Ta …Ta… tadaaaa …
Boom Boom Boom…
Chances are, as you read the aforementioned words, you sang them in your head.
Relax… You do not have Auditory Hallucinations, also known as Musical Ear Syndrome. You might just have an earworm: the phenomenon where you can’t get a particular song out of your head. (I know; it has a name!)
Music is as powerful and deeply-rooted as they come.
Music does not discriminate by time, age, sex, ability or disability, geographic location, race or ethnic background. Just think of the endless list of great artists, from Fela Kuti and ABBA to Michael Jackson and beyond. (Yes, I am clearly showing my age here.)
The great unifier and liberator dates back more than 40,000 years! Songs, songwriters, singers and composers are that old. It’s crazy, huh?
What makes music oh so magical is the effect it has on physical, mental and even spiritual well-being. Heck, even angels are written to have sung/sing melodies.
According to the American Music Therapy Association, “The clinical and evidence-informed use of music interventions to accomplish individualised goals within a therapeutic relationship is defined as Music therapy”
On the great African continent, we have a rich history of music therapists such as herbalists, faith healers, native doctors, and so many others.
History aside, why is music therapy so important, and why should you consider it as part of your mental well-being routine?
Here are some reasons:
- It gets you in your feels: Music has the power to evoke strong emotions and can serve as a channel for expressing and processing complex feelings. Whether through lyrics or instrumental compositions, music can help individuals express their emotions, including happiness, sadness, anger, or hope.
- Stress reduction: Listening to calming or soothing music has been shown to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Slow-tempo music, nature sounds, or instrumental tracks can be particularly effective in inducing a state of tranquillity and reducing anxiety.
- Mood enhancement: Music has the ability to uplift mood and create a sense of happiness or joy. Upbeat and energetic music releases endorphins, the brain’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can improve overall mood and provide a temporary escape from negative thoughts or emotions.
- Self-reflection and introspection: Certain genres of music, such as introspective singer-songwriter compositions or instrumental pieces, can encourage self-reflection and introspection. Engaging with such music can help individuals gain insights into their thoughts, emotions, and life experiences, facilitating personal growth and understanding.
- Coping mechanism(s): Music can serve as a healthy coping mechanism for individuals dealing with mental health challenges. It can provide a distraction from negative thoughts, offer comfort during difficult times, and act as a source of support and inspiration.
- We are one: Music has a unique ability to connect people and create a sense of community. Attending concerts, participating in musical activities, or simply sharing your favourite tunes with others can promote social bonds and alleviate feelings of loneliness or isolation.
- Saved the best for last: Music therapy is a recognized form of treatment for various mental health conditions. Music therapists use music-based interventions to address emotional, cognitive, and social needs and assist individuals in managing symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental health disorders.
It’s important to understand that while music can have positive effects on mental health and general well-being, it is not a substitute for professional help. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, it is recommended to seek support from qualified mental health professionals.