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Last year, whilst in Edinburgh, I had the good fortune to go hear a bunch of fine musicians in the space of about 3 days. (They included Emily Scott, Teitur, Benni Hemm Hemm, Withered Hand, and Alasdair Roberts). Those few days still stand out in my mind – the music connected me to parts of myself that had been a little lost. The music reminded me that those parts still existed and there was some ineffable experience that occurred, best described (though difficult to put into words) as “wholeing”. I was made more more wholly me by the experience.

As I wrote in a previous post about beauty, I find that health (or wholeness) is evidenced by one’s ability to experience beauty (fully feeling the music, or enjoying art, or appreciating the beauty of a sunset). And that we can often see when a person is “out of health” or disintegrated, or “not whole” when we see them not being able to listen to, enjoy, feel, or fully immerse themselves in the music they play or hear.

That is not to say that all music is “beautiful” to all people. Of course it’s not. But I do think that one person’s tastes versus another person’s tastes speaks also to the integration or lack of integration of certain parts of the self. For example, for the longest time I couldn’t listen to rap music (this was before I studied to be a music therapist). OK – you could say that the facts that I was born in Scotland, I studied classical music from a young age, and I wasn’t terribly exposed to popular music, contributed to this “taste”. Of course. But, it’s not just these environmental factors. Something in me was under-developed, or lost, or disconnected.

In the case of rap music, there can be a driving rhythm, a strong bass line, minimal melodic lines, repetitive harmonies. When one really takes all these elements in, on a sensory level, they can awaken sensual, grounded, physical sensations in a person. It was a disconnection to my body that I now realize I was experiencing.When I connected to the music in a sensory way, taking in the elements, listening on a deeper level, I could experience the “disconnected” part of myself. I could become more “whole”, and healthier.

Through my training as a music therapist, and my need to open myself and my ears to many types of music, and the many musics of my clients, I also opened myself to the many forgotten/lost/disassociated parts of myself. As a music therapist, we can guide a client in knowing and accepting the many aspects of themselves, through knowing and owning the many sounds that they make, and the many musics that they listen to. Thoughts anyone?

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