We are all well aware of the power of music; its ability to invoke extreme emotions as well as to have a calming effect on us. So it is not surprising that Music Therapy can bring about some much needed soothing and healing to adults and children alike.
Music affects us not just emotionally but also physically. Dilation of pupils, goosebumps on the arms, rise in blood pressure are proof of the depth of music. It is also speculated that foot-tapping takes place because music makes blood rush to our feet!
Human responses to music are studied under a special branch of neuroscience. Research in this area has opened possibilities of the therapeutic application of music to help people with special needs.
What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy refers to a clinical use of a structured musical intervention with an aim to facilitate positive changes in behaviour. This therapy can help people suffering from a wide range of issues like learning disabilities, speech impairment, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Cancer, Alzheimer and more.
How does it work?
Research indicates that music stimulates focus, speech and muscle response. So music therapy can be helpful for a child with speech impairment as well as a patient with a neuromuscular disorder.
Music is a multi-sensory experience. It engages a person’s auditory, visual, tactile system as well as the kinaesthetic system. This ensures complete participation of both hemispheres of the brain where the hippocampus, cerebellum, motor cortex, prefrontal cortex, and others are all working together.
Imagine how frustrated we are in a foreign land where we do not understand the language and communication is hampered.
Don’t you feel irritated when you are under local anaesthesia for a dental treatment or a plaster on your limbs, without control over your muscles?
Music therapy can bring some much-needed respite to those who are living with this helplessness each day. Being a non-verbal medium of communication, music helps those whom words elude. Oxytocin is a hormone that is released when you listen to or make music. This helps in the increase of social bonding- something that is vital for the differently-abled.
Who is involved?
Only certified music therapists are allowed to impart Music Therapy. However, kids and adults looking to benefit from this treatment need no prior experience or skills in singing or playing instruments.
The World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT) is an international non-profit organisation, founded in Italy, in 1985. It is a network of music therapy practitioners, researchers, and educators collaborating across many countries. Apart from the WFMT, the Australian Music Therapy Association, the American Music Therapy Association and the Indian Music Therapy Research and Development Foundation are various bodies in the world that undertake research and therapy for the specially-abled.
The benefits of Music therapy are not restricted to patients with disabilities alone. They can also be used for rehabilitation of children and adults suffering from trauma; especially victims of abuse, war, natural disasters or personal losses.
Music knows no boundaries indeed and steps up to the aid of any and every person looking to avail the benefits of the seven notes. Awareness about Music Therapy and accessibility to it can certainly go a long way in facilitating social inclusion and helping many.