Aesthetic Music Therapy: A Music-Centered Approach to Healing and Growth
Architecture of Aesthetic Music Therapy
Music therapy is a form of creative arts therapy that uses music as a tool for healing, growth, and change. Music therapy can be applied to various populations and settings, such as children, adults, elderly, mental health, physical health, education, rehabilitation, palliative care, and community. Music therapy can also be based on different theoretical frameworks and approaches, such as psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, neurologic, developmental, and cultural.
Architecture of Aesthetic Music Therapy
One of the music therapy models that has emerged in recent years is Aesthetic Music Therapy (AeMT). AeMT is a music-centered approach that focuses on the intrinsic value and meaning of music itself. AeMT was developed by Colin Lee, a music therapist who worked in end-of-life care for eight years. Lee was inspired by his own experience of listening to Mozart's Requiem, which he considered as a masterpiece that transcended cultural and contextual barriers. He also drew from the work of other music-centered theorists and practitioners, such as Nordoff-Robbins, Bruscia, Ansdell, Pavlicevic, Stige, Aigen, and Ruud.
The main principles and goals of AeMT are to explore the musical potential of clients and therapists; to facilitate musical expression and communication; to enhance musical understanding and appreciation; to foster musical creativity and diversity; to promote musical culture and identity; and to create musical experiences that are meaningful and beautiful. AeMT differs from other music therapy models in that it does not use music as a means to an end, but rather as an end in itself. AeMT does not aim to diagnose or treat specific problems or symptoms, but rather to enrich the quality of life through music.
In this article, we will examine the architecture of AeMT by looking at the roles of music, therapist, client, and process in this approach. We will also discuss the implications and applications of AeMT in various contexts and populations. Finally, we will address some of the limitations and challenges that AeMT faces in the field of music therapy.
The role of music in AeMT
Music is the core element of AeMT. Music is seen as a medium of expression and communication; a source of meaning and beauty; and a reflection of culture and identity.
Music as a medium of expression and communication
Music is a universal language that can convey emotions, thoughts, stories, images, symbols, and values. Music can also facilitate interaction and dialogue between people who may not share the same verbal language or background. In AeMT, music is used as a way for clients and therapists to express themselves authentically and creatively, and to communicate with each other effectively and empathically. Music can also help clients and therapists to access and process feelings and experiences that may be difficult to verbalize or rationalize.
Music as a source of meaning and beauty
Music is a form of art that can create aesthetic experiences. Aesthetic experiences are those that involve a sense of wonder, awe, joy, or transcendence. Aesthetic experiences can also affirm the ontological meaning of life, that is, the sense of purpose, value, and significance of one's existence. In AeMT, music is used as a way for clients and therapists to create and appreciate aesthetic experiences that can enhance their well-being and spirituality. Music can also help clients and therapists to cope with suffering, loss, or trauma by providing a sense of hope, comfort, or resilience.
Music as a reflection of culture and identity
Music is a product of culture that can represent the beliefs, values, norms, and traditions of a group of people. Music can also shape the identity of individuals who belong to or identify with a certain musical culture. In AeMT, music is used as a way for clients and therapists to explore and express their musical culture and identity. Music can also help clients and therapists to appreciate and respect the musical diversity and complexity of the world. Music can also foster social connection and belonging by creating a sense of community and solidarity among people who share or appreciate the same musical culture or identity.
The role of the therapist in AeMT
The therapist is the facilitator and co-creator of the musical experience in AeMT. The therapist is also a musician and a listener; a researcher and a learner.
The therapist as a musician and a listener
The therapist in AeMT is expected to have a high level of musical competence and sensitivity. The therapist should be able to play various instruments, sing in different styles, improvise in different genres, compose original songs, analyze musical structures, and appreciate musical aesthetics. The therapist should also be able to listen attentively and responsively to the music of the client, as well as to his or her own music. The therapist should be able to adapt his or her musical skills and preferences to the needs and interests of the client, as well as to the context and goals of the session.
The therapist as a facilitator and a co-creator
The therapist in AeMT is not an expert or an authority who imposes his or her agenda or interpretation on the client. Rather, the therapist is a facilitator who supports and guides the client in his or her musical exploration and expression. The therapist is also a co-creator who collaborates with the client in making music together. The therapist respects the autonomy and agency of the client, as well as his or her musical choices and preferences. The therapist also encourages the client to take risks and challenges in his or her musical development. The therapist also shares his or her own musical ideas and feelings with the client, as well as his or her feedback and reflections on the musical experience.
The therapist as a researcher and a learner
The therapist in AeMT is not a static or fixed entity who knows everything about music or music therapy. Rather, the therapist is a researcher who constantly seeks new knowledge and understanding about music and its effects on people. The therapist is also a learner who continuously develops his or her musical skills and awareness. The therapist engages in self-evaluation and supervision to monitor his or her own strengths and weaknesses as a musician and as a therapist. The therapist also engages in professional development and education to keep up with the latest trends and innovations in music therapy theory and practice.
The role of the client in AeMT
The client is the partner and beneficiary of the musical experience in AeMT. The client is also a musical being and an explorer; an agent and a discoverer.
The client as a musical being and a partner
The client in AeMT is seen as a musical being who has innate musical potential and abilities. The client is not defined by his or her diagnosis or problem, but rather by his or her musical strengths and interests. The client is also seen as a partner who participates actively and voluntarily in the musical process. The client has equal rights and responsibilities as the therapist in making music together. The client can choose what kind of music he or she wants to play or listen to, how he or she wants to play or listen to it, when he or she wants to start or stop playing or listening to it, why he or she wants to play or listen to it, and what he or she wants to say or do about it.
The client as an explorer and a discoverer
The process of AeMT
The process of AeMT consists of four phases: preparation, improvisation, analysis, and integration. The process also involves four methods: receptive, creative, interactive, and performative. The process aims to create outcomes that are aesthetic, personal, social, and well-being oriented.
The phases of AeMT
The phases of AeMT are as follows:
Preparation: This phase involves setting the stage for the musical experience. The therapist and the client establish rapport, trust, and expectations. The therapist and the client also select the instruments, music, and setting that are appropriate for the session.
Improvisation: This phase involves creating music spontaneously and intuitively. The therapist and the client improvise together or separately, using their voices, instruments, or body sounds. The therapist and the client also respond to each other's musical cues and expressions.
Analysis: This phase involves reflecting on the musical experience. The therapist and the client listen to a recording or a transcription of their improvisation. The therapist and the client also discuss their feelings, thoughts, images, symbols, and meanings that emerged from the music.
Integration: This phase involves applying the musical experience to other aspects of life. The therapist and the client identify the connections between the music and their personal, interpersonal, or social issues. The therapist and the client also explore how they can use music as a resource or a coping strategy in their daily lives.
The methods of AeMT
The methods of AeMT are as follows:
Receptive: This method involves listening to recorded or live music. The therapist and the client may listen to music that is familiar or unfamiliar, classical or contemporary, instrumental or vocal, or from different cultures or genres. The therapist and the client may also listen to music with or without verbal guidance.
Creative: This method involves composing or arranging music. The therapist and the client may compose or arrange music using notation, recording, or improvisation. The therapist and the client may also compose or arrange music individually or collaboratively.
Interactive: This method involves playing music together. The therapist and the client may play music using instruments, voices, or body sounds. The therapist and the client may also play music following a structure or a score, or improvising freely.
Performative: This method involves performing music for others. The therapist and the client may perform music that they have created or learned. The therapist and the client may also perform music for an audience or for themselves.
The outcomes of AeMT
The outcomes of AeMT are as follows:
Aesthetic: This outcome involves experiencing beauty and meaning in music. The therapist and the client may experience aesthetic emotions such as joy, wonder, awe, or transcendence. The therapist and the client may also experience aesthetic cognition such as understanding, appreciation, or interpretation.
Personal: This outcome involves developing oneself through music. The therapist and the client may develop their musical skills such as playing, singing, composing, or improvising. The therapist and the client may also develop their personal qualities such as self-expression, self-awareness, self-esteem, or self-actualization.
Social: This outcome involves connecting with others through music. The therapist and the client may connect with each other through musical interaction and communication. The therapist and the client may also connect with other people through musical culture and identity.
Well-being: This outcome involves enhancing one's quality of life through music. The therapist and the client may enhance their physical health such as respiration, blood pressure, heart rate, or muscle tension. The therapist and the client may also enhance their mental health such as mood, cognition, behavior, or communication.
In conclusion, AeMT is a music-centered model of music therapy that emphasizes the intrinsic value and meaning of music itself. AeMT explores the roles of music, therapist, client, and process in creating musical experiences that are meaningful and beautiful. AeMT has various implications and applications in different contexts and populations, such as end-of-life care, mental health, education, and community. AeMT also faces some limitations and challenges in the field of music therapy, such as the need for more research, education, and recognition.
AeMT is a model that celebrates the power and potential of music as a form of art and therapy. AeMT invites us to listen, create, play, and perform music with curiosity, creativity, and sensitivity. AeMT also invites us to experience music as a medium of expression and communication; a source of meaning and beauty; and a reflection of culture and identity.
What is the difference between AeMT and other music therapy models?
AeMT is a music-centered model that focuses on the intrinsic value and meaning of music itself. Other music therapy models may use music as a means to an end, such as achieving non-musical goals or addressing non-musical problems.
What are the benefits of AeMT?
AeMT offers benefits for physical and mental health, such as reducing anxiety and stress, improving healing, managing neurological and psychological disorders, reducing depression, improving self-expression and communication, and enhancing well-being and spirituality.
What are the skills and qualities of an AeMT therapist?
An AeMT therapist should have a high level of musical competence and sensitivity, as well as the ability to facilitate and co-create musical experiences with clients. An AeMT therapist should also be a researcher and a learner who constantly seeks new knowledge and understanding about music and its effects on people.
What are the phases and methods of AeMT?
AeMT consists of four phases: preparation, improvisation, analysis, and integration. AeMT also involves four methods: receptive, creative, interactive, and performative.
What are the outcomes of AeMT?
AeMT aims to create outcomes that are aesthetic, personal, social, and well-being oriented. Aesthetic outcomes involve experiencing beauty and meaning in music. Personal outcomes involve developing oneself through music. Social outcomes involve connecting with others through music. Well-being outcomes involve enhancing one's quality of life through music.