Ep.18: Music therapy in palliative care: The Beatles reinterpreted to ease the end of a journey

This month, we're featuring a story from Matt's work in palliative care. We haven't yet talked about palliative care on our podcast, but as you may already know, music therapy plays a very important role in supporting those who are actively dying.

Hear an example of how music therapists adapt popular songs to suit the context that they work in, and how important this subtlety to detail is in our therapeutic work.



This month, we're traveling to Japan to present our podcast at the World Conference of Music Therapy! We're looking forward to rubbing shoulders with some prominent music therapists from all over the world and sharing all that we've learnt from the podcast with our profession. Stay tuned on our Instagram (www.instagram.com/collectivemusictherapy) for pictures and updates!

Ep. 17: Restoring hope and meaning: Music therapy in aged care with Eta Lauw and the harmonica man

Music therapy plays an important role in supporting the wellbeing of the ageing population. Not only does engaging in music create opportunities for reminiscing and reflecting on the past, but it creates a unique opportunity for many to feel purposeful, hopeful and even future focused. 

This month, you'll hear from Eta Lauw who is a registered music therapist working in both aged care and special education in Singapore. Eta shares a poignant story about her work with an elderly man who was emotionally isolated and non-compliant with medical procedures and this was affecting his quality of life.

In general, this man was physically alive, but lacked that sense of "aliveness" in his ageing years.

How did Eta work with this man to restore his quality of life? What is it specifically about music, and music therapy that can bring about such change?

Ep. 16: Music, the universal language: Transcending language barriers in music therapy

This month, we're sharing with you a story from Asami's work with a young person of refugee background, who was new to Australia and experiencing homelessness.

The story begins with this young man who attended Asami's weekly drop-in music program and participated by touching and playing every single instrument in the room throughout the session. Despite his obvious enthusiasm, Asami struggled to integrate him into the group activity as he spoke almost no English. 

Walking away from the session, Asami questioned how her program could best be adapted to meet the needs of this young person, and subsequently all other young people she did not share a language with.

There had to be a way to connect without the logistical nightmare of getting an interpreter in at the same time as the young person's infrequent visits; as they say, music is the universal language, right?!

On this episode, you'll hear how Asami overcame language barriers by using technology to provide therapeutic support to this young person.

There's nothing new in the intervention, but it is a reminder to us all that technology provides a strong tool to build social connection and considerate use of it can enhance our capacity to work with those who we do not share a language with.

Ep. 15: Music therapy and neuroplasticity: Rewiring the brain through therapeutic song-writing with Professor Felicity Baker

Thank you for joining us as we bring you our very first episode for 2017!

This month, we're discussing the various ways in which song-writing is used in music therapy, and how writing a song can benefit a person's health and wellbeing.

We're talking about neuroplasticity: "How does song-writing assist in creating new neural pathways post accident or injury?"


We're talking about expressing identity: "What is it about song-writing that allows an individual to express and communicate who they are?"

And we're talking about building community: "What are the ways in which music can assist in creating unlikely allies and relationships?"


On this episode, you'll be hearing from Professor Felicity Baker from The University of Melbourne who shared with us her extensive work in song-writing in both clinical and community settings.

"...I noticed that people were really engaged with song-writing because they could create something that was their own... and it was their own expression of their identity. It gave them an opportunity to explore who they were..."

Ep. 14: Finding vitality: Using music to support recovery from depression

No doubt, these next few weeks leading towards the end of the year will be busy for you, but we hope you'll be able to find a sneaky 30 minutes to listen to our case studies about the role of music therapy in treating depression. Depression affects approximately one million Australians at any given time, and as always, innovative and holistic approaches of care are needed to support the health and wellbeing of individuals, carers and the wider community.

Asami shares a case study from her work with a young person who has been living with depression for over four years. This young person's sole interest was learning the guitar and his story highlights the way in which music therapy can act as a hook or an engagement tool into other services.

Matt shares a case study from his work in acute psychiatry where music therapy played a role in one woman's assessment and positive experiences of being in an inpatient unit. Matt's story sheds light into the way music therapy functions within a multidisciplinary team.

Happy listening!

Ep. 13: Music therapy and Borderline Personality Disorder: An interview with Jason Kenner

This episode, we're talking all about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and how music therapy can support those living with BPD. 

BPD is defined as a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, and marked impulsivity. However, that definition doesn't really shed light on how painful and isolating living with BPD can be. 

What is the experience of living with BPD?
What role can music therapy play in supporting people living with BPD?

You'll hear an interview from Jason Kenner, a lecturer and PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, who has been researching and creating programs to aid in the treatment of BPD. Jason discusses the various music therapy methods he employs in his programs and also shares some of the  participants' experiences of the program itself.

As you may have already figured, BPD is complex and is not something that can be neatly "cured", although many people do find their way out of the disorder eventually. Currently, there are limited forms of treatment for BPD and on this episode, you will be hearing about the latest, cutting-edge research in this field, we're very excited to share this with you!

Ep. 12: Group music therapy in youth homelessness: The secret ingredient is, normality?

When you hear the word "therapy", what image first comes to mind? For many, the idea of "therapy" may still be embedded in the Freudian model of sitting one-on-one with a therapist in a silent room and talking whilst being analysed by the therapist... Perhaps...

In this episode, you'll hear about a very different example of "therapy". Asami shares how group music therapy works in the context of youth homelessness, mental health and trauma, and it looks nothing like this traditional idea of therapy!

Often, music therapists struggle to explain where the "therapy" lies in their noisy, messy and for some, rough sessions but Asami is able to capture and describe the therapeutic process with great clarity. She shares in detail how her weekly, group music therapy sessions look and feel, and she describes the therapeutic aims and benefits that evolve from this group.

From clinical observations such as:

"...if there's a song that for some reason we all come together and there's lots of singing and noise and everyone's kind of locked into a good groove it kind of represents to me that we've all arrived in the space...  they're not thinking about everything else in their lives... and the music has drawn their attention in..."

... to more humanistic observations such as:

"...there must be a huge level of respect of each other to be able to play together..."

...Asami brings to light how different her therapeutic approach is compared to more stereotypical and traditional ideas of "therapy".

Ep. 11: Culturally sensitive practice in music therapy: Crossing cultural divides in aged care, with Eta Lauw

"Culturally-sensitive practice" is such a buzz-phrase in the health and community sectors, but what does this actually look like? And further, how do music therapists work in a culturally sensitive manner?

To help us with this topic, we spoke with Eta Lauw who is a registered music therapist in the sunny island of Singapore. You'll hear a story about how Eta introduced and developed a music therapy program during her time in Australia, at an aged care facility for elderly Chinese people.


Eta identifies as Chinese-Singaporean and beautifully expressed to us how she first walked into the Chinese aged care facility thinking along the lines of, "I know about Chinese people, I know what to do". But when she got there, she was surprised at how little she actually knew... despite being of Chinese origin herself. 

So how did Eta set up her program, what did she realise and how did she make it work? 

Eta's story clearly articulates the complexity of culturally sensitive practice, and highlights the constant reflexive process that needs to occur to run programs in an informed and deeply sensitive manner. This episode is not only relevant to music therapists, but to all professionals working with people from different cultures. If you know of anyone who may benefit from hearing Eta's story, please feel free to share this email with them!

Ep. 10: Can learning an instrument be therapeutic? Can Asami and Matt figure this one out?

In much of our work as registered music therapists, we sometimes find that our therapy sessions look very similar to music lessons. We often ask ourselves whether this is a good way to practice, as well as wondering whether music teaching leads to good therapeutic outcomes.

So, this episode we're asking:

Can learning an instrument be "therapeutic"?

You'll hear our breakdown of the concept of "therapy" as well as gaining greater insight into the similarities and differences between music teaching and music therapy.


Ep. 9: Creating community through music in Jamaica: An interview with Joan Webley

Our podcast often focuses on the ways in which music creates opportunities to build and strengthen a person's sense of health and wellbeing. This episode, we're broadening the discussion to consider the ways in which music can bring health and wellbeing to communities as a whole.

The great thing about technology is that we can reach people all over the world, and this episode we are lucky enough to be joined by Joan Webley all the way from Jamaica.

Joan shared a story with us about a live music venue that she had opened up in her hometown of Kingston, called "Nanook". We thought our chat would be all about how great reggae music is, but instead, Joan spoke about how little access local Jamaicans had to seeing live music and how that also somewhat mirrored a lack of cultural identity and pride in the people she met.

Interestingly, she shared that many young people in Jamaica did not think that reggae music came from Jamaica and how that in itself signified a loss of culture and furthermore, a loss of the community's health and wellbeing.

Through her social enterprise Nanook, Joan witnessed a music community gathering from both near and far and she discusses the way in which accessing live music can contribute to community health.

"... Music is a really easy bridge that begins conversations that might not have been had ... Music allows for exchanges that are not threatening, that are not hostile ..."

Joan's story highlights the importance of music in the community and how we really need to value musical engagement, not only for "clients" or "patients" of music therapy, but for each individual. We hope you enjoy this episode!