WOOSTER – The Village Network’s small recording studio is an oasis for creativity.
Danielle Kufenbarger, a music therapist for five years with the organization, said residents at the Akron Road facility have access to five guitars, a laptop, microphones, headphones and an electric drum kit that they can use to create music as a form of therapy. .
The Village Network is a nonprofit behavioral health agency that works with children and families through community and residential treatment programs. It serves thousands of youth at 21 locations and more than 90 schools in Ohio and West Virginia, according to its website.
“With music, kids can get things out in a way that doesn’t always happen in therapy,” she said. “It’s another way of expressing themselves.”
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To improve both the musical arts and the power of music therapy, the Wayne County Community Youth Foundation gave a $1,000 grant to The Village Network in 2020 to purchase updated music equipment for the studio.
The network appreciated the foundation for its support with a studio tour Thursday morning. In the audience was Executive Director Melanie Garcia, who listened to some of the music created by residents of the treatment facility.
“The music recording studio has become a safe haven for creativity for so many young people here, and I am forever grateful we had the opportunity to do that for them,” said Coffinbarger.
How does music therapy help?
While discussion-based therapy is usually helpful, Kofenbarger said, some experiences, stories, or feelings are difficult for young people to describe. This is where the arts come into play.
Music allows some people to open up in ways they might not otherwise be with conventional therapy.
“They even opened up with me about the experiences they had and then were able to process them in a therapeutic way,” she said.
Studies have shown that music therapy can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve memory, manage pain and help individuals cope, according to a post on the Cleveland Clinic website.
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It is often used with men and women in the military, veterans, people with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, those in correctional facilities, and people with a history of trauma and crisis.
Since the studio’s inception in 2019, kids have created countless hours of musical content, most of it completely original as a team or as individuals.
“Sometimes we have kids collaborating with one doing the vocals, the other singing and the other making the beat,” she said.
For a music therapy participant who dreams of making it big in the music industry, the studio challenges his creative side. It is the place where he can relax and have fun while expressing himself.
“Some of my friends like it because it helps them calm down,” the participant said.
Create a musical space
The idea of a recording studio dates back to 2018 when Coffinbarger first joined The Village Network.
The studio was then used as a storage space for music therapy.
The following year, the network began working with the Wayne County Community Youth Foundation on a $1,000 grant to modernize and modernize the thriving space.
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Coffinbarger said that while some arts programs, such as the Drama Club, have not yet returned from their pre-pandemic days, the studio has found great success.
“We get a lot of requests to use the space,” she said.
The studio is open to all Village Network residents, even those without musical experience.
Coffinbarger hoped the music room would become a safe place for fun, learning, and expression, and she believes that goal has been achieved.
When a resident leaves the therapy program, Coffinbarger gives them a hard copy of their music.
“For many, having that physical copy of their music is kept gives them a sense of ownership, because it’s their music,” she said.
Supporting mental health care
For Garcia, the studio space is exactly the kind of project the youth nonprofit charity should support.
Not only does it help young people express themselves, but it looks at mental health from a perspective that is not often seen.
Before leaving after the tour, Garcia asked Coffinbarger which studio he still needed to become the best space for the residents.
On that list are a non-electric turntable and various soundproofing items for the walls—items Garcia hopes Coffinbarger will help make a reality.