Music as therapy… Simple, powerful, effective
Dr Loretta Quinn highlights how music can support wellbeing in so many ways… If you haven’t enjoyed music in your life for a while, this may trigger you own re-connection with songs and music you love…
For Loretta it may have been a ‘usual’ day at the office… however when she spoke of that inspiring moment when she led a woman who was in palliative care, together with her family who sat beside her, in song… which resulted in a beautiful few hours together… I was in awe… It helped me feel the grace of such a personal and intimate time in people’s lives… Claudine and I are very grateful that Loretta has shared her insights around this amazing medium… MUSIC … and highlighted how it can be powerful at any stage of life… THANK YOU… again Loretta.
|Your Name||Dr Loretta Quinn|
|City of Residence||Melbourne, Australia|
|Occupation or Experience||Registered Music Therapist, Registered District Nurse|
|Your Passions/Interests||Music and dementia…Music for emotional expression for people who are palliative|
|A favourite quote||“Life gives you what you need to learn not what you want to learn”|
How and why did you get started with music?
I was naturally musical as a child, and then started learning piano. I also loved to sing. When I was nursing, I used to sing to elderly people while showering them to decrease agitation. The acoustic in the showers were also very good! The effect of the music was immediately positive and effective.
How does music support your personal life?
In many ways: actually learning and playing an instrument (piano, singing and guitar) is an escape for me. I also enjoy performing for other people. I create music ‘files’ in my iphone in life topics: for example:
“New beginnings” after a broken relationship
“Exercise” to inspire me to move!
“Spiritual” for when I need to remind myself of higher power, and hand my concerns over to that power.
“Car singy songs” for when I am doing long driving trips and I can sing all the way.
What is music therapy and how do you use it in your professional work?
To be a Registered Music Therapist, you must understand how music works for you, and then all the different ways it can work for other people. You must have knowledge of a wide range of music genres, and be musically very flexible to meet the needs of for example, palliative clients. It is vital that you stay “in the moment” with them, so if they ask you to sing a song, you can sing it then and there, instead of “I will learn it and get back to you in a few days”. A few days later, things most like will have changed and the moment is gone.
Music can be listened to “live” for example, I can sing/play guitar/piano (and I am currently learning the harp).
Someone may ask to listen to their favourite song (pre-recorded e.g. iphone, CD player) with the Music Therapist sitting with them for emotional support.
They may want a way to assist them in expressing difficult emotions, such as their thoughts and feelings put to music. I would sit with the person and with their permission, jot down their thoughts and words, and then put it to music for them. They can guide me in the type of music genre etc that they would like for the song.
The other key skill a Registered Music Therapist is the ability to develop a rapport with the person. Therefore we must be able to relate to people well and be sensitive to their needs. For example sometimes they may “fear” listening to music because of the feelings that song may ‘trigger’. We must be aware of this and respect the person’s wishes. Usually it is later that the person asks for music.
What benefits and value does Music Therapy bring to those going through health challenges or in palliative care?
Music helps people to express, tap into their emotions. It can be an “escape” from the anxieties and worries of current day life. It can promote self confidence through achieving goals such as song writing, learning an instrument etc. It has positive physical effects especially when listening to live music. It can improve moods, such as playing music with up beats and positive messages. It can be a supportive tool when someone wants to have a good cry. It is easily accessible, doesn’t require much energy to listen to. It can be used for social engagement, improving relationships between family and friends.
In what way could people use music for their own therapy?
Just as I have written above, they can choose music to improve their moods, social engagement, and emotional expression, to support in tough times, escapism for e.g. gong to see a live band.
The beauty of digital technology means that we can have any type of music at our fingertips. I have music on my iphone as I have described above. I also have “positive Affirmations” downloaded for when I need to reaffirm my abilities and beliefs about myself. I also have sea sounds and relaxation music for when I need to slow down, or go to sleep. Everyone can also use music in this way. Also, SING! It doesn’t matter how bad you think you sound, it helps your mood, self expression and lung capacity!!!