Ian Laurence Kerr
Individual, Couple & Family Counselling
MUSIC & THERAPY
One thing which really interests me is the relationship between music and therapy.
Making music with others is commonly reported as a therapeutic thing to do, whether it’s playing in a band, orchestra, or singing in a choir … or any other musical activity.
I have been running a choir in Sydney Australia, called “Jonah & the Wailers”, and this is our 20th year of singing. I have also had therapy in my life for quite some time, about 40 years in fact, firstly as a client, and then later as a practitioner, and it never ceases to amaze me, the comparison between singers coming to singing, and clients coming to therapy.
Clients coming to therapy usually come because they want to talk something through in life … something which is important to them right now, and a therapeutic session gives them, many things, but one, is the opportunity to speak about that topic, and be heard without interruption. Simply being heard, without interruption, is usually therapeutic in itself, as the client can say things out loud, and even correct them as they go … which has a clarifying effect on what they’re thinking. One common source of anxiety in our lives is confusion, so “working out what you think” is often one of the most powerful things you can do. Working out “what we think” often has a really calming effect on the emotions, and brings a sense of relief, even if you know that what you need to do in the future is going to be difficult.
Sometimes, singers will come to choir rehearsal having had a really hard day at work, and say before the rehearsal starts, that they were really thinking twice about coming to choir. At the end of the night, I usually check with the person, and almost invariably, they’ll speak about their sense of relief, and often say something like they feel like they’re walking on air.
Isn’t it curious that the two activities are in a sense, quite different. In therapy, a session allows a person the opportunity to really go deeply into something, to achieve a sense of relief. In a choir rehearsal, singers in a sense, try to get away from their difficult day. It’s a bit like “escapism”. They become engaged in their task … getting their notes right … getting their words right … following the conductor … comparing what they’re singing with the people around them … hearing the beautiful harmonies that they’re part of … and whatever was happening during their day has been left behind them for the duration of their rehearsal … and they too feel a sense of relief.
In other words, we seem to be able to get a sense of relief in life, if we address what’s going on for us in life, or … if we don’t address what’s going on for us in life. For the singer, the thing which was tiresome during the day, may still be there … maybe as a problem to be solved tomorrow … or maybe as a problem to be solved in the longer term, in the form of a job change … but it the short term, it teaches them something else. It teaches them that life is not all about what we do during our day. It teaches them things like the value of “Life balance” … it’s teaching them about the magic of music … the magic of connection with others … the magic of friendship … ☺31/03/2016