BY BARB BERGGOETZ
In Gloria Stearns-Bruner’s softly lit, cozy music therapy room, young clients come in, pick out a lap dulcimer or rain stick or any of the other hand-held string and percussion instruments. They stand, sinking their feet into the plush rug, or sit down to relax—and make music.
As a group, they play, sing, and compose music; move together, listen, and talk to each other and to their teacher. The music making, Stearns-Bruner says, helps them deal with anger, anxiety, depression, and other issues they may not be able to address with words alone.
“Sound is very simple, but it can be really healing and powerful,” says Stearns-Bruner, who specializes in small group music therapy for children, adolescents, and adults dealing with mental health issues. A board-certified music therapist for nearly six years, she opened Stearns Music Therapy at 445 S. Landmark Ave. in April 2017, and also provides therapy at Bloomington Meadows Hospital and the Youth Services Bureau.
Professionally trained as a violinist, Stearns-Bruner says she was drawn to music therapy after 25 years of performing and teaching private lessons when she had a spiritual musical experience while playing the violin. “The music was coming from me and going back to me,” she says. “It was powerful emotionally, physically, mentally, and in every way possible. It was an experience of wholeness and I wanted to share that experience with others.” And, Stearns-Bruner says, she was drawn to the mental health care field because of her own diagnosis at age 40 with bipolar disorder—a fact she shares with her clients.
The 56-year-old married mother of four has lived in Bloomington for 14 years. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music therapy from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Before opening her office, she offered music therapy at The Project School and Bell Trace.
Music therapy, she says, enables her to teach others how to make deep connections to themselves and their life experiences. She emphasizes it can improve mood, allow people to relax and develop mindful awareness, and enhance creative and emotional self-expression.
Lisha Compton says music therapy helps her 8-year-old daughter, who is musically inclined. “It’s less intrusive and intimidating than other therapy and easier for her to express herself,” she says. “This is a great fit for her.”
For more information, visit stearnsmusictherapy.com or call 812-345-4937.