Friday, May 8, 2009

Music Therapy

I'm taking this paper at university called 'Music Now: Understanding Music Through the Lens of the 20th-21st Centuries' most of the subject matter consists of articles from Socialist or Communist magazines, but the other day we had a guest lecture talking about music 'therapy'.

From Wikipedia
"."Music therapy is an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients to improve or maintain their health."

The lecturer played various video clips from some 'therapy' sessions, ranging from absurd to offensive to plain boring. One clip was a video of a therapist wailing and screeching at a baby, one of a therapist talking baby talk to a different baby, one of some disabled children banging on drums and one of some criminals playing on kiddy instruments you see, they had been sentenced to music therapy rather than prison.

I'll separate my rant on music therapy into two categories: the Bullshit and the Basic.

The Bullshit:
Music therapists, like other 'alternative medicines' and herbalists claim miraculous things from their so called therapy, from healing to cessation of pain to being an integral part of the cure for cancer (no jokes, the lecturer actually claimed this). When these quacks manage to convince people of their miracles they are potentially endangering lives by leading them away from modern medicine which actually can stop pain, aid the body in healing and we are constantly researching cancer cures. A website I've found quite interesting and helpful in separating the quacks from the real medicine is Quackwatch. As well as their potential for harm, their claims are not proven and some are outright false.

The Basic:
Some of the supposed benefits of music therapy are so ridiculously basic and fundamental to human existence that it's quite ridiculous to think that these people trained for something so simple. Take for example the video of the therapist screeching at the baby, they teach that music stimulates the babies brain and they attach this overinflated sense of profundity to it, when in reality, basic human interaction that engages the senses of a child is just that, BASIC. The fact that we allow these wish-washy quacks to touch our babies and screech at them is sickening, when our parents should be the ones engaging in human interaction, not some stranger.


  1. Obviously, you have let your ONE experience with someone's presentation on music therapy bias your whole opinion of this field. I would encourage you to research the field more thoroughly before coming to a final conclusion on the subject, as music therapists are adament about advancing their profession using empirical research. We want to know which stragtegies are effective and which are not, and are taught in college to both further the research and to rely on it. I would agree that the ideas in the presentation you viewed sound downright radical. Are you sure this lecture was delivered by a Board Certified Music Therapist? If it was, the content is certainly not in the mainstream teachings of music therapy. The first thing I would question would be the validity of the lecturer. I am not aware of any music therapy techniques that involve screeching at babies. I am, however, aware of some pretty incredible research that was done at Florida State University by Dr. Jayne Standley that has had a life saving impact on premature babies' lives. You may want to start your research here: Enjoy the journey, my friend. I know that I enjoyed discovering, learning about, and researching music therapy enough to become a music therapist, and that would not have happened had I detected a shred of quackery in the field.

  2. I found some flaws with your argument:
    1) You're citing Wikipedia as opposed to a website written by professionals in the field. Try this:, which will tell you that music therapy isn't some voodoo cure.
    2) The treatment is NOT a cure by any means. Music therapy is a healing treatment, in that the therapist helps promote a path to typical functioning, such as helping an adult with Dementia hang on to his memories of childhood, promoting safe expression of emotion in a teenager who witnessed her mother commit suicide, and the list goes on. Anyone who claims that this cures disease or disorders is probably not an actual music therapist, because they teach music therapy majors this in year one of college.
    3) I took a long look around Quackwatch. Not once did it say anything that refuted the claims made by the AMTA or any Journal of Music Therapy, so therefore the only conclusions you made were pulled directly out of your ass.

    Now why should this be Pointed out? Probably because you were forced to go to a lecture on a topic you could care less about and wanted everyone to know how much you hated it, and figured nobody would take the time to check your facts. Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean you get to be ignorant and rub it in other people's faces. However, you probably wont even see this because you're yelling that last line at some christian kid.

  3. All vibrations that have frequencies are called sound. Sound is a form of energy. Healing sound in the form of mantras had great potential as a healing agent and has been used as healing force for centuries. Healtone’s healing with sound is music that can help in healing the patient in numerous domains.

  4. My cousin does music therapy in Philly and he loves it. I would love to see more music therapists on Therapick.

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