An Exploration of the Uses of Music in Our Lives

Music can bring great pleasure to the lives of every listener. This can be a benefit for both mental and physical well-being.

In the British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing from April of 2009, Wendy Magee and Mark Baker state that music therapy is “the planned use of music, implemented by a trained and qualified practitioner using methods which have been researched, to meet predetermined clinical goals addressing a patient’s functioning” (150). Therefore, music therapy is so much more than listening to music leisurely to improve one’s mood. A trained professional is necessary for music therapy. There is a plan and a purpose to the activities as the patient and therapist interact with each other using music to fulfill the specific goals of that session.

This interaction and course of activities can take one of two forms of music therapy:

  1. Active Music Therapy: In this type of therapy, the patient makes music alone, with a group, or with the therapist. The patient creates the experience for his or herself (Gordana 1793).
  2. Receptive Music Therapy: This type of therapy focuses solely on listening to music. The patient recalls past experiences from the music (Gordana 1793).

A common question is, “When are these types of music therapy used?” Music therapy is used in a multitude of different medical fields to treat a variety of disorders. Below is  a chart that shows the fields and conditions in which music therapy can be used (Gordana 1793).

Music therapy is effective when treating the conditions listed in the chart above because music can help with:

  1. Emotional Well-being: People with brain trauma or neurological illness can have a difficult time expressing emotions. Music helps them relieve stress, negative feelings of loss, or depression. Music therapy also helps children with autism express their emotions through song, since they have a difficult time doing so in situations of reality.
  2. Communication: Brain damage can also cause aphasia, oral dyspraxia, and dysarthria, which impair the ability to speak and communicate effectively. Music therapy combines with speech therapy can use singing to help improve the altered speech or lack thereof.
  3. Physical Rehabilitation: Music can relieve pain by releasing endorphins and regulating fast breathing due to anxiety. Rhythm plays a large role in controlling movement, improving the timing and strength of the movement due to the repetition beat. In cohorts with physical therapy, music therapy helps people with rhythmic auditory stimulation.
  4. Cognition and Behavior: Brain injury can cause lack of motivation for change after the traumatic experience. Specific songs are often used to promote independence in daily tasks and participation in rehabilitation (Magee 153-155)

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