At one point or another, many musicians find themselves in a conundrum. They love playing music and want to make a living from it, but either can’t earn enough from performances or want to make more of an impact.
If that struggle sounds familiar, music therapy might be just the profession for you. It uses the healing power of melody and rhythm to help people with conditions from autism to cancer.
To learn about three of the different types of music therapy and why they’re so beneficial, keep reading.
1. Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)
Neurologic music therapy (NMT) is founded on the idea that music changes the way our brains behave and function. It’s focused on returning lost function to those who have traumatic brain injuries, strokes, or other neurological disorders.
NMT-based musical therapists consider music to be a specific “language” that’s hardwired into the brain. They use rhythm to help retrain motor responses, like tapping your feet to a beat. Simple melodies can help people regain audio perception skills and practice vocalization.
This style of therapy can also help people with an autism spectrum disorder to communicate without words.
2. Group Singing Therapy
Singing along to simple, catchy pop songs and musical exercises may just sound like a normal afternoon activity to a musician. But for people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions, it’s a life-changing therapy that can help them regain their voice.
Scientists and doctors have known for a long time that people who struggle to speak can often sing without much difficulty. That’s because normal speech and singing are controlled by different parts of the brain.
Music therapists are using this to their advantage. Parkinson’s is known for taking away the voice of its victims little by little. But engaging in group singing therapy can help people re-learn how to project and enunciate, making conversations easier.
Group singing therapy can also help those with a stutter, people who’ve had strokes, and people who’ve lost their voice from radiation therapy.
3. NICU Therapy
It makes sense that people who’ve heard music their whole lives would find it therapeutic. But how does music therapy work for babies who are too young to understand what’s going on?
Amazingly, even premature infants find music to be soothing. Some think it’s because gentle rhythms and soundscapes mimic being in the womb. Others believe babies instinctively love songs because it helps their brains develop.
But regardless of why infants are drawn to music, its effects on their wellbeing can’t be ignored. Researchers have found that playing music for preemies in the NICU helped reduce their heart and breathing rates. Babies also displayed less agitation when they listened to lullabies.
That’s why some hospitals are keeping music therapists on staff in the neonatal units. They use the power of song to calm sick and stressed infants, encourage breastfeeding, and help parents bond with their new child.
Does One of These Types of Music Therapy Sound Interesting to You?
There are so many types of music therapy with different applications that this list only scratches the surface. But if any of the ones you read about pique your interest, it might be a great way to use your musical talents for good.
For more ways to take advantage of your creative skillset, make sure to check out the other posts in our music section.