In the collaborative work entitled, What Are Musical Identities, and Why Are They Important, written by Hargreaves, Miell, and MacDonald, the primary discussion is based on the idea of music as a fundamental means of communication. The authors state that music provides the ability to communicate, even though there no spoken language shared; and it also provides the necessary lifeline to human interaction for those with special needs.
As a young student in elementary school, I often volunteered my musical abilities by performing the piano for local senior recreational centres. On the surface, the music provided entertainment, but on a deeper level, the music was a catalyst for communication. Through sharing music, I was permitted the opportunity to interact and converse with the participants on a much deeper level; the music destroyed in potential barriers due to culture or age.
Another identity, in which music is described, is that of a tool to create experiences. Due to the advancement in technology, these experiences have become more diverse than any time in the past. In the area of consumer marketing, music is utilized to create a mood to increase sales in shopping venues. As an example, a trendy clothing store will attempt to make a quick sale by making an insecure shopper feel young, alive and vivacious by creating the ambience with the latest playlist by Lady Gaga at high volume. There is much psychology in music.
Hargreaves, Miell and MacDonald report that the objective of the music psychologist is to investigate the multifaceted ways in which we engage with music-creating, performing, listening and appraising- and try to explain the mechanisms underlying its powerful influence on behavior. Music in the context of social psychology is to investigate the effects of particular listening and performing/composing situations as well as cultural standards and norm.
From my experiences, I am able to view music as a multi-layered entity with diverse applications and identities in society. I have had the opportunities to apply music in the following manners in my practice as a music therapist:
• As a tool induce and deepen the state of relaxation
• To create an atmosphere which is conducive for memory stimulation
• Music as an instrument for teaching basic learning objectives
What I have been able to grasp from this reading is that music has the capabilities to function as a means to alter mood, as well as to create an environment; however, it is unable to determine the experience of the listener.
A keen supporter of music research and psychology, I believe that with further comprehension and acceptance as to the true powers of music, music will once again obtain the credibility which it once possessed long ago.