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Music therapy acts as a reprieve for the ailing
ANJANA PRADHAN  14th Aug 2011

yan Sharma used to be uncomfortable with any form of verbal or musical communication. Gyan is autistic and has turned to music therapy to help him live an easier life. His mother Dr Zenobia Sharma says, "Initially, he would not let the therapist participate in any music making; refusing to play an instrument, sing or move." Over time, Gyan began to open up and grew more at ease, allowing the therapist to play and join him in making music. In these moments, the therapist encouraged innovation and making eye contact, which eventually increased Gyan's self-confidence. Three years later, Gyan is learning to sing and loves jamming with the therapists.

Research has shown that music has a profound effect on the human body and psyche, and therapists use it to meet the needs of people with disabilities or illnesses, including cancer and AIDS. "Music therapy uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual needs of individuals of all ages," says Lucanne Magill, a course tutor at the Music Therapy Trust India, New Delhi. The trust, established in 2005 in India, is affiliated to UK's Otakar Kraus Music Trust, founded by Margaret Lobo. A musical talent herself, Lobo, at the age of 20, suffered from Bulbar Poliomyelitis, which paralysed her legs and one vocal chord. "This ended my aspirations of a singing career, but created an opportunity for the healing power of music to reveal itself," said Lobo, the Director of The Music Therapy Trust (India/Nepal).

The therapy works in two ways— active and passive. In the active category, patients are asked to make melodies with the help of musical instruments; whereas in the passive structure, clients are asked to listen to music, where the tempo, volume and texture of the music is emphasised. Each 30-45 minute session is priced at Rs 500. Somesh Purey, a Music Therapist at Music Therapy Trust India, says music therapy only compliments a client's treatment, adding, "We don't promise to cure the client, but (music therapy) definitely improves his/her quality of life."

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