Meet Alex, Our Activity Coordinator!
Growing up Alex Olson always knew she wanted a career related to music. Name any type of music ensemble, she was in it. After originally choosing to go to school for music education, she found that she didn’t want to be a music teacher and didn’t want to be a conductor.
Recently she joined English Rose Suites as our new Activity Coordinator. She graduated from Augsburg University with a double major: Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy and Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance.
As the Activity Coordinator, Olson has a diverse role. She takes Residents on weekly outings like walking group or visits to the children at the Montessori school as well as to seasonal events and activities. Olson helps coordinate the monthly activity calendar and helps Staff execute meaningful engagement activities as a support person in whatever way Staff need. With her musical background, of course she also plays music for the Residents too.
“Music Therapy is a great fit for me because I am able to help clients work towards and accomplish their goals while using music, one of my favorite things,” said Olson.
Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional. According to musictherapy.org, music therapy can be used to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.
It is different and unique from other therapies because of the way music is transcendent from beginning of life to end of life. Babies are comforted from hearing lullabies, as a child the alphabet is often learned to a song, people join groups for making music. Music is used in many rituals such as: marriage, graduation, and religion.
“Music can be very grounding and relatable to people, often adding a sort of familiarity to a situation. Even though we call it “music therapy”, the focus isn’t really the music. As a music therapist, you are focused on the client receiving therapy. Music is just the tool used to accomplish the goal,” added Olson.
Incorporating the basic principles of music therapy into daily life is as easy as incorporating music into walking.
“By using music that offers a strong, organized beat that a person walking can pick up on helps not only engage the motion but keeps the person going for the duration of a song,” said Olson.
Many of our Residents have musical backgrounds and the talent to play instruments. Bonding over music with our Residents has been such a rewarding experience for Olson.
“I was playing guitar for one of our Residents and he started to sing Johnny Cash with me. I had never seen his smile so wide and his expression so bright,” said Olson, grinning herself.
Another time while playing for a Resident, an experienced guitarist himself, stopped her in the middle of playing and said she needs to keep practicing. Olson feels that being able to have fun and make music together with the Residents has been the most rewarding part of her time at English Rose Suites thus far.