How music therapy makes a difference for some people with disabilities

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A popular music therapy program in Williston is wrapping up for the season. Our Kevin Gaiss gives you a peek inside the class to see how moving and grooving with friends is making a difference for some people with disabilities.

Twice a month, from September to May, inside the Williston Federated Church, a small group gets the chance to let loose. Like Sarah and Eva, who take some time to enjoy and make some tunes. They say they like that everybody gets to participate.

It’s all part of Music with Jen, a biweekly music therapy program run by the conductor of fun, Jen DeBedout.

“Our music program really is about connection and fun and interaction,” DeBedout said.

Interaction that’s critical for DeBedout’s participants, folks with disabilities connecting through a range of songs.

“We all need social connection and we all need activities that are exciting and engaging, so that’s what we try to provide through these music groups,” DeBedout said.

DeBedout is a board certified music therapist, a field she says is growing in Vermont with more than 15 therapists statewide.

Through the eyes of those taking part, it’s not hard to see the benefit.

“We really try to engage-- engagement, interaction and a lot of fun,” DeBedout said.

It’s a type of engagement organizers say often gets reviewed as a favorite.

“A huge percentage of our population loves music and they learn so much through music,” said Sue Minter, the program director for Partners in Adventure.

Minter says the music is important but it’s only the vehicle for a larger objective.

“It brings friends together,” she said.

Like Eva and Sarah, enjoying their last class of the spring. But summer camps where they will sing and dance again are right around the corner. And when asked about what they look forward to the most, they answer music and dancing with friends.