Bridgetown Music Therapy by Alexis Baker

Music therapy programs encourage movement, deep breathing, and singing for older adults and those living with dementia.
Featured Image: Owner Alexis Baker is inspired to care for older adults and those living with dementia after her maternal grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alexis Baker holding a guitar

What is Bridgetown Music Therapy and how did it come about? 

I’ve been a board-certified music therapist since 2013, specializing in serving people living with dementia through my company, Bridgetown Music Therapy, which I founded in 2016. I created our online music engagement program mid-2020 in response to COVID-19. As a traveling music therapist, in the early days of the pandemic, all my clients canceled in the span of a week or 2. I scrambled to find alternatives to provide services, but nothing panned out until my husband, who is a professional videographer, and I decided to put our skills together. He began filming me, and we started creating a program of pre-recorded video sessions that are available online. Videos focus on meaningful music engagement. I essentially took my years of experience as a music therapist and put it into video format. 

Among our programs: Music with Alexis, geared toward groups/communities; and Singing at Home, geared toward individuals. We also offer a regular live music Zoom session every month (with 2 time options). It’s 100% free and open to individuals and communities anywhere in the world; a different theme is used every month. 

I created this company to be dementia friendly. Programs are intentionally kept simple and slower-paced, and I include ample verbal and nonverbal cues throughout to promote engagement with the music. The way I interact with the camera—like participants are right there with me and I’m right there with them—also helps viewers to connect with me. Participants are encouraged to sing with me, do gentle stretching/movement, and focus on relaxation through deep breathing. 

Since the fall of 2020 when we launched the program with 4 videos, we’ve built up a robust video library of over 300! In this video formatting, programs are accessible 24/7. The library contains a huge variety of themes, genres, individual songs, and full-length sessions.

Who initially inspired you to grapple with dementia? 

My grandmother, Cathy Powers, spent the final years of her life living with Alzheimer’s disease. She is my inspiration for serving older adults living with dementia. I think dementia can be such a foreign, mysterious thing until you encounter it firsthand. It’s difficult to describe to someone, but when you’ve spent time with someone who has dementia, you gain an understanding from that firsthand experience. 

Getting to know my grandmother as a person living with dementia was invaluable, although I regret that I did not get to know her more. She passed away when I was 16, and in those last few years, she didn’t recall me as her granddaughter. Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease, but I’m thankful things like music exist to help bring moments of joy, restoration, and connection.

How has working on dementia-related art changed you?

Dementia takes so much from a person; music can often help restore those stolen parts. I’m privileged to work with a medium that is so inviting and engaging. Nearly everyone loves music and resonates with it one way or another. Music is a natural motivator, mood shifter, and great connector! I’m privileged that I get to use music to make a positive impact in the older generations and those living with dementia.

How has programming at Bridgetown Music Therapy been received? 

We’ve received wonderful reviews of our program. Here’s some of the feedback we’ve gotten:

“My residents, my family and I love Bridgetown Music Therapy. It gives my clients with dementia joy and it helps improve their behavior by engaging them to music.”

“My Clients and I love Bridgetown Music Therapy. With our dementia clients, it’s amazing to see their faces light up when a song from their past plays.”

“We appreciate your music program so much! It’s such a joy to have all the residents listen and sing along with you.”

“Alexis is so positive, upbeat, and has a natural calming presence for our residents. Thank you for all that you do for our community. You’re truly invaluable.”

“Today I showed Mom your video of Christmas music and we sat and sang together along with one of the other residents.  So nice!!! Thank you so much for the program you created.”

These feelings of love are mutual. Our members are the best part of Bridgetown Music Therapy!

This work is dedicated to: My work is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, Cathy Powers. She spent the end of her life living with Alzheimer’s disease and is my inspiration for serving older adults living with dementia. I’ll forever remember all the ways she impacted me. I always felt special and loved by her.

Find more on Bridgetown Music Therapy on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Also find Alexis Baker on LinkedIn.

What is a Spotlight?

The Dementia Arts Spotlight promotes visual and performing artists who are grappling with dementia through original work or innovative arts programs. The Spotlight—in a Q&A format where artists describe the details and significance of their work or program—connects each artist to the Dementia Spring community. Find examples of prior Dementia Arts Spotlights here. Know of an artist whose work should be Spotlighted? Send them this link!

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