West Music Offers Digital Music Therapy Services

Elizabeth Dale

The Iowa based NAMM Member launched Musical Connections, a music therapy-informed program designed to serve a diverse group of needs in August.

West Music is a third-generation locally owned, family operated business in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. Opening its first location on July 1, 1941, the then Peterson-West Music Company was established by Pearl West and his business partner, Chris Peterson. The partnership survived the lean times brought on by World War II later that year, but eventually dissolved in April of 1943, and West returned to teaching woodwinds at a local high school in Iowa City, IA, and working in the repair business in the evenings at Huyett Music. At the end of WWII, West established West Music and added his wife, Eleanor, who served as a bookkeeper and eventually brought in their son, Steve, in 1969 as a sales manager.

Music Therapy Services, a division of West Music, was established in 1995 to “address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.” Partnering with the University of Iowa’s Therapy program has allowed West Music to employ a team of 14 therapists to administer the program. Now led by a third-generation family member, Robin Walenta, West Music continues to operate under the philosophy of “encouraging all people of all ages and abilities to play now, play for life.”

West Music Musical Connections Promo

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Targeted specifically for older adults, adults with disabilities, or young children, Musical Connections is “suited for nursing facilities, group homes, or daycares, as well as individuals seeking relief during this global crisis.” The online subscription-based service allows individuals to receive eight 30-minute videos in the category of their choice each month. Programming features familiar songs designed to engage the viewer in singing, songwriting, moving, reminiscing, and learning.

Kelly Carlson, a board-certified music therapist and director of music therapy at West Music commented, “Musical Connections is a natural extension of our music therapy services and offers a wide variety of activities including writing songs, making kazoos from home materials, reminiscing about state fairs and summers past, and just a chance to forget all of the things that are happening in the world to cause us anxiety. Knowing that COVID-19 has created a lot of isolation and loneliness in our communities, our team of music therapists wanted to design a program to reach everyone where they are. Initially, our team was all a bit wary about moving to the virtual environment with our sessions, but we have received only positive feedback.”

For more information about Musical Connections or programs offered through Music Therapy Services, please visit https://musictherapy.westmusic.com/.