MUSIC THERAPY is a predominantly non-verbal intervention using music and sound as a basis for interaction. It offers a secure space for self expression and development and allows a therapeutic relationship to develop. Interactive music is created by clients and therapist using a variety of instruments.
The therapist may use an instrument or his/her voice to acknowledge and support the client's music. Music Therapy may be offered to people of all ages who have physical, learning, social or emotional difficulties, on an individual or group basis.
Music Therapy offers a secure creative space for exploration, expression and development when verbal communication is inadequate or unavailable.
Music Therapy is not music teaching. Its focus is to develop the client's own creative potential which encourages independence and self esteem.
It is the process of music making that is important not the musical product.
Music Therapy may be offered to people of all ages who have physical, learning, social or emotional difficulties, on an individual or group basis.
In most cultures throughout time, music has had a place in healing rituals e.g. shamanic drumming to drive out unwanted energies ; caoining and vocal lament at times of dying, death and loss ; modal accompaniments to identify and assist living with ill-health (eg Ancient Greek modes) etc.
In more recent times the formalising of Music-sound within Healthcare systems might be traced back to Victorian times. In the 1890’s , hospitals in London, England engaged musicians to play for the patients to promote well-being, This was found to be beneficial for raising morale and promoting a speedier return to good spirit and physical health. These initial music forays into formalised Healthcare were somewhat patchy and unsustained .
It was in the 1940’s war-veterans’ hospital scenarios in the USA where a more organised approach to delivery of music-in-health was developed. This lead to the first curriculum development of Music Therapy in 1944 in Michigan State University This was followed in 1946 by the first full-time training offered by the University of Kansas, which in turn was joined by many and various trainings, pioneering work and research writings. Juliette Alvin, Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins were some of the key pioneers in the 1950’s U.K., with the first UK training at London’s Guildhall in 1968.
Widespread Music Therapy pioneering work across Europe, Australasia and the Americas spawned a worldwide burgeoning of various Music Therapy services and training programmes. Music Therapy now operates across the full range of Healthcare and Special Education services in many countries throughout the world. It is recognised as a core therapeutic option within many statutory services worldwide.
There are around 60 Music Therapists currently practising in Ireland, in various healthcare, education and social programmes, as well as private practice. There is one M.A. post-graduate clinical training programme for Music Therapy, in Ireland at the University of Limerick.
Music Therapy - An Art beyond words.
Bunt, L., Routledge 1997 (2nd Ed.)
A comprehensive guide to music therapy:- theory, clinical practice, research Ed.:- Wigram T., Pedersen I., Bonde L; Jessica Kingsley, 2002.
Music Therapy with Adults with Learning Disability
Ed :- Watson,T., Routledge, 2007
Supervision of Music Therapy - A Theoretical and Practical Handbook
Eds:- Odell-Miller H., Richards E.,, Routledge, 2008
The Handbook of Music Therapy
Ed :- Bunt,L., Hoskyns,S., Routledge, 2002
Q: Who is Music Therapy for?
Everyone and anyone. Music Therapy is a flexible intervention which may be geared to suit any personal, emotional, healthcare, special education or social dysfunction situation.
Q:Does one have to be musical?
Music Therapy considers everyone as ‘musical beings’, irrespective of their physical, mental or emotional status. Thus, anyone can engage.
Q:Does one have to be able to play an instrument?
Music Therapy is frequently about interacting with music-sound in a creative play mode. It may involve making improvised sounds with instruments and voice, but no prior training is necessary.
Q:What happens in a Music Therapy session ?
This varies widely, and will depend on the inclinations, preferences and dispositions of the individual client. All ages and all situations are catered for. A Music Therapist will offer different options in instrumental sounds, music patterns, vocalisations, improvisations etc.. playing listening and exploring many possibilities. The sessions are usually client-led, interactive and dynamic operating a free creative zone of personal expression. The sessions may be mostly non-verbal, using the music-sound exchange as a framework of communication.
Q: How does Music Therapy work?
It works on the innate human impulse to engage with, react to, and identify with music-sound. This allows people to explore new possibilities, helping transform and enhance their individual well-being. The therapeutic relationship between client and therapist is crucial in building and sustaining a trusting, non-judgemental shared space of creative engagement.
Q: Is Music Therapy about performance, or learning music?
No. Music Therapy is about processing personal dilemmas, intellectual shortfalls, emotional issues, physical compromise, social behaviours etc. It does not aim to teach, prepare for performance or specialise in any particular type of music. It is an open approach to experiencing music-sound, geared to addressing perceived personal needs.