A SOUND FOUNDATION
From its humble beginnings of assisting in the recovery of wounded soldiers in World Wars I & II, music therapy’s earliest mention comes from an unsigned, American article in Columbia Magazine in 1789, but it’s roots have been said to stretch as far back Ancient Greece according to Ayushveda, an online blog network. The profession since then has grown modestly since 1950 with the birth of the National Association of Music Therapy (NAMT). But in 1971, the American Association of Music Therapy was founded, introducing alternative perspectives on the certification and training of music therapists than that of its predecessor and sister organization the NAMT. Together in 1998, both organizations unified to create the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) making it the axial authority on all things regarding the practice. Internationally, the World Federation of Music Therapy or (WFMT) is a global, non-profit organization seeking to advocate and promote music therapy practices around the world making the sound of healing world-renowned.
This new form of therapy often used in hospitals, hospices and many other rehabilitative institutions soon spread to become an applied science, but failing to become a primary means of clinical medicine due to the lack of “consistent” results making it untrustworthy and a supplementary form of medicine. Regardless of its status in contemporary medicine, music therapy has been most effective in its endeavors of pain control, comfort and relaxation in both terminally ill patients and those who suffer from autism and cancer. Biologically, a study conducted by Barry B. Bittman MD, CEO and medical director of Meadville Wellness Center in Meadville, PA concluded that group drumming (a type of music therapy) significantly increased the body’s production of “killer” T-cells and lymphokine cells to patients who elected to receive this alternative means of medication.
Furthermore, Clarissa Karlsson, a board-certified music therapist in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C points out that advancements in music therapy theory have gained national attention via medical journals and practitioners of the profession alike through the studies of Dr. Michael Thaut, PhD.
With his definition of neurologic music therapy and applicable techniques, scientists have been able to verify the effects “music medicine” has on the brain and define a medical triumph which was previously ambiguous to a skeptical medical community. Vast improvements in deficiencies including speech, motor and cognitive processes have been studied and reported to further emphasize the contributions music therapy has provided to the healthcare industry. Board-certified music therapist Nicole Bowen offers a more in-depth explanation on the biological link music has with the body below;
DOUBTS & LEGITIMACY
Christopher Steele, a Howard University senior majoring in music therapy offered an explanation as to why the practice isn’t as respected as it should be saying, “Scientists don’t trust it, they feel that it is too inconsistent to be a primary means of treatment which is why they labeled it as an alternative medicine.” But board-certified music therapists and drum circle facilitators like Heather Davidson who operate in the Washington D.C-metro area, believe that the misconceptions of music therapy are an opportunity to introduce its principles and feats, remarking;
“One reason is because music therapy is a relatively young profession, and because of that there haven’t been the kinds of studies that need to be done to prove it…to have the hard data that most scientists want behind what’s being touted. And that’s getting better and better, there are more and more studies coming out that show the positive effects of music therapy. But it’s difficult though because it’s not a hard science. You’re not dealing with mathematical formulas, you’re working with human beings and creativity.” -Heather Davidson MT-BC
But who benefits most from music therapy? The answer is…everyone! With music being such a universal language, the effects of music on the brain have had lasting impacts both positive and negative. But the impression it makes while healing appears to be the most noticeable mark in the medical community given that music therapy is most efficient in helping autistic children/adults communicate or helping Alzheimer patients remember lost memories. All things considered, through music therapy, healing never sounded so good.