by Stephanie L. Carlin
As a child living around family members with autism spectrum disorder, I was constantly surrounded by music and grew to love it deeply. If I or anyone else in my family had a rough day, my mother would wake us up from below us, belting Aretha Franklin and making pancakes. It’s how I grew to love music and learned to calm down when my thoughts grew intense.
While that is a more personal example, thousands have benefitted from music all over the world and its therapeutic properties. It’s why many music colleges, including Berklee, have a music therapy major. It is one of the most popular and successful majors at Berklee, though not many people are talking about the innovations in music therapy, so let’s discuss some of those now.
Music Therapy Used to Help Addiction
Local Memphis music society, Music is Art, teamed up with the Western New York Blues Society to create Nurse’n Blues, a program to help teens and adults cope with addiction. All over America, the addiction crisis can be found in just about any community, including those in New York and Memphis. The program, created by musician Patti Parks and music therapist Sheila Connors, is designed to use classes in songwriting, lyric writing, and song analysis to help these addicts with self-esteem, anxiety, and triggers.
Music Therapy Used to Help Dementia and Stroke Patients
There are scientific studies that look into the science of dementia and music as a way to trigger memories. A two-day conference held in 2014 in London, discussed the innovations in neuroscience using music therapy and the results were fascinating. For dementia, that part of the study was conducted in 14 nursing houses in Denmark and Norway, and it concluded that not only was the treatment affective with 10 sessions, but it may also reduce medical needs. For 60 acute stroke patients in the study, scientists concluded that listening to one’s favorite music was more affective than listening to a favorite book or poem, and learning an instrument improved motor function.
Music Therapy Used to Help Kids in Classrooms
There are many stories that highlight the benefits of music therapy in the classroom, specifically for students in special education. There are several music therapy games to try in the classroom, including “Musical Masterpiece” and “Musical Emotions,” and these and many more can assist with cognitive function and de-stressing. As stated earlier, there have been links to music therapy and autism, and while now the therapy is speculated, there are still benefits to destress kids and teach them about music.
Music Therapy Used to Cope with PTSD
To highlight some amazing Berklee students, B.M. ’08 graduate Rebecca Vaudreuil is a Creative Forces Music Therapist for the military who assists military service members suffering from mental and physical disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using her skills in songwriting and musicianship, she helps patients achieve motor skills and healthy-grieving. To learn more about Vaudreil and her session with President Barack Obama, you can read about her Berklee feature here.
An App that Uses Music Therapy
Humm.ly was created and curated by the top music therapists nationwide and founded by music therapist Joanna Yu. The minimum requirements to be a part of the app were an Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy, a 1,064-hour internship, and an exam created by the board of this app. It is the only app that is sponsored by music therapy professionals and sponsored by the American Music Therapy Association. Humm.ly uses comprehensive episodes to educate about music therapy, find contacts to therapists nearby and, of course, provide therapy through relaxing and targeted musical events. It’s an app that can be used by anyone and meant for everything from a rough day to anxiety to trauma and can help those who may not have access to help recieve that help in an instant.