BY BOB FRISBY, M.S.
If you enjoy singing, you should consider joining a church choir or go to a local gathering place of musicians and see if they think you have good singing skills. You could be gifted with a good voice; and certainly singing is just as healthy as listening to music.
In conclusion I would recommend music as a therapy to any human or animal; you just have to figure out what sounds have the most positive impact on that entity. I understand there are some experiments out there that even show that plants react to sounds
I think it's important to pay close attention to the words within the music you listen to. I believe we do better as humans if that music is positive and the story is positive. Some well known songs include encouragement to "drink another beer", or other such negative statement. In the realm of mental health, you sure don't want to drink another beer; one is enough and for some that may be too much. With classical music; no words, just sounds; some acceptable and some not; there is order in the piece; there is a rhythm, a flow so to speak. In classical music there are longer periods to the order, the flow; like a build up to a crescendo and conclusion. This order to the piece is probably very good for a confused or disjointed mind. I suspect that it helps the mind to center itself, perhaps get back to a equilibrium, a sense of direction. It would be a good study to try music therapy as an alternative to electroshock therapy, in those cases where the treatment team thinks they have the time to try this. You would want the client to remain hospitalized during the study to make sure the music therapy had accomplished what the team would have expected from a series of electroshock treatments.
Some of the clients I counseled were gifted musicians and I always admired their ability to play a musical instrument. I plunk away at a guitar but really don't know how to play it well. I tried to encourage them to stay with that skill and never let it slip away from them. Sometimes in the midst of treatment or illnesses, there are gaps in the use of their music; if those gaps last too long, the client may loose the desire to start up again. I'm sure some medications interfere with the ability to start up again, however I haven't seen any studies about this. I believe if you run across this happening to you, bring it up with the person prescribing the medications and work closely with them to get your skill level back up to speed. I believe you can regain this drive, although you may have to work real hard to accomplish that goal. It reminds me of the physical therapists helping me do proper exercises to regain strength in my shoulder; you need someone who knows what there're doing!
If you have never used a musical instrument, figure out a way to use a variety of them and see which one fits you the best; which one carries your sound best; which one you think you could eventually master. Ask friends who have instruments to show you how they work. Visit places that have the instruments and try them out. Eventually buy a used one that carries the sound well and begin to study how to improve using it. Most treatment centers have a room available for such behaviors, at least available for the portion of a day each week. Including such study time into a treatment plan sounds good to me. If your really skillful you could make your own musical instrument.