From the earliest days of humanity, music and the power of music have been evident to us. After the Second World War, a new profession entered the scene: Music Therapy. The types and methods of music therapy have had a profound impact, with effects in various contexts.
Used in conjunction with traditional therapies, positive psychology, and even as a stand-alone intervention, music therapy offers a variety of benefits.
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What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is an effective educational and therapeutic tool for children and adults with disabilities. Strategies associated with music therapy can lead to changes in skill areas that are important for people with various forms of disabilities such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism in particular.
Music therapy is an evidence-based use of music to establish a therapeutic relationship between a person and their therapist.
Unlike training and music lessons, the goal is not necessarily to come out of therapy with higher musical talent, but rather to achieve set goals – which can range from improving self-esteem. From oneself to the development of a set of social skills.
From a therapeutic point of view, music has many benefits for people with disabilities. This is of course an important learning tool. Part of the benefits of music comes from the fact that repetition in music can be more enjoyable than without it. Music also provides an important memorization aid. Perhaps the most important thing for some people is the fact that they can participate in music even if they are struggling in other areas and music therapists are trained to help them achieve this. Successful participation in music can motivate a person with a disability to go the extra mile.
Music is also an effective way to stimulate and focus a person’s attention and might be especially important for some people who are unresponsive to other types of interventions. Sometimes the music is used as a stimulating introduction. At other times, an entire therapeutic intervention can be structured using music to maintain a person’s attention. Changes in music can provide other signals or alerts that important interactions or information is coming. Certain types of music can also have a calming effect when a person’s anxiety interferes with their cognitive concentration.
Music therapy is an effective tool to stimulate and motivate speech. It also provides a channel for non-verbal communication. Music therapy is a valuable tool for people who are learning to use an improved or alternative communication system.
6 Proven Benefits of Music Therapy
Jillian Levy (2017) shares the six main health benefits of music therapy:
Music therapy reduces anxiety and the physical effects of stress;
It relieves constant or recurring pain (arthritis, osteoporosis);
Music therapy reduces depression and other symptoms in the elderly;
It helps to reduce the symptoms of psychological disorders;
Music therapy improves self-expression and communication.
What are the Goals and Objectives of Music Therapy?
The primary goal of music therapy is to achieve goals that meet the needs of the person. This may include, for example, improving motor functions, social skills, emotions, coordination, self-expression and personal growth.
The common objectives in music therapy are the development of:
Communication skills (use sounds and vocal / verbal gestures);
Social skills (making eye contact, initiating interaction and self-esteem);
Sensory skills (through touch, listening and levels of consciousness);
Physical skills (control and movement of fine and gross motor skills);
Cognitive skills (concentration and attention, imitation and sequencing);
Emotional skills (non-verbal expression of feelings).
What effects can Music Therapy Have on A Person with a Disability?
Music can affect the attention, emotions, cognition, behavior and communication of a person with a disability. It can also contribute to relaxation and pleasure. Music also affects perception. Music training promotes an individual’s skills in decoding acoustic characteristics, such as pitch and frequency modulation.
Music has various effects on the activity of a wide variety of brain structures. Functional neuroimaging studies have shown that listening to music can have effects on the basic structures of emotion processing (limbic structures) in both musicians and non-musicians.
What is Music Therapy for?
Research supports the effectiveness of music therapy for a wide range of purposes, as described by the American Music Therapy Association:
Music therapy can be used to facilitate movement and general physical rehabilitation and to motivate patients to cope with treatment. It can provide emotional support to people with disabilities and their families, as well as a way to express their feelings.
Music therapists can work with patients with head trauma. Music therapy can be used to lessen the effects of dementia, reduce episodes of asthma in children and adults, and help reduce pain in hospital patients.
A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that rhythm stimulates and organizes a person’s muscle responses and helps people with disorders. The possibility can motivate a person to attempt physical movements that require extra effort. Music can also be very relaxing, on the other hand, and help change a person’s perception of pain.
From an emotional point of view, music offers many opportunities for people to express and experience a number of emotions. The desire to participate in music, as well as to produce something musical, can become a motivation to control emotions. The live music can be changed from moment to moment to reflect, or perhaps alter, the mood of the people listening and participating. Along with music, a large number of disabled people also benefit from a positive effect on self-esteem.