Monday, September 18, 2023

What Is Music Therapy Used For

Getting Behind Music Therapy

This is how music is used for medical care

Improve physical and mental health through music therapy.

If your child or someone you know is in the hospital fighting cancer or any other ailment, music therapy is an incredible treatment option. Along with traditional treatment plans, music therapy offers benefits for physical and mental health. Music therapy is used to aid in physical discomfort by improving respiration, lowering blood pressure, improved cardiac output, reduced heart rate and relaxed muscle tension. For mental health, this form of therapy is great for reducing stress common negative side effects, such as emotional and behavioral problems. Through engaging with instruments or listening to their favorite songs and artists, music calms patients and can even help them recover from surgery more smoothly.

The ability to creatively express oneself in an emotional and frightening setting, such as a hospital, cannot be taken for granted. Read through our other blog posts and pages on our website to learn more about what music therapy is and how it is beneficial to children. If you would like to see more music therapy programs in hospitals to help children relieve pain and improve their emotional state, please consider donating to the Peterson Family Foundation so we can make it a reality.

What Kind Of Music Is Used In Music Therapy

Music therapy is a systematic process as it is organized, methodical, and based on knowledge. This therapy proceeds in an orderly manner. It has to go through steps of assessment, treatment and evaluation.

The therapist has to prepare a plan for treatment after making proper assessment of the clients needs.

The therapist has to select the types of music and musical experiences that will be most relevant to the client. There are basically four types of musical experiences: listening, recreating, composition and improvisation. The selection of music mostly depends on individual needs and tastes. There are three categories of patients music-learned, music lovers, and non-musical. The type of music is to be chosen accordingly to meet the individual needs of the client.

It is believed that all individuals regardless of age and musical background have the basic capacity for musical expression and appreciation. This basic capacity is inherent and not based on training. The process of human development prepares every one to be music-maker and music-lover at the basic level. This basic capacity has the potential to learn to sing, play simple instruments, react to elements of music and remember music. Care is exercised to adapt music therapy experiences to the clients capability.

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Who Qualifies As Music Therapists

Music therapy is a critical part of many pediatric hospitals, including Boston Childrens Hospital and University of California San Francisco Benioff Childrens Hospital.

Over 72 colleges offer bachelors and doctorate degrees in music therapy. Berklee College of Music is one example of a university that offers education and degrees in music therapy. Not only do students learn music theory, history of music therapy and how to teach and assess skills, they are also trained in how to operate in clinical settings.

The road to becoming a music therapist isnt easy, not unlike any other profession in the medical community. After individuals graduate from an accredited university, they are eligible to take a national examination administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists . After successful completion of the CBMT examination, graduates are issued the credential necessary for professional practice, Music Therapist-Board Certified . In addition to the MT-BC credential, other recognized professional designations are Registered Music Therapists , Certified Music Therapists , and Advanced Certified Music Therapist listed with the National Music Therapy Registry.

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Effects On Other Neurological Disorder

Five studies concerning other neurological disorders such as MS, ALS/motor neuron disease, PD, Chronic quadriplegia, and Acquired Brain dysfunctions, have been found. Three studies concerned a rehabilitative approach and two studies adopted a relational approach using an active technique or both active and receptive techniques depending on what the therapist deemed appropriate in consultation with the patient. All studies but one reported positive effects of music and MT on outcomes as mood, depression, anxiety, and quality of life. Characteristics of the studies and main results have been summarized in Table .

How Does Music Therapy Work

Music Therapy

The way that music affects the brain is very complex. All aspects of music including pitch, tempo, and melody are processed by different areas of the brain.

For instance, the cerebellum processes rhythm, the frontal lobes decode the emotional signals created by the music, and a small portion of the right temporal lobe helps understand pitch.

The reward center of the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, can even produce strong physical signs of pleasure, such as goosebumps, when it hears powerful music.

Music therapy can use these deep physical reactions the body has to music to help people with mental health conditions.

Music has been a part of human life for thousands of years. Specifically, experts have found instruments dating back to over 40,000 years ago, suggesting that humans desire to express themselves or communicate through music is deep rooted.

The use of music for therapy and healing dates back to Ancient Greece , but its therapeutic use today began in the 20th century, after World War II had ended. The earliest reference to music therapy comes from a 1789 article called Music physically considered.

The 1800s saw medical research into the therapeutic nature of music grow, and by the 1940s, universities were offering music therapy programs. E. Thayer Gaston, one of three men who pioneered the use of music as a therapeutic tool, had organized and promoted the practice so that it would become an accepted type of therapy.

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How Is Music Therapy Different To Music Lessons Or Music Entertainment

Music therapy is different to music lessons and music entertainment in that:

  • The main goal of music therapy is not musical, for example, to improve fine motor skills, speech or communication skills. Musical experiences are used to achieve non-musical goals. For example, motivating people to use their fingers or to respond to music emotionally and physically. The added benefits of music therapy are musical, and often include opportunities for musical participation.
  • The main goal of music lessons is music focused. For example, to learn how to play a musical instrument, sing or read music. The added benefits of music lessons are not musical, and may include improved confidence, focus and fine motor skills.
  • The main goal of music entertainment is entertainment. For example, a person listens to music or watches a concert to be entertained. It is a passive experience that involves listening to or participating in a musical activity. The added benefits of music entertainment can be the relaxation, thrill or an emotional feeling from the experience.

What To Look For In A Music Therapist

Find a board-certified music therapist. In America, the certification process requires therapists to complete an undergraduate or masters degree in music therapy at an approved institution, along with clinical training and a supervised internship. Therapists then must pass a board certification test. The Certification Board for Music Therapists grants practitioners the credential MT-BC which appears next to their name.

Seeking out a therapist with whom the client feels a connection is also valuable. Creating a strong foundation of trust and appreciation can help embrace the process and find success in therapy.


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Music Therapy: An Overview

Music is a very important aspect of the daily lives of most people. People use music as a form of entertainment, relaxation, distraction, and as an accompaniment to enhance their lives. In addition, many people use music as a means of motivating themselves to reach goals or perform daily activities.

Music is often linked to the production of emotional states in people, and depending on the music and the person, the effects can increase an individuals energy, make them happy, and even make them sad. Music in this context can be therapeutic, meaning that it can serve a healing or integrative function for a person. In addition, when applied by a trained professional, music can actually be a form of therapy. When music is used in the form of music therapy, it is designed to be a complementary intervention that can enhance the effects of other primary interventions. As a form of therapy, music must also be used by someone formally trained in therapy and particularly in music therapy to reach some set of goals or end purpose.

Music therapy is a formal recognized type of therapy where music is used to assist an individual in their treatment.

A List Of Music Therapy Techniques

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Different music therapy techniques are put forward by Soundscape Music Therapy:

  • Drumming
  • Listening to live or recorded music
  • Learning music-assisted relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing
  • Singing of familiar songs with live or recorded accompaniment
  • Playing instruments, such as hand percussion
  • Improvising music on instruments of voice
  • Writing song lyrics
  • Writing the music for new songs
  • Learning to play an instrument, such as piano or guitar
  • Creating art with music
  • Dancing or moving to live or recorded music
  • Writing choreography for music
  • Discussing ones emotional reaction or meaning attached to a particular song or improvisation

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How To Get Started

If youd like to explore music therapy, talk to your doctor or therapist. They can connect you with practitioners in your community. The American Music Therapy Association also maintains a database of board-certified, credentialed professionals that you can use to find a practicing music therapist in your area.

Depending on your goals, a typical music therapy session lasts between 30 and 50 minutes. Much like you would plan sessions with a psychotherapist, you may choose to have a set schedule for music therapysay, once a weekor you may choose to work with a music therapist on a more casual “as-needed” basis.

Before your first session, you may want to talk things over with your music therapist so you know what to expect and can check in with your primary care physician if needed.

How Does Music Work During Therapy

People constantly use music to alter their state, help reflect on their mood, motivate a workout, socialize with others, or just pass the time. Music on its own has immense power to influence how we feel and behave. It is a music therapists job to contain that power and administer elements of music to enact clinical therapeutic change. One way we can conceptualize how this works is by the music therapist asking: Am I using music as therapy or music in therapy. There is a subtle, but important difference.

Music as therapy: This is when music is the primary medium and agent for therapeutic change. It is the music and its tailored qualities that exert influence on the patient. Personal relationships and the use of other arts or modalities are seen as the context that focuses the musics potential.

Music in therapy: This is when the music provides context for other therapeutic factors such as the clinician-patient relationship or other therapeutic modalities. In this case, music is not necessarily the driving factor of change, but still enhances the overall treatment.

Here are some examples to help you understand the difference:

Also, music therapy may look different depending on the setting. My explanation comes from a medical perspective, but many music therapists work in special needs schools, geriatric centers, rehabilitation, private practice, mental health, and forensic settings.

For more information on music therapy visit

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What To Take Away From Music Therapy

Music therapy is in no way a cure for any form of a mental or physical health condition however, it has been proven that it is an effective and rather enjoyable exercise that can significantly reduce the symptoms of several mental illnesses health conditions.

Music therapy is a way for individuals to access their creative side and an accessible way to express how they are feeling without speaking. Through these techniques, individuals can process a currently stressful or unpleasant situation or experience they are going through, such as a death in the family.

Not only are there great mental health benefits, music therapy proving a creative outlet for individuals to feel free, is known to improve cognitive skills such as memory while expanding an individuals knowledge.

Influence Of Music Teachers’ Work With Children On Music Therapy

How Music Therapy Can Be Used to Reduce Autism Symptoms ...

Today, Nordoff-Robbins is a music therapy Theoretical Model / Approach. The Nordoff-Robbins approach, based on the belief that everyone is capable of finding meaning in and benefiting from musical experience, is now practiced by hundreds of therapists internationally. This approach focuses on treatment through the creation of music by both therapist and client together. The therapist uses various techniques so that even the most low functioning individuals can actively participate.

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Music Therapy Scope Of Practice

The services performed by a certified music therapist include the application of music therapy interventions within the context of a therapeutic relationship. This relationship is developed through music-based, verbal, and/or non-verbal communication. Certified MTAs use music to address human needs within cognitive, communicative, emotional, musical, physical, social, and spiritual domains. They conduct client assessments, develop treatment plans, implement therapy processes, and evaluate progress. This scope of practice includes a range of procedures, actions, processes, roles, and responsibilities that a certified MTA can safely and effectively perform.

Certified music therapists may also conduct and/or participate in research, educate and supervise students and professionals, facilitate knowledge translation, act as consultants, and provide professional leadership on the use of music to promote health and well-being.

Certified music therapists provide services in a variety of settings including healthcare, educational, community, private practice, institutional, and corporate. They may work independently or as members of interprofessional teams. The clinical practice of a certified MTA is guided by evidence-based practice : the integration of the best available research evidence the clients needs, values and preferences and the expertise of the clinician . Evidence-based medicine: How to practice and teach EBM. . Edinburgh, UK: Churchill Livingstone.)

What Is A Registered Music Therapist

A Registered Music Therapist is a music therapist who is registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association . To be eligible to register with AMTA, a Registered Music Therapist needs to complete a certified university course in music therapy and maintain their skills through ongoing professional development as approved by the AMTA.

Currently in Australia, music therapy training is at a master’s level and courses are offered at The University of Melbourne and The Western Sydney University. The course is two years full time.

To enter the master’s course, students must have completed an undergraduate degree in music or a related health profession with demonstrated high level musical skills.

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When Working With Children

Rachel Rambach concedes that there are certain instruments that she tends to utilize more often than others in her work with children. These include the 8 note hand bell set, which consists of a group of bells that each have their own color, number and letter of the medical alphabet and the mini guitar .

Another instrument Rambach likes is the frog guiro, which can be used in various ways such as a guiro making a croaking sound, like a frog, or as a wood block. Castanets make a fun sound, and also help children acquire a pincer grip .

Rambach favors fruit shakers, which although they dont make a unique sound, have a very realistic appearance and thus appeal to children. The cabasa does, on the other hand, make a unique sound and also brings in a tactile element to music therapy .

The cabasa is good for targeting fine and gross motor skills . The lollipop drum is light, and not too loud so these are often preferred by Rambach over bigger paddle drums.

Rambach thinks every music therapist should have a ukulele. Their sound is sweet and inviting, and the ukulele makes the perfect alternative to a guitar .

They can be used as an accompanying instrument, but also for adapted lessens . Finally, the gathering drum encourages group cohesion in group settings or classes . They encourage children, or adult clients, to work together sharing, and interacting with others .

Breathing And Heart Rate

UNLV Jazz Ensemble uses music as therapy

With alterations in brainwaves comes changes in other bodily functions. Those governed by the autonomic nervous system, such as breathing and heart rate can also be altered by the changes music can bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things.

Music and music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress, greatly promoting not only relaxation but health.

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Interesting Facts And Statistics

  • 86% of users of the Nordoff-Robbins music therapy services said that music therapy had enabled them to develop social skills and interaction
  • Your heartbeat changes to mimic the music that you listen to
  • Distinguishing changes in sounds were found to be equipped in those as small as a developing fetus
  • Listening to happy vs. sad music can affect the way you perceive the world around you
  • An earworm is a song that you cant seem to get out of your head
  • A brain itch is a need for the brain to fill in the gaps in a songs rhythm
  • Music triggers activity in the same part of the brain that releases dopamine
  • Music triggers networks of neurons into an organized movement
  • Learning a musical instrument can improve fine motor and reasoning skills
  • These interesting facts were sourced from Ashley Blodgett .

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