Everyone knows music can redeem a situation. Whether this was a long car journey, or a break-up, or a bad day. We know exactly what music to listen to so we can express our feelings and move on.
Imagine you’re the parent or friend of a young man who’s been hit by a speeding car. He is in a coma. You wait by his bed and think ‘where do we go from here?’ Amazingly, the young man pulls through. Then by using medicine, nursing, rehabilitation, and music, he begins to fully recover.
Music seems out of place among these practices. It’s not fully clear why music has such a therapeutic impact, even to music therapists. Yet in this and other cases, music is crucial in a patient’s recovery.
A music therapist will stand at the bedside of their patient and play normally a guitar or drum. The practice is a leap of faith to loved ones and to the health profession, which is still sceptical. The position music therapy finds itself in is one built on centuries of social practice and decades of research.
The UK’s leading music therapy institute is Nordoff Robbins. They recently told the story of Ed, a 20 year old studying to become a pilot. Ed was hit was a car and went into a coma. Against all odds, he survived. With the help of his music therapist, Ed fully recovered.
Nordoff Robbins is a charity and raises money to continue the practice of music therapy. People like Ed depend on Nordoff Robbins to maintain this work. When music transforms a life, it transforms the lives around that person as well.
Benefits to playing in a musical ensemble
I played in a youth orchestra as a child. It was great fun and very important to my development. I'm now a music tutor and encourage my students to play in a group. Some are quite nervous about playing with other people. To address this, I have written down the ways I benefited from playing in an ensemble.
Do you need a music practice lifehack?
We all know that to be skilled at anything, you have to practice. When we start learning a skill - in this case a musical instrument - we have never-ending enthusiasm and resolve. Then something else becomes a priority and our good intentions go to pot. In short, life gets in the way.