Well, bread

When you make bread, there’s a lot of kneading and proving before you get to bake it, never mind eat it . . . I’ve been practising recently, when you have the right ingredients, and spend enough time, the results are quite tasty:


This week I became eligible to work as a music therapist – with a card and certificate to “prove” it – and I’d begun thinking of parallels between bread-making and my last few years.

You could say the preparation for music therapy training was like assembling ingredients, the training itself involved a lot of kneading and proving, and the loaf is finally baked (with a hollow sound when tapped!?).

I’m yet to savour the loaf (or make a crust) – still in the process of setting up music therapy work. Glad to say I’ve arranged a few meetings with people in organisations who are enthusiastic about music therapy for people they work with.

So, more here soon, and maybe I’ll review some of the kneading and proving and other books I’ve been reading – meantime there’s a list of some ingredients over here :)

And I can highly recommend the BAMT podcast: “Music Therapy Conversations” – every episode I listen to brings a range of new insights and topics to explore (also on iTunes/libsyn).


Talking and singing 

Here’s a thing: I usually talk quietly, but I often sing loudly…

Maybe it’s because a song has “known” words, they’re (usually) already written, and there’s a melody to go with them. The music helps a lot in this area.

Talking with friends the other day about songs I love, I said it’s usually the feeling I get from it – rather than the lyrics in a song – that attract me to it. Maybe I’ll think about the lyrics afterwards, but typically they’re not the initial pull for me…

Though as soon as I write that, it occurs to me: sometimes the lyrics of a song really do hit home, and the melody doesn’t even matter. When they tell a story, or put across a point that gets me right there, it feels like the music is a delivery mechanism for lyrical poetry.

Isn’t it great that music can include both?! Words and melodies coming together… that’s before we even get to harmony, rhythm, modulation, dynamics or anything else.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about music with words, sometimes music can provide a subtle backdrop to a story, guiding in ways that are intuitive or pre-verbal. With its emotional connection, music can sometimes reach parts that words alone can’t.

So I’ll keep singing :)


Music Therapy: Evidence & Proof

Back in 2013 Kim Ross wrote: “Why we shouldn’t try to prove that music therapy works” – this article has rung a few bells for me recently, particularly after digesting a range of music therapy research articles…

There appears to be a difference between seeking proof and gathering evidence. Working in an evidence-based way, one gathers research results, trials, experience and puts them into practice. Shifting focus to clients instead of critics can reframe research, as Kim says:

“The profession exists to help clients, and we must keep our clients’ wellbeing as the central focus and reason for our research”.

“Let’s not be afraid of research, or of people posing questions about music therapy and how it works.”

So, onwards with research, investigating and finding out more… starting with the BAMT UK music therapy conference this weekend organised entitled “Re-Visioning our Voice: Resourcing music therapy for contemporary needs”.

Online and on the button

I’ve just read this article about the internet and therapeutic boundaries, written by music therapist Ellie Ruddock. It’s packed full of question, thoughts and insights around this topic and is particularly relevant to someone like me as I blog, tweet, etc. I highly recommend reading it – go ahead now, I’ll wait for you back here :)

It’s always useful to bear in mind that social-media activities are still part of the real world, and I like the way Ellie relates boundaries from working in therapy to working online.

My blog here was anonymous to begin with as I explored how I wanted to write online – but as I realise it’s mainly sharing information (books, blog posts, etc) – I’m happy to lose the mystery… and it may help me write better too.

As a student there’s so much to learn across the range of subjects in music therapy, from the music side and the therapeutic side – and technology is an inescapable part of life these days, sure it is better to use it productively than try to ignore it?



The power of playing music

Music is one of the two reasons I came to music therapy. The other is a desire to help people.

Those two can combine to provoke emotions or movement, where people create music together. That’s a key aspect of music therapy: it can be interactive, not just a one-way performance.  When people get involved in making music, it goes to a new level – beyond listening to ‘nice music’.

In fact there’s a whole range of music listening – compare each line in this list (some examples in brackets):

  • Hearing music in the background (eg: radio/TV)
  • Listening to music someone chose for you (eg: playlist/CD)
  • Listening to music you chose (eg: custom playlist)
  • Listening to music created just for you (eg: live musician)
  • Playing along with music created for you (eg: music workshop)
  • Leading the music by something you do (eg: music therapy)

There may be others too – different levels of hearing and listening, passive and active – and each example is not limited to that line.  For example, a radio DJ may play your favourite song – or a live musician may get you involved in their performance, singing with them or providing some rhythm.  Each of these could produce a special moment: a tear in your eye or a big smile on your face.

Imagine developing that special moment to build music that’s personal to you and enables you to communicate beyond words…


Mirror mirror…

Mirroring in music and therapy

In music you could mirror some notes, a phrase or rhythm – reinforcing a particular sound from the other person, letting them know you hear them, and allowing them to lead the music.

In therapy you may mirror a posture, action or behaviour – showing empathy for a person, being affected by them, gaining trust or even insight into their experience.

Mirroring can sometimes happen without you even realising it – the more aware you are, the more useful it can become.

In my reading about research I’ve come across countertransference, a Freudian phenomenon that seems like mirroring on a deeper level, something to look out for!