as we’ve been talking a lot, here comes part 2 of our interview, which might be my favorite part of the two. Hope you’ll enjoy! If you have any questions regarding music therapy do let us know in the comments below and I’ll make sure to answer them together with Ares, who actually knows about it.
Have a great day!
Sandra: How do you see the current state of music therapy as a field? Are there differences between Europe and the States?
Ares: That is really difficult to say. Generally, the States are pretty far ahead, it’s a bit more established as it has been around for longer. I’ve been lucky to have been trained by great music therapists in Spain that themselves have been trained in the US.
Sandra: What’s the situation like in Spain especially?
Ares: It’s becoming a bit more popular, as there’s a growing public interest in complementary types of therapies that don’t use medication. What I also observe is that programs targeting children will usually get more attention and more funding. Then there are also music therapists in major hospitals in Madrid and Barcelona that have a fixed position, which is great. However, as a music therapist you’ll often be confronted with financial restrictions and a lack of resources. What is also really important in my opinion is that music therapists still have to make a big effort to be involved in the medical network. Teachers, doctors, nurses etc. have to know what music therapists do, vice versa and work together.
Sandra: Could this be due to being a relatively young profession historically speaking that it still isn’t fully established within the medical world yet?
Ares: Yes, that could be a reason why.
Sandra: How did the profession came to be anyway?
Ares: The profession of music therapy in the United States began to develop during W.W.I and W.W. II, when music was used in Veterans Hospitals as an intervention to address traumatic war injuries. Veterans engaged in music activities that focused on relieving pain perception. Doctors and nurses witnessed the effect music had on veterans’ psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional state. I like to compare the history of nursing with that of music therapy as they both started off with the World Wars and despite of being so important never really get the attention socially and politically they deserve.
Sandra: Are there certain ideas or music therapy concepts that people can apply in their daily lifes without having any therapeutic need?
Ares: For sure. Music is beneficial to everyone. Obviously, if you feel healthy and fine you won’t need any form of therapy. However, that music be part of your daily life is super beneficial to everyone. It activates all of your brain, your whole body actually. If you’ll go for a run and put on fast rhythmic music, it will activate you even more. What I also would like to add is that we will usually talk about music that has lyrics. The lyrics however greatly influences how we perceive music.
Sandra: Do you really think that the lyrics are that important?
Ares: Absolutely. We once did a little experiment in Spain, playing a group a song, once in French and once in Spanish. And even though it was the exact same song despite the lyrics, people perceived the songs as very different. If people approach me saying that their kid has trouble sleeping, I will always recommend them to listen to music but always, always without lyrics. That is super important.
Sandra: Even for a kid?
Ares: Yes. Because without lyrics, even for a kid, it will leave room for your own imagination. And thereby you’ll create your own dreams and will fall asleep.
Sandra: That’s actually a good transition to my last question. I have quite a lot of friends that are either pregnant at the moment or have little kids. In what ways could they ideally “use” music in their respective situations according to music therapy?
Ares: Well that’s a field where there’s a lot of research. You’ll often find a paper saying one thing and another contradicting it. Generally speaking, your baby has ears from week 12 on, from week 14 or 16 on they’ll hear you perfectly. So talk to them, they’ll feel the vibrations of the mother. That’s the first stimulus. Studies will often suggest putting on classical music. I would just recommend the mother to listen to the music she likes, because her feeling good will transfer to the baby. In regards to kids: What most studies agree on is the fact that music as having an effect on all of your brain influences your state of mental health and in the end your abilities and your intelligence. The fact of playing an instrument itself is a huge exercise in developing all different types of capabilities, coordination and motoric skills. So I would definitely recommend signing up your kids to music. But very important, let the kid choose the instrument it wants to play.
Sandra: Noted. Lastly, is there anything you’d like to tell people out there?
Ares: Well, what I’d like to tell people is to make a personal collection of songs that mean something to you.
Sandra: How do you mean that?
Ares: I used to sit in in sessions with Alzheimers patients. Patients that hadn’t had an appetite for days or didn’t want to talk to anybody. Or maybe had been feeling angry all day. If the music therapist would play a song that had been hugely popular in their generation, however, they would start eating, talking, moving, even dancing. This effect would keep on for about a half day. There were even situations where family members would come and visit their relatives during or shortly after those music therapy sessions and they wouldn’t believe what they saw. Especially in the times that we live in now with such a huge selection and variety of music, it would be hard to know later on when you’re older which music you were enjoying. So compiling a personal list is a good way to go. In my personal collection for example there’d be a song by the Spice Girls in for sure. It brings me back to a time where I was 11, 12 years old, where I was super happy listening to them in my room. It doesn’t mean that I still think it’s great music (laughs) but it transports me back to a younger me. If a song means something to you, put it in your personal repertoire.