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Music Therapy
Old 30th May 2003
  #1
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Renie's Avatar
 

Music Therapy

The gearslut art pic reminded me of a documentary i saw about a little boy with Tourette's Syndrome (uncontrollable tics, like shouting obscenities), he was being asked by his music teacher to describe what a musical note looks like and he said "a giant's eye and a hair".

Anyway, his music lessons took away his tic; he was learning to play a wind instrument, so the blowing must have helped. I couldn't understand why they didn't give him more music lessons...music helps my state of mind a lot too.

I went to an introduction to music therapy meeting a few years ago and it was a very depressing space. We were played a cassette on a boombox of someone very mentally damaged (or institutionalized at any rate) playing a xylophone.

i thought it was a pretty amazing, enjoyable and intense sounding piece but to my surprise we were invited to focus on how difficult it was for the music therapist to listen to such dreadful and dissonant noise. I felt the guy had been betrayed. and thought how i could never work with people like the music therapist or in an institution.

Does anyone here have experience of music therapy that's inspiring? or does anyone do any work in that field ?
Old 30th May 2003
  #2
No but am sure I could have put that xylophone in time with PT.
Old 30th May 2003
  #3
Mindreader
 
BevvyB's Avatar
 

To teach is to continue searching and take people with you while you learn.

To inflict a set of rules on other people that either only work for yourself or have been 'proven' is misguided

Pet subject -

Kind of vaguely on topic, did you see that move 'Shine' about David Helfgott. Borderline case capable of incredible things. It's a wierd zone that. People have to practice all their lives to become that 'crazy' sometimes.

Anyway, if I'd have been in the same room as the woman you just mentioned I'd have shown her 'dissonant' fuuck

Old 30th May 2003
  #4
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

Re: Music Therapy

Quote:
Originally posted by Renie
Does anyone here have experience of music therapy that's inspiring? or does anyone do any work in that field ?

No real life experience here as far as real therapy but I do think it's an interesting topic.

I have some custom music therapy for myself though :

- Frank Sinatra and Doobie Brothers seem to cheer me up whenever life seems a drag ...

- Classical music can give me the chills as much as it can give me the creeps. 'Sacre du Printemps' (Rite of Spring) , for example is a good example of personal therapy. listening to that piece is as fullfilling as watching a good movie or having a nice meal.

Isn't one of the Beach Boys into some shakra meditation healing through music thing ???


Anyhow ... interesting topic.
Old 30th May 2003
  #5
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Renie's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by BevvyB
To teach is to continue searching and take people with you while you learn.

To inflict a set of rules on other people that either only work for yourself or have been 'proven' is misguided

Pet subject -

Kind of vaguely on topic, did you see that move 'Shine' about David Helfgott. Borderline case capable of incredible things. It's a wierd zone that. People have to practice all their lives to become that 'crazy' sometimes.

Anyway, if I'd have been in the same room as the woman you just mentioned I'd have shown her 'dissonant' fuuck

Great attitude to teaching Bev!!

I haven't seen Shine yet.

Yeah it would have been good to have someone really take her on, i did a bit but was a lone voice and i found it SCARY there. I wouldn't be so intimidated nowadays.
The people in the room seemed willing to go along with it for the golden prize of a job in the National Health Service that had something tenuous to do with music ...
Old 30th May 2003
  #6
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Renie's Avatar
 

Re: Re: Music Therapy

Quote:
Originally posted by posterchild
Kind of like the Mel Tillis thing...? (Different situation, but similar nonetheless...)

Most of what I know about music therapy is what I've read in Music & Your Mind, an interesting book, even if I found myself disagreeing with a good bit of it.

Part of the problem I had with the book -- and really, it's not a "fault" I can blame them for having -- is that it makes assumptions as far as what kind of music people find creative/soothing/inspirational. I don't think you can avoid that if you're trying to outline a general therapy/creative music listening session that will apply to 90% of the people doing some sort of music therapy thing, but I don't see something like that working for me. I hope I never have to undergo any kind of musical therapy, or else I'd likely get pretty ticked off at some of the music selections. heh

For example, Beethoven may do it for some people, but for me... eh. I prefer a certain level of harmonic dissonance I don't get from Beethoven. But the music therapy people most likely will recommend certain Beethoven pieces in certain situations, and that stuff often leaves me cold, bored, or annoyed. Don't even get me started about Mozart. grudge

On the other hand, I can name a ton of Brazillian/bossa nova recordings which totally relax/stimulate me. They'll be recordings I doubt you'll ever find in most music therapy situations... And while I'll be totally relaxed by the music, someone like my mom (who tenses up as soon as she hears any kind of Brazillian music) will be driven up the wall. heh

I guess what I'm saying is that, from what I've been able to tell, the field of music therapy generally seem to take a "one size fits all" approach, when music tastes (particularly for musicians/engineers/producers/music fanatics) may very likely deviate from the norm. That might explain the instructor's criticism of the xylophone piece, which, if it happened the way you said it happened, I agree -- seems rather cruel.
don't know Mel Tillis..

i've got Music and the mind but never got into reading it..it sounds pretty unsophisticated from what you're saying on the subject of, well 'individuality' basically. I think the attitude of the music therapist in question was very much about power, something the therapy world can be very iffy about, and maybe the bitterness of someone who loves music but has got lost in a distorting system.. I don't know.

I'm sure there must be some sound work going on somewhere in this field.
Hats off to you wherever you are!
Old 30th May 2003
  #7
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Renie's Avatar
 

Re: Re: Music Therapy

Quote:
Originally posted by C.Lambrechts
No real life experience here as far as real therapy but I do think it's an interesting topic.

I have some custom music therapy for myself though :

- Frank Sinatra and Doobie Brothers seem to cheer me up whenever life seems a drag ...

- Classical music can give me the chills as much as it can give me the creeps. 'Sacre du Printemps' (Rite of Spring) , for example is a good example of personal therapy. listening to that piece is as fullfilling as watching a good movie or having a nice meal.

Isn't one of the Beach Boys into some shakra meditation healing through music thing ???


Anyhow ... interesting topic.
Yeah Chris music can be food for the spirit eh?!!

I had food poisoning recently and was so ill i couldn't stomach food or listening to music, how nice it was when my appetite came back!!
Old 31st May 2003
  #8
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

I've done a good deal of music therapy with people "from institutional backgrounds"- pretty much the cast of "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" thirty years later after they were released from the institutions and put into group homes and vocational programs. "Developmentally Disabled" was the catchword, but you'd be developmentally disabled too if you'd grown up in a place like Fairview.

I was not acknowledged or paid as a music therapist- my activities also included changing adult diapers and that, but I took my guitar and horn and went at it.

One woman had her arms in restraints to keep her from doing too much harm, and she'd bang her head into the wall very violently. I was almost always able to bring her to a state of peace and love by blowing some variations on Ravel's "Bolero" on the trumpet. It was the only thing that worked. The variations were improv, I'd watch her and get more or less adventurous and diminished depending on where she was on her trip. I was able to take off her restraints, against doctor's orders, and discover that she was just dying to scratch her butt. As long as she was engaged musically, she was fine.

Also worked with one young man who played the broken down old organ (at least it had tubes!) and sang. Also built a lot of little percussion instruments for the folks.

It was a funny typically capitalist situation- my talents were so undervalued, and my clients were so undervalued, that they ended up getting really good care from the right source because everybody was too broke. So wrong, it came out right.

Evelyn Glennie, the wonderful Scottish solo classical percussionist, has an an article on her website, from which comes this excerpt:

"As a professional soloist I have a certain insight into the world of music which is beyond the scope of most non-professional musicians. If handed a musical score most people would recognise it as such but would be under the false impression that a score is a visual representation of music. To me a score is merely the visual framework which contains the potential for music. In fact it could be argued that musicality is all those deliberate elements in a performance that are not specifically indicated in the score. I use my knowledge of how and where to strike my instruments to manipulate the emotional response of my audience. Not to just explain the feelings or ideas I have interpreted from the composer's score but to actually give the audience an experience of them. This to me is the essence of musicality and the definition of music as an art form.

A few years ago while performing in Nashville, Tennessee I attended the annual conference of the National Association of Music Therapists. While much of what I saw was very encouraging I left with mixed feelings. It was obvious there was a great enthusiasm for exchanging information on therapy but there was very little understanding of the music aspect of Music Therapy. It seemed to me that by general unspoken consensus any sound produced by a musical instrument was by definition music. The sound produced by a violin or a drum is no more musical than the sound produced by hitting a car with a hammer. The violin has arguably a greater potential for creating music than a car but only in the hands of a musician who is using the violin to communicate. The art form of music is a language of communication, sound is only relevant in that it is the medium through which music travels. Although I am not very experienced with Music Therapy, virtually everything I have seen leads me to believe that what is actually happening is Sound Therapy and that Music Therapy is a misnomer. In one instance I played for a boy who was deaf, blind, brain damaged and had to be constantly restrained as he was unable to control the erratic behaviour of his muscles. The boy was held on the wooden floor underneath my marimba so that he might feel the vibrations. Within a few minutes of my starting to play a piece of music depicting a gentle sadness the carers were able to release their grip and the boy's muscles relaxed. I then played a fun and cheeky piece of music and the boy waved his arms in a controlled manner and smiled. The boy had been in care all his life and between tears his carer told me that to their knowledge, in his nine year old life, this was the first time the boy had been seen to smile, had shown any muscle control or indeed had responded in any way. As a language of communication I believe that music has huge potential in the area of therapy."

I think there is a lot more openness to "music" than there is to "musicians", those notoriously unscrupulous gypsies from the party given by the Karamozovs. To acknowledge the musician as having a healing power of a personal and intimate nature is just too much for the status quo just now. Music is fine if we could just keep those damned musicians out of it.

The only place you can get a degree in Music Therapy in the Pacific Northwest is in Salem. I thought about it but decided that for $60,000 to be accredited in something I was doing already was not an investment I was ready to make. Nor do I think the status quo in music therapy is ready for the magic of the musician.
Old 1st June 2003
  #9
Gear Guru
 

I don't have any degree in Music Therapy but in the course of giving drum lessons at a Conservatory I ended up with a number of Special Needs students. Some are ********, some have physical problems, a couple are very young and gifted.

I should stress here that I am simply teaching drums to these people not addressing their mental or physical state directly.

One of my students is brain damaged. He can play the **** out of stuff that he already knows. I guess a holdover from before his injury- but seemed incapable of learning even the simplest of new ideas. It was driving me crazy and I was about to give up and tell his parents to save their money.

I had a talk with the Conservatory's Music Therapist and her suggestions opened up a whole new range of opportunities for me to connect with this student. Far from being a cookie cutter approach I felt like the Music Therapists ideas were freeing me to respond more directly to this individual's needs.
Old 1st June 2003
  #10
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

"I had a talk with the Conservatory's Music Therapist and her suggestions opened up a whole new range of opportunities for me to connect with this student. Far from being a cookie cutter approach I felt like the Music Therapists ideas were freeing me to respond more directly to this individual's needs."

I'm all ears! What kind of suggestions worked for you and this student?
Old 2nd June 2003
  #11
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Renie's Avatar
 

Ted, thanks for that Evelyn Glennie quote.

It wouldn't surprise me if generally the most innovative 'music therapy' work is going on the US.
Old 3rd June 2003
  #12
Gear Guru
 

Ted,
the biggest thing the music therapist did for me was to take me out of an 'outcome oriented' approach.

to give you an example of my frustration I wanted to show this student with the brain damage a simple triplet: RLRLRL.

He couldn't do it AT ALL- I tried for an entire lesson to get him to do it. On the other hand he could play a french triplet RLLRLL perfectly, at high tempos and with real musical feeling. Its so strange to think about - that he has all this musical ability but that it is basically Frozen at the level he was at when he had his accident.

I am a really patient guy but even with my very young kids or my ******** student I can see SOME "progress" in a technical musical sense. I was OK with measuring progress in inches but I was not OK with not measuring progress at all. I guess that was the big revelation.

Then she asked me some specific questions

can he keep a beat?
can he hold down a part?
can he imitate?
can he play along?

the answer is yes, he can do all those things and quite well actually. We play the drums or the congas and do call and response, trade 4s, or just jam. I keep things focused by making each jam "about" something. Dynamics, imitation, counting.

we work on stuff like him taking ONLY 4 measures, or on not stepping on my part, or trying to play really quietly. Some of these jams actually sound pretty good. I went from dreading his lesson to looking forward to it.

Before changing my approach, I was on the verge of telling his folks to forget about lessons and just find him someone to jam with, but I guess I am that person. Have I stopped being a music teacher with this person and turned into a music therapist- perhaps, but it seems to be working out better for both of us.
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