On any given day you can find Reginald Williams, a Direct Support Professional (DSP), playing his guitar or saxophone for the seven residents and other staff at Ocean Parkway IRA in Brooklyn for their weekly music sessions.
Williams takes requests from the group and everyone joins the sing-along in this tight-knit residence.
“I bring music into everything I do because I think music can enhance anything and I am so happy to see how the individuals here have been drawn to it and have reacted positively to the sounds,” Williams said.
Williams studied music his entire life and currently plays in jazz bands throughout New York City. He regularly utilizes music therapy to interact better with the people he supports and uses music activities to facilitate expression and enhance quality of life.
“After so much hardship in the programs due to COVID-19, Reginald's music therapy is a much-needed escape,” said Joseph Matos, Residential Supervisor of Ocean Parkway IRA.
The residents have taken a great liking to Williams’ talent and take turns requesting songs and even participating during the group sessions. One resident in particular, Jonathan McDuffie, loves singing Michael Jackson songs any chance he gets and is the first to have a mic in hand, belting out the pop hits.
“We weren’t aware that Jonathan had those talents and those abilities and drive to be a performer before we started doing this,” said Williams. “He has a lot of difficulties with basic communication, but when he is playing an instrument or singing, his communication barriers drop a lot so he is able to express himself more fluently through music.”