What is music therapy?

Music | Therapy | 09th September 2021 | Virtual Wire

Music can offer a unique opportunity for self-awareness and enrichment of expression by revealing our thoughts and feelings. Throughout history, music has played a role in expressing social consciousness as well as being a source of artistic inspiration for people.

We know that we are not exposed to a process without music from birth to death in all areas of life. The existence of timbres that surround and fill the ears of people of all ages. Cultures also explain the fact that we still do not use music effectively in treatment. Music therapy is a treatment model that dates back to ancient times, but its potential has not yet been adequately grasped and has not been reflected in daily practice.

The theoretical role of music in communication begins with the history of humanity. Music is the most effective method used in the expression and communication of feelings and thoughts between people and societies throughout history. Since the world was founded, it has played the greatest role in the development of the religious, military and spiritual power of societies.

Music in communication began long before the speech. Music is a very strong fundamental phenomenon that affects people's mental, physical, and spiritual behaviours, meets their communication needs, and balances social relations. When used as a music therapy method, it protects and improves the mental and physical health of people regardless of their age. Music not only makes people mentally strong but is also one of the most effective therapy methods used in the treatment of mental and physical health.

Music is a Greek word and has the same meaning all over the world. According to mythology, nine fairy girls, who are considered the daughters of Zeus, were called 'Muse'. The ancient Greeks believed that these fairy girls were responsible for arranging the beauty and harmony of the whole world. Therefore, it is accepted that the word 'music', comes from this 'muz' root.

Music therapy is one of the oldest treatment methods and it is known that it has been used to treat patients in various cultures for four thousand years. The ancient Greeks considered music the root of all virtues. Known for playing the lyre beautifully in ancient Greek mythology, Apollo was considered the god of both music and medicine, and by playing the lyre, he relieved people's troubles.

In the ancient Greeks, music was the basis of all virtues and was considered a great factor in the education and purification of the soul. The philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras explored the possibility of treating the despondent or the irritable with certain melodies. According to Pythagoras, music, which is the result of the harmony of sounds, is the most effective remedy in cases where the harmony in the body is disturbed.

In the early periods of known history, people thought that it was magical and mysterious when they could not explain something. They also described the sounds as the voices of the spirits in nature and believed that they reached the spirits by beating drums or making other sounds. Every living thing, and soul, has a voice, and a frequency. They tried to reach the voice of the spirits through song, rhythm and magic with their thoughts.

If we look at the recent history of music in therapy, The Prague music therapist Raudnitz was the first to examine the medical importance of music in psychosis in 1848. The “Music Therapy Association” was established in Vienna in 1959 and Germany in 1973. On the other hand, China uses it as technology and innovatively in electro-acupuncture treatments in anaesthesia.

The importance of this therapy method, which has been forgotten for a long time, has been noticed again in recent years. In this study, schools providing music therapy education in the world, music therapy associations were introduced and the results of scientific studies in this field were included.

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In short, we can think of it as a therapeutic approach to improve or regain impaired, lost, or underdeveloped functions and skills through music or sound (using musical components such as rhythm, melody, harmony, dynamics, tempo). Music therapy can sometimes be perceived as the use of all kinds of music as a kind of patient intervention tool.

However, it is possible to get positive results by choosing appropriate (personalized) music for the patient. For this reason, it must be presented by a trained music therapist who is licensed and qualified and has the necessary knowledge in the fields of psychology and medicine.

It is obvious that the addition of music therapy to many medical practices, especially rehabilitation programs for neurological diseases, improves the quality of life by reducing the symptoms of the disease. For instance, it is a significant step that the movement, balance, perception, speech and even emotional flow irregularities experienced by patients with Parkinson's, Stroke and Speech Disorders can be alleviated to a great extent by choosing the right music and rhythm.

Because in this way, they can make the ups and downs, tensions and relaxations of the music kinetic with a rhythmic synchronization. Thus, automatic and sharp movements are softened and become more controllable and fluid. It is used as a complementary method in clinical fields such as neurology, cardiology, oncology, psychiatry and in the treatment of individuals with special needs.

In addition, music therapy also has an important place in the treatment of alcohol and substance addiction. You can activate different parts of your brain depending on the type of music. It is known that music has a positive effect on physiological events such as blood pressure, respiratory rhythm, respiratory quality, and pulse rate. Over time, we can train damaged parts of our brain with music.

Since music can evoke positive emotions and stimulate reward centres in the brain, music therapy is often able to alleviate symptoms of mental health concerns such as depression, mood-related concerns, anxiety, schizophrenia, substance dependency, autism, personality issues, insomnia and dementia.

The results of a study led by Michael Thaut in the nineties that measured the effects of rhythm-based music therapy on the walking ability of Parkinson's patients reveal the difference that music makes. In his experiment, Thaut first measures the walking speed of 10 patients on flat terrain, ramps and stairs.

He then prepares customized cassettes with a regular drumbeat rhythm for each patient to match their walking pace, instructing the participants to listen to the cassettes with a Walkman for 30 minutes a day. At the end of each week, he gives patients a new cassette with slightly faster rhythmic beats.

When he re-measured their walking speed a month later without the tapes, he found that nine out of 10 people were able to walk 50% faster than at the start of the study, and concluded that they had improved. Another area where this therapy gives positive results and is 'Alzheimer'.

It is mentioned in many studies that advanced Dementia and Alzheimer's patients, who cannot remember the names of their family members, can fully accompany their words when they hear the songs they used to listen to. It is suggested that the reason for this is that the musical memory is partially independent of other memory systems and therefore is one of the parts that suffer the least.

Music Therapy Training in Norway

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Although Norway is a small country, it has shown rapid development in music therapy in the last 40 years. In the 1980s, these therapy activities were concentrated around the capital city of Oslo. In 1991, the Norwegian government implemented the "unification" reform, which established that people with special needs have the right to work, go to school and develop hobbies in their private environment, just like normal people. Thanks to this reform, interest in this therapy increased rapidly and as a result, “Norwegian Music Academy” started a six-month program.

Music Therapy Training in Latvia

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During the Soviet occupation, which started in 1940 and ended in 1991, patients with disabilities and psychological disorders were not seen in society. They were taken care of by their families or placed in private institutions. Since its independence in 1991, psychology has started to attract the attention of women in Latvia.

This therapy and other creative therapies have also been included. In 1998, Mirdza Paipere Liepaja organized the first course in the pedagogical academy thanks to supporting from Germany. These first courses were led by Dr Witten-Hendecke University. It was directed by Reiner Hauss and applied therapy for children and young people.

Music Therapy Education in Japan

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Music therapy in Japan has been an area of interest among teachers, psychologists, and psychiatrists since the 1950s. In the 1960s, Dr Yamamatsu (psychologist), Dr Matsui (psychiatrist), Dr Murai (professional musician and psychiatrist) began practising this therapy. In the 1970s and 1980s, interest in this topic increased. The number of people who study abroad or develop themselves in music therapy has increased considerably in these years.

These people have applied this therapy in rehabilitation centres, hospitals and nursing homes. At the same time, local associations were established over time, starting from working groups. One of these associations is the “Clinical Music Therapy Association” and the other is the “Bio-Music” association. Bio-Music association transformed into "Japanese Music Therapy Federation (JFMT)" in 1995 and "Japanese Music Therapy Association" - Japanese Music Therapy Association (JMTA) in 2001 (6,030 members).

Music Therapy Education in the United Kingdom

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Music therapy in the United Kingdom has a rich and long history. Starting with small groups of people from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, there are about 600 practitioners in this field, which today is considered a profession. Music therapists work in national health care centres, schools, prisons, hospitals, and private music therapy centres. There are two important music therapy associations in England.

"The British Society for Music Therapy-BSMT", founded by Juliette Alvin in 1958, and "The Association of Professional Music Therapists-APMT", founded in 1976 to meet the needs of professional music therapists. The two organizations worked closely together and then merged.

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