Music Therapy – In Relationship

Last week I wrote about “The Jack in the Box Effect.”  (   This demonstrates how infants learn about the world and how to react to it by watching their mothers.  The blog talked about 93% of communication being non verbal and only 7% being verbal.

Usually, when engaged in my Music Therapy sessions, my attention is on my client, where they are, what they are doing, and how to engage and mirror in a way that will facilitate movement toward a more healthy way of being.  However, this week while watching my adult client with difficulties due to a brain injury, I noticed something I don’t usually pay attention to. There was an extra family member in the session with us this week and I was surprised to see that when the music began, how quickly her attention focused on me.  I saw her watching my mouth (for word queues) and my expression intently.  All she was working on, word and name recall, attending, some range of motion, and relaxation was dependent not only on the music but the music maker also.  The music, was supporting, engaging, and focusing her, but she was looking for direction from the the music maker.  She watched my face and my upper body posture as I sang E-I-E-I-OOOO  with her.  She watched to see how loud and how long that O-O-O-O would go.  As we each started to run out of air, we would chuckle together lightly and continue on.

It is immediately obvious with small children how quickly your attitude is detected by theirs. However, with older clients, the feedback isn’t quite as obviously immediate.

When engaging with those with neurological difficulties, the music helps to entrain our rhythms and movements and aides in focusing attention. Then, the music in our stance, facial expression, and eye glance must visually synchronize with the musical language we are speaking.  Our patient eyes waiting patiently for a non hurried response and our joy at its reach portrays our inviting relatedness.  We can always lose our conscious thoughts in listening to pre-recorded music that is adjusted to our tastes and needs.  However, relating to another is what moves us beyond that farther.  When relating and music are combined to compliment one another, the effect allows and invites those who must relate differently and moves us beyond our own limitations.

Antoinette Morrison, MT-BC


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *