Hello everyone! It's been a while since my first blog post and that's because my degree only started last week, and we began with an intensive week in Melbourne. I'm only getting around to writing this now because, as the title suggests, intensives are pretty full-on and I've only just managed to get myself organised again. So what can I tell you about my first taste of my Masters of Music Therapy? Well, to be honest, I'm still processing a lot of what I learned and experienced so I'm hoping that I'll be able to unscramble my brain and make some kind of sense.
What I've learned so far about music therapy is that it is far more diverse and widely-applied that I originally thought. From this first week, I've seen and learned how music therapy can be used in many different areas of life - from communicating with children with disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy, to helping adults learn to walk again after accidents, to elderly clients suffering dementia. It can also be applied to more common situations, such as in early childhood learning, where it can be applied to help children learn skills like speech, motor control and coordination. It can be used in the mental health sphere, in palliative care, in brain and spinal cord rehab and the list goes on.
The common thread that goes through all of these uses of music therapy, is the fundamentally important therapeutic relationship between the therapist and the client. Music is used to create and maintain this relationship and through it, the music produces positive effects. As this relationship is established and the client assessed, the therapist will create clinical goals to work on whatever needs the client has and will work towards achieving them over time. Although music therapy is used in clinical settings to achieve clinical goals, my understanding is that the human connection and counselling side of it is of utmost importance, and it's only through that aspect of it that the achievements come.
One of the common misconceptions about music that people seem to have is that it's just about learning music with the therapist - more like a music lesson rather than a therapy session - and sometimes, that will be the way the therapist works. Or people might assume it's just about having fun and singing along to some music, which might also be the way that the session goes. However, there is always some underlying clinical goal and plan and I think that because music, by it's nature is such an enjoyable thing, people can sometimes fail to notice the good that it's doing and the changes it's making until it's already happened.
On the other hand, sometimes the assumption is that there's nothing really to music therapy - what good could listening to or playing music really do? Well, I think to answer that you need to think through your own life and notice how you use music. When you're sad or angry do you put on music that will make you feel better? When you want to work out, is there a certain genre of music you gravitate towards to motivate you? At all the important moments in our lives, music is important and carefully thought about. Think about the music you chose for your wedding, or the the playlist you created for your birthday party, or even the songs you chose for the funeral of a loved one. There's a reason that such an emphasis is placed on all these choices - music has power to change our mood, to make us feel better or to help us get through certain parts of our lives.
So to summarise, there is so much to music therapy, and so much still to be discovered and I hope that as I continue to learn and grow in my music therapy journey that I'll be able to pass some of my knowledge onto you and help create more awareness for this blossoming field. Sorry for the short post, but it's only the beginning and I can't wait to share more over the next two years.
Thanks for reading!