Your Top Music Therapy Questions, Answered

The answers you’ve been searching for about music therapy.

Music therapy has become an increasingly popular form of therapy in the United States. While music therapy is not necessarily an end all cure for any particular ailments, it can certainly help in a lot of situations. Music therapy involves trained professionals using music to help address a patient’s needs. It can be used to help provide relief for physical pain, and  can be used to give people the ability to communicate without words. Additionally,  it can facilitate a sense of relaxation, and it has been seen to  help people improve their general health. 

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) says that music therapy treatment can be seen to promote wellness, help manage stress, alleviate physical pain, express feelings, potentially enhance memory, improve communication, and help promote physical rehabilitation. Music therapy is not just listening to music, although this is a common way to treat patients.It t can also involve writing  and playing music which incorporates mental involvement even further. Music interacts with our brains and pleasure centers in unique ways that have been seen to provide ailments for maladies across the board. 

Music therapy has been seen to provide a lot of benefits for one’s health. These include both physical and emotional benefits. 

What are the health benefits of music therapy? 

Historically, music therapy has been found to have many health benefits. These observed health benefits have included pain reduction, the discovery of new forms of self expression and communication, and an increase of relaxation with a decrease in anxiety.  Specifically, music therapy has been seen to help lower blood pressure, improve respiratory function, improve cardiac output, reduce heart rate, and relax muscle tension which could help relieve pain. Furthermore, music therapy has helped patients when incorporated with other forms of treatment, as music therapy in combination with other therapies gives the benefit of a relaxed environment and lowers potential levels of anxiety. 

Music therapy can improve a person’s ability to speak and communicate their feelings or emotions. . People with severe conditions affecting their speech and ability to communicate with others have used music therapy to interact with their loved ones in ways that they had either lost, or been born without. Music therapy has made a huge difference for people suffering from detrimental and sometimes even terminal diseases. 

Music therapy has a long and complex history, going back as far as Greek mythology and persisting up until now with much success observed with veterans. 

What is the history of music therapy? 

Music therapy has been around for a long time--one might even say it has been a shocking amount of time. Music therapy has been mentioned in times of Greek mythology, with references to the power of music seen in many different Greek legends. It is also notably prevalent in ancient philosophy and Native American culture. More recently, music therapy was used as a resource during World War I and World War II. During the wars, musicians would volunteer their time and skill to  play for sick or wounded soldiers in American hospitals. 

During this time, patients and their health teams noticed elevated moods in the wounded and sick soldiers, and concluded that the wounded and ill have a positive emotional response to music. This positive emotional response in turn helped alleviate physical pain for some of the wounded and sick. Since then, music therapy has been used to help wounded soldiers and veterans battling both physical and emotional ailments. Music therapy plays a huge role in the military, which speaks to its power and meaning. 

Music therapy has been used to help people of all ages, and it has been especially productive for kids. 

Music therapy and kids

Children all grow at various rates and gain abilities at different periods in their development. Many children struggle to reach certain developmental milestones at the rates of their peers.Music therapy has been seen to help them reach those developmental milestones or at least ease their experiences growing up. 

Kids develop their fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive development at different stages. Music can help them promote the development of those skills. Music therapy is a great path to go down with a child because kids love music. Music is fun and engaging. With the right therapist, music therapy won’t even feel like treatment, or work, for your child. 

Music therapy can help children engage with each other and grow their social skills and abilities. It can also help with kid’s gross and fine motor skills by teaching them how to use their bodies to play instruments. Musical instruments also introduce new shapes and textures to your child, allowing them to explore the world with their hands and observe what they are capable of creating. Teaching children new words and ways to express themselves through song may keep them more engaged than if you just simply spoke to them. 

Adding vocabulary that you want your child to learn to an exciting beat can produce quicker and more profound results in their developmental process. Another fun activity that you can do to help enhance your child’s engagement, attention, and memory, is to create a beat and have them repeat it back to you. This will test their existing memory and attention span, while allowing  them to engage with difficult concepts in a new way. Music therapy has been found to boost confidence in young children as it is a great way to teach them new skills, while working with their unique abilities. 

Music therapy is a great resource for people of all ages, abilities, and stages in life. It has been seen to help people from tiny toddlers to elderly people with terminal diagnoses. It  engages with our senses and enhances our lives through providing beauty and opportunities for engagement. Music has also been seen to interact with our brains in special ways that can trigger pain relief and other physical results. Contact Incadence if you or a loved one is interested in giving music therapy a try!

Edited by Cara Jernigan on February 5, 2021. 

Macie Gelb
Macie Gelb is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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