MMN 019: Helping Youth through Music – with Summer Lall

On this episode of the Make a Mental Note podcast, Summer Lall, a board certified music therapist, discusses how music can help transform youth with emotional and behavioral problems. Give it a listen and find out why this episode is worthy of a mental note!

Summer Lall interview (click on Summer’s name to listen to interview)

Mental Notes:

* Summer works with court-mandated boys between the ages of 12 and 18.

* Youth are exposed to four categories of music activities throughout the course of a week: 1) music and relaxation, 2) lyrics & listening, 3) instruments & insight, and 4) beat making & song writing.

* The kids don’t require a music background/experience in order to participate in music therapy activities. In addition, the purpose of music therapy is not to teach kids how to play an instrument.

* It is easy to build rapport by having kids engage in music activities. In addition, these activities help by-pass their defenses to talk about their thoughts and feelings.

* Music stimulates the amygdala – the emotional processing center of brain – and can be a direct pathway to emotions with which youth are struggling.

* Common issues that are discussed in music therapy: poverty, culture, gangs, drugs & family dynamics.

* Skills taught through music therapy/goals: 1) to gain awareness & perspective (i.e., seeing how they act & react in situations); 2) to learn other ways of reacting/to make wise decisions; 3) to develop and maintain positive interactions with peers; 4) to have a sense of purpose in life.

* Music therapy helps kids learn how to trust themselves – their instincts and their intuition.

* Anxiety & anger are typical emotions with which these youth struggle. Exposing kids to music that matches their feeling in the moment (e.g., a song with a heavy beat/drum emphasis to identify with anger) and then slowly transitioning to other forms of music that helps them identify with other types of emotions is an approach that’s used in music therapy.

* A team approach is used to help kids meet their goals.

* Progress is measured based on kids’ levels of participation and interactions with their peers and staff (e.g., interacting in more positive ways/encouraging others).

* Challenges: working cohesively as a team – in particular, communicating and being respectful of one another as a staff. Also, the balance between rewards and punishments and maintaining a “good vibe” with kids.

* Tips to enhance mental health: 1) deep breathing, 2) playing a song that you love and/or is perfect for the moment, and 3) singing.

Mental Notes Takeaway:

* Music therapy is a non-directive approach of helping kids tap into their feelings and changing their behavior.

Check It Out:

* Optimist Youth Homes & Family Services –

* Summer’s company (Rhythm and Truth) –

209 Castlewood Drive Suite D
Murfreesboro, TN. 37129
(615) 403-5227

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.