Showing posts from January, 2011
Focusing on What Makes Music Therapy Unique
Well, duh, music.

There are many things that music therapists do well. We help clients, patients, residents, persons-served, whomever to reach their goals using music as the primary treatment modality. We often do not let folks know the effect of music on human development in a way that makes sense to our audience.

It is not just enough to say that music works well.

We have to be able to talk about the effect of music on the human being in terminology that is familiar to our audience. In order to do that, we, music therapists, must know what neurologists, music psychologists, and behavioral psychiatrists are finding out about what happens inside the brain when music is in the environment. We know how folks respond on the outside, but the specific reactions occurring in the brain are not often visible or accessible to the average music therapists.

In the past week, the music therapy listserv has been in an uproar due to the coverage of music …
Therapeutic Elements of Music - Tempo

My next element of therapeutic influence and thought is tempo. This element is probably the most important for me as a therapist. I have found that the "right" tempo makes for exemplary sessions.

The first session that really illustrated this to me was with a woman with advanced dementia. She appeared to enjoy music and responded sporadically to the student music therapist's interventions. At times, she would use phrases to communicate. At other times, she would sit in her chair with her head down not responding to any intervention. I had the luxury of observing the interactions within the small room, but had the responsibility of not intervening as the therapist. The student was using a small keyboard to accompany singing, using songs that the client had responded to at different times during the semester. The student adjusted the tempo that she was using as a background figure rather than the primary musical instrument, and the clie…
The complexities of music abound. There are many things that happen during a musical piece that exist in time and relationship with the other things. One of those things is melody.

I work with children and adolescents with developmental and psychiatric disorders aged 5-22 years. My primary instrument is voice with additional forays into trumpet and guitar. I have functional skills on the piano and am getting better with playing in front of people.

I write MANY songs for my clients during my job. The particular songs I write are often concerned with simple topics, have simple lyrics and rhythms, and have catchy melodies (if I say so myself). When I am reading songbooks written for my population, I often find that the songs are too long or too complex for many of my students. As a result, I write my own songs.

Melodies, for my students, are often more successful when they are repetitive in nature, follow scalar patterns rather than incorporating skips, and are quick. When a melod…
Therapeutic Elements of Music

How many of us think through how and why we use the music that we use in sessions? I do not often think through the therapeutic elements of the music that I use other than I try new things to engage my clients. When asked why I pick the musical interventions that I use, I am often unable to explain the exact reasons why I felt that changes were necessary. I often follow instinct.

This is a problem.

I am a music therapist who never really learned how to explain the effect of music on humans. Now, I took and passed all my coursework on the physiological effects of music on behavior, I have done some additional reading on this topic, and I think that we all (music therapists, I mean) know that music works, but do not really know why music works the way it does.

There are many difficulties with trying to examine the therapeutic elements of music and their effect on human behavior. Music causes different reactions in every person who is within range. It is difficu…

The new year is here, and I, like everyone else in the world, have made some resolutions. I beg your indulgence as I list them here.

Become more articulate when discussing the therapeutic effect of music on behaviorAssert music therapy to the teachers, clinicians, administrators, and clients at my facility, and, if not possible, find a new position where music therapy realities match my expectationsFINISH MY DEGREE PROGRAM!!!I am also going to try to focus more on the purpose of this blog as reflected in its title. I often focus on the "me" element more than the other two elements of the title. That will not happen anymore (but, probably not any less either ;-) ).