Music is a part of the human world since perhaps, before recorded history. Every culture in every corner of the globe has their own kind of music that they use to express a range of emotions and celebrate every kind of occasion. Births, deaths, weddings, a successful hunt, bountiful harvest, and just about any event is marked and celebrated with music.
Music has evolved in the modern world into an immense number of genres. It is an art form that can cause you to feel happy and upbeat, sad and morose, and even uneasy. In addition to being used to express oneself and for entertainment, music has many therapeutic effects. These effects to heal many ailments is now being explored by science.
What is Music Therapy?
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) talks about music as being a kind of therapy that can be used as a professional modality to support the creative, psychological, and social bonding needs of patients. Music therapy can also help patients develop their cognitive abilities or the ability to gain knowledge and process it by understanding it thoroughly. The organization supports and regulates music therapy that has been developed on the basis of research. Now, trained therapists can use the treatment to help patients.
History of Music Therapy
Using music to heal is a concept that has been described in the texts written by Plato and his disciple, Aristotle. The therapeutic benefits of music were also studied in the 18th century by Edwin Atlee and Samuel Mathews, students of Dr. Benjamin Rush. However, music was developed as a clinical profession only in the 1940s. The modern adaptations of the therapy were first developed right after World War I and World War II. Doctors found that they could use the treatment to help war veterans recover from the trauma they suffered while fighting on the front. Music could help them recover from both, physical and psychological issues.
How Music Therapy is Provided
Qualified healers evaluate patients and design the ideal music therapy program that matches their individual needs. Accordingly, they may choose one of two forms:
- Receptive: When the patient listens to music and responds to it by way of dancing and analyzing the wordings and what they mean.
- Active: When the patient composes music, sings, or plays an instrument.
Therapists may also recommend that patients use a combination of all these forms. In addition, they may choose between individual sessions or group treatments.
By using music therapy, patients that cannot use words, can express themselves and communicate better. The abilities and skills that patients develop through music can be used to help in other spheres of their lives. They can build better bonds with their loved ones since music serves as the ideal outlet for their feelings and emotions. Perhaps, the biggest positive of music therapy is that it is universal and can overcome all barriers of culture, background, language, religious beliefs or any other.
Why Music Therapy Works?
Using Neuroplasticity models, researchers have discovered that music therapy has the ability to stimulate all the sections of the brain in unison or at the same time. It can activate brain functioning and processing that can in turn, enhance a person’s physical, emotional, learning, and psychological abilities. For this reason, music therapy can be used to assist in educating and teaching approaches, and also in recovery and wellness treatments. This modality also has the capability to create new neuro-pathways that normally would take extensive training and effort. And, since the brain controls all the other systems of the body, healing the brain can heal the patient.
Benefits of Music Therapy
Music can have many therapeutic effects such as:
- Assisting in communication: Patients that have suffered a stroke and are learning to speak normally can begin their rehabilitation by singing or humming simple tunes.
- Assisting in the development of social skills: Patients that are autistic or suffer from other disorders that prevent them from bonding with their loved ones can use music therapy to express themselves. Such patients show a keen interest and sometimes, talent for the art.
- Managing stress and anxiety: By listening to music, patients can relax and learn to recognize their stress triggers. In this way, they can effectively manage their anxiety.
- Physical therapy: Playing musical instruments can help patients develop or regain their motor skills like in cases of rehabilitation after accidents or Parkinson’s Disease.
- Overcoming insomnia: Music therapy can calm a patients’ stress and anxiety to a point when they can easily fall asleep.
- Managing addictions: Patients struggling with addictions often have to deal with feelings of loneliness, denial, lack of self-esteem, and difficulty in forming healthy relationships. Music can help them deal with these feelings and recover faster.
- Caring for newborn infants: Playing music can help babies sleep better and gain weight faster.
- Lowering the instances of asthmatic episodes in kids and adults
- Easing the effects of dementia, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s Disease
- Helping hospitalized patients alleviate the pain they may have during the recovery process
- Recovering from brain injury
- Personal growth and development
- Easing the childbirth process
Research into the Effectiveness of Music Therapy
Results of studies conducted were published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. Various subjects were tested for issues like:
- Mental and behavioral disorders including schizophrenia, depression, and insomnia
- Nervous system ailments including Parkinson’s disease
- Respiratory system diseases
- Pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery process after delivery
- Ailments of the circulatory system
- Issues related to the metabolism and nutrition
Doctors found that the test subjects showed a marked improvement in their symptoms with the help of sessions of music therapy.
Music is essentially a human art and only people are able to perceive and appreciate music. The art has been an integral part of human development and over centuries, different cultures have created their own genres of music. Rhythms and songs have the potential to affect the psyche and thus, music therapy can help people with a range of ailments.
“What is Music Therapy.” American Music Therapy Association n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
Khetrapal, Afsaneh. B.Sc. “What is Music Therapy?” News Medical Life Sciences. 3 Feb. 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
“How Does Music Therapy Work?” Music Therapy Association of British Columbia. n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
“What is Music Therapy?” Center for Music Therapy n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
Kamioka, Hiroharu., Tsutani, Kiichiro, et al. “Effectiveness of music therapy: a summary of systematic reviews based on randomized controlled trials of music interventions.” US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health. 16 May 2014. 25 Jan. 2017.