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What is music therapy? What does a music therapist do? What age range of clients benefit from music therapy?
The following definition is the work of L. Blunt cited in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
"The use of the elements of sound and
music within a developing relationship between patient
and therapist to bring about improvements in physical,
mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is
both an art and a science. The power of music as a
healing force to alleviate illness and distress has been
used extensively in many cultures, but it was only
during the second half of the 20th century that music
therapy evolved as a specific discipline and paramedical
profession. Increasingly recognized by governmental
bodies, music therapy is now state registered in the UK
as a profession supplementary to medicine.
Music therapists work with children and adults of all
ages. Spontaneous emotional, as well as learnt, responses to music are seemingly stored at a very deep
level within the brain. Even patients with diffuse brain
damage appear able to respond to it, for example by
singing melodic fragments with clear rhythm and intonation. The communicative potential of music can
bypass speech for children and adults with severe
language and emotional problems. Instruments can
become indirect means of communication for autistic
children. The use of rhythm as a structural organizer
and energizer is effective in helping people with
physical disabilities to gain control and organization in
their movements. The depressed or anxious person can
use music to release tension, to gain access to and
express a wide range of emotions, and to boost self-esteem. The terminally ill adult can both listen to music
to decrease levels of tension and play instruments to
increase levels of energy and sense of control.
Music therapists work in many settings: hospitals,
hospices, schools, nurseries, and other community-based centres, or privately; they also work with people
with visual or hearing impairments and people in
prison. Music therapy can be considered as an alternative to a course of psychotherapy or counselling, and
musicians themselves are benefiting from music therapy
to alleviate both physical and mental stress.
During individual or group work, patients, either as
participants or as listeners, make connections between
their emotions and the music experienced. The externalization of inner feelings in musical forms and
gestures can be clearly observed in improvisational
music therapy. Here individual patients or groups of
patients are encouraged to create their own music,
usually using a range of tuned and untuned percussion
instruments. The specifically trained therapist engages
with various kinds of music presented by the patient,
the musical processes ranging from work with single
sounds to complex rhythmic and melodic interaction.
Therapists adapt their own music in supporting the
patient's music and may also work with the patient in
Music therapists underpin their practice with reference
to a variety of treatment models and philosophical
orientations. Some music therapists frame
their work within a detailed analysis of the musical
elements (rhythm, melody, harmony, etc.), observing
changes within the music as mirrored in changes
outside the sessions.
Others draw on principles and
theories from the related fields of psychoanalysis, early
infant development, humanistic and transpersonal
psychologies, behaviour and cognitive therapy, and
[see also other writings-references by author]
P. NORDOFF and C. ROBBINS, Creative Music Therapy
(New York, 1977) · L. BUNT, Music Therapy: An Art Beyond .
Words (London, 1994) · T. WIGRAM, B. SAPERSTON, and
R. WEST (eds.), The Art and Science of Music Therapy: A Handbook (London, 1995) · P. GOUK (ed.), Musical Healing in Cultural Contexts (Aldershot, 2000) · P. HORDEN (ed.), Music as Medicine: The History of Music Therapy Since Antiquity (Aldershot, 2000)
[Above cited from pp.819-820 -
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition. Edited by Stanley Sadie, Executive Editor John Tyrrell
Vol. 17, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2001,2002.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data: The New Grove dictionary of music and musicians - 2nd ed.
1. Music - Dictionaries 2. Musicians - Dictionaries I. Sadie, Stanley, 1930-
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data:
The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians / edited by Stanley Sadie; executive editor, John Tyrrell - 2nd ed.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-56159-239-0 (cloth: alk.paper)
1.Music--Encyclopedias. 2.Music--Bio-bibliography. I. Sadie, Stanley. II. Tyrrell, John]
the inclusion of L.Blunt's definition of music therapy above in no way implies their endorsement of this
web site nor does it imply the endorsation of the publishers of the dictionary of this site. However the definition is
a very good introduction to the field of music therapy, as practised by many of the music therapists mentioned on this web site.
- Y.Orosa, music therapy consultant for OnWellness.info 040522
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The site has a volunteer reference group, including:
a medical doctor, nurse, long-term-care facility director, music therapy, social work and rehabilitation consultants and lawyers
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On behalf of the participating professionals that are contributing to this web site's development
Music Therapy and Social Work Consultant
OnWellness Inc. Vancouver, BC
The photo collage-banner at the top of this page is intended to give viewers an idea of
the conceptualization behind this web project. The concepts of "health and wellness / well-being"
include KNOWLEDGE, having access to reference information; COMMUNICATION, through various medium (as in
music therapy); and SECURITY, the sense of safety provided by social-political structures and systems to help experience one's well-being e.g. private and public personal-care / long term care facilities.
The provenance of the photos on this page include:
- Photo of music therapists at work in a residential long term care facility in downtown Vancouver, BC, collection of Y.Orosa, Music Therapy and Social Work Consultant, recently returned from London, UK work with the British health care system.
- Elementary school children participate in a demonstration of music therapy activities by Vancouver long term care facilty, directed by Y.Orosa, MT.
- Book shelf photo from Public Library, Reference Department, section on introductory texts on traditional and alternative medicine, drug dictionaries, treatment guides, taken by N.Chan
- Cartoon character, Anjolico the wireless cat, is provided by Tony Yau, B.F.A, M.V.A, graphic designer and illustrator, with training from York University in Toronto and the University of Alberta in Visual Arts... This cartoon character is a regular feature in a number of China web sites as well as Hong Kong print newspapers e.g. the Sing Tao
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