The Baltic Street Band

This past March, at the Mid-Atltantic Region Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, many music therapy students, including myself, were inspired by a presentation about Peter Jampbel and the Baltic Street Band.  What does a band have to do with music therapy you ask? Let me tell you.

Peter Jampbel leads the program through the Baltic Street Mental Health Center located in Brooklyn, NY.  He uses music therapy with clients suffering from a wide range of mental disorders and some dual diagnoses to improve their social skills, communication skills and most importantly, improving their self esteem. The group plays “out” together in front of audiences, each client, therapist or intern taking on a different role in the band (vocals, rhythm, guitar, bass, tech).  He uses a real progressive approach to music therapy, and uses the therapeutic expereince of playing together, playing out, and having the self esteem to play as the therapy.

–       what can you bring out in the moment?

–       Therapeutic band experience

–       Use music to meet client where they are, but also tailors music experience and creative vision by supporting each other (switch instruments, backing vocals)

  • Where does the music come from?

-Various backgrounds and cultures: jazz standards, modern rock, traditional Irish, Broadway —> wide range! Tie it together thematically.

-Musical Techniques: Music Education concepts

The Challenges? According to the presentation, being part of the band as well as the therapist creates a juggling act.  You have to “work on the big picture stuff with the band, while still focusing on small details like hitting correct notes, rhythms and intervals. However,  being able to be the “glue” of the performance allows the therapist to make interventions during the performance and in the moment on stage.”  Walking over to one of the clients and interacting with them musically one-on-one creates special moments.

The Baltic Street with also put on benefit concerts such as “Boo The Shoe” which benefitted problems with persons with mental illnesses incarcerated in prison .

An article about the Baltic Street Band can be found at http://www.nycvoices.org/article_600.php

To find out  more about the Baltic Street Mental Health Center, visit http://www.balticstreet.org

Sarah

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