Almost everyone has a favorite song. A song they listen to that makes them happy no matter what, a song that reconnects them with a fond memory, a song that makes them feel strong and empowered. So often we take for granted the power of music and the ways it can move us, connect us and can help us grow.
I’m sure at some point you’ve used music to help you get through tough times or to amp up the good times, and calm the chaotic times, without even thinking about it. Whenever you use music as a form of expression, whether you’re creating it yourself or simply listening to it, you’re using what we therapists call Music Therapy to help you process.
Today I’m going to give you a very,very basic “how to” for music therapy for you to try at home. If you like it you can learn more about the use of music in therapy here. You can also talk to your own therapist about other ways to use music as a means for therapeutic growth*.
Basic Music Therapy DIY
(adapted from this article by Leah Oswanski, MA, LPC, MT-BC)
Step 1: Take a minute, check in with yourself. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, then slowly exhale. How do you feel? Are you tense? Stressed? Anxious? Annoyed? Excited? Happy? Now determine how you want to feel.
Step 2: Select music to achieve your desired mood and make a playlist. Make a separate playlist for each desired mood. You might want your playlists to reflect music that – is uplifting, makes you want to move/dance, makes you feel emotional/sad, and that makes you feel tired/relaxed. Don’t spend too much time on your list, it’s easy to get lost in the details. Try to give yourself between 5-10 min. to create a list or select a song and move to the next step.
Keep this in mind: popular music, or music with lyrics can be distracting, you might get lost thinking about the lyrics and not actually feeling the music. If you’re trying to calm down, look for music with fewer words and more instrumental parts.
Step 3: Begin. Depending on your playlist, you may want to move around and dance, lie down on the couch/bed or floor, sit with your legs crossed and eyes closed or even do an activity like drawing.
Step 4: Check in with yourself again. After a song or two, check in again. Does the music feel like it’s helping you achieve your desired mood? If not, what changes do you need to make? – Change the playlist? Change the way your listening to it? Make any adjustments and keep listening.
More on music therapy and how it works:
*please note that only professionals with a credential in music therapy are “Music Therapists.”