"We thank you for all that you and Rock for Vets are doing in the community, playing for our team is always a unique experience and creates awareness for all the goodness that you do. I talked to one of your newest musicians, he had nothing about praise of your organization and how it’s helped him tremendously. I saw the joy in his face while playing in front of our crowd. Keep up what you are doing and once again, Thank you for what you do!" Boeing Employee Nov 2016.

“I really can't express how much it means to be a part of "Rock For Vets."  I've always been enthralled with the stage and performing.  I never dreamed I'd find it at the VA.  It is excellent therapy for me and lifts my self esteem tremendously.  Entertaining is something I know I can do.  I believe this ability was God given.  All I needed was to believe in myself.  Thank you for helping me to realize my potential. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. Thank you for caring.  I know there is more to come..” J.W. 

"This program is changing my life, I don’t have headaches and my home life is balanced..” R.C.

“I have meet new people and never thought I would play on a stage” R.S.  

“Frank, this is meaning so much to me personally, I can never thank you enough..” C.C. 

“This program is keeping my head straight and my wife says that I am easier to get along with now” L.M. 

“Frank, thank you and Jerry for all  the hard work you guys are doing for us.  I really feel part of a team again.”J.P. 

"Frank, What an experience. This is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you so much for a great experience."  Frank (Oasis Rocks)


"I enjoyed myself so much and so did everyone there at The Gaslamp" "You all did such a fantastic job
organizing the event and getting us all ready to perform" " I was so thrilled actually singing with a band - like in my good old days, thanks for letting me relive my past" Ann (Oasis Rocks)


"It was a good show, however I had to learn my lines and I felt did it with passion. Thank you and Naomi for making this happen" Mary (Oasis Rocks)


"Dear Beautiful people, Thank you for my wonderful time and what you gave us, it was a WOW!' I wish the team well with a prosperous year, good year, wellness, joy, love, happiness" Aynne (Oasis Rocks)


"Hey there Frank!! Just want to thank you all again for a great experience. It was a great experience for all of us and I greatly appreciate all the hard work you've all done to teach us about how bands work together. You all taught me about team work, and it brought us closer together even after you left. =) Our principal heard us one day while we were rehearsing and he also heard us at lunch and asked if the Rock Club could perform a song at the Student of the Month luncheon. Unfortunately, we cant because the rain but it feels good to know that people enjoyed and loved us. We still need a lot of work and I know in the end we will be great. So thank you Frank, Jerry, and Dave for coming out here and supporting us, teaching us all we need to know. It was a wonderful experience and I hope next year, you will come out here again. Its my last year in High School and I would love to end my high school year doing what I love to do. Have a great one!!!!! Sincerely, Mafa.."  Student at Cabrillo High School – Mafa student at Cabrillo


Wow, I was terrified at 1st, but it really came together.  So much fun & so worth it.   This was a really great experience for me. I am much more confident now.


My kids (ages 7 and8) loved that I went through it. If it was so that I could develop a rapport with my students at school too, I think that the program helps in that area as well. The program has some great intentions and it was doubly nice that you collaborated with the LBJC’s Adopt a Teacher program.


 I’m more than happy to recommend this program to anyone.  Learned a lot, realized a very old dream and had a hell of a time doing it.


Pushed us when we needed it and it worked.


Wow, I went from playing in front of my empty couches in my living room, to jamming in front of a live audience in just one month.

Veteran Statistics

Each day in the US more veterans commit suicide than currently die in combat; approximately one per hour. The Dept. of Veteran Affairs states that almost 20% of combat veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf War and close to 30% of all Viet Nam veterans suffer from PTSD not including their physical injuries. Current VA treatments for PTSP are cognitive behavioral therapy EMDR and medication. The VA also includes group and family therapy as well as the integration of music therapy as another avenue of not only healing but getting vets in need to even reach out for help. Often vets are able to engage in music therapy before they can begin to express and share their struggles culminating in a positive solution to addressing the problems that plaque their lives.

In 2009, The US National Library of Medicine did a study on the effects of music therapy for the menially ill. Serous mental disorders have considerable individual and societal impact that traditional treatments may show limited improvement. A study in 2010 at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media and Technology revealed that the anticipation of listening to pleasurable music induces the release of dopamine; a neurotransmitter vital for the reinforcing positive behavior and necessary for the survival. "These findings provide neuro-chemical evidence that intense emotional responses to music involve ancient reward circuitry in the brain". (Dr. Robert Zatorre, Lead Researcher)


The Rock Club and Rock for Vets mission is to create a music education program for At-Risk Youth, Veterans and individuals struggling with social adjustment, and mental health issues by offering music instruction classes to all.  Music is a catalyst for healing, rebuilding self confidence and indeed reduces the daily stresses of everyday life. By developing coping skills, compassion, self esteem and communication skills these At-Risk youth and Veterans are able to slowly reenter life.

At-Risk Youth: The overall goal of The Rock Club’s Music Programs for youth is to assist students who are identified at high risk for failure to succeed in the academic setting. This includes supporting them to achieve success in the school setting and to assist in “on time” graduation. Whether they can already play an instrument or not, can sing or if they just have the desire to learn, all students are offered a chance to build their social skills, self esteem, and develop personal accountability in a supportive and educational environment.   

​​Veterans:  Rock For Vets is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives and well being of disabled military Veterans in the greater Long Beach area through music instruction and rehabilitation, one on one mentoring and life skill coaching. Through music instruction Veterans from the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Spinal Cord and Brain Injury and other emotional and physical traumas find that involvement in the Rock For Vets program reduces stress, improves their quality of life and begins the healing process by engaging with other vets and reaping the rewards of the small successes they experience while learning to perform as part of the band.

Twenty-three Vets commit suicide each DAY: nearly one per hour. (ABC News) This staggering statistic speaks loudly to the need for multiple therapeutic disciplines.

Jerry Salas, Rock For Vets Head Coach is also a Vietnam Army War Veteran. who returned to civilian life with an inability to maintain healthy relationships and adjust to civilian life without being paralyzed from the horrific memories of his war experiences. After significant therapeutic attempts which met with little success - music rehabilitation; in particular, drum instruction was suggested.  

Rock for Vets is about giving back to those who once faithfully served this country and are now in need our support in putting the pieces of their lives back together.

The Rock Club Music Is The Remedy

If you know of a Veteran who may need our support through music instruction / education, please have them email support@musicistheremedy.org

​We help Veterans in Long Beach, CA. If you need help click here and if want to help us in our mission click here to discover how can you help us 

​We Are More Than Just Music.

If you know of a Veteran who may need our support through music instruction / education, please have them email support@musicistheremedy.org

​We help Veterans in Long Beach, CA. If you need help click here and if want to help us in our mission click here to discover how can you help us 

​We Are More Than Just Music.


​We Are More Than Just Music.  The main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two.  Everyone is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not work for another.  Some people may need to try different treatments to find what works best for their symptoms.  Regardless of what treatment option you chose, it is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health professional who is experienced with PTSD.   


Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT):  CBT is a type of psychotherapy that has consistently been found to be the most effective treatment of PTSD both in the short term and the long term. CBT for PTSD is trauma-focused, meaning the trauma event(s) are the center of the treatment. It focuses on identifying, understanding, and changing thinking and behavior patterns.  CBT is an active treatment involved the patient to engage in and outside of weekly appointments and learn skills to be applied to their symptoms. The skills learned during therapy sessions are practiced repeatedly and help support symptom improvement. CBT treatments traditionally occur over 12 to 16 weeks. 

Main Components of CBT:    While different CBTs have different amounts of both exposure and cognitive interventions, they are the main components of the larger category of CBTs that have been repeatedly found to result in symptom reduction. 

Exposure therapy.  This type of intervention helps people face and control their fears by exposing them to the trauma memory they experiences in the context of a safe environment.  Exposure can use mental imagery, writing, or visits to places or people that remind them of their trauma.  Virtual reality (creating a virtual environment to resemble the traumatic event) can also be used to expose the person to the environment that contains the feared situation.  Virtual reality, like other exposure techniques can assist in exposures for treatment for PTSD when the technology is available. Regardless of the method of exposure, a person is often gradually exposed to  the trauma to help them become less sensitive over time.

Cognitive Restructuring. This type of intervention helps people make sense of bad memories.  Oftentimes people remember their trauma differently than how it happened (e.g., not remembering certain parts of the trauma, remembering it is a disjointed way).  It is common for people to feel guilt of shame about aspects of their trauma that were not actually their fault.  Cognitive restructuring helps people look at what happened with fact to get a realistic perspective on the trauma.

What is CBT? Listen to this podcast.

It is important for anyone with PTSD to be treated by a mental health care professional who is experienced with PTSD. Some people will need to try different treatments to find what works for their symptoms.

Description of Specific CBTs for PTSD:

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a form of CBT that utilizes cognitive therapy to evaluate and change trauma related thoughts.  CPT focuses on the way people view themselves, others, and the world after experiencing a trauma.  Often times inaccurate thoughts after a trauma keep you stuck and prevent recovery from trauma. In CPT you look at why the trauma occurred and the impact it has had on the persons beliefs.  CPT focuses on learning skills to evaluate whether you thoughts are supported by facts and if there are more helpful ways to think about your trauma.  There is strong research support showing CPTs effectiveness across a wide range of traumas. 

Prolonged Exposure (PE) is another form of CBT that relies more heavily on behavioral therapy techniques to help individuals gradually approach trauma related memories, situations, and emotions.  PE focuses on exposures to help people with PTSD stop avoiding trauma reminders.  Avoiding these reminders may help in the short term, but in the long term it prevents recovery from PTSD.  PE uses imaginal exposures, which involve recounting the details of the trauma experience, as well as in vivo exposures, which involve repeatedly confronting trauma-related situations or people in their life that they have been avoiding.  There is strong research support showing PEs effectiveness across a wide range of traumas. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that involves processing upsetting trauma-related memories, thoughts and feelings.  EMDR asks people to pay attention to either a sound or a back and forth movement while thinking about the trauma memory.  This treatment has been found to be effective for treating PTSD, but some research has shown that the back and forth movement is not the active treatment component but rather the exposure alone is. 

Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) is another type of CBT that aims to reduce anxiety by teaching coping skills to deal with stress that may accompany PTSD.  SIT can be used as a standalone treatment or may be used with another types of CBTs.  The main goal is to teach people to react differently to react differently to their symptoms.  This is done through teaching different types of coping skills including, but is not limited to, breathing retraining, muscle relaxation, cognitive restructuring, and assertiveness skills.   There is modest research support showing PEs effectiveness across a wide range of traumas.  

Other PTSD Treatments:  There are other types of PTSD interventions that are not considered CBTs. 

Present Centered Therapy (PCT) is a type of non-trauma focused treatment that centers around current issues rather than directly processing the trauma.  PCT provides psychoeducation about the impact of trauma on one’s life as well as teaching problem solving strategies to deal with current life stressors. 

please thank https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/treatment

Testing For Veterans

Thank you to Dr Mary Ann Franco, (who is part of our Board) and her team of interns (Carla and Ed).  They have conducted seminars and sessions to offer our members a therapeutic approach to music and what music does to the soul.

Topics covered:

Communication Blockers military veteran fundraising

4 Pillars of Professionalism

The Benefits of Music Therapy

How to Develop Good Communication Skills veteran military


Also a visit from world renown author Dr. Hyder Zahed. 

From a Blog Positive Psychology


What Are The Music Education / Instructional Benefits For Veterans or Participants?

Music reduces anxiety and physical effects of stress

It improves healing

It can help manage disease

Music reduces depression and other symptoms

It helps to reduce symptoms of psychological disorders

Music improves self-expression and communication

What are the Goals?

Communication skills (using vocal/verbal sounds and gestures)

Social skills (making eye contact, turn-taking, initiating interaction, and self-esteem)

Sensory skills (through touch, listening, and levels of awareness)

Physical skills (fine and gross motor control and movement)

Cognitive skills (concentration and attention, imitation, and sequencing)

Emotional skills (expression of feelings non-verbally)


MUSIC THERAPY FROM THE CLINICAL SENSE, https://positivepsychology.com/music-therapy-benefits/

What Effects Can Music Therapy Have on a Client?

Music can affect a client’s attention, emotion, cognition, behavior, and communication (Koelsch et al., 2009). It can also help bring about relaxation and pleasure (Koelsch et al., 2009). Music also affects perception (Koelsch et al., 2009). Training in music promotes an individual’s skills in the decoding of acoustic features, such as pitch height and frequency modulation (Koelsch et al., 2009).

Music has various effects on the activity of a large range of brain structures (Koelsch et al., 2009). Functional neuroimaging studies have shown that listening to music can have effects on the core structures of emotional processing (the limbic and paralimbic structures) in both musicians and ‘non-musicians’ (Koelsch et al., 2009).

The peripheral physiological effects of listening to music and making music are still being looked into (Koelsch et al., 2009). However, given the effects of emotion on the autonomic nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system – and the fact that music has the power to evoke and modulate emotions – Koelsch and colleagues (2009) suggest that music therapy may be used to treat disorders associated with dysfunctions and imbalances within these systems.

What Can Music Therapy be Used For?

Research supports the effectiveness of music therapy for a wide range of purposes, as described by The American Music Therapy Association, n.d:

 Music therapy can be used for facilitating movement and overall physical rehabilitation and motivating clients to cope with treatment. It can provide emotional support for clients and their families, and provide an outlet for expression of feelings.

 Credentialed music therapists can work with patients with an acquired brain injury (AMI). For example, music therapy helped congresswoman Gabby Giffords to regain her speech after she survived a bullet wound to her brain. Music therapy can be used to lessen the effects of dementia, reduce asthma episodes in both children and adults and help reduce pain in hospitalized patients.


Music therapy can also be used to help children with autism spectrum disorder to improve their communication capabilities. Furthermore, it can help premature infants improve sleep patterns and increase their weight gain. Finally, music therapy can be used to help individuals with Parkinson’s disease to improve motor function.


9 Interesting Facts and Statistics

86% of users of the Nordoff-Robbins music therapy services said that music therapy had enabled them to develop social skills and interaction (Nordoff Robbins, n.d.)

Your heartbeat changes to mimic the music that you listen to

Distinguishing changes in sounds were found to be equipped in those as small as a developing fetus

Listening to happy vs. sad music can affect the way you perceive the world around you

An “earworm” is a song that you can’t seem to get out of your head

A ‘brain itch’ is a need for the brain to fill in the gaps in a song’s rhythm

Music triggers activity in the same part of the brain that releases dopamine (the ‘pleasure chemical’)

Music triggers networks of neurons into an organized movement

Learning a musical instrument can improve fine motor and reasoning skills

Relaxation and Music Therapy

4 Music Therapy Ideas and Interventions

singalong music therapy for kids

1. Singalong

Fandom (n.d.) suggest that music therapy sessions for groups or individuals may include singing together in a way less formal than a choir.

The singalong may use a songbook of the music therapist’s repertoire, or plain copies of popular song lyrics (Fandom, n.d.). Participants could sing preferred and highly familiar songs by memory, or learn a new song by rote (Fandom, n.d.).

Singalongs encourage participation in a fun, music-making process (Fandom, n.d.). They can be used to meet various goals and objectives, including teaching breathing exercises (Fandom, n.d.).

2. ‘Blackout song-writing’ (Seibert, n.d.).

In this session, the therapist provides clients with the lyrics to 4 – 5 different choices of songs which represent recovery – such as overcoming barriers, support, or struggles. Then, clients are encouraged to take some time to read the lyrics of the song they choose, and to select words from the lyrics to make up their own song.

The idea is to ‘blackout’ the lyrics which the client does not want in the song and to use the words that they have chosen to create their own song.

3. Musical Hangman (Seibert, n.d.).

This idea is to draw a thematic picture on a board, and ask clients to guess the missing word before the picture loses its details – e.g. to try and guess the word before the tree loses all its’ leaves.

Then, choose a thematic word and find songs that start with each letter of that word. The aim is for clients to listen to the songs and try and guess the target word. For example, the word ‘happy’ may have the songs “Hey Jude”, “A Little Ray of Sunshine”, “Praying” and so on.

Each letter that is guessed correctly earns the corresponding song to play and sing. The therapist can even coordinate songs that share a thematic idea as well as matching the letter.

4. Blues Song-writing (Seibert, n.d.).

The music therapist explains the background of the blues, so that the client understands the basics – i.e. having a line A, repeating line A and a subsequent line B. Ask the client to share something that they may be feeling ‘blue’ about, and to think of a solution to the problem or a coping mechanism. Then, brainstorm ideas as to how to make the statements sound poetic in song-writing.

 After each client has had a chance to write their ‘blues’, have a continuous improvisation/singalong. Sing each person’s ‘blues’ as a group, following the same melody line. This activity can be extended using an iPad: clients can improvise on the blues scale keyboard on the app ‘GarageBand’.

10 Music Therapy Activities and Exercises for Adults


Singing well-known songs

Vibroacoustic therapy

This is a receptive form of music therapy. It involves music being played through speakers which are built into a chair, mattress or bed (which the client lies in). Then, the client directly experiences the vibrations that are brought about by the music (Wigram, Pedersen & Bonde, 2002).

Stress-reduction techniques

Music and movement

Folk dancing or social dancing

Vibrotactile stimulation

Music reminiscence

Music stimulation


For more information about any of these activities, Wigram et al. (2002) provide the scientific references associated with each activity on pages 193 – 194.

5 Group Ideas and Activities

1. ‘Beach ball autonomy’ (Seibert, n.d.)

Use a blow-up beach ball and draw on a range of shapes. Inside each, write genres, styles and generic artists. Toss the ball to a client. Whichever shape their thumb lands on describes the next song selection.


The therapist encourages the client to choose a selection of appropriate songs so that the therapist can choose the preferred song for that individual. The client also gets to choose whether the group will play instruments, sing, dance, or just listen.

 2. Drumming Emotions (Fandom, n.d.).

Each member of the group writes down one word to describe the emotion that they are feeling on a slip of paper. The paper is then put in a hat/bowl and group members take turns in selecting a different piece of paper. The person will then ‘perform’ (demonstrate) on the drum the emotion that is written on the paper. The rest of the group listens and tries to identify who in the group the emotion belongs to.

 3. Conversation Drum Circle (Fandom, n.d.).

The group plays a beat, and in pairs take turns in a ‘musical dialogue’ exchange.

 4. Name-That-Tune! (Fandom, n.d.).

The music therapist asks clients to form two or three teams and to come up with a team name. Play appropriate music and each team has a turn at earning points for stating the name of the song, the group or artist, or sharing interesting, relevant facts about the song.

 It can also be fun to open up the guessing to the whole group if they are unable to identify the song. You could play “free-for-all” lightning rounds or use TV show themes, or popular movie soundtracks.

 5. Music trivia (Fandom, n.d.).

This game challenges teams to answer trivia questions on music and pop-culture.

 Using Music Therapy in Schools

Music therapy can be used with school-aged students in their school setting. Music therapy can be used at school to focus on higher level social and academic skills, including empathy, turn taking, compromise and problem-solving skills in social situations (Jacobson & Artman, 2013).

It can be used to promote academic understanding in mathematics, such as teaching math facts, telling the time, and money concepts (Jacobson & Artman, 2013). Music therapy can also target academic improvement in reading and writing (Jacobson & Artman, 2013). For example, music therapy improves phonic and sight words, and story elements (Jacobson & Artman, 2013).

 In schools, music therapy can be used to improve children’s behavior and wellbeing (Jacobson & Artman, 2013). It can help children learn classroom rules, improving attention and focus, and promoting self-expression (Jacobson & Artman, 2013).

 Finally, music therapy can be used in schools to improve social skills and communication (Jacobson & Artman, 2013). For example, it can help with “wh” questions (who, what, where, and when) and develop vocabulary (Jacobson & Artman, 2013).

 Music therapy can also be used in Special Education settings (Jacobson & Artman, 2013). For example, a music therapist may work with a special needs student in the consideration of an Individual Education Program (IEP) (Jacobson & Artman, 2013). They may work with the IEP team and the student’s family throughout the music therapy process (Jacobson & Artman, 2013).

 Music Therapy for Children

This following information about the use of music therapy with children is provided by the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service (n.d.).

 Music therapy can be a useful way to meet the various psychosocial needs of children, through engagement in song-writing and improvisation. It can provide children with opportunities for self-expression and communication. Music therapy can also give children the opportunity to identify their strengths, providing a way for them to maintain a sense of self-esteem.

 For infants and children, a music therapist can use live, familiar music in conjunction with physical, social and cognitive activities to stimulate development. This also promotes interaction and encourages participation and motivation in young children. In order to reduce irritability, pain or anxiety, the music therapist can use soothing music. This also encourages child and family bonding.

 To help develop creative self-expression in infants and young children, the music therapist and child can make music together and write songs.

 Adolescents can play a more active role in coming up with their own music therapy program. With a therapist, adolescents can explore a range of musical activities and select what feels right to them.

 Possible activities for adolescents are song-writing, improvisation and/or singing the songs by their favorite artists or bands. Adolescents may like to use technology to produce personalized audio/visual projects. The use of live music in addition to relaxation techniques can be an effective way to help reduce pain and anxiety in adolescents.

Clinical music therapy may benefit children who are chronically ill (or are long-term hospital patients) or have a developmental delay. It can help children who have autism or are isolated or bed-bound. Music therapy can be used for children who are anxious or depressed, are physically impaired or are frequently admitted to the hospital. Finally, clinical music therapy may benefit children who have experienced trauma.

5 Ideas for Kids

1. Leader of the band (Fandom, n.d.).

The therapist can sing a little song about who’s turn it is to be the ‘leader of the band’. Demonstrate to the group appropriate directions (such as “start”, “stop”, “LOUD”, “fast”, “slooooow”) or anything that the group will understand.

 You may choose a child who is cooperating and listening to directions to be the leader. Children are highly reinforced for their behavior when they get to have a turn in communicating their preferred directions to the whole group.

2. “The Hello Song” from Dragon Tales (Fandom, n.d.).

This song, based on simple chords, is a suitable ‘hello’ song for children under 8 years of age. It brings together social skills, interactive responses and allows an opportunity to greet each child individually. This activity also incorporates vocal and musical opposites such as “high” and “low” and “fast” and “slow”.

3. “Hot Potato” (Fandom, n.d.).

The group passes an object around in a circle, and when the music stops the person holding the object can – answer a question; ask a question; say something about themselves, or discuss something related to treatment.

 4. ‘Music bingo’ (Fandom, n.d.)

Create bingo sheets for children that use songs instead of letters and numbers.

 5. ‘Pictionary’ (Fandom, n.d.).

Prepare cue cards with song titles written on them for individuals to draw pictures of while their team attempts to guess the song.

A Take Home Message

We all can attest to the power of music, and using it to teach, calm, and encourage recovery, make it a viable therapy to consider.

We hope this article has given you an indication of some of the benefits of music therapy, and look forward to your feedback and examples where music therapy has benefited your clients.

 About the Author

Studying psychology, Heather Craig is a freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. As well as writing, Heather is fond of coffee, dogs, and morning walks.


If you know of a Veteran who may need our support through music instruction / education, please have them email support@musicistheremedy.org

​We help Veterans in Long Beach, CA. If you need help click here and if want to help us in our mission click here to discover how can you help us 

We Are More Than Just Music.

Mission: Is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives and well-being of Veterans, at-risk youth and other groups through music instruction, education and mentoring support our military by fundraising.   We Are More Than Just Music.