Hearing the drums beat and tambourines shake may seem trivial to some who pass by the cafeteria on a Friday afternoon at a Dallas homeless shelter. But for the performers in the circle, making the music is life changing.
The group’s leader, Kamica King, uses music as a tool to help residents, known as guests, during music therapy sessions at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.
“In session, guests don’t have to worry about the outside world. They report a weight being lifted off their shoulders.”
Guests say the sessions help “free their minds,” deal with anxiety, connect with each other, and feel accepted.
“I come to release a lot of stress. Music is good for the soul,” said Loretta Young, guest at The Bridge. “Once I hear it, it helps me heal the pain inside and helps me bear it, and escape. It soothes the soul.”
In 2014 King created the music therapy program, known as the Bridge Beat, to use music as a tool to help guests work on non-musical goals. In addition to the music therapy sessions offered once a week, King gives individual music lessons to guests.
“It’s such gratifying work,” King said. “In session, guests don’t have to worry about the outside world. They report a weight being lifted off their shoulders.”
David Woody, chief services officer at the Bridge, said the center sees 600 to 800 people a day, many who may be at the absolute lowest point of their life.
“Art and music may be a constructive part of their history that can be the beginning of a conversation about their struggle,” Woody said. “The music in the corner of the cafeteria could be the beginning of their connectedness.”
“Art and music may be a constructive part of their history that can be the beginning of a conversation about their struggle,”
King’s mission to help others began long before The Bridge.
During a college internship, she practiced music therapy at San Diego’s Rescue Mission, YMCA and Scripps Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program.
“My mission is to help others,” she said. “I’m drawn to the overlooked and the underserved. The music and experiences I share can be a spark that helps someone else make a positive impact on the world, too.”
King, founder of King Creative Arts Expressions, also provides music therapy for cancer patients at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She also performs at venues such as Carnegie Hall and the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
King graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2009 with a degree in music and minors in psychology and communications and is a 2013 graduate of SMU’s music therapy program.
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