music therapy for autism

The Global Music Therapy Project Phase I: Ecuador & Peru

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Mt. Hood, Oregon

I awakened to the reflection of the sunrise crawling over Mt. Hood, beckoning me to inhale the scent of fresh rain and pine trees. I love my little farm just outside of Portland with goats, cats, a puppy, a marvelous man and a wonderful music therapy practice awaiting me in town. But I miss Ecuador already!

I teamed up with Mike Ricucci of TerraRising Films and his assistant, Harold Anderson, and headed to Guayaquil, Ecuador on Sunday, August 30, 2015.

Angie Kopshy, Michael Ricucci & Harold Anderson Photo courtesy of Terra Rising Films
Angie Kopshy, Michael Ricucci & Harold Anderson
Photo courtesy of Terra Rising Films

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by Aldo and Javier of La Prefectura Guayas. We didn’t stop moving for a week!

Javier, Angie, Mike, Harold & Aldo at Las Peñas, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Javier, Angie, Mike, Harold & Aldo at Las Peñas, Guayaquil, Ecuador

On Monday, we toured much of the city on foot and wrapped up the evening by helping a group deliver food, companionship, and positive energy to people on the streets of Guayaquil. There were pre-determined stations with familiar and new faces and a stop by the hospital where families were camped while awaiting treatment or word about their loved one inside. The interactions always included animated conversations, handshakes and inspection for anyone needing urgent medical attention. It was an incredibly heartwarming experience.

Javier checking in with a wonderful man on the street. Photo courtesy of Terra Rising Films.
Javier checking in with a wonderful man on the street.
Photo courtesy of Terra Rising Films.

Day 2 began with the first of a three day training session hosted by UCSG for musicians and students interested in learning how to use more music therapy techniques within their own work. I was taken aback by the talent and enthusiasm. Although I wasn’t able to get to know everyone over the three day training, some of my favorite new friends from that experience include Boris, Fernando, Carlos, Juan, Giulian, and Kike. You’ll see more of these guys as soon as TerraRising Films completes the editing of our Week in Review video!

Training at UCSG, Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil
Training at UCSG, Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil

After training we headed to Albergue Carlos Luis Plaza Dañincenter, a facility  for older adults who don’t have families to help support their needs.

Photo courtesy of Terra Rising Films
On site at Albergue Carlos Luis Plaza Dañin. Photo courtesy of TerraRising Films

We met up with Sergio and his charango. There happened to be a group of kids who volunteer every week and just finished cleaning. We asked them to join us as Aldo, Sergio, and I facilitated an enthralling group with music interweaving influences of Ecuador, Cuba, and the United States. Aldo and Sergio are both incredibly talented and made the technique of interacting with others through music look like an art.

Sergio with his charanga.
Sergio with his charango at Albergue Carlos Luis Plaza Dañin.

We topped off the night by meeting Juanze, a musician who was recently awarded a grant that enables him to put the writing of a local poet to music. Check out his video below!!

Juanse
Harold, Mike, Aldo, Juanze & Angie

After the next day of training, we finally made it to Centro Integral de Equinoterapia and had the chance to observe Boris & Fernando in action. These two incredibly talented men blew me away with their intuition, compassion and work!

boris with chimes
Boris and Fernando working at Centro Integral de Equinoterapia Photo courtesy of Terra Rising Films

Friday was our International Music Therapy Symposium with music therapists, Anita Swanson Gadberry and Katie Down. It felt like a fantastic combination of music therapy approaches and areas of expertise and the audience was extremely receptive.

Mateo, Aldo, Anita, Jorge, Angie, Luis, Katie
Mateo, Aldo, Anita, Jorge, Angie, Luis, Katie

Guayaquil concluded the ceremony by providing each of us with a beautiful token of appreciation. our trophy

Our last experience in Ecuador involved an epic journey to Santa Teresa and Santa Maria of Manga del Cura. We were able to work with some loving and enthusiastic children and leave some instruments. On our way home, we were able to stop by a refreshing and breathtaking waterfall.

manga del cura
Photo courtesy of Terra Rising Films.

We left Guayaquil by bus and were greeted in Lima, Peru by music therapist, Eric Ba. He provided us with the opportunity to observe him in action with two different clients. I was so impressed by the skills and compassion of Eric. We were able to observe him with a client in Polila, an awesome facility in Lima. Polila

And then later, this incredible encounter. EricWe are so grateful to Eric for opening his work, heart, and home. Our experience in Lima was a great way to wrap up our experience in South America. Don’t forget to check out Juanze’s awesome video and stay tuned for our next leg of the journey: Uganda!

Mike, Angie & Harold in Lima, Peru
Mike, Angie & Harold in Lima, Peru

Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC
Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC

Music Therapy Services of Portland is directed by board-certified music therapist, Angie Kopshy. Upon completion of her Master’s in Music from Boise State University, Angie returned to Portland to study music therapy at Marylhurst University. Music Therapy Services of Portland specializes on working with children on the autism spectrum. Angie is also a singer/songwriter with the band, Stoneface Honey.

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