Tag Archives: therapy

Psychology meets Music Therapy

This month, the music therapy students had the chance to meet the psychology students in what is nicknamed Mordor due to it’s distance from the main campus! The day was interesting, inspiring, and fun. It really made me think: why is there a divide and stigma associated with music therapy when all I see are similarities?

More and more often we are pressured into believing we are different, have a different skill set, can achieve different things. Why is there such an emphasis on not being the same as our family, friends, colleagues, classmates, when unity is what helps us to strive towards greatness?

Perhaps – in this context – it depends on one’s reasoning behind therapy. Is the point of “working on” yourself so that you can realise your differences from others, or the opposite? Why is it important to be different from others? These questions were running through my mind during the workshops. I couldn’t help but wonder, if the end result of a therapeutic process is the same, why are there different types of therapy? When we go to therapy, who are we really doing the “work” for?


We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.

                     – Bill Clinton 

So, was our seminar day for pointing out the differences or the similarities? I for one choose to believe that having a common goal makes us the same.


Making the Move

It’s coming closer to the time when students have to start thinking about what’s next. Those words can be terrifying, petrifying, but liberating.  What’s next? But, what if there’s more to it than that? What if it’s not just what’s next, but where to next 

Moving overseas can seem daunting, but thousands have done it before you, so it can’t be so bad, right? The thing is, one needs to plan well and figure out all the possibilities on offer. Talk to people. Read about others’ testimonials. Read old newspaper articles which talk about the place you’re researching. Open your ears and your heart to new possibilities and new people. Read a blog about a course you’re interested in…

So, practically speaking, what are some things you need to know when applying to the course?

Here is a short list of FAQs that you can peruse and leave a comment if you have more questions! Pass on this information to those you think might be interested in music therapy or work in the field and let us know what you think about the possibility of studying music therapy, studying with like-minded and open people and living and studying in the Land of a Thousand Lakes!

Thinking of applying for the next Music Therapy Master’s Programme at Jyväskylä? Here are some FAQ that might help you make your decision! 

1) What are the requirements for entry? 

Language requirements: English is the working language, so if you do not have English as a native language, you must have an equivalent to a TOEFL score of 580 – paper based – or 237 – computer based – or 92 – internet based. Also the IELTS score is acceptable – the score should be 6.5 or above. 
It helps to have a background in Music, Psychology or Therapy but one does not need to have a full working knowledge of therapeutic approaches or methods to be able to apply or complete the course. 

2) What is the atmosphere like within the programme/city of Jyväskylä?

The course is quite small for a MA – everyone is friendly and helpful and the overall atmosphere of the university is very pleasant. The city may have 80,000 inhabitants, but it has a very close-knit, compact feel and all amenities are within a short distance of each other. 

3) What is the clinical training like in the course?

The clinical training is comprised of two sections- Internship I and II. The first is 12 sessions and the second 20. The second is organised in the student’s own time whereas the first is done within class time and scheduled by the class teachers. 

4) What is the public transport like?

As of now, each single journey on the bus costs €3.30. It is possible to get a card that lasts for longer e.g. a 6 month card which costs €50 or a card that entitles the holder to 40 trips. This can be quite expensive. Most students cycle. The city is small enough to be able to get everywhere within quite a short time and there are always second-hand bicycles available for new students. For more information on second-hand items in Jyväskylä, visit the FB page Foreigners in Jyväskylä or Second-hand items in Jyväskylä. You may find someone from your own country who can tell you how they find it living in Finland  

5) Language courses.

For the MA course, all foreign students must take two Finnish language courses – Suomi 1 and Suomi 2. It is possible to continue these studies as a side course. 

6) Information on accommodation can be found here:https://www.jyu.fi/en/study/services/accommodation_degree_students 

7) How easy is it to make friends in Jyväskylä?

There is a strong international culture here because there are so many exchange students. If you would like to get to know a few before coming here, try the ESN FB page, where all the erasmus students currently living in Jyväskylä will be! There are a lot of activities one can do to get to know people such as choirs, orchestras, art clubs, other types of music groups, sports courses offered at the sports centre/university sports organisation as well as potential flatmates. All international students are “in the same boat” when they arrive here, and there are lots of events/parties/trips to Lapland/Russia/Stockholm, so plently of opportunites to meet new people!!


All Hocus Pocus or Miracle Treatment?

These days it’s difficult to say whether the methods we employ to increase our well-being are scams by drug companies or life-saving practices. Honestly, I’d rather believe that the power to heal myself lies largely in my own hands and without the use of dangerous and addictive drugs. So, if drugs are not the answer, then what is?

People have been searching for alternative methods of dealing with stress, pain, bereavement, learning difficulties, during palliative care (end of life) and simply as a way of getting to know oneself. Therapy is, of course, one common method of addressing these factors but how does one know what type of therapy is suitable? Allow me to be precocious and lead you gently down the path towards the world of music therapy.

There are many reasons why one would choose to participate in music therapy. The effects of this art form vary incredibly; music helps to lower stress hormones, boost endorphins, stimulate neural connections, aid with social bonding, helps nurture a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s surroundings… The list is endless. (Of course, this is not to say that music therapy trumps all other types of therapy and healing – it is simply one approach).

Perhaps it’s difficult to imagine that music – something which is so common and present in our everyday lives – can have such an impact on our lives? How is it that there is pain, suffering, upset in the world when people listen to music constantly? If music is so effective, how come it isn’t used world wide as a way of treating depression? How is there any illness at all if music exists?

The answer is simple. Relationships. Connections. The difference between everyday music listening/playing and music created in  therapy is the relationship between client and therapist. It is true; anyone can sit in a chair and listen to music or play an instrument, yet it is the bond between therapist and client which acts as a catalyst for comprehension and understanding. The therapist is the pillar of support for the client yet the music enables emotional and social development. The bond between therapist and client is essential, yet music acts as the glue between them and helps initially to build a trusting relationship between the two.

The power of music and its influence on us is not a modern concept. As far back as Plato, music was assigned huge importance and was viewed as something supreme, almost omnipotent. Indeed, Plato refers to music as having the capability of healing:

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, light to the imagination, a charm to sadness and life to everything.

If music was viewed in such a light in the 5th century BC with little knowledge of the physiological effects, knowledge of how it can transform our lives today holds – if possible – even stronger.

Moral of the story: utilise every chance to get to know yourself; utilise every chance to get to know others; utilise every chance you get to enjoy the magic of music. Even if music therapy is not a miracle treatment, neither is it hocus pocus. Don’t miss out on the chance to use a mighty art to transform how you see yourself and the world.

3rd International Conference on Music and Emotion – Jyväskylä, 2013

How does one define emotion? This is the age old question, right? It’s personal, subjective, feelings. Ew. Emotions are so hard to describe even though we feel them all day, every day. They are my feelings, why do I need to describe them?

This is something which is important for us to understand for so many reasons. As a music therapy MA student of course this topic is an intricate thread in the course. I have always believed that music and emotions are connected. How would it be possible to listen to Beethoven and not feel the power emanating from it? It’s almost impossible to listen to Latin music and not feel your foot start to tap or the music move your body as if with a cajoling physical force. For me, they’re connected – again, it’s my opinion.

However, it may be completely presumptuous of me to jump to any conclusion which would imply that everyone feels the same way about certain pieces of music they way I do.

Sit back. Clear your mind. Think of a song, a melody that evokes a strong feeling in you. Maybe thinking about the music isn’t enough to really get a true sense of the feeling or emotion you get when you actually listen to it. Music is powerful; power beyond words. But that’s what the researchers who attended the conference in Jyväskylä from June 11th – 15th wanted to do – express what we feel when listening to music in words and try to understand it on a broader scale. From Neurophysiology to Everyday Listening, to put it colloquially, this conference ‘had it all’. Keynote speakers were, as to be expected, no less than inspiring. Eric Clarke, Antonio Camurri, Jane Davidson, Klaus Scherer, Stefan Koelsch – all big names in the business. Who could say no to a line up like that?!

Of course, the University of Jyväskylä is the perfect place to hold such a conference. The department of music is well known for its research in this exact topic – music and emotions, music, gesture and movement – which, of course, is undoubtedly related to the emotions we experience whilst listening to music – music perception, and many more.

(If you’re interested to know more about the type of research that has been done at the Centre of Excellence 2008-2013 at Jyväskykä, follow the yellow brick road…em, this link: https://www.jyu.fi/hum/laitokset/musiikki/en/research/coe/publications )

Well, not only was the department in Jyväskylä the perfect host to the conference, the city itself is beautiful. With 16,000 students – 1,000 of which are international – at the main university, not including JAMK – the University of Applied Sciences – the secondary and priary schools, this city of 135,000 inhabitants is definitely the definition of a “student city”. Not that it feels like a city. The feeling one gets whilst being here is more of a small town with nice shopping centres surrounded by countryside. Perfect for nature enthusiasts. Naturally, the conference wasn’t all work; there were more than enough social events organised to keep the delegates wanting more. From a 3 hour cruise around Jyväsjärvi – the lake on which shores the university lies – to a jazz jam session which led to an embarrassing amount of 1920s style dance attempts (http://ravintolapoppari.fi/). (Musicians – possibly the best peeps to party with? Everyone knows how to play something!) An amazing Sauna experience (what else, this is Finland!) and mouthwatering meals at an old-style, stunningly located, authentic finnish community settlement (http://www.savutuvanapaja.fi/index.php?page=main).

Geoff Luck, the conference chair, and Markku Pöyhönen, who definitely should not go without mentioning, were absolute stars – it couldn’t have run any smoother. Of course, the staff (i.e. us willing students who were lucky enough to be able to help out) couldn’t have asked for such an inspiring opportunity. Not many people can say that they had the chance to attend talks by prestigious researchers at an international event which took place on their very doorstep.

Long days and lots of smiling were part and parcel for the helpers. A photo is worth a thousand words and this one describes from left to right our interpretation of music -> emotion!Image

Breaking Down the Walls of Silence

“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.