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Every Thursday the Charlotte Arts Center is alive with the sound of music.

Artists play instruments, sing and move as Queens University students Ava Marvin 17’ and Rachel Robinson 16’ lead two small groups of up to eight artists for one hour. From drum circles to boomwacker rhythms (a boomwacker is a hollow pipe that creates a note when hit on a hard object), artists create group rhythms and music.

“Music is helping each person connect,” Marvin said. “During class, creating music provides a sense of control and independence.”

Music can also teach. After assessing the artists’ strengths, the Queens’ students put together goals and objectives for their weekly class—creating a strong curriculum tailored to meet UMAR artists’ needs.

“Music therapy is beneficial for artists experiencing dementia or with limited motor control,” Alex Cruz, the Charlotte Arts Center Manager, explained. “Music allows them to self-soothe through repetition, and it also gives artists opportunities to express themselves out loud.”

After each activity, smiles, laughter and high-fives abound. Then the room calms as Melissa Reinhardt, the Queens’ music therapy supervisor, gathers artists in a semi-circle for a goodbye song.

“Who should we sing to first,” she asked the group.

Artists yelled out names.

“OK, let’s sing!” Reinhardt exclaimed; and, the five artists present relaxed, smiled and made music.

The Queens’ music therapists’ impact is evident, according to Cruz.

“We are thankful for Queens’ music therapy program’s partnership and support,” she said. “We’ve watched the artists grow and blossom thanks to these talented students and look forward to working together for years to come.”