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Jam Sessions Provide Music Therapy for Young People with Special Needs

28th Oct 2014

Students love wailing on hand drums during the drum circle

portion of Banding Together's weekly jam sessions.

Photo from www.utsandiego.com.

X8 Drums loves a good jam session, especially one that bonds and empowers a group of people. San Diego-based non-profit Banding Together takes the power of jam sessions and drum circles further by providing free music therapy for young men and women with developmental disabilities. Once a week during the 12-week program, professional musicians volunteer to host a jam session using various instruments, including hand drums.

But the jam sessions are about more than playing music. Banding Together uses music to help the students develop verbal, motor, and social skills, including working with others, self control, making friends, and appropriate group behavior. The musicians also double as mentors and are just as excited to be there as the students. In fact, every musician who volunteers comes back!

What we love most about Banding Together? Julie Guy, a neurological music therapist who co-founded Banding Together, told UT San Diego that the hand, bongo, and djembe drums are the students’ favorite instruments. We totally understand. Hand drums are energetic, easy to play, and just plain old fun. They’re also great for community bonding, learning, and therapy. For example, teen student Casey Conley only participates in the jam sessions during the drum circle, which has become a way for him to communicate. Many other students also seem to come alive during the drum circle.

If you live in the San Diego area and would like to volunteer with Banding Together, visit bandingtogethersd.org for contact information.