Musical Bridges has been official since August, but even before that, St. John’s has contracted with us to provide a Music Therapy Support Group at the Cancer Resource Center! Now that all of the pieces are in place it is time to SPREAD THE WORD! There is no online link to this article, as it is provided in the monthly cancer patient newsletter offered by the hospital, so I decided I would share the article so that it can be accessed online. I am so excited to get music therapy in the hospitals in the Springfield area and this is such a great first step! We are moving in the right direction!
Meet Leslie Jones, MT-BC
Extracted from the St. John’s Cancer Center’s newsletter “Messenger”, September 2011
- Where and how were you educated?
I began my career as a flute performance major at Truman State University. I learned about music therapy my sophomore year of college and decided to return to Springfield to pursue the degree. I received a Bachelors of Music Therapy from Drury University in 2008 after completing a 6 month internship with MusicWorx of California in San Diego. I am currently finishing work on my thesis and anticipate to complete my Masters of Music Therapy in December of 2011.
- Who is part of your immediate family?
My immediate family consists of my mother, grandfather, sister and husband.
- How long have you teaching at St. John’s?
I began working with St. Johns at the beginning of June when the new Music Therapy Wellness and Support Group began with the Cancer Resource Center.
- What are your specific duties and/or offerings to patients?
My goal is to offer patients a unique musical experience where they will learn different techniques to utilize music in their daily lives to promote wellness and health. Along with these wellness techniques, I aim to provide emotional and social support for the cancer survivors and patients. Music is a part of every person’s life and once we identify how music can be beneficial we begin to see how it can be used to our advantage in daily struggles with emotions, relationships, pain management, stress and anxiety.
- What kinds of emotions/thoughts do you experience in assisting cancer patients?
Many of the emotions I have encountered revolve around feelings of grief, anxiety and depression. I often encounter patients who have trouble expressing these feelings but with music we can tap into those emotions that have been told to stay away. Have you ever heard a song that made you cry? Made you angry? Helped you fall asleep? Many times we cannot control how music makes us feel because it affects us on a physical level as well on an emotional level. I have also worked with numerous patients to increase their socialization. Through music therapy support groups, this social isolation often decreases as patients and survivors create new relationships and connections with fellow group members. Music is a “friend maker”, a natural “socializer”. Since the beginning of time people have been gathering to sing and play music together. Today nothing has changed. Music draws people together in a safe environment and has the ability to tie people together emotionally and socially.
- How does cancer (the fact that it exists and you see is so often) affect the way you live your life?
Cancer and the “idea” of cancer, I believe, is one of the scariest diagnosis because it hits so close to home. Both of my grandmothers struggled with cancer and were not fortunate enough to join the circle of survivors. My younger sister however did overcome her diagnosis and is now a proud survivor. There are so many new diagnosis every day and most (if not all) people are affected by it whether it be themselves, family members, friends, or even friends of friends. Due to my personal encounters with cancer, I believe in the power of positivity regarding a cancer diagnosis. That is why I use music (which has the ability to uplift, rejuvenate and aid in expression) to help those who are affected by cancer.
- In what area of life do you focus your personal growth? (Physical, spiritual, emotional, etc.)
I like to believe that my personal growth is a combination of focus on emotional and professional growth.
- What helps you with that growth? (hobbies, relationships, study, etc.)
Since I discovered music therapy 6 years ago this has been the main factor to aid in my growth not only as a professional, but an individual. Since the field is newer and ever growing, there are new techniques, research findings, and interventions being published every day. I strive to keep up-to-date with the field of music therapy and jump on the new ideas that can help any patient. I currently am a clinical supervisor for the music therapy students at Drury University which has become a new passion of mine. I love teaching and guiding the new prospective music therapists and I strive to instill the same passion in them that I have for the field.
- What do you think all cancer patients should know/realize?
“You are not alone in this… Together we will stand and we’ll hold your hand”. These are lyrics that immediately come to mind when I think of the cancer patient and their struggles. Cancer is a scary and emotional road for both the cancer patient and their loved ones. But no one is alone. No one will be left behind. I encourage the cancer patient to seek out their supportive networks and embrace them. Lean on your loved ones and confide in them. Be open and trusting, and above all else strive to keep a positive outlook.
- If you weren’t a music therapist, what might you be doing?
I honestly could not imagine myself doing anything else with my life. I feel like this was my calling and I love every aspect of my job. Each day is a new day with new songs and new people to treat. If I had not found music therapy I would most likely be playing my flute in an orchestra somewhere or giving music lessons. Although those are things that I love to do, they do not give me the same satisfaction as helping people with music on a deeper level.
- What are you looking forward to (personally or professionally) this year?
This is a busy year! I will be launching my new business after I complete my Masters in December which has been a goal of mine for the past 3 years. I am hoping to build a presence of music therapy in our community and create different options for those in need of therapy services. As I stated previously, there are so many ways that music affects us whether it be physically, emotionally or socially. I believe people are aware of these effects, but I am hoping to help them use these musical reactions and take it to a whole other level of balance and harmony.