Organizations: Alchemy Sky Foundation
The professional field of music therapy has its origins in military history. After World War II, the surgeon general discovered that some traumatized veterans would respond only to song.
“Researchers realized there was this therapeutic outcome,” says Jaye Budd, founder and director of Al-chemy Sky Foundation, a nonprofit that provides music therapy for veterans in Atlanta. “Music reduces anxiety and agitation, helps alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder and helps patients interact and express their feelings. Their overall behavioral profile improves with musical stimulation.”
The organization, founded in 2014, partners with the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center, which has a residential section that houses 50 patients, many of whom are bed-bound or wheelchair-bound. The Alchemy Sky Foundation, which is funded by donations, works with independent contractors from Metro Music Therapy.
“We use a variety of techniques, including getting them physically involved with singing and percussion instruments,” says Budd, who is also a bass player. “We try to use the music they like – oldies such as Hound Dog and [Sittin’ on] The Dock of the Bay, as well as praise music. Often we’ll ask them about the first time they heard a song, and that prompts them to reminisce, which leads to more sharing. For generational reasons, many of these men wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up on a therapist’s couch, so we offer them a safe, comfortable, low-pressure space where they can get things off their chests.”
The organization plans to expand.
“There are 152 VA medical centers nationwide, and 116 of them have nursing home components,” Budd says. “We’re a nimble model that would be easy to emulate without adding to the bureaucratic size of the VA.”