THE BLOG

Why Music Used as Therapy Is Good for the Soul

27/04/2015 11:54 BST | Updated 26/06/2015 10:59 BST

"Music works for everyone, if you love music and you know music motivates you, you'll get along in life", those were the words uttered by Martyn, a person who had been using music therapy as a way of alleviating anger that he was feeling inside. In my feature which was broadcast on Westside radio, I spoke about how music used as therapy, can help people suffering from mental illness and depression.

Music therapy has been consistently put forward by organisations such as Nordoff Robbins, to help those with a variety of disabilities and difficulties, including autism, dementia, neurological disorders and those suffering from drug and alcohol problems.

From my own personal experiences of music, it has only served to benefit me, put me in a frame of mind that was positive. Since I was about 10, I found playing musical instruments was a great way of overcoming my shyness, I wasn't always able to express myself the way I wanted to, so through music I found an outlet to the way I was feeling. As British vocal coach Carrie Grant said, music is "soul food", and playing the clarinet and saxophone was my "soul food."

International R&B artist Ne-yo talked about how he was "a pent up and aggravated kid" and how he used music to help "sooth the savage beast." Again music was an outlet for his emotions and even in writing lyrics, once he had written down what he wanted to say, he felt more relaxed and this helped him to transform into the renowned artist he is today.

In music therapists Helen Short and Bronwyn Tosh, I found that music had an impact on their lives, even before becoming therapists. It was interesting to hear that Helen had actually worked on MTV and Bronwyn had played the saxophone when she was younger. Both saw the potential to use music as a force for good, as a healing process to not only help themselves, but others as well. When I met Bronwyn at The Andrew Lloyd Webber Nordoff Robbins Unit, she talked about how she creates a dialogue with her clients, so although she may be instigating the responses, her client plays a huge part in maintaining a conversation, a call and response which may be as simple as turning a light switch on and off, or playing a few notes on the piano. It is this interaction that makes music therapy so effective.

Helen Short in turn spoke about music as facilitating this form of self-expression, not just in an individual context but in a group context, echoing Bronwyn's sentiment of using music as interaction.

I don't think anyone of us could go without music for a lengthy period of time without feeling that something is missing. As UK rapper Sway said, "music is good for the soul, it's the sound waves, the vibrations," that arouse these feelings deep down, to help calm the nerves and ease the mood.

There is no doubt of the potential of music therapy as a healing process and speaking to Krash Williams of Westside Radio, he mentioned how he had worked with young offenders who had used lyrical writing as a kind of therapy and an outlet for their frustrations and thinking about what they would do differently coming out of prison. He had seen it first hand and I found this interesting as it brought back memories of a scene I watched in The Shawshank Redemption, where the protagonist Andy Dufresne, plays opera across the courtyard on loudspeaker. The prisoners' reactions to the soaring female soprano are priceless. It is to this effect that music has in its foundations, a way in which the whole world, even those living within confinement, can feel liberated, it has that ability to bring down walls.