LYNNWOOD, WA – Through a partnership with the Snohomish County Music Project (SCMP), music is a gift the residents of Catholic Community Services’ Sebastian’s Place can share with their neighbors. Board-certified music therapist Cassie Fox began their weekly sessions at Sebastian’s Place as an intern in the summer of 2017, and has been returning to work with the formerly homeless veterans who live there ever since.
In their three years together, Cassie has seen the group develop cohesion built on trust, support, and mutual respect. As Cassie says, “Music opens up vulnerabilities, and frustrations can emerge when you feel criticized or someone picks a song you don’t like. But the residents have learned to work through these feelings and show up again next week.”
For the residents who regularly participate, as well as one former resident who returns to jam, the group alleviates stress and anxiety. There is laughter and camaraderie, storytelling and shared experience. Participants are empowered to make choices and create their own musical journey. For example, when residents expressed an interest in learning song-writing, Cassie presented them with the lyrics to the Foo Fighters’ song “Times Like These.” The group worked on developing new lyrics to the song over several weeks and now refer to the updated version as “our song.”
Due to current social distancing guidelines, the group has been unable to meet in person since early March. While SCMP has produced several digital resources, Cassie misses their weekly sessions with the Sebastian’s Place residents and says, “I feel very close to those guys and care about them a lot. I look forward to making music and sharing laughs and stories again.”
When the group is able to meet in-person again, Cassie plans to check in and allow opportunities to talk about life under quarantine. They emphasize that it will be very important to hold space for what people felt in this unprecedented moment. The goal is to help process the experience by writing more songs as a group. “The most important thing to me is that we decide together what we do and what we work on,” says Cassie.
From its origin as the Everett Symphony, the Snohomish County Music Project has since transformed into the leading music therapy provider in the Pacific Northwest. The Music Project supports individual and communal well-being through anti-oppressive and trauma-informed music therapy. Learn more about the Music Project at https://linktr.ee/scmusicproject.