Music4Life therapist teaches Clark High School students about power of healing

Music powers potential.

That was the message Judith Pinkerton, music therapist at American Addiction Centers and founder of Music4Life, left with the student body at the Hands on Ideas event at Clark High School, 4291 Pennwood Ave., on Sept. 9.

The event, the first of its kind for Clark, came alive after months of planning between the nonprofit Project 150 and the Life is Beautiful festival. Pinkerton delivered an idea of how to achieve this concept using a different kind of medicine: melody.

“I am teaching people how to arm themselves with music to dissolve emotion tensions,” Pinkerton said. “Teaching people about how to apply music as medicine because when you push play on music, you are actually fueling how you are feeling.”

A gymnasium full of teenagers responded in silence when Pinkerton began speaking about how music changed the lives of several other teenagers.

“We journeyed through four clients who wanted to share their stories of teenage trauma details,” Pinkerton said. “They went completely quiet.”

The daylong event also included guest speakers, chef demonstrations by Panacea, plays by the Nevada Shakespeare Institute, yoga sessions, a drum circle by Community Productions and live performances.

“It was great,” added Corey Fagan, community relations manager for Life Is Beautiful. “I think it’s really important that the kids hear a message that music can change their lives, and the kinds of music they listen to might inspire different feelings and moods for them. I think that there were certain kids who might have needed to hear the message and that got something from it.”

Clark vice principal Gena Reagh received the same reactions from students.

“I spoke to one of the piano classes right after (Pinkerton) spoke,” Reagh said. “They really enjoyed the message. It put music into a different perspective for the students.”

Pinkerton said music is an agent of change that operates from the human central nervous system. She said it connects us to our spirit, and in as little as three songs, music can dissolve significant stress. It’s about understanding what music sequence works for you, she explained.

For her, the recipe for a beautiful life is simple: “To transform life to be more beautiful, you have to recognize what the unsettledness is so that you can dissipate and dissolve that emotion. So that you can truly feel more joyful and peaceful about life,” she said. “Today was about steering the students to be thinking about what their music choices are.”

Pinkerton, an Alaskan native, stumbled upon the power of music over 20 years ago while sitting in a space where music may not be an initial thought.

“My solo violin music that I recorded for a loved one in the hospital actually replaced post-surgical high-blood pressure medication,” she said. “The nurse was like, ‘What do you mean I don’t have to give him medication?’ That’s what ignited my passion.”.

Pinkerton said her purpose for using music was to use it for healing purposes. She became a certified music therapist at Arizona State University.

On April 26, 2011, her passion led her to the Nevada State Legislature where Senate Bill 190 was approved, recognizing the licensure of music therapists in Nevada. According to Pinkerton, there are roughly 7,000 music therapists across the country and about a dozen in Nevada .

The mission of Music4Life takes after a once famously written line from Beethoven: “Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and life of the spirit.” Located at 2975 S. Rainbow Blvd., Suite B, it offers music-based programs to help reduce trauma and stress, minimize anger, and help with depression and anxiety.

“I consider it an honor to have been chosen by Life is Beautiful to share some powerful stories with these students,” Pinkerton said. “September is also National Recovery Month and a perfect time to spread a message of hope and how music can play a role in recovery.”

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