It seems like Dean Quick was destined to do what he’s doing. The North Carolina native has loved making music and helping people all of his life, so his eventual career as a board-certified music therapist is a natural fit.
“I always knew from an early age that I wanted to work in helping people,” he says, “and in junior high I joined band and fell in love with drums. All throughout high school I was in marching band and in garage bands, and I really fell in love with creating music. It was a creative outlet I’d never had but always wanted.”
Quick’s high school band director noticed his passion and stepped in with some life-changing advice.
“He told me I should consider a career in music,” Quick says, “and he was pushing me toward education. But I really wanted to be in the health care field, and he said, ‘Well there’s this thing called music therapy; do you know about it?’ And I didn’t. I researched it and fell in love with it, and I haven’t stopped since.”
Quick got a degree in music therapy from Appalachian State University, and now he works with patients with a variety of issues, from severe anxiety to pain management.
“A qualified and credentialed music therapist uses music to address the medical, clinical and socioemotional needs of the person they’ve been referred to see,” he says. “Let’s say you’re working with someone who’s had a stroke, and we’re working on improving their fine motor ability. To play the piano or guitar, you have to use fine motor movement, so you can adapt playing those instruments in ways that engage that person’s fine motor ability.”
Quick also works at the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, helping patients with the side effects of their treatments.
“I get a lot of referrals from people who are experiencing pain and nausea as a result of cancer treatment, specifically chemotherapy. And what I do is walk them through certain music-assisted relaxation interventions to bring down that person’s perception of pain and nausea, because our bodies typically respond positively to music. It increases endorphins and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.”
Quick’s latest form of outreach, a YouTube channel called “Music Therapy For Self-Care,” is why I wanted to speak to him, though. He’s released more than 30 clips that lay out music-based relaxation and meditation techniques, along with occasional discussions of songs that have inspired him or given him comfort. He’s hoping to help people deal with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a ton of stress going around,” he says, “and I wanted to create an archive of music-therapy related media so that people could seek out what they need and then engage in it on their own time.”
Quick says his YouTube videos aren’t as individualized as a one-on-one music therapy session, but they can still be helpful to those in need.
“It’s live music relaxation where I compose music in the moment,” he says, “and talk people through deep breathing. I made the videos general enough that anybody can really engage in it.”
Visit Quick’s YouTube channel at bit.ly/musictherapyforselfcare.