The power of music is demonstrated all around us, and can trigger a wide spectrum of emotions in the human mind. As a child, I remember how playing random notes, sitting at a piano with my brother and sister, created a joyous break from the stressful routine of family drama. In an imaginary example, a horn signifying the last moments of a soldiers life at a funeral service, might trigger tears of respect or give closure to loved ones. As a performing musician, I also realize that melodies not only affect listeners, but the act of creating them also has an internal effect. In similar ways, music can be used to address emotional needs on a clinical level. This is the concept of music therapy. According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy uses the act of creating music, or the effect of melodies and sound to tend to a patients needs socially, mentally, or physically. Not only can music therapy address areas in the disabled, or mentally ill people of all ages, but it can also help healthy individuals. They list that therapy sessions could be customized to deal with stress, distract the mind from a painful feeling, help those in need to show emotion, improve memory, help communication skills and can also help individuals physically. Music therapy is a legitimate therapy that can improve the quality of life for those suffering, and should be covered by all major health insurance and Medicare.
Why does Music Therapy seem to be a new concept among the general public? Although the use of music therapy in the medical field is growing and it is still considered by many to be a new alternative, the concept of music therapy dates back to Plato and Aristotle’s literature. Following World War I and II, artists of many genres visited veterans hospitalized for post war psychological trauma. The reactions that music had on hospitalized veterans proved to be successful, causing medical professionals to employ musicians. However, they realized that hired artists needed education prior to working in a medical environment, thus creating a need for university courses. The first music therapy degree program was instituted in 1944 at Michigan State University. More than half a decade later, in 1998, The American Music Therapy Association was established (American Music Therapy Association). There had to be a way to make sure every hired music therapist fully understood this reason and the principles behind it.