Allison Davies: The Power of Music
Tasmania’s neurologic music therapist helping to create a better tomorrow for Australian families
When a family who haven’t heard their grandmother speak for years due to dementia, hears her sing, it’s music to Allison Davies’ ears.
Alli is a neurologic music therapist, based in north west Tasmania, who is in demand across the country for workshops that are transforming brains and lives.
What is music therapy? It’s the planned and creative use of music to attain and maintain health and wellbeing. Alli completed a Bachelor of Music and Teaching and a Masters in Music Therapy before she moved into a decade of private practice work. Her work spanned early childhood intervention, autism spectrum disorder, juvenile detention, mental health, aged care, dementia care and speech-rehabilitation with clients ranging in age from pre-birth to 107.
“People define their relationship to music based on talent, but I’m teaching people that it’s a combination of rhythm, melody and repetition, which are all brain functions. We are all musical and when we tap into those functions, we can improve the way our brain is working,” explains Alli.
“The only time we talk about brain care is when we talk about how to avoid dementia, yet our brain is in charge of how we think, feel, react and so much more. I look at brain function and how the brain responds to elements of music.”
Alli was named a 2016 National AMP Tomorrow Maker for her contribution to creating a better tomorrow for Australian families. This gave the Wynyard-based mother of two the opportunity to tour regional and rural Australia for 12 months as a brain care specialist with her workshop, Brains = Behaviours.
“As a therapist I worked with neuro diverse children, but very quickly realised that what I was practicing was relevant to everyone. On the day I announced my first workshop, I got phone calls from as far afield as Broome, Newcastle, Darwin and Townsville.”
Alli enjoys seeing the positive effects of her work and believes that Tasmania can lead Australia in setting an example for proactive brain care.
“The sense of community in Tasmania is very strong. I’ve done quite a bit of work on King Island and the whole community know why I’m there and are invested in making change. That community support is so powerful.”
For Allison, living in the bush on the north west coast of Tasmania is ideal for raising a family and continuing her important work. “It’s quiet, beautiful and filled with birdlife. I feel at home in Tasmania. I couldn’t live anywhere bigger than Wynyard. I made a deal with myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t live anywhere there are parking metres.”
When not enjoying parking fine free living, Alli’s greatest love is seeing those ‘light bulb moments’ when a workshop attendee has gone from uncertainty to clarity. “It might be an understanding of how musical rhythm can slow the body’s response, reducing heart and respiratory rates or perhaps the regulation of emotions through melody. Whatever it is, they come to know that music is one of the brain’s favourite things. It releases dopamine in response and is linked to neuroplasticity. We can use music as a way of creating new behaviours or patterns and shedding old ones.”
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Find out more about Alli at www.allisondavies.com.au.
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