Meet Jeff Jacob
Jeff, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. We’d love to hear about a project that you’ve worked on that’s meant a lot to you.
As a songwriter, by the time I reached my mid-thirties I had realized (at least sub-consciously) that more and more of my writing moving forward, needed to be purpose-driven. This wasn’t a decision, rather it was a pulling…a tugging of the spiritual and creative energies. Looking in the rearview now, I can see the shift and actually follow the path! From 2005 through 2008, having lived in Nashville for several years already trying to “make it” as a commercial songwriter I began working part-time as a “Staff Songwriter” for The Songs of Love Foundation based in NYC. Our task in this role was to write fully personalized, customized for seriously ill children and their families. TSOLF teamed up with healthcare providers around the country to provide song profile sheets to families in crisis. These sheets included space for favorite hobbies, pets, friends, dreams, etc of the children facing illness. As songwriters we’d turn these profiles into songs produced “radio ready” within 25 days of assignment. To this day, I still have a few of the letters parents wrote me in thanks for their personalized song. When a parent expresses that they play this song on the way to little _____’s chemo each time, to get ready….it does far more than choke one up as the writer. A few years later I was working as a songwriter and volunteer marketing director for a local non-profit when we produced and implemented a program called “Songwriters for Soldiers.” Collaborating with war vets (and their families) battling PTSD along with their families and therapists, each veteran was assigned a hit, Nashville Songwriter to work on telling their own stories through song. This was done over the course of a weekend in the woods west of Nashville. One of the most impactful weekends of my life, are words I’d use to describe that experience and the follow up benefit concert and album that resulted from this project. Down the line I’d lead “Face the Music Foundation” as we grew our therapeutic songwriting and music programs beyond Florida into Nashville and Austin, and I can trace the path back through earlier projects. Today, the songwriting and recording I still do when not leading a non-profit through transitional phases is nearly all intentional and tied to a cause. This includes 2 songs and music videos we are currently producing as advocacy and awareness tools for organizations that work in the fields of Mental Health, SUDS, and homelessness.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Somewhere along the way the phrase “connecting the dots” became a moniker of mine. I didn’t invent it for certain, but it truly resonated with how I’ve lived my life for the most part. Earlier on, I can’t pretend I was intentionally seeking the connective tissue that existed between different aspects of how I was occupying myself. But certainly by my mid-30’s, that habit of drawing the lines between the chapters became more purposeful. Almost strategic at times. (at least from the outside looking in.)
I first got into public/corporate speaking as a “hobby” or avocation back around 2011. I had been managing the offices of a successful Motivational Speaker as well as helping run and grow his notorious, beautiful recording studio in the hills just south of Nashville. Franklin, TN to be specific. Combining my passions of songwriting, collaboration and speaking or facilitating programs had been germinating for a bit, when I was preparing to book my boss as the primary Keynote Speaker for a conference at The University of Indiana. The meeting planner and I had become friendly during the months leading up to this point, and once we’d agreed on a deal she shared with me that she was now looking to book/fill her “under-sessions”, or “breakouts.” I told her that my program “Write-A-Song-Build-A-Team” was new and still evolving but that I’d love to offer it at the conference. With no website, and no promo video either, our relationship and the description of this newly formed program got the gig!
With her help we brought in a two-camera shoot from the University AV department and our first promo video was shot and then edited. That became the centerpiece to launching a website, and turning a hobby into something more substantial. The program has certainly evolved over the years (and continues to do so whenever a client asks us if we can tweak this, or add a wrinkle to that.)
It was also around 2012 or 13 when I started volunteering in the non-profit space, in particular animal rescue and faith-based sectors far more avidly. Those two pieces of my “life-pie” combined to move me out of Nashville around 2014 to take the reins as Director of Operations for “Big Dog Ranch Rescue” in Wellington, Florida. This is the largest, cage-free no kill dog rescue east of the Mississippi. They hired me due to the combination of my team-building experience and my animal rescue volunteer experience primarily. In other words, my ability to connect the dots really assisted in landing this first professional role in non-profit management. I suppose that’s one of the things of which I’m most proud.
These days, no matter which non-profit I’m assisting as Executive Director, I’m always still leading my programs with team-mates who are hit songwriters at The Song Team. Whether it’s leading these programs in a recording studio for a think tank of 20 cross-industry CEO’s, or facilitating a customized, Songwriting, Keynote Experience for 1000 people at a company or industry conference…these programs are always a blast for the attendees and for us as facilitators. The fact that I was asked to turn this program into a TEDX talk, also really tickled my funny bone. That was an exceptionally rewarding experience.
Still writing songs, still recording ocassionally when the fancy strikes and when there is an opportunity to use the music to advance a cause for which I’m passionate. That’s me…a dot-connecting, non-profit leading, songwriting, collaboration and community type guy. Plus, gotta have a dog nearby. Part of the deal 🙂
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
These days my creative efforts are nearly always driven by a mission or purpose. For example, with some musical friends I’m currently in the studio working on 2 songs and corresponding videos. Each song is aligned with a non-profit charged with tackling crucial social issues. The first one is a newly formed non-profit that primarily works to combat the epidemic of suicide. It’s such a needed service (s) they are providing, and the issue is still so misunderstood by many. The video we’re creating is half-music video, and half infomercial to be used to advocate for the non-profit, while spreading general awareness of the cause and resources available to help those in need. That song is called “Holdin’ Onto Hope”, and the non-profit is “Deerfield Beach Community Cares.” The 2nd song is called “The Love Wins Revival” and deals primarily with homelessness as a societal ill. We have not yet aligned with a non-profit for this part of the project, but it’s in the works, and we’ll have been in the studio already working on the song by the time this piece goes to press. 🙂 Very excited about this project. We received funding from a supporter for the first two numbers here, and we hope to turn it into a bigger, longer term intersection of music and non-profits that we’ll call “Songs on Purpose.”
Have any books or other resources had a big impact on you?
“Begging for Change” by Robert Egger, the Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson, and “Do the Kind Thing” by Daniel Lubetzky have all been very informative books on my journey. Also, “Evolve or Die” by Robin Crow.
- Website: https://www.thesongteam.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesongteam
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffjacobteambuilder/
- Twitter: jeffjacob@thesongteam
This original article can be found here.
Jeff Jacob, Founder & Lead Facilitator at The Song Team as well as Executive Director of Alaqua Animal Refuge was featured yesterday, April 26th, 2021 on News Channel 7’s morning segment called: “It’s National Help a Horse Day.”
Jeff explains the bond between human and animal and how they can both benefit from one another. Specifically animals can help with treatment for those with underlying health issues such as PTSD, addiction, depression and so forth. Alqua is diversifying many ways to how rescue animals can help.
Help support the cause today by donating here.
The original news story can be found here.
So, this is important and I want you to pay attention. Pretty deep stuff here. The other day I was browsing the aisles of Home Depot with a short list of items needed to pick up for minor projects and just every day home maintenance type-activity.. when I had a bit of a “moment.” The last item on my list to explore was microwaves. Left for last because it’s kind of a “big” item compared to all the little stuff I was shopping for. You see, the turntable on our home microwave had stopped turning about a week earlier, and despite my efforts to explore DIY fixes, I remained unconvinced that I’d be able to fix this issue. So, I had measured the unit we have and wanted to begin researching replacement options. (don’t worry I intended to shop around…sheesh.)
When I found a unit that was the right color and size dimensions, I started to explore the other specifics. Price and features. All of the sudden, one of the many buttons on the face of the oven jumped out at me like a special effect in a bad 3-d movie. (you know, the kind where you need to wear special glasses back when we went to movie theatres.) “Turntable On/Off” What????! “Turntable On/Off” You’ve got to be kidding me. Could OUR oven at home possibly have such a silly button? Why in the world would you ever turn off the turntable? Don’t we always want “even heating” of a hearty microwave meal…or reheated cup of coffee/tea? Could this be a sign that the fix was right in front of my eyes? No way. So….after paying at the self-checkout (with kind help from the orange-aproned HD employee) I drove home calmly and safely (Mom) but with anticipation. As I placed my bag of light bulbs, sand paper and bath caulk on the dining room table…I knew the answer before even walking into the kitchen. Shaking my head with a smile I looked up at the microwave….and THERE….just above eye level, a tiny bit to the right…a smidge above the “start” button.. was the “turntable on/off” button. My nephew who had been in the house recently, must have hit it by accident when hitting the “pizza” button. So I pressed the button, hit start and presto that sucker started turning again! Who knew? Problem solved!
So what in the heck does this have to do with your team? When building a team (bringing on new members) or developing your team (providing upward mobility/job enhancement opportunities for existing team-mates) it’s inherent for those of us who are leaders to find the hidden talents that never made it onto the resume, dig into those areas that your most important assets (people) have been longing to develop or learn. Do you need someone to really juice up your social media engagement and effectiveness? There is likely already someone on your team who has the chops to do this, who LOVES doing this task already! Does your receptionist want to learn a new book-keeping platform, or social media app that can help your organization? If the answer is yes, do it! A modest investment of time and/or financial resources to train your existing team member will pay dividends many times over down the road because you already know this employee is a valuable, enthused and engaged team member. No need to bring in outside talent…which can be a crap-shoot as you know. Everybody wins in this scenario. The organization, your employee…you. I know you already know this to be true…but sometimes we need a little reminder.
Assignment for you: Find the “turntable on/off” button at your workplace. What hidden gem is right in front of your face…?
Starting this month I begin a new blog series to address the case for music therapy in healthcare. I want to put my profession to the test. Does it hold the value I feel it does? Are there areas we need to improve?
In this first post I start by re-visiting some of the happenings before music therapy became a formalized profession. Like all health professions the beginnings are unique. For example:
- Chiropractic care originated in 1895 when Daniel Palmer of Iowa performed the first chiropractic adjustment on a partially deaf janitor. While the shirtless janitor bent over to empty a trash can Palmer noticed that he had a vertebra out of position. When asked what happened, he replied, “I moved the wrong way, and I heard a ‘pop’ in my back, and that’s when I lost my hearing.” Palmer had him lie face down on the floor and he proceeded to make an adjustment. The next day, the janitor told Palmer, “I can hear that rackets on the streets.”
- Psychology was a branch of philosophy until the 1870s, when it became an independent scientific discipline in Germany.
- Physiotherapy started with physicians like Hippocrates, and later Galenus, who advocated for massage, manual therapy techniques (joint manipulation) and hydrotherapy as a way to treat people in 460 B.C. Now hundreds of years later these interventions have become their own disciplines.
The history of music in healthcare begins in ancient Greece alongside the theories of Plato that medical centres should embed art, music and many other forms of healing into its core. Early on Indigenous communities, also believed in integration between mind and body and that only when harmony was achieved could health be restored.
The earliest known reference to music therapy appeared in 1789 in an unsigned article in Columbian Magazine titled “Music Physically Considered.” In the early 1800s, writings on the therapeutic value of music appeared in two medical dissertations proposing music as an intervention to treat medical diseases.
Later a documented case of a physician in the 20th century using music in the context of surgery occurred in 1914, when Evan O’Neil Kane published his report in JAMA on the use of the phonograph within the operating room. Patients from this study identified that anesthetic induction was better coupled with music for reducing anxiety prior to surgery.
More documentation happened after The Second World War in America. Doctors found that music helped the soldiers physically and mentally. Training programs began to spread worldwide. And well….the profession of Music Therapy was well on its way.
Since then global Music Therapy Associations and regulatory bodies grew to oversee Music Therapist’s certification. The evidence collectors, including many music therapist researchers, continue to add to the informed use of music therapy in healthcare.
In my short time of being a music therapist (maybe not so short now) the most exciting changes have been not what we have been doing but where we now provide music therapy because of the outcomes achieved:
- Mental Health Facilities, Addictions Programs and Forensic Units
- Hospitals and Neuro Units/Programs
- Dementia Care and Long Term Care
- Schools and Children’s Development Programs
- Palliative Care and Grief and Loss Programs
- Corporate Wellness Programs
I feel the area that can and should develop next is in area of preventative medicine – we will address this later.
As I review this brief history, I am left with this thought – that all professions worked very hard and had many struggles during their time of formalization – and many continue to face old and new challenges – from being misunderstood (do needles hurt during acupuncture?), to the public not knowing when to access what treatment (when do I go to chiro vs. physio vs massage), to feeling that other disciplines are taking up some of their rightful professional space (is harp therapy different enough from music therapy that they needed their own certification?).
What I believe is important at this stage of investigation is to recognize that no ONE treatment will solve all our complex human needs. But what is important, particularly to the consumer, the general public who are paying for these services either out of pocket or through taxes, is the knowledge that what they are getting has evidence behind it (including the potential risks), and the assurance that the person treating them has the training, experience, and intention to help and not harm.