This World Music Therapy Day, Director of Music Services Simon Procter, discusses the incredible power of music and impact of music therapy.

On 1 March 2018 Nordoff Robbins will be proudly celebrating and supporting World Music Therapy Day 2018. Designed to raise awareness of how music therapy can improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, the day also gives us an opportunity to appreciate the value and unique power of music itself.  

Music moves us all, and it can have a profound impact on the way we feel; it can lift us when we are sad or comfort us when we are down, and at Nordoff Robbins we harness that power of music and use it to change the lives of people who are suffering, isolated or vulnerable. 

Music has always been with us – by our very nature we are musical beings, with a heartbeat and a rhythm to our bodies, which makes us intrinsically receptive to and engage-able in music. It is the soundtrack to our lives, our relationships and our journeys – a communal and relational experience as well as a deeply personal one. People often report a thrill from singing in choirs or playing in bands because of the intensity of the interaction they experience with others – music has an ability to bind us together. But it is also common for relationships and contexts to shape people’s musical tastes, and music can act as a powerful reminder of people or places – it is linked to our sense of who we are, where we come from and how we wish to be perceived.

But more than this it is also scientifically proven to impact us – pleasurable musical experiences are associated with the release ofdopamine into our brains, so music isn’t just something out there – it actually changes what is going on inside our brains, in turn affecting how we feel and how we are able to interact with the world around us.

It is thanks to these factors that music therapy is so effective, because music can reach every single one of us. We all react and we can all relate, in our own ways, making music as a therapeutic tool completely accessible. 

At Nordoff Robbins we meet people in music in whatever way they can contribute, and as such our approach is not prescriptive but tailored to the individual or group of people. We celebrate what people can do and the abilities they have. Music therapy is particularly effective in supporting communication and expression because it does not require words – as we say at Nordoff Robbins ‘when words fail, music speaks’ and this really is the foundations upon which our approach is built. 

Our therapists are united over what the work can achieve – using music to invoke change. It’s about bringing people together and having that sense of community, belonging and shared experience.

World Music Therapy Day will give us all an opportunity to think about what music means to us, but also appreciate its power to change people’s lives for the better.