I’ve been blogging about guitarists this month, but just for today I wanted to switch gears and remind us how important music therapy as part of the healing process.
Music therapy embodies the notion that human beings are inherently musical, which is evident in the rhythms of their physiology (such as the heart beat and respiration) and melodic intonation of the voice and breath. No prior experience with music or musical instruments is required to benefit.
Music therapy can take many forms, including:
The music therapist can play familiar or improvised music, choosing based on the patient’s needs and goals of care. The tempo of the music may be slowed to match the patient’s respiration rate and help reduce anxiety, or may be increased to promote wakefulness. Patients can benefit even if they are not well enough to respond.
Patients and family members can play instruments, improvise with their voices or sing familiar and comforting songs, or create a rhythm on a drum. A music therapist can play in tandem, providing a musical backdrop.
Supported by a music therapist, patients can write original songs about their experiences with illness and treatment. These songs are often written as gifts or legacy pieces for family members and friends, or as opportunities for expressing oneself creatively in the midst of a difficult journey.
Lyrics can be an interesting and useful topic of conversation. They can evoke nostalgia and spark cathartic conversations and reflections in the midst of challenges and changes.
Music can be a valuable tool in difficult health-care situations alongside traditional medical interventions. When a music therapist is not available, music strategies can still be part of a treatment and support plan.