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When Music Meets Medicine: Music Therapy
发布时间:2015-06-10 浏览次数:

Music expression is cannot be described in words, but not impossible to remain silent things.---Victor Hugo

 

 

Music is an art form whose medium is sound. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. In its most general form the activities describing music as an art form include the production of works of music, the criticism of music, the study of the history of music, and the aesthetic dissemination of music. Music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, or as an entertainment product for the marketplace. But what if I told you that music could be a kind of medicine?

 

 

As we all know, music is becoming more and more influential and significant as our life is always being filled with diverse pressure. What’s more, due to some people finding it difficult to cope psychologically with living in such a stressful condition, they are apt to seek for some new ways to handle it. And that’s one of the aspects music can be applied to.

Music has the power to soothe. When you feel stressed, this relaxing effect may be especially welcome. In addition, music can enhance your sense of well-being and boost your motivation. Anyone can switch on an MP3 player or radio. But some people take a step further.

 

 

Music therapy, originating from the 1940s, is a medical method of curing diseases by music, which involves listening to or making music for therapeutic purposes under the guidance of a trained professional. The range that the music therapy can be used is rather immense, which includes some music treatments for developmental disorder children and people’s physical and mental health. One preliminary study of music therapy in people with brain injuries found that it reduced depression and anxiety. Less distracted by negative emotions, you’re free to focus more energy on your recovery. In this positive frame of mind, you are in a better position to make the most of your therapies.

 

 

“Music therapy” as a brand-new profession has become more and more popular in China. In fact, music therapy is very common in foreign countries. It formally began in the 20th century, after musicians went to play for World War I and World War II veterans at hospitals across the United States. In 1944, Michigan organized the first Music Therapy Association. In 1946, a specialized subject about it was established in the University of Kansas as well. From then on, countries all over the world have set out to model after it, giving rise to the extensive usage of the music therapy. Today, there are about 5,000 board-certified music therapists in the United States, according to the American Music Therapy Association. Over the last decade, the group’s membership has expanded, particularly among students.

 

 

Approaches used in music therapy

There are a great many approaches being used in music therapy, which are said to have emerged from the field of education include Orff-Schulwerk, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and Kodaly. And at present, the approaches can be divided into three types: the receptive music therapy, the recreative music therapy and the improvisational music therapy.

 

 

The receptive music therapy is mainly via listening to certain music to help the patient to adjust their mental and physical condition. The common means are : music discussions, music recollections, music synchronization and music imagination. However, because of the different cultural contexts and the phases of development, the listening skills among some countries may be different.

 

 

The recreative music therapy is rather different from the first approach. It highlights the significance of the involvement of the patient, which not only requires the patient to listen to certain music, but also endeavors to make the patient involved in the musical performance and creation. Accepting this approach, the patient is able to be immersed in musical activities, feeling utter relaxation. The common ways include playing and singing method and musical skill method. No matter which way, both of them work out on the premise that the patient is trained to learn the music. What’s more, they are both aimed at encouraging the patient to vent their emotions by music.

 

 

The improvisational music therapy is most widely used in some European and American countries. It can be divided into title performance and non-title performance. Patients can perform any instrument according to their preference without any learning. It focuses on treatment through the creation of music by both therapist and client together. Various techniques are used to accommodate all capabilities so that even the most low functioning individuals are able to participate actively. And regularly, music therapists will join their performance with piano and guitar. And every time performances are finished, therapists will guide his patients to discuss their feelings, which creates some chances and environment for patients to learn how to adapt to the social environment. Listening and considering their discussions, therapists will also analyse the words to achieve his treating purpose.

 

 

There are many different music therapy techniques used with treatments. The music therapy model is based on various theoretical backgrounds such as psychodynamic, behavioral, and humanistic approaches. Techniques can be classified as active, receptive, improvisational and structured. The most common techniques in use with treatments are musical improvisation, the use of precomposed songs or music, receptive listening to music, verbal discussion about the music, and incorporating creative media outlets into the therapy. Research also shows that improvisation and the use of other media are the two techniques most often used by the music therapists. Some overall research shows that adolescents in music therapy “change more when discipline-specific music therapy techniques, such as improvisation and verbal reflection of the music, are used.” The results of that study show that music therapists should put careful insight into their choice of technique with each individual client.

 

 

Functions of music therapy

Music therapy has three major functions: entertainment function, education function and clinical treatment.

 

 

Entertainment function tended to provide the aesthetic pleasure is often used by some medical institutions to offer some music health care services and music mental pressure-releasing activities. It has great effect on assisting people to relieve their pressures, especially the mental sub-health problem.

 

 

Education function is particularly widely applied to the child music treatment aspect. It is of great importance to help children grow up healthily. Promoting the awareness, enhancing the memory and stimulating the feelings are the three main aspects.

 

 

Clinical treatment function concentrates on the various effects produced in the process of music treatment practice. On the one hand, it has some physical influences. For example, it can evade the process of perceiving and stimulate the emotion directly. On the other hand, its mental influence also can not be neglected. It can influence people’s self-behavior and evoke their association. Additionally, it possesses the social function as well, because during treatments, their communications with the therapist or other patients increase, and they will be more likely to adapt to the society well. More importantly, it will contribute to the society to become a whole.

 

 

Why it works

There is scientific research to back up the idea that music has healing properties. A 2013 analysis by Daniel Levitin, a prominent psychologist who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal, and his colleagues highlighted a variety of evidence: for instance, one study showed music's anti-anxiety properties, another found music was associated with higher levels of immunoglobin A, an antibody linked to immunity.

 

 

The brain's reward center responds to music -- a brain structure called the striatum releases the chemical dopamine, associated with pleasure. Food and sex also have this effect. The dopamine rush could even be comparable to methamphetamines, Robert Zatorre, professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Montreal Neurological Institute, told CNN last year.

 

 

Beyond that, music presents a nonthreatening tool for interventions that is already attractive to patients, Jantz said.

 

 

"On the surface it works because, in some way, everyone relates to music," Jantz said. "Music really is universal."

 

 

Music therapists often work nonverbally, which is why the method is particularly effective for individuals with verbal expression difficulties, such as children with autism, Else said. The profession helps people at every age, from babies to Alzheimer's patients.

 

 

For individuals with autism in particular, music therapy has shown to be a positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors and a motivator to reduce negative ones, according to the American Music Therapy Association. Music can also help with the development of language skills, and the identification and expression of emotions, which are characteristic challenges in autism. Some children with autism have superb musical abilities, and music therapy can help them focus on their strengths.

 

 

Alzheimer's patients, who have memory and thinking impairment, may still recognize songs of their youth or respond emotionally to music. Music can also be used in elderly care settings to calm or stimulate residents.

 

 

Music as a tool

Singing with someone when you feel anxious, or expressing emotions through songwriting, are more than just casual activities in music therapy. Therapists always have specific goals in mind, such as helping patients overcome a fear.

 

 

One fundamental of music therapy is called the "Iso principle," the idea that the therapist takes cues from the client when choosing what music to play. This can inform the improvised music that therapists and clients play together. If the client feels hyped up, the therapist and client might play vigorous drum beats together, but if the goal is to relax, they might begin energetically and then tone down.

 

 

Therapists are conscious of rhythm, tempo, texture and melody of the music as clients express themselves. In a hospital setting such as Jantz's, such components of music can also distract a patient who is in pain.

 

 

In Else's private practice, she has been helping a college student with an anxiety disorder called agoraphobia; the young woman, who was homeschooled, has been fearful of leaving her house.

The student writes song lyrics when she meets with Else, and also learns guitar from the therapist in the process. By discussing the lyrics and other elements of the music that the student generates through improvisation, the client and therapist uncover clues about what is fueling the woman's anxieties.

 

 

"We are using music as a mechanism. One, for motivation, but also as a mechanism so she can express herself and we can figure out what are some of these things that are driving her fears," Else said. "We've made a lot of progress."

 

 

Having worked through her issues with music, the young woman became more open to going out in public, Else said. She accompanied Else to a rehearsal for an opera, and then to an actual opera performance.

 

 

She has now started junior college and is doing well, Else said. The young woman still sees Else for follow-up maintenance.

 

 

"Part of that therapeutic process working with her ... was building a high level of trust," Else said. "Developing trust with someone so she could understand that the world isn't quite so scary out there, to get to the root cause."

 

 

Music as a lifesaver

Going through music therapy isn't always relaxing, fun or easy.

 

 

Cpl. Demi Bullock, 25, a former Marine, experienced post-traumatic stress disorder after her second deployment in Afghanistan. In summer 2011, music therapy was part of her treatment program.

At first, Bullock, who had played the guitar since she was 15, hated music therapy. Her therapist, Rebecca Vaudreuil, would organize activities such as a drum circle, lyric analysis, listening exercises or instrumental playing for service members in the program.

 

 

Impatience, and a desire to withdraw from emotion, quickly overtook Bullock. She refused to participate.

 

 

"I did not like playing music, having something make me feel that pain and that sadness, that can be completely overwhelming," she said.

 

 

Such resistance isn't unusual among returning military, Vaudreuil said. Some people can connect with music more than others, but in some cases it takes time and "soul-searching" for music to become a beneficial part of recovery.

 

 

Bullock rediscovered music therapy more than a year after her initial encounter with it. In January, Vaudreuil invited her to join the Semper Sound Band, a musical program through the nonprofit Resounding Joy Inc. that helps service members reintegrate into the community and promotes group cohesion. Vaudreuil was the band director at that time.

 

 

The invitation came at a particularly dark moment. Bullock was in the process of getting evicted and continued to struggle with PTSD and depression. She had also recently attempted suicide.

Bullock came to discover that jamming on a guitar, keyboard or drum set helped her cope with stress or intrusive thoughts. The band also provides a social support system and an outlet for self-expression.

 

 

"The songs that come out of it, and the process they go through, is so genuine," Vaudreuil said. "The songs are a direct reflection of their emotions, their trials, what they've been through, their experiences, and it's completely cathartic for them."

 

 

Bullock continues to play with the band, and works as an intern at Resounding Joy. Her job allows her to be on the facilitator side of music therapy, and connect with other veterans.

"If I hadn't gotten into it (music therapy), I'd literally be dead or still be homeless," Bullock said. "It literally did save my life."

 

 

There are many different music therapy techniques used with treatments. The music therapy model is based on various theoretical backgrounds such as psychodynamic, behavioral, and humanistic approaches. Techniques can be classified as active, receptive, improvisational and structured. The most common techniques in use with treatments are musical improvisation, the use of precomposed songs or music, receptive listening to music, verbal discussion about the music, and incorporating creative media outlets into the therapy. Research also shows that improvisation and the use of other media are the two techniques most often used by the music therapists. Some overall research shows that adolescents in music therapy “change more when discipline-specific music therapy techniques, such as improvisation and verbal reflection of the music, are used.” The results of that study show that music therapists should put careful insight into their choice of technique with each individual client.

 

 

In order to make the full use of music therapy, knowing how to select the music in different time is essential.

 

 

When we get up in the morning, a piece of music that can drive the sleepiness out of our brain can do good for us. No matter it is to workers or students, getting up early is usually a terrible thing. So, it is customary for people to wash face with cold water to become sober. Actually, listening to music can have the same effect as well. Therefore, playing an exciting song when we get up is a good choice.

 

 

Noon is a time for us to have a rest, a nice soothing music being beneficial. So, if we want to relax and enjoy the temporary peacefulness, never should we forget to listen to a soothing music.

Afternoon is an important part of our study and work, however, it is also at that moment that our attention can be easily distracted. Maybe at this moment, we will choose a cup of coffee immediately. Whereas, it is not more effective than a rhythmed music.

 

 

In the evening, so tired are we that we may as well listen to some relaxing songs. It is said to be good for us to relieve our fatigue.

 

 

Many people say that music heals the soul. And that certainly seems to be the case at one Venezuelan hospital, where children with cancer are easing their pain through the power of music. While in Shenzhen Universiade Village, many athletes like to go to the Music Therapist Center, where they could have mental decompression through listening to music. Additionally, music has been shown to make a difference in the lives and well-being of people with multiple sclerosis in many ways. Furthermore, music therapy may help with depression according to a BBC health report.

 

 

To sum up, music is to our life what sunshine is to flowers, with which our life will be more and more colorful and meaningful. And music therapy is a good method of keeping fit physically and mentally. So next time do not just depend on food, exercises and SPA to relieve pressure in your life. If necessary, “music therapists” are at your service.

 

(Editor: Cai Min Source: English Net)

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