Speaking of music therapy

After 4 years of training at the CIM, Centro de Investigación Musicoterapéutica de Bilbao, Florencia Ezcurra Torres has just opened her own music therapy practice.

Read my conversation with her and you will discover how music has influenced us since we were children, and how you as a professional musician can dedicate yourself to this discipline.

LumaSuite blog-How music can heal you

Let’s see, does the music cure?

Music is something quite dense and complexe, involving not only unexpected but also uncontrolable actions and effects. Music not only helps someone who is sick, but also someone who isn’t sick. (This duality is precisely one of the essential virtues of music). That is why, with great intuition, all human beings instinctively seek and desire it.

Even if there is no physical disability in a patient, the world of sounds reduces anxiety because the rational part (judgements) disappears and we can connect more deeply. Music does not cure blindness, but it does cure the blind… since it helps people be able to do something on their own that induces them to heal or to allow an improvement in their general personal problems.

… Music or sound?

(Thinking) If we observe the reactions of babies to sound, we realice that the young child is as impressed by a unique, isolated sound as by a more elaborate musical motif. In the treatment of infantile autism, one of the objectives that guides the action of music therapists is to try to discover the sound, or sounds, capable of producing a mobilization in the child, that allows them to build a bridge towards the solution of the isolation in which he or she finds themselves.

How then does the child change their relationship with music?

Sound is part of us, it is present from our intrauterine life, before being born we are surrounded by sounds: our mother’s heartbeat, breathing, etc… The sound has accompanied us and always accompanies us, each person has their own sonorous identity that characterizes them and differentiates them from another.

Transferred to a session of music therapy, you would first recognize the sound identity of each patient, in order to offer a state of well-being using musical experiences. Anyone who also has musical training, is known to have greater auditory and perceptual development, and that is generated by music.

Speaking of musical training, is music therapy a valid professional job opportunity for a high level musican?

The music therapist must have music knowledge, this will help them in their theraputic work, but a musician cannot be a music therapist, first because there is specific training, and also the musician focuses on the aesthetics of the music, and not on all the non-verbal communication that appears there.

In fact, the musician already has a lot of experiences that would help them to practice as a music therapist, but I clarify that being a musician, or being a therapist, is not enough to practice as a music therapist. It is necessary to unify these two parts.

What type of music do you use?

Guided Image with Music (GIM) is made with recorded music, to make internal journeys through the music. There is no specific music, they are usually for example relaxing music, slow, soft, and there are instruments of all kinds, the ones that best reach the patients. In one session, group dynamics and movements such as dances and games are worked on.

LumaSuite blog-How music can heal you

“Music is related to game, we all have a child inside who needs to keep playing. We all have that musical child, who also needs to play music.”

Benefits of music therapy

It stimulates concentration, memory and capacity of reflection. In the social environment it promotes verbal expression and increases the non-verbal expressive repertoire. It allows also to discharge physical tensions in a healthy and creative way, diminishing the anxiety and the stress. Emotionally, it allows to evoke memories and feelings and to express emotions that it would be imposible to express in another way.

I have done my first 40 sessions with two children with down syndrome and there are clear improvements, even without words: they are happier, more spontaneous, expressive, resolutive and more communicative.

Something that makes you angry about music therapy

Well… the people who, without having any preparation, buy some music records, make them listen to them, and make many believe that they are doing music therapy.

I get really impotent, that’s not music therapy. It seems good to me, when we go to the supermarket, the dentist, or to shopping centers there is background music, which is not music therapy… This is like saying ‘I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos about meditation, and now I’m a yoga teacher’.

Some words about the future of music therapy in Spain?

From a personal point of view, it has to be applied in the classrooms, to teach respect, and avoid sexism. In primary schools in Argentina, the figure of the music therapist appears frequently, who, like other education professionals (such as mathematics teachers), contributes to the education of children.