Prof. Mona Kreitner’s Class Provides Music and Healing

It is not every class at Rhodes where a student may be listening to relaxing music with classmates one day and playing drums with toddlers the next. But such was the case for students in Professor Mona Kreitner’s Fall 2012 course titled “Music and Healing.” The experiential learning aspect of the course required students to volunteer in the community at either The Parkview, an independent learning community for senior citizens, or Hope House, a non-profit which assists children and adults impacted by HIV and AIDS.

“In class, we learned how well music can help you express things,” says Katie DuBose ’15. “At Hope House, we used music to help children express what they were feeling, like banging on the drums to release pent up emotion.”

She adds that in the class, students learned how music has played a role in psychological and physical healing throughout the ages. They discussed topics such as new age healing practices, Native American hoop dances, and shamanism.

On select Fridays, students in Kreitner’s class worked in the daycare of Hope House, which serves children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. The Rhodes students worked mostly with the older children using instruments they brought to help the children learn about rhythm. On other days, when students volunteered at The Parkview, they used slightly different approaches.

“A lot of what we discussed in class was how with diseases like Alzheimer’s, music can help bring people back who have lost their identities,” says Marian Hill ’14. “I didn’t work with anyone with Alzheimer’s at Parkview, but I did work with one woman with Parkinson’s disease, who had trouble speaking. We did some exercises together taking the voice from high to low, and I really saw what a difference it made for her. It was so interesting to see how helpful music can be.”

Both DuBose and Hill have made efforts to continue their work with music and healing even though the course has concluded. DuBose has applied to be a Summer Service Fellow with Hope House, and Hill has already volunteered there a few times this semester. She says the children benefit not only from the musical aspects, but also from the opportunity to socialize with new people.

“I really wanted to stay involved with music,” says Hill. “I always look forward to going over to Hope House because I am doing something beneficial. I get to play with kids and drums for an hour at a time, while knowing I am helping. I absolutely love it.”

DuBose says both the in-class and off-campus experiences were extremely valuable.

“Even in our country today, a lot of kids don’t get to take music classes. Having the opportunity to use different instruments, and using music to express yourself—every child should have that.”

Similarly, Hill says she has gained important lessons not only from her experiences at Parkview and Hope House, but also from the class discussions that took place in Kreitner’s course.

“I loved how Professor Kreitner explained all of the concepts to us. Her class had the atmosphere that you think of when you imagine the quintessential Rhodes class: small class size, teacher involvement, and everyone always feeling free to talk and discuss.”

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Lucy Kellison ’13)