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Danielle Gomez

Music Therapy in the Private Lesson Environment

January 8, 2012 at 12:40 AM

The process of learning or participating in music is therapeutic by nature. It has been scientifically proven that musicians develop certain areas of their brain that non-musicians do not (see works by Oliver Sacks). Even those who do not play an instrument will use music to affect their mood. For example, people will listen to different types of music in order to become excited versus trying to relax.

One of the most interesting things about music is that it stimulates both the logic/math (tempo, rhythm) and the creative/artistic (expressing yourself, creating beautiful tone) parts of your brain at the same time. This means that music is not a pastime that you can just partially focus on if you wish to be successful at it.

The idea behind the field of Music Therapy is to use music to work on a goal that may not necessarily be musical. Due to the fact that playing an instrument requires such a wide range of skills, a music therapy patient may work on anything from muscle development to using it to redirect emotion.

Obviously, every individual has different needs. But it’s important to know that there is a lot of crossover between the two fields. The private lesson environment is only limited to what you, the music student, want to get out of it. It could just be strictly learning a skill. But there’s also the potential to delve deeper and use the time to develop other aspects of yourself as well.

From Kevin Keating
Posted on January 9, 2012 at 1:08 AM
Completely agree. I find that no matter how bad a day I'm having or what (or who) I might be upset with, as soon as I get my fingers around the neck of an instrument and feel those strings it all goes away.
From Danielle Gomez
Posted on January 9, 2012 at 1:23 AM
As much as I moan and groan about having to practice, it's one of the few (only?) things that I do where I'm completely focused on that task and not thinking about 12 other things I have to do later.
From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on January 9, 2012 at 1:51 PM
Danielle -

I agree that there is a creative part of the brain musicians use. I used to paint portraits and stuff. I used watercolors and acrylics and made a pretty good living on the side doing it. When I started playing the viola and violin, my family became upset and wanted to know why I stopped painting. I've been trying to tell them that the creative energy I used for painting is not dead, it's still there. It's just been RE-DIRECTED. Into music.

---Ann Marie

From Danielle Gomez
Posted on January 9, 2012 at 8:39 PM
That's why I write both fiction and non-fiction on the side - to keep the creative juices flowing. If I fixated on music all the time I think I would stagnate. Other creative outlets help me keep the bigger picture.
From Terry Hsu
Posted on January 11, 2012 at 2:46 PM

The entire music therapy field is intriguing to me, but I also find it a bit puzzling. When I read about music therapy it seems like it's basically appplying the benefits of making music to one's life or to another person, an audience member if you will.

But how does one focus the musicmaking to address something in particular? For example, say someone wants to be more assertive, or wants to break down some mental block they have with math? Can I use the violin to address those types of issues? And can I do it on my own, or do I need the help of a music therapist?


From Danielle Gomez
Posted on January 12, 2012 at 9:06 AM
Well MT may not always involve the playing of an instrument. Sometimes they'll do activities like moving to music or composing in order to accomplish the goals.

Since I don't know you, I have no idea if you would need an MT or not =) I mean, that's like asking if you really need a physical therapist or can you just work through the pain yourself. Everyone is different. But I would definitely recommend talking to an MT just to see.

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