Stuti Chandhok was only six when she started learning Hindustani classical music. While growing up, she also dabbled in modelling and pursued other creative interests, but it was music she was passionate about. I understood very early musics power to bring about positive changes in people, especially children, and I strongly believed that I could learn, experiment and teach others, says Chandok. What followed was a course in music therapy under UK-based music therapist Margaret Lobo.
Today, Chandok conducts workshops for company employees, works with children with learning disabilities and with a host of other people with her musically-inspired solutions. Many people are still sceptical about the importance of music therapy, but if you ask those who have experienced it, they will tell you a different story, says Chandok.
Music therapists may be common in western countries, but the field is being taken seriously in India in recent years. Whether it is in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, or even in stress-filled company offices, you will find music therapists actively involved in all these areas in the West. India is also waking up to their importance, says T.V. Sairam, president, Nada Centre for Music Therapy, Delhi. Sairam offers a distance learning programme in therapeutic application of sound and music.
According to Sairam, a natural interest and bent of mind are required to study the subject.
Rashmi Ravi, a classical musician who has been pursuing a distance learning course in music therapy, says she can now put her musical skills to better use. I used to teach music, but after this course I can use it as a tool for the betterment of people,says Ravi.
The therapeutic use of music has been known for a long time, but it is even more beneficial when it is administered by professionals. For instance, according to Dr T. Mythily, head of the music therapy department, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, if the right kind of music is introduced from the early stages of pregnancy, it would be beneficial for the mother and the foetus. A 20-week foetus can hear and we at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai play music in our maternity wards, says Mythili.
Music therapy is used in hospitals like Apollo and others to treat stress and strain, fear and anxiety, depression and to enhance concentration and memory in children. It is also used to enhance the quality of sleep and treat patients suffering from insomnia.
Apollo offers an advanced medical music therapy course, which is open to postgraduate students of psychology and music. The course is also open for doctors. The three-semester course at Apollo costs around Rs 30,000 per semester. The course is on a par with those in western universities with credit systems and based on assignments, and being graded accordingly, says Mythily.
The Mumbai Educational Trust Institute of Alternate Careers (METIAC) recently introduced a certificate course in music therapy. Music has always played an integral part in the development of students here. And we thought that the introduction of this course would benefit everybody, says Sunil G. Karve, founder trustee and vice-chairman, METIAC. The six-month part-time course costs around Rs 9,000. The course is open to certified musicians, doctors, radio musicians, vocal artists, alternate therapists, qualified yoga masters, individuals with knowledge of music and others. Karve says that many reputed music and medical professionals will be on the faculty of METIAC.
The S.H Centre for Music Therapy and Mental Health, Amritsar, also offers a distance education course in music therapy. The centre is affiliated with Bharat Sevak Samaj, an agency promoted by the Government of India.
Experts feel that music therapists will be in demand in future. Currently, there are only a handful of established music therapists in the country, but corporations, schools, higher education institutes and hospitals are realising the importance of therapists, and I am sure you will see many more professionals very soon, says Chandok.
Since there are no specialised posts for music therapists either in hospitals or other places, most of them currently work as consultants. We simply do not have qualified hands but every hospital will soon have a music therapist on its pay rolls or a consultant, says Mythily.
So if music be the passport to an exciting career, just play on.
WHERE TO LEARN
- Mumbai Educational Trust (MET) Institute of Alternate Careers, Mumbai (www.met.edu)
- Certificate in Music Therapy Apollo Hospitals, Chennai (www.chennai.apollohospitals.com)
- Undergraduate and postgraduate courses in music therapy
- Nada Centre for Music Therapy, Delhi (www.nada.in)
- S.H. Centre for Music Therapy & Mental Health; 8294, Street No. 3 Guru Ram Dass Nagar, Sultanwind Road Amritsar-143001, Punjab Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Distance learning programme in music therapy
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