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What Is Music Therapy?

“Music is what feelings sound like”. Music has been and is a form of expression for a lot of people, it’s a universal language that makes the world go round. Music also brings people together- creating unity, bringing wholeness and filling the space that words cannot.

music therapy

In South Africa, we are blessed with a rich and diverse cultural background where music forms a big part of the traditions, rituals and everyday life. There are songs of survival that speaks to a nation and, when we feel “happy” we know what type of music to listen to that suits the mood or lift the cloud of a sad feeling, and at times in of mourning, there is music to turn to that helps express that emotion. While we may know about the power of music, music as therapy is a relatively untapped medium used in therapeutic mediums.

What is music therapy?

The American Music Therapy Association defines it as “the prescribed use of music by a qualified person to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of individuals with health or educational problems". Music is used to ease the body through various stages of rehabilitation of various human conditions. It’s the skilful combination of science and art coming together in a safe environment to achieve its purpose.

Music therapy can be used in medical, educational environments to address emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social needs of individuals, groups and communities. Together with a therapist, sessions are designed to help individuals learn how to cope more effectively with their lives and the challenges they face.

Music therapy sessions can be tailored according to the need of the client but can help:

  • Manage stress

  • Express feelings

  • Improve communication

  • Aid with physical rehabilitation

  • Enhance memory

Just as other forms of therapy are designed to work and follow a specific approach, music therapy is different in that it’s done with the client and not to the client. And how does it work? Because our bodies have a natural, albeit passive response to music and, according to scientists, the musically in tuned part of our brain is closely linked to the part of the brain that controls our emotions. It works because it stimulates the entire brain and transcends through the barriers we have, bringing healing.

Studies are still underway to understand exactly how it works- all we know for sure is that it does work. “One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain”. Let the music play.

Post #2:

“Music is a great healer.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita

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