Music Therapy

Subject: Art
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Word count: 2170
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Introduction

Music therapy is a therapeutic concept that makes use of music as the intervention. It involves a set of activities and is conducted by a professional in this field. This therapy is mainly based on the roles and effects music has on human lives. It dates back to ancient times but has only caught people’s attention in the recent years after the World War I. Compared to other forms of therapy, the research conducted on this one is not sufficient, and therefore the information available on this concept is not much. To better understand this concept, the paper gives a history of music therapy, more insight on it as well as the roles and effects music has in our daily lives. However, this paper mainly focuses on music therapy as a tool for treating physical and mental disorders and to what extent it is effective.

The concept of music therapy

Music therapy in its simplest definition is the use of music and all its facets to improve an individual’s mental and physical health. It involves the use of music by a professional, as a form of intervention to attain certain goals in a therapeutic process. The goals, in this case, can be emotional, physical, cognitive or social. This kind of therapy is conducted by an individual who has completed and passed an approved music therapy program. It is a wide concept and entails various disciplines such as embodied music cognition, clinical therapy, psychotherapy, musical acoustics, aesthetics of music, comparative musicology, sensory integration, and psychoacoustics. There are various approaches that music therapists use and some good examples include neurologic music therapy, Kodaly, Dalcroze Eurhythmics Nordoff-Robbins, Orff-Schulwerk and the Bonny method.

Music therapy is of two forms namely active and receptive music therapies. Active is whereby both the patient and the therapist are engaged in creating the music. This is done by use of their voice, instruments and other objects. Receptive music therapy, on the other hand, is more relaxed. It is whereby the therapist makes or plays the music, and the patient is free to listen, draw or meditate on it. In many cases, patients are referred to music therapists by other health professionals. The music therapists then decide the form of music therapy to use upon accessing the patient.

History of music therapy

Music therapy dates back to ancient times as evident in the writings of ancient civilizations and Biblical scriptures. It greatly developed during the World War I and World War II. During this period, music was used in health facilities as an intervention to heal traumatic war injuries experienced by the veterans. The veterans were passively and actively involved in musical activities whose aim was to relieve mental pain. This approach had a positive psychological, emotional, physiological, and cognitive effect on the veterans and hence gained a lot of attention. As a result, various professionals who had been involved in the treatment of the veterans formed an organization whose aim was to focus more on this new concept. This organization did more research on this concept to understand it better. As time went by, through research, more knowledge on this emerged hence the development of this concept.

Role and effect of music in our lives

To many people, music is a form of entertainment. However, music serves a greater purpose than this in people’s lives. Research on the concept of music as well as research within healthcare contexts has both shown that one of the major roles music plays in our lives is promoting health and well-being. This is because it has a great influence on our daily lives. To start with, music is a great stress-relieving tool. Many people use music to keep their stress levels low. In addition, music improves relations among people, as it is a social concept. It does this by bonding those who engage in musical activities together. It is also motivating in that it motivates people as they go about their affairs. In addition, it promotes health and well-being by passing a positive message that promotes healthy living.

The type of music one listens to affects their current mood. A jovial song makes one happy while a sad song may make one experience low moods. This is because music evokes different emotions among people. Another reason behind this is the fact that music taps into our memories. Listening to music stimulates a good or bad memory that can alter an individual’s mood. Apart from the mind, the body too reacts differently to music. Body movements tend to be synchronized to the music one is listening to.

Effectiveness of music therapy

Music therapy can be used to cure mental and psychological disorders, and it has so far proved to be helpful. This is mainly because, as research has found, there is a great relationship between music and the human health. To start with, music is part of the human mind. The brain is structured in such a way that it can process and respond to music from an early stage. Day–old infants have been observed to be able to respond differently to different rhythmic patterns.  In addition, mothers throughout time and across cultures have used musical rhythms and lullabies to calm crying babies. This goes to show that music precedes other aspects such as language. It is, therefore, an effective tool for music therapy as it is incorporated into the brain.

According to the school’s music teacher interviewed in the process of conducting the current research, music therapy can be useful in curing physical and mental disorders since the human body naturally match to a rhythm. The interviewee explained the reason why whenever one is walking humming a song in the head or listening to music one naturally walks to the beat. Music enters the central nervous system and some of it heads to the brain while others directly to the motor nerves. As a result, the body muscles move to a rhythm involuntarily. This concept has been greatly used in the therapy commonly used among stroke victims to enable them to re-learn how to walk as well as to develop endurance and strength in their upper bodies.

The interviewee also explained that the human body has a physiological response to music. Many are the times that music causes an increase in the breathing rate depending on how one is engaged in the music. This increase results in a rise in the heart rate. In addition, at times one may feel a shiver down the spine. All these are physiological responses by the body to music. Music therapists have a good understanding of this concept; hence make use of it during music therapy to effectively help a patient to relax which is a crucial part in the treatment of physical and mental disorders.

Moreover, the human brain is comfortable with music because it is predictable, organized and well structured. Usually, good music has well-organized phrases, a predictable, steady beat, and a structured form. As explained by Millie, It is organized in such a manner that the mind likes it hence, it becomes enjoyable to listen to it repeatedly. Due to this factor, music tends to make people feel comfortable and at peace. As such, music is usually utilized in therapy sessions to increase the comfort levels of the patients.

In addition, the interviewee pointed out that music is quite effective in treating children with physical and mental disorders. This is largely because children respond positively to music from a tender age. This is the reason why children naturally begin to sing and dance at a young age. Children usually learn through play, music, and art. These mediums are quite effective when dealing with children during therapy, since it is something they can readily relate to. As noted in the interview, music also helps build an good relationship between the therapist and the child. It also enables the therapist to learn more about the child depending on his or her reaction to certain music genre.

The school’s psychologist also interviewed agrees with the music teacher that music therapy can be effective in curing physical and mental disorders. The psychologist attributes this to the fact that music taps into an individual’s emotions. Different music sparks different emotions. Music can make one feel sad or happy. This can be a result of the music itself or one’s association with the music. This aspect is used in a therapeutic way especially in the treatment of mental disorder by engaging the patient in a type of music that makes them exhibit positive emotions. This is used as a tool by music therapists to easily access the patient’s emotions.

The psychologist went ahead to explain that music also greatly helps to improve individual’s attention skills. Research conducted in a hospital proved this true. In the study, the researcher began singing while close to two ten-months old twins who were initially playing. The twins stopped playing and stared at her for 3 minutes until she was done. This proved that from an early age, music attracts our attention from infancy.  As such, in the treatment of physical and mental disorders, therapists can use music as a tool to improve the attentiveness of the patient as well as for impulse control goals.

in addition, the psychologist explains that music makes use of shared neural circuits as speech. Therefore, there is a great relationship between music and speech. Singing or listening to music with lyrics makes use of shared neural circuits as those used in expressing and listening to speech. In the treatment of mental and physical disorders, music therapists mainly use this to help stroke victims to learn how to talk again as well as helping children having communication difficulties.

Another great factor that makes music therapy an effective tool in the treatment of physical and mental disorders is the fact that music enhances learning. One of the easiest ways of learning something new and which might seem complex is through music. This is the reason why learning the alphabets is mainly done musically. Music has an emotional pull and inherent structure that makes it an easy teaching tool. As such, most therapists use music to pass information to a patient effectively. This makes it easier for the patients to understand what they are told as well as to recall later.

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As earlier mentioned, music taps into the human memory, for instance, when one listens to a song, it immediately takes one to a specific time in ones life or remind one of a certain place, event or person. Music is very powerful at stimulating the memories held up in our mind. In fact, it is only smell that is considered more powerful than music at stimulating memories. This aspect about music comes in handy during a therapeutic session in the treatment of mental disorder patients especially those with dementia.

To understand this concept better, this paper also makes use of information gathered from an interview with an individual who had undergone a music therapy. He began by explaining that music is a social experience. Since time immemorial, music and dance have been used to pass on knowledge and stories that bring about bonding. Music experiences are currently shared within groups such as bands, music classes, or in the church. For this reason, it becomes easier for music therapists to structure and coordinate group processes for their patients using music. Music creates a relationship among the group members by bonding them.

The interviewee went ahead to explain that music is an effective therapeutic approach since it is safe, non-invasive and motivating. It tends to make the listener feel safer and also motivates them to be more engaged in their affairs. These are among the reasons that explain why most people enjoy music. This might not be the main reason why music works in a therapeutic setting, but it is also a key factor. These, as well as the other laid down factors, go to show that music therapy is helpful and plays an important role in treating mental and physical disorders.

Conclusion

Music therapy is one of the recent kinds of therapy to be used in health institutions. It became popular in the 1950’s after the end of the Second World War. Music plays many roles in people’s lives apart from entertainment. It promotes their health by minimizing stress levels, improving relations among them, motivating them and passing positive messages. It also affects people’s moods and body movements differently. The roles and influence music has on people’s lives forms the basis of music therapy. Music therapists go about their duties putting these aspects into consideration. In the treatment of mental and physical disorders, music therapy has been very helpful. As discussed earlier, there are many ways it has assisted in treating such patients. In their treatment, these patients might undergo various therapy procedures; hence, music therapy might not be the only therapy that is used to treat these patients, but it is a major and effective part of the treatment process.

 

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