JB Music Therapy: Molding a New Future with Industry Disruptors

JB Music TherapyJennifer Buchanan
JB Music Therapy


Office Guardians: Can you tell me about yourself and what JB Music is all about?

JB Music: At JB Music therapy we are a team of certified music therapists who ultimately want to help people. Our music therapists can help infants with visual impairment have an auditory experience all the way to working with the senior with Dementia sing an old favourite and help them remember.

In our regular workweek we are working with people from every demographic with varying issues. We can help with addictions, rehabilitation, trauma, and anxiety. We are helping these people tap into the best part of themselves. Our target is everyone. We are all certified and we make it a point to keep training up to date.

I think JB Music Therapy is a really cool blend between being a small business with a big social purpose, similar to a Social Enterprise, in the way that we are focused on the triple bottom line. Yes, you have to have profit for sustainability and you are considering people and community impact; but our stats are based on community impact and that is how we margin our success.

Office Guardians: What is your view on Social media growth?

I started my business pre-social media. Email was just coming out and only 1/3 of my staff had access to it. I find that Social Media has taken off so quickly. I remember my first ding on my cell phone in my car while not connected to Wi-Fi and being blown away. Now, I will be completing my MBA online this year and chose Social Enterprise, which goes to show you how much the industry has changed. I understand the value in it and want to make sure that JB Music doesn’t get left behind as it takes off.

JB Music Therapy

Music Care Conference, university of Calgary. JB Music Therapy


Office Guardians: With the economic downturn in Calgary, have you noticed any increase in the number of patients seeking music therapy or a change in the level of needs for patients?

JB Music: We have but it’s a lot less then I thought we would have felt at this point. I am hoping that is a testament to the fact that what we are offering is very valuable to our clients. It would help if people didn’t have to pay out of pocket. But that means it’s their choice and they are still coming back.

Office Guardians: Most people understand the idea of what we would consider traditional therapy where feelings, experiences, and emotions are discussed and verbalized. What is the approach music therapy takes to treating depression, anxiety, or high levels of stress?

JB Music: Music therapy has two primary approaches, one is functional, a child with speech delay, or someone who is recovering speech post-stroke. The other is the expressive side, helping people with mood. What is so fascinating about music therapy is that in the first 5 minutes you can see a shift in their personality.

I spoke with a doctor a couple of years ago and he explained that music functions as a slow release drug, when you use music intentionally, therapeutically, under the guidance of a music therapist, we can help you use music in a real long-standing way.

When you take a pain killer, it goes into the blood and gets rid of pain quickly. Music is not like that. When you are listening to music it is altering your mood and you can express that with your therapist. Your base line of those same hormones, for example when serotonin gets too low, can bump that base line up everyday and that helps relieve some of the burden of depression.


Office Guardians: What signs do you look for to know that Music therapy has helped these patients with: stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s?

JB Music: The subtle ones. With some of our clients they have either lost or been born with a lower capacity. We see clients with brain injuries or with mobility issues. When they hear a sound that inspires them, we can see a subtle physical response. We even look for the subtle cues in the corporate sector, because of the fear of sharing. Sometimes the cues are less subtle and a person will just outburst “Oh My Gosh! That was so amazing!”

Office Guardians: Since starting JB Music to connect with people and bring hope, 25 years ago, do you feel you have achieved this mission?

JB Music: With the individuals we have served I really hope so. I believe there are a lot more people we can work with. I feel like what we provide is so simple, yet complex and masterful, but still simple. Sometimes people just need to sit with a therapist. We tap into a person really quickly because of how music can fit through the barriers. Since music can range from classical to hip hop and more, our services are tailored to help every individual’s taste; similar to a massage therapist.

Office Guardians: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced while building your business?

JB Music: I used to be in denial about these, but we have lots. T
he first challenge is making sure we are sending the right message to certain population groups.

Each population group has a different language. So learning the language of a specific population is really important. Then link how the population thinks to needing the product that we offer and showing them it is what they need.

The second one is: getting to be on a budget line in an agency, for us to be included. That is a big risk or step for any agency; they have to make the choice because music therapy is not covered by healthcare. Getting to a place where they have us as part of their team.

Most of the time we meet almost every week with our clients; some have been with us since 1994, which helps our new clients to see the value that we can offer long term.

JB Music Therapy


Staffing: now you have gained the community impact, need more staff. The Canadian Association for Music Therapy certified almost 100 this year; whereas, when I started there were only 100 in total in the whole country. We are the largest community based music therapy company in the world. There are more music therapists getting certified, so finding the right therapist to fit our company culture and do the work well is paramount.

Office Guardians: On your website it mentions that 3 out of 4 doctor visits are attributed to stress related ailments. How does music therapy help to reduce stress and therefore stress related ailments? 

JB Music: By reducing cortisol and doing it quickly; but you have to use the right music for that to happen and the body has to feel like it’s relaxing. We would assess working with someone, sometimes we find out what the stressors are and sometimes not. We will test a lot of different music. There could be answers in the questions, as an example: what was a significant event that was attached to a positive experience? We combine music and the therapist that helps people feel less stress.




Office Guardians: Are there any misconceptions you’ve found that people have regarding music therapy?

JB Music: One is that we only work with disabilities, or people in serious crisis. We can work with anyone. You can use Music therapy as a preventative measure, instead of the reactive therapy.

Clients some times think we can do a weekend workshop, they are surprised that we have PHDs and Masters in Music Therapy, and that our impact is better suited for longer term care. 

Office Guardians: With an aging population in Canada, do you foresee your business changing at all to accommodate new needs in the future?

JB Music: I bet the same population style we see will stay the same. Things that will change will be the technology, the way we work to get the same goals, and of course the music will change.

Office Guardians: You have a great message, “Transforming Life. One note at a time.” And “Wellness, well played”. What are some of the ways that you get your message out to your audience?JB Music Therapy



JB Music:
We use monthly newsletters and Facebook. We get a lot of activity, since I am relentless. I spend a lot of time on E-Newsletters. I use to blog weekly. I link my personal page, which I keep as a personal brand, not about my kids or anything political it’s about my personal brand and linked to my presentation side of my speaking. Our company page is all music therapy all the time. Highlighting my team and how they are doing. I pay for ads and I boost quite a few adds, even a dollar makes a difference.

Office Guardians: What is your largest market?

JB Music: I think we are pretty even. Between students and seniors.

Our annual review: shows long term care facilities, Schools, Mental Health, Group Homes, day programs, & the Corporate side: is smaller, unless it is through presentations.

Office Guardians: Can you give us an example what working with a client could look like?

JB Music: One man had been in a young offenders program for 4 years and was transitioning back into society at 18. All I could see was a kid who is saying he loves Screamo music. So I started to ask him what do you love about that style of music? I also asked him, If we wrote our own music what are we going to say in it? This type of rehabilitation work is short term so in that short window I tried to give him skills that he could use without me. Purposeful play lists, writing his own music, and recognizing why he is selecting that kind of music and to be open to other kinds.


The Collaboration Section

We like to ask all of the companies we profile for some insight into what they use to stay on top of what the latest trends are. Here is what Jennifer from JB Music shared with us:

Office Guardians would like to say a big thank you to Jennifer for taking part in this month’s business profile. Please take a second and connect with Jennifer and JB Music therapy online today!

Twitter: jbmusictherapy
Website: www.jenniferbuchanan.ca   www.jbmusictherapy.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/buchananjennifer
Email: ac.cisumbjnull@refinnej 

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