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Today's Takeaway with Florine Mark

Oct 11, 2021

With Board-Certified Music Therapist Miriam Sherk


When I think of music, I know how much it lifts my spirits and brightens my day. But for some individuals, listening to music or playing an instrument is a behavioral therapy tool that can treat a variety of physical, mental, and emotional issues. For someone who can’t speak or communicate with others, music and the creative process could be the key to unlocking their ability to communicate. Just as Anne Sullivan used sign language to open up an entire world for Helen Keller, music therapy might help certain individuals communicate and connect socially. For example, for an individual recovering from a stroke or an autistic teen that doesn’t respond to others, a qualified music therapist can use music to open communication avenues that had been previously blocked. By using music to communicate with their therapist, that person is able to express themselves and interact with others. Music therapy can also treat conditions such as cognitive or developmental disabilities, dementia, or mental illness. In working with dementia patients, music therapy has been shown to aid memory and recall, calm anxiety, and even help manage pain and discomfort.


My guest today, Miriam Sherk, is a board-certified music therapist and the founder of Ann Arbor Music Therapy. She tells us all about how she helps patients and improves their quality of life through music.


What You’ll Hear in This Episode:

  • What is Miriam’s background?
  • What is a Board-Certified Music Therapist?
  • What is it like being a Music Therapist?
  • Do Miriam and her family play music outside of work?
  • What inspired Miriam to choose this career?
  • What does music do for dementia patients?
  • How does music therapy help people with mental illnesses?
  • How does Miriam determine a course of treatment?
  • More about drum machines and percussion for therapy.
  • Miriam shares an incredible success story.
  • More about Miriam’s work in private practice.
  • Miriam and Florine sing us off!


Today’s Takeaway:

Music has the power to make a real difference in people’s lives. Just listening to music brings a smile to my face and puts me in a better frame of mind, but I’ve also personally experienced how music can help heal us. Years ago when I was recovering from surgery, I became allergic to pain medication and instead used music to help manage my pain. Now, when I think of music, I think of all the ways it can transform the lives of others. Being able to communicate and feel a connection with others is one of the greatest joys of life. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for someone who can’t speak or communicate, but if music could help someone express themselves just think how amazing that could be. Using music to unlock communication skills, calm emotions, or trigger memories might be just the beginning of what’s possible. Connecting people through music is what music therapy is all about. Helping a stroke patient who can’t verbalize words but can communicate their thoughts through song is truly a miracle. We’ve all had times where we struggle, feel depressed, or just out of sorts. Instead of giving in to your anger or sadness, why not put on some music and sing and dance your cares away? It might not make your problems disappear, but it will make you feel better. It really worked for me! So go ahead and give yourself the gift of music. Today is a gift. Use music to make that day even better! I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”



“It can be really rewarding sometimes engaging folks who just are really not engaging successfully with many other clinicians or people on the treatment team.” — Miriam


“The wonderful thing about musical therapy training is that it’s such a diversified training that a big portion of my training was in psychology or psychiatric work.” — Miriam


“The beautiful thing about music therapy with somebody with dementia is that music engages our global brain functioning.” — Miriam

Brought to You By:

Florine Mark

Mentioned in This Episode:

Ann Arbor Music Therapy