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Music is a great healer; it can help you overcome trauma and injury and facilitate a better life after troubling times. Whether that is a mental illness where the lyrics and emotions provide solace, or physical injuries where there’s a deeper connection between harmony and recovery. Take, for instance, the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people found solace in music, as we explored in our article, "9 Songs to Help You Heal from Covid-19 Trauma". Some people, such as Canada-based UK artist Ren, sought his safety in recording songs. Ren is a great example of someone using music to recover from injury and illness – his recent song "Hi Ren" documents his own journey through mental health struggles and autoimmune disease. You can discover more about his journey and how music has acted as a means of recovery by clicking here. How can you use music as a means of recovery? What steps can you take to harness the power of music to get you through challenging times? Read on to find out.
Active Music Therapy
Active music therapy is very much about getting involved with music, playing and engaging with others while under the supervision of a board-certified music therapist. Clients are encouraged to play music, rap, sing and write songs. This could help in two ways; the first is by changing mood and giving someone experiencing pain a different focal point. Switching focus and concentrating on something else can aid pain release and recovery, which goes some way to satisfying the age-old mantra of ‘taking your mind off’ something. The other element may be more functional – for instance, COPD sufferers playing the harmonica can help strengthen the lungs, or playing a drum kit supports movement after a limb operation.
If you’re suffering from pain and would like to address this issue at home, getting involved in making and recording music is fairly easy if you’re comfortable with technology. A Mac or laptop will provide you with the right software to get started. Ren, the artist referenced above, recorded music and vocals at home as personal rehabilitation, and you can do the same. While this isn’t the same as music therapy, using music at home can aide in your healing journey. There is a wide range of microphones available for home recordings, and as this article explains, finding one suitable for recording crisp and clear vocals might not be easy. However, something such as the Warm Audio WA-47 will be great for a home setup, as it can also record percussion and string instruments. Paired with the instrument of your choice, be it a Casio SA-76 keyboard or a Rogue RD Dreadnought guitar; you can become involved in active music-making right now. Creating and sharing your music is a great way not only to have a positive project to focus on, but also to boost your mood when other people discover our music and enjoy it.
Just remember, if you need extra emotional support don’t hesitate to reach out to a music therapist or another mental health professional.
Receptive Music Therapy
Throughout history, humans have leveraged rhythm to communicate, celebrate, and heal. Listening to music can help change one’s mood, and in turn, a positive mood can aid recovery from physical injury or illness. This study explains how trauma from a brain injury and spinal cord injury can be treated by passively listening to music rather than playing it via active music making. Research shows that not only does it improve gait performance, but it can also ease discomfort and pain caused by movement disorders.
One way a board-certified music therapist uses receptive music therapy is through song discussion, where the lyrics and tune are experienced and then discussed as a vehicle for emotional processing.
Although it may seem like a simple listening exercise, it’s proven that such receptive strategies can improve mood and decrease stress and anxiety. You can read more here about how positive mood impacts recovery, but at a general level, listening to music releases endorphins, which help to ease pain, reduce stress, and improve your sense of well-being.
Music as therapy isn’t a new concept; it is established and well-researched, with both receptive music therapy and active music therapy offering significant benefits. Of course, you’ll still need a robust course of treatment for your symptoms, but through music, there are gains to be found which can lead to an improved quality of life, as well as support quicker recovery.
Exclusively written for https://www.amusictherapy.com/ by Amy Nicole
If you're interested in using clinical Music Therapy to aide in your injury recovery, schedule a free consultation to see if music therapy is a good fit.