“An Extraordinary Gentleman” – An Off- and Online Music Therapy Journey

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Image of psychologist and music therapist Cathy Schmartz

This presentation describes the ongoing off- and online individual music therapy process with a middle-aged man with a neurological and short-term memory impairment, as well as partial right-sided paralysis and initial depressive symptoms.

At the beginning of the therapy process in 2018, we met ” live ” – offline – for weekly sessions in a private practice. Since Mr. W. did not find it easy to engage in therapy at that time, the sessions mostly consisted of listening to his two favorite songs – songs by the Wildecker Herzbuben, German folk music. Listening to the music then led us to talk about the song lyrics, but mostly about the memories associated with these songs and the life Mr. W. now had to lead. He was dependent on others, could no longer do his beloved agricultural work, and was bitter about his fate.

After some time in the therapy process, dreams about the accordion, the main instrument of his favorite music, came into focus. A neighbor, a former musician, was an accordion player and had the idea to program a synthesizer with which Mr. W. could make music all by himself – one-handed.

From this point on we changed from a mainly receptive music therapy process to active parts. Involving the network – the ” community ” – around Mr. W. became an essential part of the work. In addition, a notation system had to be developed that allowed Mr. W. to play “his” songs exclusively with his left hand and without knowledge of notes on the pre-programmed synthesizer.

Then came spring 2020. Our therapeutic work was put to another test. After initial hesitation, we switched to online sessions – the aspect of ” tele-health ” came into focus.

Currently, we continue to work together online on a weekly basis. The collection of songs that Mr. W. now plays and masters has grown steadily. The sessions contain a lot of humor and Mr. W. is highly motivated. For: with the help of yet other parts of the “community”, Mr. W. has ordered an accordion specially adapted for him. This is currently being made in Italy. Everyone involved in this collaborative process can hardly wait for the delivery of this gem – ” John Deere green ” it will be. This will surely become another defining moment in the music therapy journey of this ” exceptional gentleman “….

Music therapists will receive information on:

  • The notation system developed
  • The therapeutic work involving the “community” of Mr. W.
  • The therapeutic work off- and online
  • The development process
  • Learning moments in a therapeutic process of several years.

Of course, there will be time and space for questions and discussion about the presentation. Feedback and input from the participants are explicitly welcome.

Learner Objectives

Treatment Planning
3. Collaborate with other professionals and/or family, caregivers, and personal network to design interdisciplinary treatment programs.

4. Evaluate the role of music therapy within the overall therapeutic program.

5. Consider the frequency, intensity, duration, service delivery model (e.g., individual or group sessions) when developing a treatment plan.

1. Develop a therapeutic relationship by:
a. being fully present, authentic, and respectful.
b. building trust and rapport.
c. establishing roles, boundaries, and expectations. d. providing ongoing acknowledgment of progress
and reflection.
e. providing a safe and contained environment.
f. recognizing and managing aspects of one’s own
professional and personal biases, feelings, and behaviors that affect the therapeutic process (e.g., transference and countertransference).

Evaluation 7. Communicate with client and/or client’s family, caregivers, treatment team, and personal network as appropriate.

Professional Development 5. Utilize supervision and/or mentoring as needed.

Professional Development 7. Develop and advance technology and interactive media skills.

Presenter Biography

Cathy Schmartz is a psychologist and music therapist from Luxembourg, Europe. She currently works as a music therapist in an institution for children and adolescents, as well as freelance in her own practice.