WOW | Musical Conversation

Mending with Music

Although an unconventional approach to recovery and coping, music therapy is gradually making its space in the medical field. Shreeti Pradhan, a music therapist talks about the healing power of music.

What stirred your interest in music?

I was highly influenced by listening to radio shows. Also receiving musical instruments as birthday gifts inspired me.

When did you decide to become a professional musician?

For me, it wasn’t some radical moment where I decided to become a professional musician. I still don’t call myself a professional musician because I have so much to learn in terms of the technical aspect. But yes, I do sing or play and explore music because, for me, it feels like a significant personal space that allows for this creative process of experiences being expressed and shared.

How would describe your music to the world?

A lot of what I do musically is improvised. So I could say that the music that I make is very interdependent to various connections and experiences with people, situations or objects.

Tell us about your work as a music therapist.

I had learnt briefly about this profession in 2010. Only in 2012, I got more interested in it and did my research. I received scholarship opportunity to study music therapy in India in 2015. Then I came to Nepal and started working in paediatrics (burn, learning disabilities) and psychosocial health sectors. Right now I am working under SPAK in a learning disability centre and a women transit home. I also run a weekly chant circle to address emotional health in adults. I am also currently facilitating a Music Caregiver Training program (MCT) for musicians, music teachers and enthusiasts.

What are your therapy sessions like?

There can be different types of sessions depending upon the need of a client or group participants. These sessions are client led and are specifically tailored to address their psychosocial, physiological needs. Generally, a session can be from 40 minutes to an hour long.

How does music help and heal people?

Music is scientifically proven to have therapeutic effects and outcomes. In music therapy, various musical methods and techniques are used as a tool to reach a certain goal. For example, rhythmic music can be used to aid a patient in gait training.

In the context of Nepal, how aware are people about music therapy?

Music therapy is relatively a new topic here in Nepal. It is challenging to reach out to a wider population, mainly due to limited human resources. Having said that, I have found people who are enthusiastic about this approach. It is slowly being acknowledged in healthcare sectors too, mainly because of the impact of work carried out by music therapy professionals. People are slowly opening up to this contact.

Where do you see the profession of music therapy in 10 years?

Hopefully, we will have more music therapists and advocates in music therapy. Nepal really needs such professionals, as we have a rich musical culture. To be able to foster health benefits through music on a wider scale could change how we look at music as just entertainment.

Any success stories that you want to share?

In 2016, I was actively involved in community outreach programs in villages and rural areas of Nepal. I was inspired by how music was a language that could aid in communicating with a diverse population. Music helped build healthy social and emotional connection, which was a very powerful observation for me at that time. It also gave me the opportunity to be a part of their musical culture that offered a whole different pathway for sharing of experiences, interests and challenges. This built room for improvements and dialogues within the community circle.

If not a musician you would be

I don’t know but maybe someone who is still connected to the arts in some way like through dance, poetry, painting or acting.

A song that you think everyone and anyone can sing

I think any song that you connect with can be sung.

If you were to play in a band (in Nepal), who would you team up with?

I enjoy collaborations, so I’d definitely be up for different musical partnerships. I can’t just take one name.