Today, we're bringing you an essay from one of our music therapists, Brittany Taylor.
A Happy Medium
This past weekend, I found myself searching the Internet for personality tests in my spare time. I came across a “Right-Brained, Left-Brained” quiz. Out of curiosity I clicked the link and proceeded to answer all 54 questions, fully expecting the results to be easy to sway toward how you perceive your personality.
I was surprised in the test content, and found it to be more legitimate than expected. Each individual question scores the levels of how your brain processes different types of information.
Not only was I surprised in the way the test was scored, I was shocked at my results. It labeled me as practically 50/50.
How does this pertain to music therapy you ask? Well, I am about to tell you.
This test made me think … as a parent or caregiver, it’s great to have a music therapist (MT) who is well aligned on both sides of the brain. Each side of the brain controls a type of processing that can better help an MT serve their clients!
As you may or may not know, the left brain is the side of the brain that controls the logical or reality-based thoughts. The right brain controls the expressive states (creative thinking). As a music therapist, it’s important to possess all of these characteristics.
The left side controls the reasoning and “numbers” portions of the brain. As a music therapist, it’s important to understand how music is a core function of our brain, and how to mold that into effective therapeutic interventions. Our brains are all wired to respond to music, even though it’s not essential to our survival. This can help to facilitate language--among other things--that might not have been possible before. A properly trained MT will not only understand how the music affects the brain, but also how it works physiologically on the body. An MT can use music to stimulate coma patients or calm down a person who is stressed, for example.
Well … you explained reasoning, but what about the numbers portion of the brain and its importance to a music therapist? Understanding and reading numbers is very important when it comes to research and data collection. Data collection is a process of gathering and measuring outcomes on different domains in a systematic fashion. This allows an MT to track progress and evaluate future outcomes. If an MT cannot take and read data effectively, no progress can be reported. If no progress was reported, music therapy could not have been proven as an effective, reliable therapy.
Most important, the right side of the brain controls our musical abilities – and musicality is a quality that all music therapists must possess. The therapist’s musicality must become second nature to focus on the client and interventions at hand. If the MT is focusing on playing guitar or singing, focus is lost on data collection.
The right brain also controls the ability to be creative, as well as reading emotion and intuition. If a music therapist does not have the capability of making original activities that focus on individual needs of a client or client base, then the clients are not being served with full potential. The ability to construct original activities that are client-preferred can be a time consuming process, but passionate and driven music therapists can create things quite quickly – in fact, most probably find it second nature!
Lastly, intuition is a very important trait for a music therapist to have. Intuition is also referred to as “looking inside” – or specifically through a music therapist’s eyes: looking inside the client’s thoughts, emotions, body language, and so much more. With this acquired knowledge, an MT would be able to change an activity on the spot to better meet a client’s needs.
Now, I don’t recommend pulling out a left-brained, right-brained internet test to hire a music therapist for your needs. In fact, if you are in Fulton County, whether you are a teacher, parent, administrator, etc., I can guarantee you the music therapist serving your client or client base is very skilled in all these areas. It’s just a different way of perceiving how music therapists are serving your students.