Spl Ed: Music Therapy

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When you heal, you begin with do-re-mi

Devparna Acharya | TNN

HEALTHY DOSE OF HARMONY: Elizabeth Mathai of the Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu uses music therapy to stimulate children with multiple disabilities


They play, they sing and sometimes even compose to heal. Music therapists believe that a person suffering from any medical problem from hypertension and stress to pain and fear will heal faster if they get a planned dose of music over time. And music therapy is slowly gaining popularity in the city as people look for alternative ways to get well soon.
“Indians were the pioneers of music therapy and it has existed for over 5,000 years. It is now well researched and does wonders for patients,” says Dr T Mythily, cognitive neuro psychologist and music therapist, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.
Therapists either give importance to listening, known as passive form of music therapy, or get patients to participate, which is the active form of music therapy. “The active form is more to do with movement. Patients suffering from disorders such as neurological aphasia or receptive or expressive aphasia need active music therapy,” says Mythily. Passive music therapy is used to improve concentration and memory, and reduce stress.
Elizabeth Mathai, a music therapist who has been at the Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu for 15 years, says therapists use music as a tool to bring out what he or she wants from the person. “You need to key in the right notes to get the reaction you want,” she says.
“Many children have difficulty walking or moving. I use music, especially with rhythm and beats, to make them respond. I have seen wonders happening in my class,” she Elizabeth, who manages a class of 15 children with cerebral palsy.
Twelve-year-old T Sudha (name changed on request) is autistic and visually impaired. “She has not produced even a single sound so far,” says Elizabeth. “But she starts clapping her hands the moment I play the song, ‘If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’. Music is a wonderful way to get people to respond.”
Mythily makes is clear that a person need not be musical or even a music lover to respond to therapy. “We target the right hemisphere of the brain with music. The result will be slower if the person starts enjoying the music because it means he/she is engaging the left hemisphere as well. So people who don’t enjoy music actually show better results,” she explains.
Among children, music therapy is often used to increase concentration, enhance speech fluency and reduce hyperactivity. Elizabeth says that music calms as well as disciplines the children in her class, many of whom have multiple disabilities. “I usually play the drums at the beginning of my class. Until I start playing the drums, they don’t enter the classroom. They march into the room to the beat,” she says.
The therapy’s popularity is growing too. Twelve years ago, when the Prahlad Music Therapy wing was established for research purposes as part of Apollo’s music therapy department, Mythili did not get many patients. Today, her clients range from expecting mothers to policemen who want to battle stress and anxiety.

Source : TOI

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About G...

Evolving and revolving! Douglas Adams & Woody Allen are my soul mates from another era. My quirkiness is an eclectic mix of Jess (New Girl), Dharma and Carrie Bradshaw. Sharing my birthday with Paulo Coelho & Stephen Fry, i'm always reading a book and enjoy having engaging conversations about life and love. I take children, wit and play seriously, very seriously. I'm a renaissance soul who enjoys yoga, vodka with cranberry and doodling. Working in the field of Education and Story-telling, there are only two things i look forward to: Knowing myself and Everything that matters!

One response »

  1. I found that this article was pertaining to the research i am doing now on arts in therapy for my Masters thesis. music is one modality that i hope to explore,. would it possible for you to share Ms. Mathai’s details?

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