Music Therapy

  • Description
  • Background
  • Theory
  • Research

Simply put, certified Music Therapists use music to attempt to make your life better. Studies have shown that Music Therapy could help with social, cognitive, physical, emotional or developmental issues. 


First things first: There are no hippies beating drums in floral shirts here folks (no offense intended hippie people).


Music Therapy is a professional discipline & our certified therapists have a postgraduate Masters of Music Therapy, which reflects the expertise they bring to the table in the areas of psychology, physiology, social/behavioural sciences & human development.


Neuroscientists have found that when used properly, music can be an incredibly powerful treatment tool – not just because it’s fun, relaxing & motivational – but because music has a profound impact on our brains & bodies. Music affects deep, emotional centres within the brain, releasing dopamine & increasing the interaction between areas involving pattern recognition, musical memory & emotional processing.


What to expect?


During initial consultation, your Therapist will interact with you through activities such as singing, playing instruments or simply listening to music.


Your musical responses provide them with a measure across a number of areas such as emotional wellbeing, physical & mental health & communication abilities.


With these insights, your Therapist can better understand the issues & formulate a treatment plan specifically for you. Treatment techniques may involve receptive listening and/or active playing within a group or one-to-one setting, & sessions can vary between 30-60 minutes over the course of 8-10 weeks depending on client needs.


Music. Beneficial no longer only for the soul, but also the mind. Find a qualified, experienced Music Therapist in your area now.

Music Therapy integrates music and all of its elements, delivering it through a therapeutic protocol to provide healing of mind, body, emotion and spirit. Music, by its very nature, embodies creative, emotional, structural and nonverbal language. A trained music therapist uses this technique to initiate contact with the client and to help foster a relationship designed to allow the client to gain self-awareness, personal development and self-expression through communication and knowledge.


Music has been used as a tool for healing for centuries. The modern methodology of music therapy was developed in the early 20th century & was delivered through traveling music groups who played for Veterans throughout the country during & after both World Wars. These musicians saw clients receive respite from emotional, mental & physical injuries as a result of the musical structure. Doctors & clinicians attending to the clients began to realise the powerful effects that music played in the healing process & began requesting proper training of musicians for the appropriate delivery of music as a therapeutic method.


  • Music is processed in all areas of the brain & has the ability to access & stimulate areas of the brain that may not be accessible through other modalities.

  • Research shows that music enhances & optimises the brain, providing better, more efficient therapy & improved performance of cognitive, motor & speech/language tasks. Studies show that people perform these tasks better with music than without.

  • Research supports parallels between non-musical functioning & music-assisted tasks, which provides a scientific rationale for the use of music in therapy.


Read on to learn about how the brain processes music & why music therapy works to optimise the brain & provide an efficient therapy.




Motor Skills

  • Voluntary & involuntary movement, motor planning, motor control, motor coordination & balance.


Brain Areas Involved in Motor Skills

  • Frontal lobe - primary motor cortex, premotor cortex, & supplementary motor area. Cerebellum & basal ganglia.


How the Brain Processes Music for Motor Skills

  • While auditory stimuli ascend to the higher cognitive processing areas of the brain, they simultaneously descend directly down the spinal column, causing an immediate reflex-like reaction in muscles of the body to produce more organised movement. 


How Music is Used to Improve Motor Skills

  • Research supports parallels between rhythm & movement. Rhythm can be used as an external timekeeper to organise, coordinate & improve movement.

  • Music therapists can use music to facilitate more functional, organised, coordinated & higher quality movements in fine motor & gross motor skills including motor planning, motor control, motor coordination, gait training & body awareness.




Cognitive Skills

  • Executive functions including reasoning, planning, problem solving, attention, working memory, organisation, abstract thinking & initiation, inhibition & monitoring of actions.


Brain Areas Involved in Cognitive Skills

  • Frontal lobe - prefrontal cortex including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex & orbitofrontal cortex. Limbic system - hippocampus.


How the Brain Processes Music for Cognitive Skills

  • The brain is highly responsive to all elements of music including rhythm, tempo, melody, harmony, etc. & rhythm is particularly organising for the brain. These auditory stimuli ascend to the higher cognitive processing areas of the brain & optimise & enhance performance of cognitive skills.


How Music is Used to Improve Cognitive Skills 

  • Music provides an optimal learning environment, organises information into smaller chunks that are easier to learn & retain & aids in memorisation.

  • Music captivates & maintains attention.  Research indicates that attention is necessary before learning can take place.

  • Research indicates that music is often successful as a mnemonic device for learning new concepts, such as learning the alphabet through the "ABC Song".

  • Music therapists can use music to improve cognitive skills such as attention, memory, mood & executive functioning (higher level thought processing) including academic skills.





Speech/Language Skills

  • Speech production, articulation, comprehension, reading, writing & organisation of language & thoughts.


Brain Areas Involved in Speech/Language Skills

  • Frontal lobe - Broca's Area. Temporal lobe - Wernicke's Area. Parietal lobe - angular gyrus.


How the Brain Processes Music for Speech/Language

  • Speech & singing are closely related in function & proximity in the brain. Speech naturally incorporates musical elements such as meter, rhythm, & the melodic contour of prosody & research shows that music enhances these speech/language functions.


How Music is Used to Improve Speech/Language

  • Research supports parallels between singing & speech production & music's ability to facilitate improved communication skills.

  • Music therapy can enable those without language to communicate & express themselves non-verbally. Additionally, music therapy often assists in the development of verbal communication, speech & language skills.

  • Music therapists can assist a person with dysfunction or delays in various speech/language abilities to learn how to speak through singing or communicate nonverbally through music.



Social-Emotional & Behavioural


Social-Emotional & Behavioural Skills

  • Appropriate social behaviour, impulse control, reward-based learning, motivation & emotional processing.


Brain Areas Involved in Social-Emotional & Behavioural Skills

  • Limbic system - amygdala. Frontal lobe - anterior cingulate cortex & orbitofrontal cortex. 


How the Brain Processes Music for Social-Emotional & Behavioural Skills

  • Music stimulates the emotional & reward centres of the brain & acts as a natural motivator & stimulator for appropriate social & emotional responses.


How Music is Used to Improve Social-Emotional & Behavioural Skills

  • Music is highly motivating & engaging & may be used as a natural reinforcer for desired responses. Music therapy can stimulate clients to reduce negative &/or self-stimulatory responses & increase participation in more socially appropriate ways.

  • Music therapy facilitates improved social skills such as shared play, turn-taking, reciprocity, listening & responding to others.

  • Music therapy provides a non-threatening & structured environment in which individuals have the opportunity to develop identification & appropriate expression of their emotions.





Sensory Skills

  • Sensory processing of the five senses as well as processing proprioceptive (input to muscles & joints) & vestibular (input for balance) stimuli.


Brain Areas Involved in Sensory Skills

  • Parietal lobe - primary somatosensory cortex. Temporal lobe - primary auditory cortex & superior temporal gyrus. Occipital lobe - primary visual cortex. Frontal lobe - olfactory & gustatory systems. Brainstem - midbrain, pons, medulla oblongata & inferior colliculi.


How the Brain Processes Music for Sensory Skills

  • Music involves the auditory, visual & tactile senses & is processed in all areas of the brain, accessing & stimulating areas of the brain that may not be accessible through other modalities.


How Music is Used to Improve Sensory Skills

Music provides concrete, multi-sensory stimulation (auditory, visual, & tactile). The rhythmic component of music is very organizing for the sensory systems. As a result, auditory, visual, tactile, proprioceptive (input to muscles & joints), vestibular (input for balance) & self-regulation processing skills can be improved through music therapy.

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Note: MojoGuru does not recommend any treatment, therapy or particular provider. We do not recommend that you self-diagnose. If you are suffering from a health condition and before starting a new treatment or therapy, we do recommend that you first consult a GP. More