16 Mar Can Music Really Be Medicinal?
Most of us listen to music every day – whether you’re putting on your dance party song while you get ready to go out, listening to a sad song when you’re feeling down, or popping on your best pump-up song while you’re working out. Even if you don’t consider yourself a music lover, it’s likely you encounter music everywhere. On the radio, in the soundtrack of your favourite show, in an elevator – music can change your mood without you realizing it. Music has a profound ability to affect our emotions and can allow us to express how we feel without speaking.
“Where words fail or emotions are too hard to express, music can fill the void.”
What is Music Therapy?
- The Canadian Association of Music Therapists defines music therapy as a discipline in which Certified Music Therapists (MTAs), use music purposely within therapeutic relationships to support development, health, and well-being.
- MTAs address a vast number of human needs within cognitive, emotional, musical, physical, social, and spiritual domains.
What Can Music Therapy Be Used For?
- Brain injuries
- Autism or other developmental disabilities
- Emotional trauma
- Hearing or visual impairments
- Mental health problems
- Pain control
- Physical disabilities
- At-risk teens
- Substance abuse
- Many more conditions!
But How Does It Work?
A large part of a music therapist’s job is assessing the patient, determining long-term goals, and tailoring a plan to allow their patient to reach these goals. Some popular techniques include:
- Singing can be used as a therapeutic tool and assists in the development of articulation, rhythm, and breath control
- Research suggests singing can improve mood, reduce feelings of stress, and increase energy
- Singing in a group can improve social skills and awareness of others while fostering feelings of belonging
- For those with dementia- singing can help memories resurface while reducing anxiety and fear
- For those with compromised breathing – singing can improve oxygen saturation rates
- For stroke victims or other individuals who have difficulty speaking – music may stimulate the language centers in the brain and allow them to sing even if they can’t speak!
2. PLAYING INSTRUMENTS
- Improves fine motor coordination skills (especially for those with neurological or motor impairments due to stroke, head injury, or disease)
- Ensembles can improve cooperation, attention, and can give opportunities to practice leadership-participant roles
- Learning how to play an instrument can improve the sense of well-being and improve self-esteem
3. RHYTHM ACTIVITIES
- Used to facilitate and improve range of motion, joint mobility and strength, balance, coordination, and relaxation
- Primes the motor areas of the brain, regulating processes such as breathing and heart rate, and helps in maintaining motivation or activity level even after the removal of musical stimulus
- Helps those with processing difficulties (like aphasia or tinnitus) and improves their ability to tolerate/process sensory information
- Provides a creative, nonverbal outlet for patients to express thoughts and feelings
- Requires no previous music training and is non-judgemental
- When words fail, and emotions are too hard to express, music can fill the void
- Where trust has been compromised due to abuse or neglect, improvisation provides a safe space to re-establish meaningful interpersonal contact
- Writing songs can allow patients to share their feelings, ideas, and experiences
Simply listening to music has therapeutic applications:
- Helps skills such as attention and memory
- Early to mid dementia: music can provide a sense of familiarity, tying patient to reality
- Patients about to undergo surgery: listening to music can give a greater sense of control over an unfamiliar environment
- Bipolar or Schizophrenia: listening to music can increase openness to discussion or provide motivation to engage in social activity
- Listening to music during childbirth can provide distraction and promote relaxation
How do I get into Music Therapy?
The process often begins with a referral from a healthcare professional. To speak with a registered medical professional from the comfort and safety of your own home, book an appointment today with Sabe Wellness.