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Northwest Montana veterans learning to play guitar as therapy for mental health

North Valley Music School helping to heal veterans mental health
Veterans music lessons
Posted at 5:44 PM, Feb 06, 2023

WHITEFISH - Music is fun and good for the soul and mental health.

It connects people in many ways, like making friends or connecting with family and a group of veterans is using music to help them connect with their community while restoring their health.

“Well, it's more than just learning to play the guitar, music has always been kind of a place of refuge for me, and I know for a lot of my veteran friends too,” said Jesse Nelson, a veteran who is taking the class.

The veterans who take part in the Veterans Learn to Play Guitar classes at the North Valley Music School can use this skill to help in their recovery and mental health.

“It doesn't matter what you're going through, whether it's physical pain, mental anguish, PTSD, even while you're active duty even if you're on a long road march, or you know, in combat," Nelson explained. "Music can kind of bring you back to a place of peace and tranquility. Even in some pretty dark times."

Music is therapeutic for many people in different ways. So, why not give the guitar a shot and meet some new people?

“A lot of veterans aren't inclined to reach out and say, you know, I'm gonna go take music lessons. A lot of them are shut-ins, too many are. To me, it seems like a really good opportunity to come to a very friendly old Victorian house, sit in the living room with an old hippie and play guitar,” said North Valley Music School Strings teacher Christian Johnson.

This class — which is offered for free to qualifying veterans through the Kalispell Vet Center — provides a place for veterans to learn a new skill, whatever their motivation may be.

“Well, I wanted to try something new for the New Year and my daughters are big into music," said Nelson. "They're students here at the music school and so I figured what better way to connect with them than, you know, find a common ground in music."

The current session of this class is halfway over, there will be more of these classes offered to veterans in the future.

“I'm thoroughly enjoying it and hopefully this can spawn a lifelong addiction to music and the therapy that it provides,” said Nelson.

“Music is a pretty healing, magical thing,” said Johnson.

You can learn more about these classes through the Kalispell Vet Center or North Valley Music School.