Music therapy is an established, ancillary healthcare profession along the same spectrum as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other creative arts therapies, using music as the foundation for therapeutic interaction.
Applied by a qualified practitioner, music therapy is the systematic use of music to achieve individual therapeutic goals for a wide variety of clients and their families in numerous settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, schools, correctional facilities, residential facilities, and prevention and wellness programs. Music therapy addresses cognitive, physical, emotional/psychological, communicative, social, and spiritual needs of individuals to help them attain and maintain maximum levels of functioning.
Music therapy offers tools for growth and positive change to people of all backgrounds
and abilities. It is highly successful for children with special needs and is often included as a related service in the IEP to promote change and progress in cognitive, communication, physical, daily life, and social skills. In a hospital, music therapy can improve motor and neurological functioning, sedate or relax patients, reduce pain, counteract depression or apprehension, and promote overall rehabilitation. In a psychiatric facility, music therapy can help patients explore and express emotions, identify and resolve conflicts, improve self-esteem, practice problem solving, decision making and coping skills, develop interpersonal communication skills, increase motivation, and decrease inappropriate behaviors. Music therapy can help geriatric clients improve physical functioning, social skills, and cognitive functioning in such areas as memory, comprehension and reality awareness. Even typically-functioning individuals can benefit from music therapy through stress management, self-expression and self-actualization.
As both an art and a science, music therapy utilizes music as a prescribed therapeutic stimulus to achieve non-musical goals. Treatment involves strategic use of music, focused for healing, learning, coping, and change.
Music Therapy Research
A large body of empirical evidence exists regarding connections between music and the mind and body. With music as the bridge between art and science, here are a few highlights from biomedical, neurophysiological, psychological, and educational research:
Music has been associated with the production of various brain wave states.
When listening to and participating in music, there is a positive chemical change in the brain as endorphins are released.
Music and pain are processed along the same neural pathways. Stronger stimuli may diminish the intensity of the weaker stimuli. Music can reduce levels of sympathetic nervous system arousal, changing a patient’s perception of pain and reducing sensory deprivation.
Music therapy has been proven to improve respiration, lower blood pressure, improve cardiac output, reduce heart rate, and relax muscle tension.
Music therapy can help relieve pain, reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, influence mood, and stimulate movement.
Sound may vibrate some part of the body that requires attention.
Group drumming has been correlated to demonstrated statistically significant positive cell-mediated immune system changes.
So, music is not just an ancient social phenomenon; it also has roots in neurology & biology. It is hypothesized that music may be wired into the human brain, & that it has been in existance since the earliest days of mankind; it may even predate the evolution of language.
Music can actively integrate mind and body, affecting emotional response, movement and sensory input. This results in the modification of neurological pathways in the brain, facilitating changes in behavior. A change in one’s nervous system directly affects the ability to learn, adapt and grow.
Music stimulates all of the senses and involves individuals at many levels, which facilitates developmental skills.
In the first years of life, the brain is undergoing rapid physical development. Studies show participation in music can positively influence that process, with ramifications that last a lifetime.
When children begin school, the development of their mental capacities continues, while they begin to experience larger social interactions and the demands of schoolwork. Music can play an important role in this stage of life.
Kids who study music are higher academic achievers in proportional math and fractions, language arts/reading/verbal skills, science, and spatial-temporal (logic/problem-solving) skills. They also have higher self-esteem, stronger emotional health, and better social, leadership and presentation skills.
The link between music and brain function persists throughout adult life. Even when the brain stops growing, it never stops learning; and when injury strikes, music can help on the road to recovery.
Active music making has been correlated with measurable improvements in immune system function and overall human well-being—especially in older people. Loneliness, depression and even the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease have been shown to respond positively to music.
The brain processes music in both hemispheres and can therefore stimulate cognitive functioning and remediation of speech/language skills.
Music is highly motivating (“stimulative”), yet it is also calming and relaxing (“sedative”).
Many parallels exist between speech and singing; rhythm and motor behavior; musical mnemonics and note memorization; and overall ability of preferred music to enhance mood, attention and behavior to optimize an individual’s ability to learn and interact.
New research shows that musicians brains are highly developed in a way that makes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the whole picture, calm, and playful.
How does an Orange County therapist use a drum circle?
A drum circle is a huge jam session. The goal is not precision or perfection, but is built on cooperation in the groove. The Community Drum Circle uses rhythm to unite people and celebrate life. Participants synchronize their heartbeats, experiencing a rhythmic massage and emotional release. It is an energy-charged event that is both enjoyable and therapeutic, and is sometimes led by an Orange County therapist.
BENFITS OF DRUMMING:
- Enhances mind, body and spirit; offers creative expression, brings people together, and reduces stress. Plus, it’s just plain fun!
- Strengthens the immune system—gets the heart pounding and blood pumping.
- Releases endorphins, enhancing the brain’s pleasure centers.
- Enhances theta-wave production and brain wave synchronization.
- Re-establishes balance in opiod and serotonergic systems.
- Increases DHEA-to-cortisol ratios, NK cell activity and LAK cell activity.
- Attenuates and/or reverses specific neuroendocrine and neuroimmune patterns of modulation associated with the classic stress response.
- Promotes emotional release and expression.
- Provides a context for communication, especially with issues of anger, fear, guilt, denial, depression, and loneliness.
- Promotes healing of emotional trauma, forgiveness and release of guilt.
- Reduces feelings of alienation and isolation.
- Increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-assessment.
- Provides reinforcement and empowerment for personal change.
- Increases alteration of consciousness and experiences of transcendence.
- Promotes spiritual awakening.
- Provides a connection with others; community healing, bonding and trust.
- Energizes…and relaxes.
Make drumming part of your personal prescription for wellness. No musical skill necessary…bring only your heartbeat and hands!
(Therapy-facilitated drum circles incorporate the philosophy and training of Remo programs, including Health Rhythms and Wellness Through Rhythm.)
COMMUNITY OR CORPORATE DRUM CIRCLES
Use rhythm to connect with friends/strangers/co-workers and celebrate life. Participants synchronize their heartbeats, experiencing a rhythmic massage and emotional release. This is an energy-charged event that is enjoyable, therapeutic, and uniting.
Get in tune with your chakras—the energy centers of your body. Learn toning and humming techniques to connect with your body and emotions. Explore and create healing sounds, and find your internal rhythms for relaxation, stimulation, rejuvenation, and release.
A lively combination of music-making and music-learning activities celebrating art, nature, animals and world cultures…including singing, instrument playing, instrument making, rhythm and drumming, musical stories, musical games, drawing to music, movement, imagery, listening, songwriting, creative self-expression, music-based discussion, improvization, and sound exploration.
A lively combination of music-making and music-learning activities, including singing, instrument playing and making, vocal percussion, creative self-expression, music-based discussion, drawing to music, movement, imagery, musical games, listening, relaxation/stress reduction, songwriting, and sound exploration.
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned sing-along to bring friends and family together. Join in the singing—or just listen to some of your favorite tunes and let the reminiscing begin!
Calm the body and mind with music-based relaxation and stress reduction.
MUSIC FOR THE HEALING HEART
Music can play an important role in the grief process, whether you’re mourning a loved one, dealing with the news of an illness, or feeling isolated, lonely, or just plain down. Experience an emotional release and sense of comfort through music in a safe and caring environment.
This series of lectures and experiences brings a new music topic to light from music’s effects on the brain and body to little-known facts about your favorite composer.
MUSICAL MELTING POT
Celebrate the many genres of music from around the world. Learn about how music functions in other cultures and its influences on western civilization today.
Whether you’ve already written poetry, lyrics, etc., or you’re starting from random thoughts and stream of consciousness, we’ll help you set it to music and create an original song.
This fun group activity brings creativity and crafting together. Make drums, rainsticks, shakers, etc. and enjoy your new creation in an informal rhythm ensemble.