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How does it help/hurt you? In many ways people can tell that music has some sort of effect on them. Whether it be making them happy, sad, angry, relaxed, or even depressed. I would venture to say that music has an effect on everyone. Everyone, even being those people who suffer from mental illnesses. You wouldn’t suspect that a mental illness could be cured with music. But I believe not only that it can be cured but that it can also be triggered. As a musician I understand the concept of how music can change the way you feel. Every chord has a distinct sound. Most major chords sound happy, and most minor chords sound dark and depressing. This is why music could change your current mood. Music almost seems to change the way you think when you hear certain chords. Some chords have an almost healing effect. These chords, the ones that seem to heal, I will refer to as “cures.” As for the minor chords, some of these can put you into a state of sadness or bring back memories that are usually dreary. These chords will be referred to as “triggers.” The cures are the healing chords, the chords that can turn that frown upside down. The triggers are the chords that can trigger a mental illness such as depression or bi-polar. Now just because I have separated the chords does not mean that each set of chords can only function under my predetermined groups. If a song is wrote in all cure chords it can still be a trigger in some peoples minds. This is why it is tough for science to grasp the mental affect of music. Everyone react to music in a different manner. Everyone hears something else in a song that speaks to them
Welch 2 personally. Even the writer of the song cannot grasp every meaning that people will take from their song. People are different everyone knows this. Even if a songwriter tries to write a song to have a certain emotion triggered, while it may trigger that emotion for one person on one day it could have a completely different emotion triggered on the next day. Musical emotions are hard to predict because they are determined by mood. Now is where it gets a little tricky. Those people who suffer from mental illnesses have a lack of emotions. Now, if they have a lack of emotions how can music affect them since music relies on the emotions to trigger feelings? Dr. Cathro and Dr. Devine understood this concept well. They understood that society considers people with mental illnesses, such as autism, different because thy have a lack of emotion and social skills. The two doctors created a program for the mentally ill and used music as the center for learning in the class. They not only tried to teach the children about music but tried to get the children where the responded on an emotional level. They actually had some success with the classes and many of the students who participated increased their social skills (Cathro & Devine). Another example of musical therapy working to increase social behavior is in Kolman’s article Easing Autism with Music. The article starts by describing a situation of a father daughter clarinet duo and then it drops the bomb…the daughter is autistic. It then states how most people with autism can only play the piano somewhat due to hitting a not and a chord playing. The clarinet has a lot of things going on at once and is extremely difficult for those with autism. The daughter was
Welch 3 selected for the band at school and her father, a music teacher at Washington and Lee university, started giving her lessons at home. He tried a new style of teaching with her to see if it would work and to further his own teaching abilities. After she learned how to play her parents noticed she was more interactive at home and with school. To me the article shows that music can obviously help those who suffer from autism and feel different and separate themselves from other people. Once she learned the clarinet she gained confidence that she was in fact normal and fit into a group, the band (Kolman 66-68). Even though it seems like these articles and most tests are always done on children, development of the brain does not affect learning as much with autistic patients. As noted in the article Role Of Music Therapy In Social Skills Development In Children With Moderate Intellectual Disability, “Factors including the age and gender of the participating children were not found to be related to the development of social skills across either intervention investigated over the present study (Duffy, Barbara, & Fuller, 77-89).” I believe this is true because those with autism and other mental illnesses have the brain development of a much younger person. This is why whether testing on an adult with autism or a child with autism the results will be close if not the same. There are many people out there who are skeptical of musical therapy’s impact of mental illnesses. Some of these people are therapists who do not believe in musical therapy even on regular patients, others are scientist who think that the emotions felt from music are just made up because we feel what we want to feel not what is triggered by music. Maybe they are just stubborn, hard-headed, and resistant to new ways of doing
Welch 4 things. Or maybe they have a point? It truly is amazing what the mind can do, it can make you see things that are not true, hear things that are not there, and even feel things that do not exist. If a person goes into a musical therapy session with no skepticism and fully expects to see progress in their healing it is one hundred percent feasible for that person to not be helped one bit but be able to feel a difference. This is because the mind caused the person to feel healed when in reality the musical therapy did nothing. This attests to the power of the mind, if you believe in something the mind could potentially make it real. Obviously someone is right, but no one really knows for sure if they are right. The evidence suggests that people who think musical therapy can help with mental illness are correct. But evidence does not necessarily mean truth. Musical therapy does not only help those with mental illnesses though. Research has been conducted on those patients suffering from a disorder called tinnitus. Tinnitus is a hearing disorder where there is a constant high-pitched ringing in the ears. Researchers tried to combat this hearing disorder with music. Sounds rather dumb to combat a hearing disorder with sound but it was said to have helped over half the patients (Yoshioka). This is one example of musical therapy helping people with no mental illness. Another example was conducted by Naik, which was studying the overall mental health of children. Over an eight week period Naik, the researcher, held 45 minute long classes everyday of the week that the kids would participate in. During the classes the kids would not only listen to music but would also sing. By the end of the study the research showed that the musical therapy increased every kids mental health(Naik, 1-5). In both of these studies the mind could have played tricks and convinced people they really were being helped.
Welch 5 This is why the study of musical therapy and its benefits is tricky. There is almost no way to tell if the therapy is actually helping or if the mind is helping. Either way I guess it really does not matter as long as they are both helping. I personally believe that musical therapy does work and is the therapy of the future. Anything that triggers emotions is going to have a strong affect on the body. This is why I believe that musical therapy can help those people with mental illnesses. As the title states, can music cure autism? No, I do not believe it can cure it but I believe it can reduce the affects of it and help the autistic be more socially acceptable.
Welch 6 Works Citied
Bruscia, K. (ed.) (1998). The dynamics of music psychotherapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers. Crowe, B. J., & Colwell, C. (Eds.). (2007). Effective clinical practice in music therapy: Music therapy for children, adolescents, and adults with mental disorders. Silver Spring, MD: American Music Therapy Association. Cathro, Murray, and Adam Devine. "Music Therapy And Social Inclusion." Mental Health Practice 16.1 (2012): 33-36. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. Duffy, Barbara, and Ray Fuller. "Role Of Music Therapy In Social Skills Development In Children With Moderate Intellectual Disability." Journal Of Applied Research In Intellectual Disabilities 13.2 (2000): 77-89. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Mar. 2013. KOLMAN, BARRY. "Easing Autism With Music." Education Digest 78.8 (2013): 66-68. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. Masanobu Yoshioka, et al. "Using Fractal Music As Sound Therapy In TRT Treatment." Audiology Online (2013): 1. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. NAIK, DINESH P. "Impact Of Instrumental Music On Mental Health Of Adolescents." Indian Streams Research Journal 2.10 (2012): 1-5. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Scovel, M., & Gardstrom, S. (2002). Music therapy within the context of psychotherapeutic models. In R.F. Unkefer & M.H. Thaut (Eds.), Music therapy in the treatment of adults with mental disorders: Theoretical bases and clinical interventions (2nd ed.) (pp. 117-132). St. Louis, MO: MMB Music.
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