According to the English dictionary, the term therapy means caring for someone by medication or remedial training. On the other hand, music is an artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal notes in a structured and continuous manner agreeing to rhyme and rhythm. Having these two definitions in mind, we can conclude that music therapy is the process in which music is clinically played to an individual or groups of individuals to accomplish individualized to improve the physical, mental or emotional condition, or to regulate anxiety and improve the subject’s mood.
Music therapy has been used over the years, the most ancient evidence dating back to several centuries B.C. wherein the bible in the book of 1 Samuel 16:14-23 records the use of music therapy by David to King Saul to calm him down. Though it is not widely used, music therapy offers relief like drugs would do and has many benefits.
The objective of music therapy is to achieve a therapeutic effect that coincides either with the use of therapy drugs or without using the drugs. Qualified music therapists use this therapy for patients who have long-term ailments or disorders to help quicken the recovery rate from these conditions. The therapists engage the patients in the prescribed therapeutic activities such as composing songs or writing lyrics, listening to music (either live or recorded), singing or playing, performing pre-composed pieces and playing musical instruments.
In this article, I will analyze the art of music therapy and its use in clinical therapeutic application to the patients and the therapeutic effects of music therapy. I will also cite relevant examples from accredited sources such as Michael Thaut and Gerald McIntosh articles “How Music Helps to Heal the Injured Brain” (2010), Don Campbell’s article “The Mozart Effect” (1997) and others to bring forth a verifiable analysis of my topic “Music Therapy”.
Music therapy can treat a wide variety of disorders and conditions of neurological and psychological nature. Music, due to its rhythmic properties, can induce considerable changes in the patient’s mood. It can calm down or soothe the patient, bring joy and happiness, excite, give morale, reduce anxiety, and inspire positive emotions. Suppose the therapist decides to use the mood changing the property of music. In that case, they can use music therapy to treat such conditions as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), Alzheimer’s disease and psychosis, which greatly influence and affect the patient’s moods (Wikipedia; Music Therapy). For example, an individual experiencing anger can be given a drum to beat to calm down his or her anger. Also, through composing songs, the patient actively puts down their moods and emotions, thereby relieving themselves from psychological pain and stress.
In their article “How Music Helps to Heal the Injured Brain, “ M. Thaut and G. McIntosh say that music therapy can retain auditory perception, attention, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, and other executive control mechanisms. This means that music therapy can improve one’s mental or cognitive abilities, which one could have lost due to various reasons such as brain damage or tumour. Different parts of the brain are affected, and therefore from Thaut and McIntosh’s statement in their article “How Music Helps to Heal the Injured Brain” (2010), we can infer that music therapy is crucial in the recovery of patients suffering from such disorders and conditions like brain damage and other brain injury-related cases.
Music therapy can also improve patients’ physical conditions resulting from physiological disorders. Patients suffering from physiological conditions such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease are given muscle therapy to positively affect and improve their muscle coordination, which they lost due to the stroke attack. M. Thaut and G. McIntosh, in their article “How Music Heals the Injured Brain” (2010) they say that for those patients with Parkinson’s disease, music and rhythm could quicken their movements. They also said that music served as an auditory trigger that kept the patients’ movements going and prevented the sudden halt of movements in Parkinson’s patients. Physiologists can infer that muscle coordination in these patients could be improved using the rhythmic patterns of sound present in music used as a therapy to these patients.
Music and Psychology
Music therapy has the effect of distracting the patients. This gives them the ability to forget the pains and worries that they might be having. This can be achieved by engaging the patients through musical facets such as composing and playing musical instruments like the lyre, guitar, and drums. The activities require high levels of attention and concentration, and thus, the patient is distracted from their stressful state.\
Nobody can deny the calming effect that music has when you listen to your favourite songs. Especially when you are experiencing any form of psychological turmoil, for example, rejected love, loss of a loved one, hardships of life, etc. music plays a key role in soothing your mind and thoughts. It goes without saying that music has a secret connection with your soul that corresponds to your heart rate sending good signals to your brain to release happy hormones.
Music therapy can treat and also improve various ailments. These ailments can include both mental and physical deficiencies and diseases. Singing, one of the therapeutic activities in music therapy, involves the usage of the right brain hemisphere more than the left. Patients with Aphasia, a language disorder due to brain damage on the left hemisphere, can partially “pass over” the injured or the damaged sections of the brain. This has the effect of improving the speech of these patients and their language eloquence and fluency as they speak. In the end, the patient will have rehabilitated these regions of the brain and have better use and operation of these brain regions.
From the chapter “The Mozart Effect” (1997) by Don Campbell concerning music in education and intelligence, Campbell states that in a comprehensive review of empirically-based studies conducted between 1972 and 1992, the research found that music instruction aids reading, language, science perception and mathematics as well as the overall academic achievement. He also states that the investigators found that music enhances creativity, improves the students’ self-esteem, develops social skills and increases perpetual motor skill development and psychomotor development. This suggests that music therapy increases and improves the mental capacities of the individuals subjected to it.
I believe that music therapy is effective. Based on the research that I have done, music therapy is very effective and continues to be one of the best sources of the dependable discipline of medicine. I have come to infer that music therapy is for all. It is not for use just for individuals who have emotional, mental or physiological disorders; it can also be used by persons and individuals who are medically fit. This is because music has been long-known for its ability to reduce stress which is one of the major components of dissatisfaction. Therefore, it can increase levels of happiness. I have also concluded that music therapy gives room for expressing oneself and releasing harmful emotions of anger and sadness. One can opt to engage in musical activities either actively or receptively to alleviate the emotion.
As we have seen, music therapy is very effective when taking care of our patients suffering from long-term diseases and disorders. It is very effective in relieving pain (both physical and psychological) and also helps in improving the workability of the different parts of the human brain.
We can conclude that music therapy, when done by credentialed professionals (according to American Music Therapy Association; About Music & AMTA), can bring forth “medical miracles” in the recovery of patients who previously had no signs of recovery soon and also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful in proper diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions as well as psychological disorders and discomforts. Music is a universal language where everyone can immerse and properly flow with the rhythm of the beats and the sounds to allude to different emotions in a humans body. Therefore, music therapy should be considered when a patient is diagnosed with any long-term disease or disorder.
Thaut, Michael (PhD) and McIntosh, Gerald (M.D.); How Music Helps to Heal the Injured Brain. The Dana Foundation. 2010.
Campbell, Don; The Mozart Effect. New York. Avon Books. 1997.
American Music Therapy Association; About Music Therapy and AMTA. November 2011.
Wikipedia; Music Therapy. Accessed on 9th October 2021.