- Mental Health
How To Perform Music Therapy At Home
Practicing music therapy on oneself at home is an easy manner in which to effectively reduce anxiety and stress and promote calm and a general sense of well-being. One can also perform it at work on one's computer if things become to difficult. When selected correctly, music provides an escape to a quiet world where naught can bother one, a world in which there are no words, and in which one simply is.
Now to begin...
Step 1: Choose Your Music
Proper music selection is essential if one is to derive any benefit from musical therapy. This means that it is not enough for one to simply like the music one is to play; the music has to be appropriate to the listener's purpose, either in opposition to the listener's current feelings or similar to them. And it must offer a path into that state of mind that is beyond words, or no good shall be achieved.
In short, the popular genres, rock, pop, jazz, et cetera are inappropriate for therapeutic use. These genres are often too loud and stimulating, and their meaning is too verbally clear; one is likely to find oneself listening too much to the words to escape their influence.
Appropriate genres include classical and new age, the former being the most versatile. These forms are often instrumental fare, which leaves one paying more attention to the music itself rather than to words. However, not all classical music is created equal. While some classical music is purely instrumental, some is sung, usually in a foreign language like German, Italian, or Russian. While some classical music is extremely complex, other works are simple and tuneful. Generally, one wants to avoid the very tuneful fare that can easily become an earworm (a song that sticks in the mind and refuses to stop), and the sung fare in classical is not necessarily a reason to discard the piece if one does not understand the words. Always one must remember, while one piece might be helpful one day, the next it may have no effect. Such is the changeability of human emotion. One book on music therapy, Mind Music and Imagery, by Ms. Stephanie Merritt, lists five pieces, easily obtainable, that can be employed as a starting point in the use of music as medicine:
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 by J. S. Bach (Any of the Brandenburg Concertos will do)
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun by Debussy
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart
Canon in D by Pachelbel
The Four Seasons by Vivaldi
Step 2: Relax
I cannot stress enough the importance of relaxing just before and during the actual music therapy, since the therapy does not promote any mood changes on its own, but helps speed up the process. One has selected the music for playing, one has placed the recording in the player. Just before pressing play, one would do well to take some deep breaths. Breathe in, and breathe out. Breathe in and breathe out. Now one presses Play...
Step 3: Listen And Concentrate
As I mentioned before, music therapy is more than just listening to one's favorite tunes. Most of the time in our culture, music is either an entertainment or merely background noise. A Tom Reynolds writes about how creepy today's love songs are, and there is a reason: nobody really listens to them; if they did, those songs would not be hits. Now the need for the right music becomes fully clear, since, one is actually to listen to the piece of music one has chosen. The key is focus, concentration and at the same time remembering to breathe.
Listen to each note individually, and pay attention to each silence in between, and soon one will begin to understand the music and gain insights into one's own character. The mood of the music shall meld with one's own mood, and one soon drops into that wordless state, where things can be described without words. One's negative emotions have for one brief, shining, ecstatic moment, been eradicated, and peace reigns supreme.
Then the moment and the music fade, and one must begin again at a later time, for as with any skill, the practice of music therapy takes time and routine practice for it to have any long-lasting benefits. Choose another piece of music, take a breath, and actively listen to that.
You are now on your way to a happier, healthier life.