VERGENNES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Tucked along the backroads north of Lowell, healing is happening — and the sound is sweet.
“King Saul was very distraught. He called for David and his harp to play for him and it’s really recorded as a very strong first time where music playing was used to help calm someone down,” said Sister Mary Margaret Delaski, FSE/MT-BC, who offers music therapy at the Franciscan convent where she lives.
Since biblical times, music has been used as a form of therapy. In modern times, it saw its rise after World War II.
“They found when they brought the symphony musicians in to play for the men and women who had been traumatized by war, their spirits were lifted, depression was lowered,” Delaski said.
She was the first to bring music therapy to West Michigan nearly 40 ago.
“It was unheard of and people would laugh and say, ‘What next will they think of?’ It was that kind of understanding,” she said.
At the time, autism affected one in 10,000 people. Today, that number is one in every 67.
“Music is a nonverbal medium, so even if they have no verbal language, they can learn what communication means through instruments, through drumming, through listening,” Delaski said.
She has helped many through the years, providing therapy for depression and anxiety and as part of end of life care.
“We know that live music is also the most effective because there’s that personal relationship,” Delaski said. “The therapeutic relationship is really important in music therapy.”
It’s not the only service nuns provide at the 230-acre Franciscan Life Process Center in Vergennes Township. They also offer counseling, an art school, a retreat center and music lessons.
On Saturday morning, the nuns hosted a 5K and 10K run to raise money for a music therapy scholarship. Runners traversed the Franciscan Life Process Center property while musicians played live along the route.