• Onerishta

Music Therapy

Updated: Aug 21

By Catherine Grace Gardner Professional Actress/Singapore

The benefits of Music therapy are wide-ranging. Whether you’re playing an instrument, singing along to a tune you love, or dancing to the rhythm of an upbeat number, music has a unique way of improving your mood, helping to connect us as a community and also may aid in healing from emotional trauma.

Music allows us to express ourselves creatively, and provides us a rhythmic structure for systematic relief from body tension. Music is limitless. One of the best remedies for stress is music. This form of therapy is often linked to moods and different songs evoke a variety of emotions ranging from happy, calm, energetic or relaxed. Audio therapy is an exciting opportunity and should be considered as an important strategy to minimise both emotional and physical pain. Each and every individual have their own interpretation of music, and the beautiful gift in this is that is not one of us is wrong. Music helps us to be in touch with our feelings and is an amazing way to celebrate life. Music therapy provides us with a beautiful trifecta of realising the power of your thoughts in your mind, connecting those incredible feelings to your physical body which in turn provides nutrition and healthy food for your soul.

Exploring the Meditative and Healing Aspects With Classical Music

By Allan Fuller©

Much has been written about the therapeutic qualities of classical music. Whether we are talking about Mozart Babies, the psychological application of Classical music toward healing mental health patients, the enrichment of seniors living in some form of restricted ‘isolation’, physiological uses, or restful responses similar to meditation etc. there can be little doubt that music is more than capable of rejuvenation, rehabilitation and restoring individuals in a variety of ways.

From my own firsthand experience, I was reaffirmed through the first days of our son’s time here in this life. He was born with an aortic defect that required immediate surgical repair, the day after birth. Once he stabilized from the surgery and was moved to a pediatrics ICU, the nurses were keen to chat with me about my musical background and activity. As we had inundated Leo with music from conception whether with my live piano playing (i.e. mainly Mozart, Chopin, and Bach) or recorded Classical Music, he had been lovingly surrounded with it. The nurses suggested we bring a tablet or iPad in and set up a playlist for him so he would feel comfortable, particularly during the night hours when one of us was not at his bedside. Having done so, we returned the next day to see the nurses beaming as we entered, telling us how the entire pediatric ICU ward had collectively been at peace, sleeping well with many fewer than the normal disruptions. Meanwhile, our son continued his struggle, rejecting nourishment. We added more soothing classical music during the daytime, while he napped even when we were present. It wasn’t long thereafter that he began to thrive and 14 days after birth we joyfully brought him home!

Classical music is often viewed as being difficult to understand/comprehend, too complicated, too angst driven, too over-the-top emotionally, or just too ‘boring’ and somber. To draw again from my own experience as a traditional classical piano recitalist, I found myself looking to add more non-traditional dimensions to my performing repertoire. While playing the traditional repertoire that typically is virtuosic, I felt a strong need to inject segments into my concerts that tapped into both my personal meditative / musical experiences as well as provided something similar for my listeners. Through this added dimension, I provided welcome contrast, the result being my recitals took on more depth, meaning and emotional range.

The fact is classical music does require mindfulness to have its true impact upon the listener. That ‘mindfulness’ is really a state of listening that is foreground or attentive listening. The kind of listening that ideally has minimal if any distractions, can be done in one session, and most importantly is led by a commitment to have one’s mind progressively settle into a state of deep awareness and fully engaged listening.

Just what is ‘fully engaged’ listening? Merriam-Webster defines hearing as the “process, function, or power of perceiving sound; specifically: the special sense by which tones are received as stimuli.” Active listening, on the other hand, requires attention, attitude, and adjustment. Primarily one has “to pay attention to sound; to hear something with thoughtful attention; and to give consideration.” Becoming an active listener whilst attempting to have a meditative experience may seem like an oxymoron. But it’s not! One of the most critical attitudes needed for this to succeed within you is to defer judgement. Judgement will interfere with your processes, and block mindfulness. So, for the music to have its fully restorative effect we must relax, let our thoughts and emotions go along with deferring judgement. My best recommendation is to defer judgement until after your meditative listening experience. Reflect, redirect, refine and reengage again next session.

Now, on to some general guidelines for mindful, holistic listening.

The formula is simple as follows:

Choose solo piano, guitar, or harp music for best effect

Pandora, YouTube, Spotify etc.… all have collections of similar selections, or relaxation / “spa” genre channels

Use headphones / earbuds

Eliminate environmental distractions

Start with a 20’-30’ session

Recline or sit quietly with eyes closed

Let the sound vibrate around you

Let your mind ‘go’ with the sounds and your thoughts and reactions come and go naturally just as we do in meditation

If you doze off, you needed the rest

In closing, many feel that experiencing Classical music of any type, requires some pre-education etc. Ideally yes, but it truly is not necessary. I have found that people become hooked on the experience when they shed all preconceived notions and opinions about Classical Music, and simply generate their own qualitative experience. So, I strongly suggest you reserve your curiosity and research for a later time. This can include reading about the composer, the music, the era it was written within etc…All readily available on the internet.

Do remember, when we form our own experiences and opinions rather than succumb to the ideas of others, our experience(s) will be both invaluable and uniquely our own.

I wish you many restorative listening experiences.

Allan Fuller*

Suggested Listening

J.S. Bach: Air from the Goldberg Variations

Mozart: Adagio in B minor: Sonata K. 332 in F major, Movement II

Schubert: Impromptu Op.90 No. 3 in G-flat Major

Chopin: Nocturne in G minor Op. 37, No. 1,

Liszt: Consolations 1-4, S. 172

Faure: Romance sans paroles Op. 17 No. 3 / Nocturne No. 4 in E-flat Major, Op. 37

Debussy: Preludes Bk. 1 No, 1,2,4,7,8, 10, Nocturne, Arabesque No. 2, Reverie, Clair de lune

Ravel: Valley of the Bells (from Mirrors), Pavane for une infante defunte

Grieg: Nocturne Op. 54, No. 4

Mompou: Musica Callada, Bks 1-4

Suggested Reading

Musicophilia: The Healing Power of Music, by Oliver Sachs

In Tune: Music as the Bridge to Mindfulness, by Richard Wolf

About Allan Fuller*

*Allan Fuller is faculty member at LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore. He is a concert pianist, piano teacher and performance coach. You can learn more about him at:

© Allan Fuller : Replication of any part of the article is not permissible by the author without his prior approval. For more information, contact the author directly.

May you have a good Kokoro today

by Anuradha Chatterjee©

The Japanese concept of Kokoro does not lend itself to an easy explanation. It means the mysterious and indivisible unity of the heart, mind, and spirit. When our Kokoro is good, our emotions, thoughts, and feelings are positive, stable, and in harmony.

In the storm and stress of life, fortunately, we rarely are overcome by pure but intense emotions like ecstasy, grief, rage, and terror. However, we often experience a mix of conflicting feelings at the same time, such as joy and sadness; anger and fear; or anticipation and surprise. We also struggle with complex emotions like guilt and shame, envy and pride. Naturally, the mind would tend to lose some of its clarity, the heart its understanding, and the spirit its strength. This is one reason why our body, mind, and spirit are seldom all wholesome, balanced, and connected together. Yet at that very moment of accord and equipoise, however fleeting, can we capture serenity, calmness, and contentment in the same heartbeat?

May you have a good Kokoro today.

©Anuradha Chatterjee, the author would like to thank Madhumita Chatterjee (photography), Debapriya Ghosh, Sayanto Moina, Subhajit Das (models), Monalisa Halder (makeup) and Arghya Chatterjee for their contribution.

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