Monarch Creative Arts and Community Center Faces the Music with New Therapy Program

MCACC’s Voices is made possible through the support of the Moore County Unrestricted Endowment Fund, a component of the North Carolina Community Foundation, as well as contributions from generous, individual donors.

Music is not new to MCACC and can be heard daily throughout the facility. The center’s course offerings include pottery, art, dance and music programs for the 60 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who attend.

Shell, a board-certified music therapist, will lead the music therapy program that is geared to provide focused opportunities for learning, skill development and engagement. She owns Birdsong Music Therapy in Moore County, and has seen in her practice how music has the ability to change lives.

The Voices curriculum is divided into four, 10-week sessions, and is designed to bring out each participant’s self-expression, enhanced communication and speech, and exploration of autonomy. “They show up and are ready to go. They are eager to participate,” Shell says of the MCACC singers during her twice weekly visits.

Content covered during the Voices sessions will vary based on the group’s interests and skills and may include vocal choir, music and movement, an instrumental group and tone chime group. At the end of the program, participants will showcase their skills during a community performance.

MCACC’s Community Engagement Team Leader Bob Huber knew that music therapy would be well received. His over 22 years of experience of working with individuals with I/DD and mental illness, in combination with his over 30 years as a musician, allows an understanding of the power music has in building relationships, self-confidence and community. Huber typically sits in on the sessions accompanying Shell on the piano.

In a short time, Huber and Shell can see the benefits of the music therapy program. The participants have built self-confidence, improved self-esteem, accomplished problem-solving skills and collaborated.

A music therapy program assists the MCACC participants to leave any frustrations, disagreements or problems at the door. “They have to work as a team, setting aside any differences,” Shell notes. “They enjoy their time in class while learning musical terms such as chorus and lyrics.”

What have been the reviews for Voices at MCACC? Participant Lisa Rosy designed Shell a collage and presented it to her with a hug. “It’s to show you how much I love you,” Rosy told Shell.

Pictured from l to r: (top left) Music Therapist Rachel Shell leads MCACC participants in a rousing round of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”; (top right) Lisa Rosy presents Monarch Voices Instructor Rachel Shell a collage she made for her; (bottom left) North Carolina Community Foundation members gather together to present the grant award for Monarch Voices; (bottom right) MCACC’s Community Engagement Team Leader Bob Huber accepts the North Carolina Community Foundation’s grant award during a recent dinner.