Response to Musical Therapy by Brain Abrahms


There is a difference between making or playing music, and playing musically in any setting. Musicality incorporates an entire person’s being. If a professional musician doesn’t add the extra nuances and style to what is played, the musician would be just “playing the notes on the page”. There would be no communication to the audience. Musical therapy is not a proper term, as discussed in the column Musical Therapy by Brain Abrahms. Personally, it doesn’t seem like the misuse of the term should be something to fuss too much over. Every therapist wants to be taken seriously so here the issue is really having clients and professionals understand music therapy and respect the profession. Perhaps because music therapy is still a developing field, everyone has become a little sensitive to having proper respect and recognition. This is where the issue of proper terminology has originated within the field of music therapy.

When clients proclaim to other patients, family etc. “I just had musical therapy!” or “I just was in music”, they are not necessarily wrong. In fact, musical therapy is something that I believe music therapists need to recognize, understand and incorporate into their practice. Musical therapy is part of the music therapy experience for both the client and therapist. What I mean by this is in agreement with the realization Abrahms makes during the column. The artistic expression that is innately a part of music creates a deeper meaning for any intervention during music therapy sessions.

As a therapist, one has to stay connected to the musician he/she is. Music therapists are always focused on the client and their needs and wants. Having the music therapist connect to their musicality will better their ability to not just provide great music therapy, but quality music therapy. We want to make the music that is used for therapeutic goals to connect with the clients and for them to have emotional responses. This can also lead to great client-therapist connections during sessions, which can promote healing, an element Brusia includes in his definition for music therapy.
Being musical is a way of creativity. Many people have the ability and potential to partake in creative activities. That is what makes music therapy a service that many people can relate too. By focusing in on the creative experience being musical, and not just music, the benefits may stay with a client long beyond the actual session.

Essentially, music therapy is different than any other discipline. We are a combination of many things and in ways we are completely our own. By adding quality to the musical experience used in sessions and having therapists connect to their own musicality, clients will pick up on this and emotionally experience the session as a fully embodied experience.
So let the clients call it “musical therapy” if to them that is what it has truly been for them. Let them proclaim they “had music”. If they owned the music by personally connecting to it and truly felt the experiences in a musical way, then they have benefitted greatly from music therapy services.