Music Therapy

 Music therapy is an interpersonal process between a trained music therapist and client and uses music in all its characteristics to enhance and maintain health.  Music Therapy is not simple to define.  The word ‘music,’ comes from the Greek ‘mousike’ or art of the Muses; the word ‘therapy’ from the Greek ‘therapeia’ meaning to treat or heal.  However, both music and therapy are concepts that can involve experience, education, and healing.  These concepts overlap.

According to Kenneth Bruscia, an American professor of music therapy, “music therapy is a systematic process of intervention in which the therapist helps the client to promote health, using music experiences and the relationships that develop through them as dynamic forces of change”.1  Clients do not need to be musicians to benefit.  The underlying belief is that everyone has the innate ability to appreciate and make music.

A music therapist will initially do an assessment including client history and specific concerns, taking into account information from family and other health professionals.   The therapist will assess and record how the client makes, relates to and responds to music and based on these findings will put together a treatment plan.

Various approaches can be used:

  • Singing: can help with breathing, social skills; stimulate language; enhance articulation
  • Playing Instrument: improve motor skills; build self-esteem; foster social skill sets
  • Listening: promote relaxation; reduce stress; develops memory skills
  • Composing: self-expression; creativity
  • Improvising: non-verbal self-expression; non-judgmental way to express feelings, thoughts

Benefits include:  reducing or dealing with pain, recovering from stroke, dealing with loss of memory, sleep issues, learning challenges, rehabilitation.

 In Victoria, there are a number of musical therapists practicing out of private settings or from centers such as the Conservatory of Music.

1 Defining Music Therapy, Kenneth E. Bruscia, Barcelona Publishers, NH, 1998, Chapter 3, page 20.

Specific Techniques


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