Playin’ in the band…

A few months ago I read this book “Playin’ in the Band” (Kenneth Aigen), with accompanying DVD, it’s a detailed case-study from the 90’s featuring Lloyd and his music with two music therapists at Nordoff-Robbins New York.  In the DVD excerpts from sessions spanning several years you can see relationships develop between Lloyd and the music therapists as they play a range of rock, blues, country and more. It’s highly recommended if you can get access to a copy.

This book came to mind today as I was talking to someone who asked what music genres appear in therapy – in the literature it stands out as a contemporary or ‘pop’ example among the classical and traditional music usually mentioned. For example, in Healing Heritage by Nordoff & Robbins, “During his lectures, Nordoff illustrated points with live musical examples, many from the classical repertoire”.

In the past, music therapists were typically classically trained, and this would influence the music they played in sessions. These days, music therapists come from a wider range of backgrounds, and that is bound to have an impact on the music used. Clearly there’s no limit to what styles or genres may appear in music therapy – particularly in sessions where the client brings their own music – and the therapist works with what they bring.

The BAMT website states “Music therapists work with the natural musicality styles and genres including free improvisation to offer appropriate, sensitive and meaningful musical interaction with their clients”.

This could take many forms, so every little bit of music may have potential – and it’s a reminder to me to open up and absorb as much music as I can :)

Music therapy in context – book recommendation

Here’s a great book I’ve been reading recently, particularly the last three chapters about Winnicott, psychodynamic meaning and why people choose to become a therapist.

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Mercedes Pavlicevic writes with clarity and passion, bringing the subject to life with fresh thinking and real-life examples. Here’s a couple of excerpts to whet your appetite…

In music therapy, it is the ’emotional’ creativity – or the individual’s capacity for autonomy – rather than ‘artistic’ creativity, that is being tapped in improvisation, despite the artistic or aesthetic medium being used. (p153)

This comes during a chapter about playing, art and emotion, and shows that music therapy is beyond simply playing music: it can reach an emotional level, connecting with people in ways that speech or other modes do not.

Perhaps, within this passionate discourse, rather than seeing music therapy as ‘alleviating symptoms’, we need to think in terms of intensifying them: invoking and evoking our passions, our rages and excitement, our madness; we need to think in terms of animating our total being, of quickening our spirit. (p182)

Here’s a hint of the passion behind the pen, the knowledge that music is powerful stuff, coming from experience of work with people who have changed during music therapy – leading the author to state that music therapists “need to feel confident in the legitimacy of music as itself; of music as therapy; in the legitimacy of an intuition that is deliberate…”

Books books books

Here’s a few of the books I’ve been reading: some are specifically about music therapy, others are about related subjects. They’re listed in the order I came to them – and many more will join the list, perhaps in a future post…

 

Music Therapy: Intimate Notes – Pavlicevic
This was recommended to me when I first began looking into music therapy, and provides a lot of insight – get a copy if you’re at all interested in the subject!

Key Concepts in Psychoanalysis – Frosch
A run-down of many topics in this area, eg: unconscious, transference, etc…

The Divided Self – Laing
Came across this in the library, a riveting read about psychotherapy and more.

A Secure Base – Bowlby
Attachment, parenting and more topics which can come into play during music therapy.

Musicophilia – Sacks
Tales of music and the brain from a neuroscientist, a powerful book written in everyday language.

Flute, Accordion or Clarinet? – Oldfield, Tomlinson, Loombe
Discusses a range of musical instruments and how they can be used in music therapy.

Presenting the Evidence – Ansdell, Pavlicevic, Procter
A practical down-to-earth guide to music therapy research.

How Music Helps – Ansdell
A wide-ranging summary of all kinds of music therapy information, case studies and further details.

Creative Music in Groupwork – Achenbach
Practical guidance for music with groups, from warm-ups to full activities.

Music Therapy with Children and their Families – Oldfield, Flower
Examples from a range of settings, vivid portraits of music therapy with family groups.