the music evoked such as sadness or anger. It was revealed through discussion not only that each song brought different images/feelings for the students, but that the images/feelings based on the songs were themselves different between students. This experience aimed to highlight the individual experiences that we can have with various kinds of music, as well as our own unique relationship with music and how it can make us feel.  

Student feedback Mr. Turner received included: “In the first part with the instruments, I felt a sense of connection to the rhythm and my peers and little sense of joy blossomed in my heart. The second part with drawing, I did not expect to have the emotional effect from the music, especially on the second song.” Another student said, “Having the opportunity to do something different with the instruments was fun and it was really neat to incorporate drawing with the music and emotions.” 

The music therapists at EverHeart Hospice would like to thank Mr. Turner for allowing them to participate in the mindfulness group with his students. Sharing his own thoughts regarding the 19-week series, Mr. Turner said “I believe mindfulness is a powerful tool to help us look at life in a more positive way. It brings the present into focus and uses our breath and mind to help bring harmony to ourselves.”  

Learn more about the Music Therapy by clicking here: Music Therapy: The Benefits for Hospice Patients | EverHeart Hospice