A six-minute video demonstrating the amazing powers of music is circulating Twitterland. The video features Henry, who basically lives in an unresponsive state (he doesn’t even recognize his daughter) until an set of headphones is placed on his head. The stimulation of the music causes Henry to come alive.
Although the video doesn’t discuss the actual field (Music Therapy), it makes it abundantly clear that music has powers far beyond the “musicing” itself (the act of performing music).
I’m sure that any music therapist would note that the response of Henry is above normal, but that music therapy (alzheimer’s, hospice care, retirement communities, etc.) is almost always beneficial. I also like the scene where the care giver is stressing the need for “religious music,” not because she wants it, but because Henry is a religious person who likes the Bible. One of the challenges of music therapists is to find the patient’s (or client’s) own music to help them respond.
And let’s not miss the technology point here…the tiny iPod Shuffle makes this all possible…the patient can be provided with his/her own device at a fraction of the cost of the total care bill, easily synced from a library of thousands of pieces of music–with additional millions of tracks available for download. This makes the job of a music therapist that much easier–imagine the days of hauling cassettes, records, or CDs from room to room.
For more information about music therapy, the American Music Therapy Association is a great place to start.