‘Music’s strong emotional component can transform people’

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Prateeksha Sharma
Prateeksha Sharma, 41, Musician Photo: Arun Sehrawat

Tell us about Hamsadhwani Enterprises and your role in it?

Hamsadhwani Enterprises is a research-backed service organisation that will work in health. It is founded on the idea of art being central to human life. Music therapy plays an important role in empowering people. Only by diving within my own self have I emerged after decades of living with bipolar disorder and can offer from that learning.

What exactly is music therapy?

The therapist uses music and all its facets — physical, emotional, social, aesthetic and spiritual — to help clients improve or maintain mental health. It is used with a wide variety of conditions: all kinds of psychiatric disorders, physical handicaps, dysfunctional relationships, abuse, learning disabilities and aging. Music’s strong emotional component is capable of transforming people’s emotional states.

What did you learn about music therapy from your struggle with bipolarity?

Everyone is an artist. The role of music is important in our education itself. I would like to see it incorporated into every school’s curriculum, so that children learn to tune into nature’s wisdom and have music as part of their growing up process. With serious illnesses, we use music for achieving certain pre-defined, non-musical, clinical goals. People can integrate better and express themselves properly. Used in palliative care to cater to a person’s emotional side, music is increasingly being viewed as a means of escape. Therefore it is an excellent tool for professionals, especially those in nursing.

Can such an unconventional therapy form work in India?

The goal is to help people reclaim all roles of life: financial, social, physical. In India, organisations that provide raga-based therapy are mushrooming. However, this form is based on one’s interpretation of a musical scale and requires a lot of resources, thus it cannot be a success. But, one of the institutes doing commendable work is Action for Autism, launched by The Music Therapy Trust. However, since India is a melting pot of various cultures, one cannot have one particular form of therapy. Plus, people who dabble in music therapy don’t have much theoretical knowledge – we don’t document what we do and pills are the quick solution that most people want.

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