Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Interviews - Music Therapy for wellness and pro-active thought and action

Music: An Ultimate Global Language Which will Break All Barriers and Boundaries


Music Therapy for wellness and pro-active thought and action

An interview with Composer-Musician-Therapist and the founder of Ninad, MrArnab B. Chowdhury by Dr.Padmavathy. March 10th,2016 Mr. Arnab Choudary, gave a Musical Sound Therapy to the participants of Stewardship for Sustainable Livelihoods and shared his musical journey. experience and insights in the concept “Finding Your Rhythm: tools for out-of-box thinking”.

Hello! Arnab, what is your opinion about the role of music in changing human behaviour?

Well, philosophically speaking, Music is the language of the soul and is universal. What we know as evidence is that Music is a language of emotions, it changes our emotions and as a result changes in behaviour can be observed, so music can influence and perhaps determine our behavioural states and  the mind-the control tower that holds them all.

What are the various ways in which the impact of music can be utilized, where have these been effectively utilized?

When we listen and feel Music, we are receiving 'something'. When we are vocalizing and playing Music, we are transmitting 'something'. There is a dialogue there, a conversation.

For example, when 400 people sings 'VandeMataram' at Sri Aurobindo Ashram's school anniversary programme on 2nd December every year, there is an immense conversation happening via Music. The audience is asked to stand and join the singing. Now whether, each one of the participants follows the 'Mantric' (mantra) value of each of Bankim Chandra's words, we don't know. But what we feel is a swelling of emotions in the heart, perhaps tears, from a sense of elation and positive pride in being together, and being Indian. Hope this answers your question.

How does music therapy contribute to sustainability?

In our Indian spiritual culture, the Universe's creation started with AUM and the Universe continues to sustain itself in and with this vibration. 

That already means something significant, right?

Music Therapy or ‘Music as Therapy’ is relatively a new academic discipline. Other disciplines which work in tandem with Music Therapy are Medical Science, Natural Sciences, Behavioural and Social Sciences and Performing Arts. A lot of exciting research and experimentation is happening currently. Our team has successfully composed a song with the participation of children with special needs and their teachers, based on musical phonetics drawn from Carnatic Classics and folks. (‘Ta Na Na’ song: http://therapy.ninad.in )

What I presented at SLI is ‘Music is Therapy’. Although we call it therapy, he or she does not need to be ill or a patient. This helps to induce a sense of wellness in the individual and if we are induced to rise to a state of wellness, then we are in a better state to pro-act and be creative in an otherwise limiting environment. That's it.

SLI has been integrating music as part of its programme via drumming circle, sound bath, etc., - how does this impact the changes in perception?

Good to know about this development although I have not been present during these sessions. What I have observed is that SLI's audience tend to be listeners of Tamil cinema songs and music and perhaps Carnatic and folk music; Rhythm being the most prominent element here. In these stress-ridden environment- starting from our schools, workplaces and homes, we have succumbed to  TVs and smartphones, and meanwhile we seem to have lost the important art- the noise of our everyday life. We tend to hear, not listen. Rhythm helps you to listen.

How will it be beneficial to the minds of people who attend these programmes?

I presented a slice from our programme 'Know Your Rhythm' to SLI's attendees to first become aware of active listening, what and how music influences their body in terms of: pulse reading, their behavioural states by doing self-evaluation and to help them sense Rhythm - the fundamental aspect of music. I exposed them to a language of vocal percussion mnemonics and got them to enact workplace scenarios with just two mnemonics – dha and dhin. They were very sporty and there was a lot of camaraderie and humour that flowed!
I hope they now perceive Music as a medium beyond entertainment. Does SLI have a way of getting feedback from them? That would be an interesting input for me.
There is a probability that they are now aware of what active listening is and how a stressed scenario can also have a rhythm. Somewhere in the back of their minds, if they connect to this rhythm with a smile, they will be able to feel the reduction of stress and positive energy.

It’s been said that "Silence is a form of music", what is your opinion about it... how is sound therapy different from it and which form will have a best impact on human health and society?

I don’t think I have understood your question. But let me talk about silence in music.  Yes, Silence is certainly important, a space and time to repose, and pause and poise. Music and Silence are two sides of the same coin.
Whether it is sabhas of Carnatic or Hindustani classical concerts, you will find vocalists or instrumentalists pausing after a phrase especially towards the introduction of a particular Raga as in the 'alaap'. What are they doing?  They are giving themselves and the audience, the silence- this pause is important for all of us to immerse and absorb the Musical phrase- musical phrase of life.
Music Therapy  is not much different from it, we do the same. We give dosages of Music Therapy and pause, again to absorb, as an Experience. If we as individuals get more in rhythm with ourselves and our environment, we grow in health as a collective.

Mr. Arnab B. Chowdhury- Ninad (www.ninad.in)


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