“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.” ― Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
We are all rhythmic beings, and each one of us experiences a variety of rhythms throughout life. Rhythm is defined as a repeated pattern of movement or sound. When is the last time you paused to feel your heartbeat? What is the rhythm of your breath in this current moment? I encourage you to take a minute to connect with the rhythm of your body. Tuning into your body can allow you to explore what your current rhythm is, and give you space to connect to the present moment.
Rhythm is the key element to any piece of music. Music influences us, whether we realize it or not. Music stimulates our brain and causes changes to our body, behavior, and emotions. If fast music is playing, automatically, our heartbeat will be faster, potentially motivating us to dance or stay energized. In reverse, if slow music is playing, our heartbeat will be slower and may bring a sense of ease or relaxation. Music also taps into the emotional centers of the brain, surfacing a variety of emotions depending on the music we are listening to.
Music alone is therapeutic. It can be even more therapeutic when used intentionally to make changes in the body and behavior, and tap into emotions. Music therapy is a health profession using research-based music interventions for non-musical goals. Music therapy can work with a wide range of individuals to address a patient’s physical, cognitive, social, and emotional needs. Music used within a session is patient preferred, and a variety of approaches are possible. Sessions may include analyzing song lyrics, songwriting, active music making, and music for relaxation/mindfulness.
Something to try: Think of a song that brings you back to a certain time in your life. Think of the scenario, who you were with, and what kind of emotions the song brings to you.
About the Author: Miranda Peyton, MT-BC
Miranda is a board-certified music therapist, experienced in working with a variety of individuals. Miranda’s clinical background includes children and adults within a hospital setting, active military members, children and adults with autism, and older adults. Additional areas of focus include anxiety, bereavement, depression, stress management, and trauma. Miranda is passionate about helping others identify and reach their goals using music interventions catered to a client’s music preference. Miranda’s instruments for therapeutic use include guitar, ukulele, piano, voice, percussion, and recording tools.