Registered music therapist Katie Boom is returning home to Whangārei and bringing music therapy to Northland for the first time in what she calls her dream job.

"It so perfectly combines my love of music and people."

After spending time overseas and in other parts of the country, she has been working for Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in Auckland for the past 18 months.

The centre is now expanding its service to Whangārei with Boom.

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Boom said music therapy isn't just for people with disabilities, but can also help those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury, a stroke, have dementia and much more.

"Music is emotional as well. We all choose music to make ourselves feel better, it's powerful. My job is to make it accessible to everyone."

She said people who have had a stroke and lost speech function can often sings words even if they can't speak those words.

Boom said they can also use assistive technology, such as putting rings on the fingers of someone who can only move a tiny amount and the movements can play an instrument through a computer.

She said music therapy can help with regulating breathing, gross and fine motor skills, communication, creative expression, attention and focus and numeracy and literacy, to name a few.

Music therapist Katie Boom is excited to be bring music therapy to her hometown of Whangārei. Photo/John Stone
Music therapist Katie Boom is excited to be bring music therapy to her hometown of Whangārei. Photo/John Stone

One parent who knows just how beneficial music therapy can be is Mila Steinherr.

Her son Arloh Steinherr-Ross, who has Down Syndrome, did a full year in music therapy at RMTC when they lived in Auckland.

The family moved to Whangārei a bit over a year ago and were very excited to hear the RMTC programme was coming north.

The now 6-year-old attended both individual and group sessions in Auckland. Steinherr said the group sessions were about socialisation for children, where they focused on things like taking turns, listening and working together.

In the individual sessions, his therapist worked on things like vocabulary development.

"They would get the drum and drum out the syllables of the words."

Music therapy helped his memory as he had to remember songs, tunes and beats.

Steinherr said it also really helped was his body awareness.

When he started "he couldn't move his hands individually from his feet" but by the time he left the centre she was "blown away by how much his body awareness and control had improved".

"He could beat to a tune with his hands without moving his feet."

Arloh Steinherr-Ross, centre, during a group music therapy class in Auckland. Photo/Supplied
Arloh Steinherr-Ross, centre, during a group music therapy class in Auckland. Photo/Supplied

Boom said the scope of need in Northland is huge, and they have already had referrals.

She has plenty of ideas for potential growth of the programme but to start with it, there will be individual sessions available on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Old Library.

A subsidy programme is available. For more information go to www.rmtc.org.nz