Bells. Chimes. Bangs. Thumps. Dings. Whistles. Soulful voices create spine-tingling harmonies in an echoing cathedral hall, a saxophone pulls playful jazz riffs in a smoky darkened room, Tablahs are beaten to ancient rhythms, telling stories of Middle Eastern folklore, dance, and heady desert air, and Didjeridus drone the deep spiritual notes of the Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara Aboriginal peoples across the sandy plains of the Australian outback.
All around the world, music in all of its diversity brings communities together and creates our shared identity. It enables us to share stories and tales of our heritage, to relax and unwind, to fill their hearts with energy and laughter, and to express deep emotions that words cannot. Music is hardwired into our culture. It is increasingly being used as a powerful form of healing.
World Music Therapy Day is a day to celebrate this transformative power of music, and music therapy around the world. Music therapy may be defined as a health and wellbeing intervention to help people affected by special educational needs, disability, mental and physical illness, and as an aid for child development. It has been proven to bring a range of benefits, including increased self-control, emotional intelligence, respite from symptoms of illness, increased cognitive ability, and as a means of self-expression.
Skoog offers a diverse range of activities that make it the perfect tool for empowering people through music therapy. It is versatile and adaptable, so it can suit a range of people. For therapists working with older people suffering from dementia, they have found that:
‘One of the most interesting aspects of Skoog is the way it encourages people to become involved in the interaction, and this is particularly effective when working with clients with dementia. You can almost see them entering a different form of relaxed awareness. It promotes awareness of their actions and how they can influence their environment, simply by creating sounds of different durations and dynamics’ (Val Sprott)
For music therapist Sandy Matheson, who works with Tom, a child with undiagnosed ASD, the ability to touch and physically play with the Skoog has enabled him to build a relationship with him:
‘Tom is a gentle, dreamy five-year-old boy, who is not verbal, but occasionally vocalizes. After four assessment sessions, it was immediately clear that Tom is a highly tactile child; he explores and investigates his environment by touching and holding objects (and sometimes popping them in his mouth)! For this reason, I decided that Skoog might be an appropriate instrument to draw him into a musical relationship.Tom was intrigued by this strange, colorful object, and delighted by the sounds it made!’
People with disabilities have also been introduced to the Skoog, and therapists have found that:
‘In the process of exploring the Skoog, I have observed how clients have often engaged with greater vocal self-expression, smiling facial expressions and laughter. It would add to the Skoog’s present level of flexibility, if at some point in the future, a wireless model could be developed- this would make the Skoog a more optimum and mobile instrument for sharing and turn-taking activities in group work.’
These are just a few examples of the adaptability and value of the Skoog as an instrument in music therapy, for a range of people. We believe that music should be accessible for everyone! Skoog offers the potential for anyone to benefit from the transformative therapeutic effects that music can bring. It brings respite and joy to those who don’t know what else to try to alleviate their suffering or symptoms and empowers them not only to listen but to actively create music for themselves. Music has long been a means of expression for people worldwide, but until now has long been the preserve of the highly skilled and able-bodied. The Skoog is heralding the advent of a new era of accessibility in creating music.
Happy World Music Therapy Day!
Discover for yourself the joy and fun of making music.