Music Therapy in the Later 1900s

Music as a part of the psychoanalytic theory
E. Thayer Gaston (1901-1970)
Wayne Ruppenthal (1913-1997)
Wayne Ruppenthal and the formation of the National Association for Music Therapy
Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins and their development of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy
Charles E. Braswell and the development of an experimental music therapy program
Charles E. Braswell and the National Association for Music Therapy
Formation of the American Music Therapy Association
References


Music as a part of the psychoanalytic theory

During the twentieth century, there was a return of the ancient belief that music has cathartic qualities. Sigmund Freud did not address the issue of music in his theory. However, many of his students discussed the power of music within the parameters of the psychoanalytic theory (Gfeller, 2002). Noy (1967) listed the three ways in which music could be incorporated into psychoanalytic therapy.

1)    Music could serve as a way to channel instinctual drives in a manner that is socially acceptable.

2)    Music could serve as a vehicle for seeing into and better understanding the unconscious.

3)    Music could serve as a way to strengthen the ego of the patient through improving personal skills.

(Noy, 1967)

 

E. Thayer Gaston (1901-1970)

E. Thayer Gaston developed a program at the University of Kansas School of Music to help professionalize music therapy

E. Thayer Gaston created a master’s degree at the University of Kansas that was designed to study the effect of music on human behavior (Miller, 1998). Gaston held the belief that the outside world becomes richer with greater development of the senses. He saw music as “structured reality” from which everyone could benefit, saying “All mankind has a need for aesthetic expression and experience” (Harvey, 1980). Many of the main ideas of this degree came from the practice principles that were used in rehabilitation programs for veterans from World War II.  To allow for a scientific basis of study, the program involved traditional music courses, as well as those in social and physical disciplines. In the late 1940s, Gaston tried to create music therapy positions in psychiatric hospitals in Topeka. One notable student of his was Wayne Ruppenthal. Gaston always held the belief that music has inherent qualities that serves as a therapeutic agent, a viewpoint with which Ruppenthal did not agree (Miller, 1998).


Wayne Ruppenthal (1913-1997)

Wayne Ruppenthal received funding for his psychiatric music therapy program through the Menninger Foundation

Wayne Ruppenthal was the first person to graduate from a formal music therapy program., earning a Master’s of Music Education in Functional Music in 1949. As a part of his degree, he was required to complete a clinical internship at the Winter Veteran Administration Hospital in Topeka, Kansas. He started a program in a state psychiatric hospital and defined standards for music therapy internships. Unlike Gaston, Ruppenthal stressed the importance of the human element as a part of therapy rather than the music. Ruppenthal’s program was influenced by the beliefs of the Menninger Foundation, which played a large role in the world of psychiatry. This included the principles of Freudian psychoanalysis. To achieve a healthier state of being and overcome mental obstacles, psychiatric patients were prescribed specific activities, such as participating in music. Ruppenthal established this as a part of the Adjunctive Therapies Department. As the director of Psychiatric Music Therapy, Ruppenthal’s program was funded by the Kansas State Legislature, as $2 million was allocated to the Menninger School of Psychiatry. Using the iso-principle concept, Ruppenthal sought to gradually change patient behavior in accordance with adjustments of musical mood. He created a radio station for the hospital with a broadcast studio, music lounge, and practice rooms for the patients (Miller, 1998).

Topeka State Hospital

In the 1960s, psychiatric hospitals like the Topeka State Hospital saw a shift in theory in practice from a psychoanalytic orientation to a more modern learning theory known as behaviorism. The belief was that this allowed for outcomes to be measured more easily. The way in which music therapists had been practicing lent itself more to the psychoanalytic orientation, so its presence in hospitals lessened greatly at this time, and Ruppenthal decided to retire (Miller, 1998).


Wayne Ruppenthal and the formation of the National Association for Music Therapy

Ruppenthal was instrumental in the formation of the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT). In 1953 he was president of the Topeka Music Therapists, which soon became a part of the NAMT. Ruppenthal was elected NAMT Vice-President in 1956, and president of the Midwestern Region in 1960. He helped to structure the organization of office, create a newsletter, standardize the practice methodology, promote research development, and establish overall guidelines for the profession of music therapy (Miller, 1998).

National Association of Music Therapy (NAMT) Newsletter



Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins and their development of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy

Born in Philadelphia in 1909, Paul Nordoff was a skilled musician since the age of eight. He studied composition and piano performance at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. He took a sabbatical leave in 1958, traveling to Europe with the goal of finding orchestras to perform his music compositions. He attended a lecture in London by Karl Koenig, M.D., in which a musical treatment for children with cerebral palsy was described. Intrigued at the thought of composing music to help children with disabilities, Nordoff decided to visit a Sunfield Children’s Home, community that employed the use of therapeutic music for children (Kim, 2005).

Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins during a music therapy session with a disabled boy

It was here that Nordoff was introduced to Clive Robbins (1927-2011), a special education teacher at the Sunfield Children’s Home. All of the Home’s employees were trained in various therapeutic methods, including music therapy. The Home’s practices were all based on anthroposophy. Developed by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), anthroposophy, or the “wisdom of man,” is a spiritual movement focused on knowing rather than faith. After watching a demonstration of a young disabled girl who was able to speak after being given a lyre, Robbins was sure of what direction he wanted to go with his career. He said, “Here am I in Europe with a trunk full of music trying to get a symphony performed and here is a musician using music to bring a child into speech. There is no doubt in my mind which is the more important,” (Kim, 2005).

Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins at the piano during a music therapy session

After his sabbatical, Nordoff joined the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT), and joined the staff at Sunfield Children’s Home for the year of 1959 for research purposes. Nordoff did a lot of individual music therapy here, notably with an autistic boy named Johnny. Nordoff composed a piece for alto lyre to be played for Johnny each evening (Kim, 2005).

Nordoff and Robbins began their collaboration for group music therapy with the composition of “Pif-Paf-Poltrie,” They turned it into a “working game” for children. To help teach the children to spell their names, Nordoff composed “I have a Name.” Together, Nordoff and Robbins developed a form of music therapy focused on increasing self-esteem, communication, and social skills through creativity and improvisation (Kim, 2005).

From 1968 to 1947, Nordoff and Robbins wrote Therapy in Music for Handicapped Children, Music Therapy in Special Education, and Creative Music Therapy to help spread the knowledge of their method. In 1974, the first center for training Nordoff-Robbins practitioners was opened in London. Other training centers were established in many countries including the United States. While their approach to music therapy was originally developed for children with disabilities, their method has expanded to different populations including those suffering from dementia and HIV/AIDS (Kim, 2005).

To learn about the Nordoff-Robbins approach in autistic children click here: Music Therapy in Autistic Children

To visit the Nordoff-Robbins website, click here: http://www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk/


Charles E. Braswell and the development of an experimental music therapy program

Charles E. Braswell

Born in 1928, Charles Edward Braswell began his career in music therapy in the late 1950s, when he was hired as a music therapist at the Norman Beatty Memorial Hospital in Westville, Indiana. Soon after, he secured a position at the College of Music at Loyola University in New Orleans. Braswell had a clear vision of what he wanted music therapy to be in Louisiana. His goal was to have a music therapy program at every hospital in the state. To make this happen, Braswell developed a training program for music therapy students that included not only classes on the psychology of music and influence of music on behavior, but its role in hospital care as well. In addition, he designed an internship program so the students could get first hand experience in the field. He stressed the importance of students staying up to date with current music therapy literature and believed that he best way to make clinical advances in the field is through research. Braswell is most known for setting the precedent for other universities to expand their curriculum to include experimental methods and help to meet the current needs of patients (Brooks, 2002).


Charles E. Braswell and the National Association for Music Therapy

Certification Board for Music Therapists

In 1966, Braswell was involved with a large project called the Music Therapy Fund. He spoke at the Louisiana Department of Health Symposia about the importance of music therapy in hospitals. He developed a program for a Masters of Music in Music Therapy for Loyola that would separate music therapy from the music education program. In 1973, Braswell was elected president of the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT).  As president of the NAMT, Braswell helped to develop a code of ethics for music, as well as a committee to help enforce and oversee it. A part of this was the national examination for music therapists. To receive the MT-BC credential and register as a music therapists, students are now required to pass an exam provided by the Certification Board for Music Therapy (CMBT). Other ideas Braswell promoted nationally as NAMT president are including clinical training in music therapy education, and experimental programs in music therapy (Brooks, 2002).

Formation of the American Music Therapy Association

In 1998, the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was formed when the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) joined with other various organizations of music therapists in the country. The AMTA promotes music therapy in various ways including two journal publications, Journal of Music Therapy, and Music Therapy Perspectives.

                        

An additional purpose of the AMTA is to advocate for music therapy funding from the government. “The mission of the American Music Therapy Association is to advance public knowledge of the benefits of music therapy and to increase access to quality music therapy services in a rapidly changing world.” (www.musictherapy.org).

To learn more about the American Music Therapy Association, click here: http://www.musictherapy.org/

 

References

Brooks, D. M. (2002). Charles E. Braswell: A Man with Vision. Journal of Music Therapy, 39(2), 74-100.

Gfeller, K. E. (2002). Music as a therapeutic agent: Historical and sociocultural perspectives. Music therapy in the treatmet of adults with mental disorders; theoretical bases and clinical interventions, 60-67.

Harvey, A. W. (1980). The therapeutic role of music in special education; Historical perspectives. The Creative Child and Adult Quarterly, 5 (3), 196-204.

Heller, G. N. (2000). History, Celebrations, and the Transmission of Hope: The American Music Therapy Association, 1950-2000. Journal of Music Therapy, 32(4), 238-249.

Kim, Y. (2005). The Early Beginnings of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 41(4), 321-339.

Miller, J. J. (1998). The Contributions of Wayne Ruppenthal to the Field of Music Therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 35(2), 105-118.

http://www.musictherapy.org/

Noy, P. (1967). The psychodynamic meaning of music. Part V. Journal of Music Therapy, 4, 117-125.

 

By: Claire Growney


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