Music Therapy

Music has always been part of my life. An interest in music began in the third grade when I started playing the clarinet. I continued playing the clarinet, but I also added the piano, French horn (briefly), bass clarinet, oboe, xylophone and my latest musical interest was the violin a couple years ago. I was in some sort of musical ensemble whether it was through school or church from the third grade through college.

Music was an outlet for me. I felt accepted as a musician. When the musicians came together in the ensemble, it didn’t matter if you were the most popular kid or the class nerd, your part mattered to the ensemble. Each part was important and needed in order to make the beautiful music that the audience would enjoy. For a kid like me who felt unwanted, music was a way to put salve over the wounds of life and help me heal.

I felt successful at music because I was good at it. I would practice for hours working on my music to perfection. My self-esteem would get a boost since my peers respected me for my musical ability. I needed all the help I could get with my self-esteem. As a product of an alcoholic home, I have battled with low self-esteem all my life.

I felt like I mattered as a person because I was able to make a positive contribution to something good. In my family life, I didn’t feel like I counted to anybody. I practically felt invisible at times. Being involved in music helped me to feel like I mattered as I played my part in the ensemble.

Due to my positive experience with music, I have come to rely on it as therapy now more than ever to help me in times of distress. When my anxiety kicks in, I use music to help calm my anxious thoughts. If I am feeling depressed, I use music to lighten my mood. Sometimes, I get irritable and to keep me from going into a rage, I will listen to music to help soothe my anger.

There are three categories of music that I utilize as my go-to music. I listen to praise and worship music; healing music with words; and healing music without words.

The praise and worship music is music that focuses on God or Jesus. This helps me take my focus off of myself and my issue and place it on the One who can take care of any situation or mood that I may be in at the moment. It always amazes me how God transforms my attitude when I praise Him or He enables me through the music to feel His presence in a huge way. We can become so engrossed in ourselves, that we tend to see the situation from an earthly perspective. Once our perspective shifts to God’s, we have an attitude adjustment or we feel His presence close by.

I have listed below the songs and CD titles that I use that help me to praise and worship.

Brian Sites “Perspectives”

Carrie Davis “Longing for You”

Chris Tomlin “How Great is Our God” (World Edition)

David Crowder “Illuminate”

Jeremy Camp “We Cry Out: The Worship Project”

Newsboys “Forever Reign”

Rebecca St. James “I Will Praise You”

Third Day “Offerings: A Worship Album”

I also listen to healing music with words. This type of music has a specific message to help lift my spirits. In lifting my spirits, I also get a greater sense of God’s presence. I feel closer to Him and feel wrapped in His love. The songs speak truth to me when I am in a dark place. At those moments, I need the light of God’s truth to shine brightly into that darkness.

Sometimes I need a song like Matt Maher’s “Lord I Need You” because I don’t have any strength on my own left. All I have left is my voice to cry out “I need you!” Then there are situations when I need encouragement from Mandisa’s “Overcomer”. I know that if Jesus overcame death and His Spirit lives within me, I can overcome what I am going through with His help. Some occasions I might just pull up the words to the song and bathe my mind with the truth to shut out the darkness. God draws nearer to me every instant I use this type of music to minister to me.

Here is a list of the songs and the artists that I listen to for healing music with words.

Amy Grant “Don’t Try So Hard”

Chris Tomlin “Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)”

Crowder “Come As You Are”

Jeremy Camp “He Knows”

Mandisa “Overcomer”

Mathew West “Strong Enough”

Matt Maher “Lord I Need You”

Mercy Me “You Are I Am”

Natalie Grant “Hurricane”

Plumb “I Need You Now (How Many Times)”

Rich Mullins “Hold Me Jesus”

Tenth Avenue North “Worn”

The healing music without words is mainly classical music and jazz music. That goes back to my different exposures to various musical genres while in college. I have talked before about my irritability and rage. Sometimes I will listen to my “Titanic” CD on my iPod over and over again because the music helps to take the edge off. Other times I need the music to block out the noise that could aggravate my symptoms. It is in these instances, I just need to get lost in the music and words would just get in the way. Classical and jazz are the perfect fit for me when I am in that type of mood.

Below is a list of some of the CD’s that I use to help.

James Horner “Titanic” The Ultimate Collection

The Dave Brubeck Quartet “Time Out”

Jim Hall & Pat Metheny “Jim Hall & Pat Metheny”

Leopold Stokowski “Fantasia”

Pat Metheny “The Road to You (Live)”

Schub, Cross, Miami String Quartet “A Mozart Celebration”

You can use any type of music to help minister to you. Music has the ability to change our mood, attitude and even draw us closer to God. If you haven’t tried using music to minister to yourself in times of distress, try listening to your favorite music. Focus on how the music makes you feel. You might focus on the words, the music, the beat, or how the music swells and gets softer.   Imagine your distressful emotions and situation dancing away on the music notes. Invite God to draw near to you. You will be glad that you did.

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