Music therapy is beneficial for many, but can music therapy be an asset to musicians as well? Music can be very powerful within the brain, from forming positive or negative associations with an event through music, to using a favorite songs to process how we feel. For musicians, providing music to others may be a satisfying or passionate experience, but can become a stressor as well if it is a profession. Gigs non-stop, music related injuries like carpal tunnel, odd schedules due to nighttime gigs, or performance anxiety etc. can put a lot of stress on the mind and body.
Music therapist might be able to provide support to musicians seeking for mental health, music related issues/relationship with music, injury/pain management, and addiction/substance abuse. Deborah Seabrook, a musician and clinical music therapist, explains that music therapists intimate knowledge of how music works allows the clinicians to work with “music related issues at the source.” (Nino 2018, p. 44). In her practice working with musicians, she uses person centered improvisation techniques, in which the musicians make music in the moment in a non-judgmental, creative space for self-expression that is not product driven (i.e. making an album, earning money, etc.).
Music can also be reframed for the musicians to be a coping strategy for pain. Music is a great distraction (playing favorite or enjoyable songs), can be used for relaxation to slow breathing and lower blood pressure, and endorphin release. Music Therapists may be able to work with the musician to develop a plan for using music purposefully for the above coping strategies and for themselves in addition to their careers.
This article is important, because it highlights how music therapy is an option for other musicians who may be struggling with the everyday wear and tear of their career. Often the struggles of musicians are minimized or overlooked and music therapy may be a cost-effective and enjoyable way for them to work through these issues and continue their passion. For more information on music therapy, continue to www.centralohiomusictherapy.com or www.musictherapy.org.
By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC
Di Nino, A. (2018, March). Music Therapy For Musicians. Canadian Musician, 42-46.