SOUND AND MUSIC THERAPY
If you appreciate melodious voices and you like music, you probably know how much it is capable of affecting your mood. Maybe a strong motivational backdrop helps you to give your extra bit during workout sessions or a soothing romantic song on a rainy evening reminds you of your loved one. Research has proven the psychological benefits of music therapy over people suffering from stress-related disorders, anxiety, and depression. Music and Sound therapy doesn’t only serve as a remedial entity but also as a preventive entity as it keeps away stress, promotes the mental as well as emotional health of an individual.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy originated in Veterans hospital after World War I. The work of musicians and music therapists back then was to help troops to improve their mental health levels after war stresses. A typical music therapy session is an amalgamation of activities like listening to music, making music, experimenting with soothing sounds, writing, or singing songs. Music therapists have expertise not just in music but also in the way it can be correlated with cognitive neuroscience, treating psychological disorders, as well as chronic illness and pain management. It has proven to be beneficial for people of all ages irrespective of their knowledge of music.
Implementation of Music Therapy
The primary goals and reasons for inducing music and sound therapy play an important role in determining the method used to implement it. For instance, a person suffering from depression and feeling “low” on confidence is likely to be recommended music to lift his/her mood and spirits. Other significant areas where music can be used are treating insomnia, anxiety, and trouble in concentrating.
Music may also be used in day to day life as a stress-buster and as a means of reducing the average stress level leading to a better psychological and emotional frame of mind. Relaxation with music doesn’t always mean sitting idle or lying down while listening to it, although this can be particularly soothing to the senses “to absorb the music”. A simple way of practicing music therapy in daily life is to listen to your favorite songs, music while doing your regular chores like cooking, bathing, or before going to bed at night, after waking up in the morning.
Vocal Toning is an effective method of reducing stress by using one’s voice to create a calming effect. Vocal toning doesn’t require you to know music or singing and therefore there aren’t any constraints like vocal tone, the pitch that one has to worry about before practicing it. In its simplest form, it is the voices made to release your inner suppressed emotions through random loud noises and sounds. This release of sound helps to free up negative emotions and feelings lodged within us.
Listening to soothing peaceful music during meditation is an effective way to release stress. While meditating, if the proper concentration is given to following the sound, the mind tends to “detoxify” itself of all the anxiety and negative thoughts.
The healing power of music is rooted in its vibrations. It is the systematic patterned vibrations that constitute the sound, which in turn is called music. This healing power of vibration can be implemented through a special type of therapy called Vibroacoustic therapy. In this method, low-frequency sounds are used to produce low rumble that is directly applied to the body. During vibroacoustic therapy, the patient is made to lie on a mat or bed or sits in a chair embedded with speakers that transmit vibrations at specific computer-generated frequencies that can be heard and felt. For music players, playing instruments and listening to its vibrations can help in their mental well being.
The selection of music to be used varies from person to person but there are some generic music albums, songs developed to help the cause. For example, Silk Road by Kitaro, In my time by Yanni, has proven to be helpful for this purpose. Music selection is used for clients with disturbances in emotional and self-regulation. The process involves letting clients choose a piece of music of their own choice. Self-selected pieces of music evoke emotions and tend to bring back memories that might be associated with it. Music selection often accompanies guided visualization where the therapist allows the client to imagine himself/herself in a soothing backdrop through his/her imageries while the music continues to play in the background. It is a meditative practice that induces ultimate self-awareness and helps to cope up with the pain of an unfortunate incident.
ASMR (Autonomous sensory median response) is a tingling sensation that people experience in response to a particular sound (which varies among individuals). These sounds can include paper tearing, whispers, peeling fruits to name a few. ASMR can be particularly helpful for normal individuals at the end of the day for relieving the stresses and inducing sleep in insomniacs. Several YouTube channels and music streaming services provide various types of ASMR content and one might choose the content that suits him/her the best.
Music Bingo is another fun cognitive game that seeks to improve memory and reality implementation. The activity involves making cards where each participant draws a song, and others sing it after guessing the name right. It can be played in pairs or as a group, and works great for people with poor memory skills.
Benefits of Music and Sound Therapy
Music therapy has proven to be a useful solution in various domains of psychological problems. This includes depression, stress, schizophrenia, coping up with the loss of loved ones, behavioral disorders. Apart from this, it is also helpful for people with autism, speech disorders, drugs and substance addicts, insomnia. The mental well being of persons diagnosed with cancer, cardiovascular diseases are quintessential for their recovery- music therapy has proven to be effective for these diseases as well.
(Cover image credits: Via https://sound.northwestern.edu/)
About the Author:
Swarnadeep Ghosh is a final year student of Electronics Engineering. He is a music lover and aspires to work for improving mental health in youth. He loves to play ukulele in his leisure and dreams to reach out to people with his music.