Connecting Through Music
Music is a wonderful and universal language that most people can relate to or understand. Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” As a therapist that uses music as a foundation in my practice, I couldn’t agree more. In music therapy, we use a variety of activities and interventions that are tailored to fit very specific needs of the people we work with. One significant factor to consider in music therapy, is that not all music is appropriate when working with the unique individuals we have the privilege of providing this service to.
For example, I wouldn’t use a Metallica song with a 6 year old girl. Other than the obvious reason that Metallica isn’t necessarily appropriate for a 6-year-old girl, the music that we use with our clients, patients, and students is utilized in many therapeutic ways depending on the individual’s needs and music preferences. As a therapist, one of the first goals I focus on is establishing rapport (a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well). Establishing rapport is one of the easiest parts of my job because I am able to use this universal language to connect with the people I work with. If my client is emotionally upset because he is in a new environment with a new person doing something completely unfamiliar, I will use music to reflect his emotion, validate how he is feeling, and then gradually change the music to elevate his mood. That is only one example of how I use music to connect.
OTHER WAYS MUSIC THERAPISTS CONNECT THROUGH MUSIC INCLUDE:
-Using music to encourage physical activity as well as social interaction. Sometimes I will put on a piece of recorded music and teach my clients an adapted version of popular dances. Dancing encourages people to not only be in close proximity of one another, but to also touch one another and to move together in harmony.
– Providing individuals the opportunity to express themselves in an environment free of judgement by playing how they feel on an instrument or putting their thoughts, feelings, and emotions into an original song composition.
– Using music to validate and empathize with one another using lyric analysis, song writing, or improvising how we feel on instruments creating an emotional connection.
– Using client-preferred music because it establishes a common interest between the client and the therapist. Imagine the look of shock on my clients’ face when I bust out Fight Song by: Rachel Platten. Now, imagine the look on my face when they start sing and dancing along.
If you still don’t have a picture popping into your head about how music can connect people from different cultures, economic backgrounds, race, ethnicity, physical/mental ability, or personality click on the link below!