Music: The Universal Healer

Hajar Kamel

Music plays an integral role in the day to day lives of both past and present-day societies (Meymandi, 2009), acting as a powerful force in both historical and cultural contexts. Through the creation and consumption of music, many can either process their traumas or incite socio-political movements aimed at causes centering and giving voice to marginalized communities. Scientific studies have provided us with biologically-based evidence of music’s healing effects. As a result, we see the integration of music in medicine, particularly music therapy. Music therapy is defined as an “evidence and art-based health profession which uses music experiences within a therapeutic relationship to address clients’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs” (Stegemann, 2019). However, music therapy’s current form has limitations that impede its population outreach, application, and practice. There is an alternative treatment that I describe as non-traditional community-based music therapy that can reach more diverse populations and can have healing effects. However, this non-traditional approach does not ascribe to the current definition and qualifications of music therapy. In this paper, I will be arguing that music is inherently healing and therapeutic, without it being performed through the likeness of traditional music therapy. The methods of non-traditional music therapy that I will be discussing in this paper are the creation and vocalization of rap, singing, and poetry. In this paper, I will be focusing on musical artists from Southern California to serve as examples of community-based music therapy. I will then discuss the need for a more inclusive, equitable, and culturally competent definition, practice, and application of music therapy, combining traditional and non-traditional forms, advocating for music therapy for all.


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