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Music Works Northwest Transforms Lives Through Music in Bellevue

February 1, 2022 - by Sandy Vo


Category Heart of Bellevue

Music Works Northwest Transforms Lives Through Music in Bellevue

The power of music is all around us. From a catchy tune enjoyed in the car, to playing an instrument that helps ease trauma. Music Works Northwest is using music therapy to address the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of people at any age. Kristin Schneider, program manager for the music therapy and early childhood program, said historically the music therapy program was predominately for neurodivergent kids and teens but since the pandemic, the program has broadened.

“I think the pandemic has been a wake-up call for a lot of families in Bellevue. We’re not supposed to be doing this alone,” Schneider said. “Music can be an easier way to talk about feelings, and we're seeing more families seeking support for mental health and wellness through music therapy.”

Recently, Music Works Northwest had the opportunity to host a music therapy group for teens who had experienced a traumatic brain injury. The group shared personal meaningful songs, played music they enjoyed and talked about types of music they listened to in their everyday lives.

“This group started out not knowing each other and by the end of it you could see the sense of community that had been built by shared experiences and resiliency during challenging times,” Schneider said.

Music therapy is only one part of what Music Works Northwest offers. Executive Director Karen Nestvold runs a passionate team that has dedicated itself to changing lives through accessible music education and experiences. Beyond music classes and private lessons, the team continues to work towards a world where everyone has a chance to feel the joy of music. This includes visiting local school music programs at no cost.

“We have a partnership with different school districts where we would work with their music program to bring our lessons to them,” Nestvold said. “This action lets us bring music to more people than ever before.”

Nestvold and her team continue to make lemonade out of lemons, finding great benefits in teaching online classes. In addition to being the Executive Director, Nestvold teaches voice lessons to adult students. While Music Works Northwest operates in person too, most students elect to continue online lessons.

“People find it more convenient," Nestvold said. "We're continuing to reach people we’ve never been able to reach before.”

The vision for the non-profit organization continues to be a place for equality and inclusion. Looking ahead for 2022, the team is emphasizing partnership and community, working with the Bellevue School District by sending out faculty members into schools and sponsoring concerts.

“We feel it’s important to give back to downtown Bellevue in the new year. We look forward to being able to create and support more live music events for the community,” Nestvold said.

To learn more about upcoming classes and the mission of Music Works Northwest, visit their website.


This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.

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Music Works Northwest
1331 118th Ave SE
Bellevue, WA 98005

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