Music therapy, a course offered at CSUN, helps people who have suffered from physical, emotional and intellectual distress.
The Musical Therapy Wellness Clinic has four therapists brought to the CSUN campus to reach those who seek therapy.
“People hear about our clinic through either word of mouth or through our Web site,” said Ronald Borczon, music professor and director of the program.
Borczon recently received honors by the American Music Therapy Association. He received an award of merit, the association’s highest honor, during a national conference in November. It was the association’s way of recognizing Borczon’s contribution to music therapy.
During a therapy session, the therapist often begins by interacting with patients through the use of instruments and sounds. The therapist sets the tone by allowing the patient to take charge and then following after. For example, the patient would play a sound from one of the instruments, then the therapist would join in by making a melody out of what was initially started with either another instrument or song. While some therapists use a more structured regimen, others are freer with their style of training.
“Different therapists have different styles,” said junior Maria Ramey, an understudy of assistant director Julie Berghofer. Some therapists have a structured way of teaching while others might be more improvisational.
During a 30-minute session observed by the Daily Sundial, the therapist allowed the patient to play several instruments, including the piano, tambourine, xylophone, recorder and flute.
In addition, the therapists played games with patients, with an assistant present to teach directions by staying in tune with the rhythm, thus creating body control, Ramey said.
“You build the music around the patient,” Ramey said. “It’s individually tailored.
“Music therapy is more motivating than regular exercising,” Ramey said. “For example, if someone is experiencing back problems, they can play the drums to release tension in their back.
“Music therapy is interactive and stimulates the brain through hearing music notes and rhythms,” Ramey added. “It allows for movement.”
There are only three schools in California that offer this program as an option for students, and CSUN is California’s only state university that offers a bachelor’s degree in music therapy.
The music therapy program first came to CSUN in 1984 with the help of Borczon, who advises potential and current students.
Borczon was living in Baton Rouge before he began the music therapy program at CSUN.
The program has allowed students to learn and work with a variety of people to help them better function, Borczon said.
Music therapy caters to those who like both music and psychology, said Ramey, who added that she loved both and therefore joined the musical therapy program.
Music therapy is a two-year program at CSUN consisting of several music therapy classes and a six-month internship.
Before receiving a degree in this field of study, the student must first take a test that qualifies them to be a music therapist.
The duration of therapeutic time differs for each patient, Berghofer said. Each patient has a different goal, and once they complete their program, they may pursue formal lessons or join a music education group.
Music therapy does not necessarily need one-on-one human interaction. The company Somatron has developed a therapeutic music chair.
This chair allows the vibrations from the music to generate through the body. It has speakers in the headrest that give relaxation to the shoulders, speakers in the back, and two speakers near the calf muscles.