Music Therapy


musicIntroduction Music therapy is an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets-physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual-to help clients to improve or maintain their health. In some instances, the client’s needs are addressed directly through music; in others they are addressed through the relationships that develop between the client and therapist Music therapy is used with individuals of all ages and with a variety of conditions, including: psychiatric disorders, medical problems, physical handicaps, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, communication disorders, interpersonal problems, and ageing.

It is also used to: improve learning, build self-esteem, reduce stress, support physical exercise, and facilitate a host of other health-related activities. Some FAQ’s WHAT DO THE CLIENTS DO IN MUSIC THERAPY? What makes music therapy different from every other form of therapy is its reliance on music. Thus, every session involves the client in a musical experience of some kind. The main ones are:

a) improvising
b) re-creating
c) composing
d) listening to music.

In those sessions which involve improvising, the client makes up his or her own music extemporaneously, singing or playing whatever arises in the moment. The client may improvise freely, responding spontaneously to the sounds as they emerge, or the client may improvise according to the specific musical directions given by the therapist.

· In those sessions which involve re-creating music, the client sings or plays precomposed music. This kind of music experience may include: learning how to produce vocal or instrumental sounds, imitating musical phrases, learning to sing by rote, using musical notation, participating in sing-alongs, practicing, taking music lessons, performing a piece from memory, working out the musical interpretation of a composition, participating in a musical show or drama, and so forth.

· In those sessions which involve composing, the therapist helps the client to write songs, lyrics, or instrumental pieces, or to create any kind of musical product, such as music videos or audiotape programs. Usually the therapist simplifies the process by engaging the client in easier aspects of the task (e.g., generating a melody, or writing the lyrics of a song), and by taking responsibility for more technical aspects (e.g., harmonization, notation).

Music Therapy_2In those sessions which involve listening, the client takes in and reacts to live or recorded music. The listening experience may focus on physical, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, or spiritual aspects of the music, and the client may respond through activities such as: relaxation or meditation, structured or free movement, perceptual tasks, free-association, story-telling, imaging, reminiscing, drawing, and so forth. WHAT DETERMINES HOW THE MUSIC WILL BE USED? Music therapy sessions are designed with several factors in mind. First and foremost, the therapist has to select the types of music experience to be used according to the goals of therapy and the needs of the client. Each of the music experiences described above requires something different from the client, and has a potentially different effect. For example, improvising and composing are both creative, but one is done extemporaneously and the other is not.

Moreover, the improviser produces his/her own music, while the composer relies upon a performer. Continuing in this comparison, creating one’s own music is quite different from re-creating or performing music already composed by someone else.

A performer has to faithfully convey the musical ideas of another person, while an improviser or composer deals only with his or her own ideas. Finally, listening is quite different from the other types of music experience because it involves taking in and receiving the music, without being actively involved in its creation or production. The listener is active in a different way from the improviser, composer, and performer. WHAT DO MUSIC THERAPISTS ACTUALLY DO? Working as a music therapist essentially involves preparing, conducting, evaluating and documenting sessions with clients. Working with a client usually begins before the first session. The first step is to collect the necessary background information by reviewing any written records or referrals that may be available. Then in the first session, the music therapist usually conducts an assessment to determine the client\’s strengths and therapeutic needs. In a music therapy assessment, information on how the client makes, responds to, and relates to music is collected and analyzed, and then related to other aspects of the client\’s life. Based on the assessment findings, the music therapist formulates goals, sometimes with input from the client, the client\’s family, other professionals, or an interdisciplinary team of clinicians.

Care is taken that the goals are realistic enough to be accomplished within the time frame set for therapy. Once goals have been set, the music therapist makes a treatment plan outlining possible strategies and music experiences that might be helpful in meeting the client’s needs. In institutional settings, a meeting is usually held to coordinate treatment efforts and to formulate a program plan. As a result, the client is placed in individual, family, or group sessions, and the treatment phase of music therapy begins.

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