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The art of music is unique to each person’s palate. How many times have you gotten into debates with someone opposing their taste in music or having yours challenged? I know I’m guilty of not comprehending how on earth someone wouldn’t understand the beauty of Country music. With my music-speaker on full blast and a glass of wine, the element of the storytelling behind the music manages to help me escape. My energy and mood changes after listening to Country music. This leaves me wondering if there’s a link between music and therapy.

Conversations about mental health are being normalised (as they should be) and this, of course, is a great move to healing as a society. Amongst many mental health practices such as confronting your emotions, consulting a psychologist, being intentional about self-care, is music therapy – using music to take care of ourselves mentally enables us to connect deeply with our emotions. 

To find out more about the benefits of music therapy, I spoke to Music Therapist, Karen de Kock from Vista Clinic, and Lesedi Seleke who shares her own experience.

Music Therapy Helps Release Emotions 

“Music has the power to release emotions that are difficult to hold. By listening or actively playing music, we can feel the music in our bodies, which may shift a heavier emotion to a lighter feeling,” says de Kock. 

Lesedi Seleke, has found music therapy beneficial as she struggles to articulate her feelings at times. 

“When attending music therapy, the world doesn’t exist. You become so calm and relaxed,” she affirms.

Seleke also shares that music therapy is her new form of being to the extent that she even bought herself a Djembe (a drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa, with a rope-tuned, skin-covered goblet). She plays the Djembe multiple times to release emotions. Apart from using drums, de Kock says that she frequently uses the oldest human instrument in her sessions, ‘’I use a lot of vocal sound-making and singing in my work. The reason being that the human voice is the oldest instrument. We all have one and when we sing, we are the instrument and the player,” she says.

Music Therapy Helps Strengthen Mental and Physical Health 

De Kock continues to share that by making sounds, we build a bridge between what we feel inside, and what we vibrate out into the world. “We also strengthen the bridge between our head and the rest of our body. When people sing together, they build bridges between one another – which breaks the sense of isolation that often result from mental health issues,” she explains.

She continues to share that emotions such as anger, and frustration may be dealt with by songs that are ‘pumping, loud, and strong,’ therefore meeting the strong emotions, while songs which are gradually less loud, less pumping, towards an emotional state are more calming.   

Seleke says that her mental state is much better now since she started music therapy. ‘’Music therapy really helped me deal with my anxiety attacks. It really taught me how to stay calm amid my reality. Now all I do is plug my headphones or play my Djembe everyday as a form of healing.’’

Is Music Therapy for People Going Through a Tough Time? 

So, I’m sure you are wondering, is music therapy only for those going through a tough time? Well… that is a definite no. 

‘’Music therapy is for anyone who wants to explore a deeper level of meaning in their life. People who would like to explore their creative side, and for people who would like to experience a connection to the greater cosmos. Music therapy can offer an emotional and physical release but can also be an intensely creative and spiritual experience,’’ explains de Kock. 

She concludes by giving us some benefits of listening to music.

Five Benefits of Listening to Music:
  • Emotional regulation and introspection.
  • Increased levels of serotonin.
  • Decreased blood pressure.
  • Lowered levels of cortisol.
  • Uplifts Your Spirit.

What kind of music do you gravitate to for uplifting and what emotions does it usually evoke? 

Let us know in the comment section below.