Term Paper: Music Therapy

Pages: 3 (1197 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

Music Therapy: Music has been used in healing, ritual, and shamanic activities in cultures throughout the world. What is the connection between these uses of music and music therapy? Is ritual a form of therapy?

Are music therapists analogous to modern-days shamans, or are there fundamental differences of culture, values, and worldview that render invalid any comparison between the two types of activities? Is there anything we have to learn as therapists in contemporary society from the way that other societies have used (and continue to use) music?

According to the mythologist Joseph Campbell, shamans have traditionally functioned as the storytellers of many indigenous cultures. Through the use of the shamanic trance in a ritual context the shaman makes himself open to the influences of the 'other world.' Often music is involved to set the tone of the ritual and to create the necessary psychological conditions within the shaman for his or her trance. The ability to disassociate during the ritual is developed over years of training of the shaman, although certain temperaments and life experiences help one become a good shaman. A good shaman is one, through the use of the shamanic trace, makes his or her ego an empty conduit for the voices of others and transmits the cultural history of the past.

In therapy, however, the therapist attempts to provide not the voice of a past culture, but of the present state of the patient. Listening or making music can be one tool in helping explore the patient's view of his or her past and future. The therapist helps the patient see his or her personal past anew, and to move into the future with a clearer vision of his or her ego. However, rather than entering a trance, the patient tries to see the world as it is, and hopefully grow more articulate about what is troubling his or her mind. However, it can be helpful to use nonverbal means to release emotion, especially with children. Similarly, the shaman enters a trance, but with the aim of coming back into the world of the tribe and narrating what he or she saw in the other realm.

Through music, the patient can assume some of the qualities of the shamanic trance, of letting go to come back with a clearer mindset about the real world. Likewise, the therapist can act like a shaman in the sense that he or she empties his or her ego of his or her own problems, and enters the world of the patient. But the therapist is never totally an empty vehicle, but guides the therapy session. He or she does offer his or her objective opinion about issues the patient may have difficulty having an unbiased view of, given his or her attachment to the personal life 'story' that has become accepted in his or her mind.

Thus music may be used as a way of helping the patient tap into or express anger, joy, or sensuality, that he or she finds difficult in his or her ordinary life, and the therapist can direct such activities as drumming, for example, to make the therapy more effective or releasing for the patient. The structure of the therapy session may be as planned as a ritual. But the goal of therapy is not to achieve collective wisdom for a tribe. Rather, the goal is to help the individual feel a sense of empowerment and to have the ability to create a more effective way of expressing emotions that may be blocked. The literal rubbing off of the shaman initiate's skin, for… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Music Therapy.  (2005, October 31).  Retrieved October 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/music-therapy-been-used/339378

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