The ‘great joy’ of telemusic therapy

online telemusic therapy

Claire Needleman’s life is rooted in music. She sings all day, has a deep love for oldies, and is known to take home the music trivia contest prize every year at camp.

She has seen Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, Phil Collins, and Elton John live in concert, and is currently playing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on an endless loop.

Claire, 35, has multiple disabilities and thrives when she is around other people. Tight restrictions on where she can go and what she can do over the last five months have been challenging.

“It’s been really hard. We just don’t go anywhere. We don’t see people except for her caregivers,” says Claire’s mom, Andrea Madden. “We do things at home just to stay safe. It’s isolating and lonely, but you just have to be safe.”

Claire says those feelings of loneliness and isolation disappear at 4 p.m. every Monday when she signs on to sing and play hand drums with Settlement music therapist Madison Frank.

“It’s the highlight of her week,” says Andrea. “It’s a really joyful time for Claire and I am so grateful that we are able to do this. Whenever she is anxious, this really helps her.”

Over the last five years studying at Settlement, Claire has significantly improved her breathing ability and is currently working with Madison on her volume control. Claire will often ask Madison to learn one of her favorite oldies songs, so they can sing it together at their next session.

“Claire’s continued enthusiasm and commitment made the [online] transition very smooth,” says Madison. “I have found telemusic therapy, though different, is still as effective as in-person sessions, and I’m glad Claire was able to find those sessions joyful and productive!”

Andrea adds that these lessons honor, support, and nurture who Claire is as a person.

“They have been one of the great joys of Claire’s life.”

To register for Settlement’s fall session, contact your branch today!