, , , , , , ,

Today, was the last program for Adult Summer Reading. It was an introduction to Music Therapy. As stated by the American Music Therapy Association, Inc., “music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individual goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credential professional whoa has an approved  music therapy program. Music therapy interventions can be designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication, and provide unique opportunities for interaction. . .  Therapists develop a treatment plan with goals and objectives and then provide the indicated treatment. . .  use both instrumental and vocal music strategies .  . . may improvise or compose music with clients. Music therapists are usually members of a health care interdisciplinary team.”

The whole concept of music is really fascinating to me on a different level due to my “deafness” (Really, I’m just severely hard of hearing since the age of four. Hearing aids in both ears.) I was about 13 years old before I knew that music on the radio actually HAS lyrics!–Gosh! What a concept?! I always assumed it was “instrumental” like karaoke. I could not differentiate the sound of voice versus the sound of music instrument. It’s all “noise” to me. Similar to one of my favorite music tales to tell is when I had my piano tuned after 25 years. Apparently the piano was so out of tune it was positively beastly! I had no idea. I told the tuner,

Hey, man as far as I’m concerned, if I press a key and sound comes out–It works.

He thought this was hysterical. Funny as it may seem, it’s my truth. Due to my hearing aids, I do not hear like a “normal person.” I hear through a microphone so anything that sounds crappy over a microphone is going to sound that way for me. There is no joy in the sound of rain, wind through the trees, or the rolling waves on the ocean (which, by the way, sound like static/snow on a television set).

I digress. Music therapy helps with motor skills with foot-tapping songs to drum-banging music. The rhythm organizes and energizes and keeps a person present. The lyrics of the song assist with cognitive skills. There is loads of science to back this all up. Due to it’s right brain processing and association the impetus of the healing stems from the triggering of emotion. The Music Therapist, I had present specialized in Alzheimer’s, substance recovery, and depression. Some of them employ listening to instrumental music along with painting and drawing, as well as writing poetry and rewriting the lyrics.


Speaking of which, I confessed to one of the presenters that there have been many times where I like the way the music sounds and find out later what the lyrics are. Upon discovery of the words, it completely ruins the song for me and I do not listen to it again. I have read that lyrics can be a powerful tool, but the heart will always be the “noise.” While, uplifting songs are great to help you move forward, maintain a positive outlook, and manifest your dreams, today’s therapist stated she wants to validate her patients addiction and despair first; to recognize it and identify it. Over time of the “treatment” the songs should gradually become more positive, but some people aren’t there yet. They identify with depression, disease, and addiction. That is whole they “are” or feel they are. They do not see them as Joe who is feeling a crushing sadness, they view them as Joe who is depressed. There is an enormous difference in outlook. Music opens the flood gates of emotions and feeling which further encourages behavior, physical abilities, and perspective.

All music is suitable for therapy, but classical is the holy grail in some circles because of its ability to evoke emotional and visceral response. The everyday lives of Victorians were influenced by music. Just about every home had a piano, many folks learned to play an instrument and/or sing (it almost seemed like a requirement!), people and families crowded around the family musician to sing together. Songs from operas were enormously popular as well as some local folk ditties. I am unaware if the Victorians were aware of the healing affect of their music or if was strictly regulated to the fun and leisure part of daily life (unless of course, one was a musician trying to put food on the table.) Regardless, their composition output was extraordinary. Nineteenth century composters WERE the rock stars of their day! Can you imagine Beyoncé writing a three hour “album” that told a music story from beginning to end?