5 Ways Music Therapy Can Contribute to Success

Music therapy is a wonderful profession that can not only help people cope with disabilities and diagnoses, but it can also positively affect the personal and interpersonal techniques we use to bring success to our lives.

1. Music Therapy Can Strengthen Your Memory

As humans, we forget things all the time, some of them important or crucial to our success. Memory problems can have various causes. Very commonly, memory loss is a side effect of getting old. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it’s just a natural part of our life cycle. The good news is, music therapy can help keep your memory sharp.

Most likely, you learned your ABC’s by memorizing a song with each letter of the alphabet in kindergarten. This was one of the foundational concepts of music therapy at work, and you didn’t even realize it. The rhythm and melodies in music help the brain form patterns that can strengthen our memory. It is likely that even if you’re an adult now, you still are prompted to sing the alphabet song when reciting your ABC’s. The pattern in which you recite the alphabet when singing the song has stuck in your brain. Now, you just can’t help but sing the song anytime you need to recall the alphabetical order. 

A music therapist can use the same concept to help you remember things. Songs seem to embed themselves in our brains more than facts and information. This is why music therapy has become such a prominent treatment for dementia patients. You can make a song out of almost anything that will help you remember it.

2. Music Therapy Can Help Improve Your Social Skills

Developing good social skills can help you succeed in most aspects of your life. Social interaction is imperative for personal growth and though you may not be much of a “people person,” you likely have to coexist with others in order to be successful.

Music therapy has been proven to help people improve their social skills. This is why it is such a popular method amongst people with autism. Music therapy can help clients recognize important social cues such as eye contact, taking turns when having a conversation, initiating social interaction, and carrying yourself with confidence.

The positive effect on social behavior that music therapy has is especially apparent in young children. A 2010 study revealed that four year old children that participated in music collaboration showed more willingness to partake in spontaneous activities and developed more compassion for others. They were analyzed along with another group of children who participated in non-music related collaborative activities and did not show the same magnitude of improvement.

In addition to giving clients the tools to socialize, it also gives them an opportunity to socialize right in the session. Music therapy can be a one-on-one session or a group activity, and the latter gives clients a comfortable social situation in which to improve their skills.

3. Music Therapy Can Make You More Open Minded

It’s easy to become trapped in your own personal bubble sometimes. Maybe you feel that you need to experience new things, but you’re unsure where to start. Music therapy could help you jump out of your comfort zone, which is important for personal growth in life. 

The 2010 study titled Shivers and Timbres: Personality and the Experience of Chills from Music, produced some interesting findings about how music can affect one’s willingness to try new things. The study analyzed the music preferences of a group of young adults and how it determined their level of openness to new experiences. They ultimately found that they could predict their music preference by openness to experience. 

The people who listened to reflexive and complex music were found to be more open to new experiences. Reflexive and complex music includes genres such as classical, jazz, blues and folk. The use of these genres in music therapy is because of the calming effect they tend to have on people.

4. Music Therapy can Improve Communication

Communication is a skill that is essential to success in one’s social and career lives. It is also a skill that comes more naturally to some than to others. Some people find communicating seamless and effortless, while others struggle with the cues that dictate the socially accepted way to communicate with peers or coworkers. 

For those who have trouble with one or more of the many facets of communication, music therapy can be an important and helpful tool. Children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or multiple other disorders may have trouble with communicating. Music therapy can be used to help clients acquire language and communication skills, verbal and non-verbal. 

In a paper from Bridgewater State University, a music therapist explained her technique for clients with communication disorders. Her music therapy sessions included singing songs, and using hands and feet for rhythm as a way to engage both hemispheres of the brain.

In a more intense case of communication struggles, Natalie, an young girl who has Congenital Deafness and Autism Spectrum Disorder, struggled with communicating her needs to her caretakers and as a result, lashed out in violence and anger. After a long journey through neglectful parents and foster care, Natalie was finally put into music therapy. This proved to be a successful outlet for Natalie, because she could use sign language to communicate her needs and feelings.

5. Music Therapy Can Help with Focus

Buckling down and dedicating all your focus to getting work done is the best and most effective way to succeed in productivity. Unfortunately, there are disabilities, most commonly ADHD, that get in the way of focus for those diagnosed with it. This affects their productivity and success. Clients with ADHD can have trouble focusing, or they can experience hyper focus. Hyper focus is a period of intense, relatively unbreakable focus. While hyper focus sounds productive, it can prove to be an obstacle when the focus is directed at a non-constructive activity.

Cutting through the disarray of an ADHD mind, music can provide some much needed structure. This makes music therapy a great resource for clients with ADHD who have trouble with their focus. Music therapy activates your whole brain. By using music therapy, your mind boosts motivation and attention that dopamine does not provide in brains with ADHD.

Whether you have diagnosed disabilities, trouble communicating your needs and feelings, or struggle in social situations, music therapy can help with all of that and much more in order to put you on the path to success.

Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 17, 2021

Abbey Farina
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