Enjoyable music vs Expressive music?

During music therapy sessions I regularly find myself thinking about the quality and purpose of the music we play. Particularly if there are tears or laughter during or between songs.

Group members often display enthusiasm during a song: they express themselves loudly or quietly, vocally or with an instrument. Sometimes a group member cries, though if they’re not able to use words it’s not possible to know why. At other points they smile or laugh as our eyes meet during the music.

These points of expression feel more important to me than the times of enjoyment! Staff or parents often talk about enjoying the music, and I know what they mean. Without some amount of joy, the time may be harder to bear. But, I suppose enjoyment is a side-effect or added bonus. Most of the time I focus on supporting people to express themselves through the music, and enabling them to feel that they’ve been heard – by me and others in the room.


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