Dickinson woman helps heal with musicMusic therapy is a useful tool in helping to heal people who suffer from a variety of conditions.
Music therapy is a useful tool in helping to heal people who suffer from a variety of conditions.
“It’s the idea that you can use music to help people with musical and functional goals that they have in their life,” said Andrew Knight, a music therapy professor at the University of Dakota. “The overall idea is the use of music helps people with a lot of different areas of
Dickinson native Laura Fehr recently returned to the area and is providing music therapy in Dickinson, Bismarck and surrounding areas.
She opened her Dickinson practice Friday.
“Music is universal,” Fehr said. “Everyone can relate to music. It is familiar from when you are probably an infant, you know, you’re hearing music whether it’s children’s songs or your parents’ music or even your grandparents’.”
Fehr assesses clients to determine areas that need work, such as cognitive, motor, social and communication skills.
“Music is more motivating and it’s more fun to do something to music than to do it with no music,” she said.
Fehr sings through many of the activities she does with her clients who can sing with her to improve their ability to communicate.
“Music is processed everywhere in the brain, not just one place like language,” Fehr said. “That’s why music therapy is effective in creating pathways to train the brain to do something else. For example, if an individual loses their ability to speak after suffering a stroke, music therapists can teach them how to speak again.”
Clients may relearn how to speak through singing,
“They can sing it and that’s because music will organize all of that dysfunction that is happening in the brain due to the stroke or due to Parkinson’s disease, or sometimes due to Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Knight said.
Children in special education also benefit from music therapy, he added.
“A lot of kids with autism really resonate with music, especially those who are not speaking as much,” Knight said. “We can show them different ways to communicate with music.”
Fehr also allows clients to play instruments and does other activities while singing or playing music to help improve motor skills.
Erna Jacobchick, a Mandan resident, has watched her 7-year-old grandson, Jaiden, benefit greatly through music therapy with Fehr.
“Music therapy for Jaiden, it’s like going through therapy and yet it’s not the hard work associated with it. It’s almost like play therapy for him,” she said. “It’s fun learning for him.”
Jaiden suffers from a genesis of the corpus collosum
A genesis of the corpus collosum affects the right side of the brain’s ability to communicate with the left side of the brain,” Jacobchick said. “He learns in a very different way than the rest of us.”
Fehr has helped improve Jaiden’s hand-eye coordination, taught him how to take turns, and has improved his communication and life skills, Jacobchick said.
“Music just seems to always have soothed him, it’s always meant something to him,” she said. “She’ll let him strum the guitar. I’ve noticed that he strums and he keeps up with the beat of the song, which is fantastic.”
Music therapy can also benefit people suffering from emotional or mental health problems, Fehr said.
North Dakota was the first state to get a licensure bill passed, which means music therapy will be regulated by the state in 2012, Knight said.
“That’s a big deal,” he said. “That means that North Dakota recognizes music therapy. It protects the consumers.”
It can be used with clients of all ages, whether they were born yesterday or are receiving end of life care, Knight added.
Fehr has been interested in music her whole life and after observing a session of music therapy while attending college, she knew it was
“I can still utilize all of my musical skills,” she said. “I enjoy working with people and I also get to help them.
“You can see the joy on their face — how much they’re enjoying the services I’m providing.”
Fehr plans to practice music therapy in Dickinson at least once a week.
To contact her, call