As part of the course, we attended a session with Jane Ling. Music therapy uses music to improve the quality of people’s lives and is an evidence-based clinical practice for all ages.
We were greeted by Jane, who gave us an insight into what happens in a music therapy session. After introducing ourselves and our relationship with music, we explored the therapeutic qualities of music directly.
In the first half of the session, we experimented with the huge variety of different instruments, physically spaced across the room. Jane then started playing a beat, and invited us all to respond with whichever instruments we wanted to try. Through this process, we created a collaborative piece of music together, with the sounds of our instruments emanating from all corners of the room. We responded creatively to one another, and the result developed into a piece of music which was atmospheric, chiming and brooding. Regrouping together, we named the piece ‘Chasm’, reflecting the nature of the piece: both its sound, and the ever-expanding depths the piece seemed to take us to.
During the next half of the session, we split into pairs and explored the dynamic between therapist and client, taking turns in both roles. We learnt first-hand how the client leads the session, playing as much as they feel comfortable using whichever instruments they like. The therapist takes the role of listener, responding musically to the creative output of the client. After feeding back to the group about how we found the experience, Jane shared pieces of music produced in music therapy sessions with clients. These included powerful pieces from patients with terminal illnesses finding their voice, and children with developmental difficulties who could not communicate verbally, but could do so through the medium of music.
One particularly moving piece was by a client with a neurodegenerative disorder who was losing the ability for movement day-by-day, to the point where speaking became difficult. However, through the therapy session, he found the capacity to sing and tell his story.