Music Therapy Elements Behind Music For The Soul
Guest blog By Kalin Hagedorn
Everyone has a song inside them just waiting to be sung. Experiencing that song through melody and lyrics has the power to be incredibly therapeutic. Music for the Soul uses songwriting to tell the stories of many who are in need of healing – and music therapy research supports that healing process.
Who Am I?
I am a music therapy student who recently completed my undergraduate coursework at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. This fall I will be completing a six-month internship at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis as part of the music therapy degree requirement.
I am a musician, a therapist, a songwriter, and a hope-instiller. As a music therapist, it is my goal to bring healing and a heightened quality of life to all of my patients.
What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is defined as, “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”
Music therapists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, psychiatric facilities, schools, and private practices. Each session is aimed at specific
goals that are based on previous assessments, according to the patients’ needs. Common goals include: emotional expression, pain management, socialization, coping skills, and mindfulness.
Underneath each goal is the universal desire to be seen and loved.
The founder of Music for the Soul, Steve Siler, was right on the bulls-eye when he said, “we need to feel known, understood, and valued.”  The work Music for the Soul is doing is very much in line with music therapy, without the specific protocol behind it. Though it is not classified as music therapy, the heart of its mission is very similar to a music therapy approach to healing being that it is listener-centered and driven by what is best for the listener.
How I Came Across Music for the Soul
Music for the soul came up on my Google search when I was researching for my senior thesis project, a concept album for adolescents called Hope for Spring. The album combines the art of songwriting and music therapy research aiming to bring hope and healing for those who listen.
I was looking for resources to support my songwriting process when I stumbled upon Music for the Soul’s website. The mission of Music for the Soul seemed to directly align with the goal of my project.
My favorite aspect of Music for the Soul is the thoughtful songwriting process. There is so much heart and research that goes into each and every song. Interviewing those who have experienced or are experiencing the hardship of the particular song is a beautiful way to ensure their story is being portrayed accurately and honestly.
The team of therapists, ministers, and professional songwriters that make up Music for the Soul collaborate to form a triple-threat healing team. It is my hope that in the future songwriting will be utilized more within the music therapy setting. I’ve seen its effectiveness in sessions and experienced it personally in my own life.
Taking a Closer Look
Let’s dive into the therapeutic elements of Music for the Soul’s, “The Cost. ”This is the first song on Tell Me What You See , an album for those with an eating disorder. The song is incredibly validating and an accurate depiction of the early stages of what it is like to be stuck in the disorder.
There is not a word of advice or a suggestion of a quick fix. The song simply lays out where the person is at with complete honesty. “They can’t make me eat if I don’t want to”
is one of my favorite lines because of the relate-ability and power it holds. One must first feel heard and validated before one is ready to take advice.
“The Cost” is a perfect opening song for the album. It aligns with a principle from music therapy research known as the iso principle. The iso principle, in basic terms, is meeting someone where they are and manipulating the music and the mood of the listener in a way that is desired. In this case, it is going from a resistant, angry and painful place to a place where one can open up and release control.
The bridge brings about the turning point. With the lyrics, “What’s the cost of control? Who’s in control?” the singer is coming to a realization and beginning to reflect on her struggle with control.
This is only one example from Music for the Soul’s vast repertoire of therapeutic songs. I highly recommend you listen to more songs and open yourself up to experience healing in your own life.