“When we look at the body of evidence that the arts contribute to our society, it’s absolutely astounding. Music Therapists are breaking down the walls of silence and affliction of autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.” – Michael Greene, President and CEO of NARAS
The world of music is a big one. Really big, in fact. Contemplating choosing one artist, one singer/songwriter, one album, one genre even is a monumental task. You could spend hours analyzing it. Or rather analyzing yourself. Like any other art form such as dance or visual art, music is a way in which we express ourselves. We can choose any way to do this, any melody, any type of instrument and because we have chosen it, because we assign value to it, it says something about us. In fact, in many cases, music can not just be a way in which we tell others who we are, it is something much stronger; it helps us to understand who we are ourselves.
Music therapy is a growing field among the music psychology terrain. It is a method for the treatment of many illnesses and diseases as well as helping one find one’s self. It is not “the right way” to get therapy, it is simply “a way”. Music therapists work in either a private or public setting, with individuals or groups and it can be much more active than simply putting on a CD and listening aimlessly. The wonder and beauty about going to therapy is that it is yours. All yours. No one can ever take that away. It can be what you want it to be and if that means listening to recorded music or writing your own, then it is.
Breaking down the walls of silence is an appropriate message of what music therapy can be for a client. The arts – music, dance, visual – are all equally valid as forms of expression and can indeed be powerful tools in breaking down the barrier between a client and therapist. Or between the client and themselves.
The University of Jyväskylä – see webpage: https://www.jyu.fi/hum/laitokset/musiikki/en/studies/mmt/therapy/therapy – offers a wonderful music therapy research Master Degree programme, taught through English. The course enables students to discover the world of research as well as a snoop into the practical side of things with the clinical internships. Renowned researchers Jaakko Erkkilä and Esa Ala-Ruona are university teachers there who provide a foundation in knowledge about topics such as Music Therapy in Medicine and as Rehabilitation as well as teaching us about projects which are currently being researched at the department such as Music and Emotion.
As Michael Green so succinctly put it, music therapy is an aid to breaking down the barriers of silence between us and Autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. These are three, just three, of many illnesses which can be helped with the use of music as a therapeutic aid. Understanding how we ourselves use music is one small step towards understanding how music can be used for and with others.