12:41 27 February 2017
While most people listen to music for the sheer pleasure it brings them, many people find a number of other, less obvious, benefits to be found from music appreciation. Whether studying music for therapeutic reasons or listening to specific genres for the therapy it provides, there is one aspect of music therapy that really bears further study from an almost ‘non-musical’ perspective. The art of improvisation is currently being studied for a number of benefits, but in fact musicians and psychologists have known for years that jazz, and specifically improvisation within that genre, have far-reaching benefits if applied correctly. Are you a student seeking a masters in music education from an esteemed school like Kent State University? If so, you may be interested in doing your thesis on the art of improvisation as it applies to music therapy!
According to jazz trombonists, Joel Yennior, improvisation helps to improve mood. He says it has a way of awakening joy, which reminds him of the words of Albert Einstein. As a music educator, he takes these words to heart. This famous mathematician said that it is the duty of educators to “awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” And, that’s just what Yennior does through jazz, and most especially through improvisation, which is a core component of the genre.
Anyone who has been a serious music student, not necessarily studying for an online MME degree, but at least a sincere student of the art, knows that improv brings joy to the heart. Instead of following a pre-written series of chords and melodies, the jazz musician improvises on what had been there before. It’s the art of taking that which is known and improvising until it becomes something similar, but not the same. In fact, similarity may not even result from true improve, but it’s a way to add levels to a foundation and that, in and of itself, brings joy to the person devising the improvisations. Think of it like a journey with the roads on the map never being the same.
Besides the fun and joy to be had improvising, think of the life skills this one aspect of music education can bring to a person who has learned to improvise. Sometimes the skills learned through improvisation help students to learn the art of multitasking. Why stay on a direct path when you can get more done by allowing your mind to move in alternate directions?
Yennior is absolutely correct when he says that improvisation brings joy. Beyond joy, improvisation teaches the student to think on his or her feet and understand that sometimes there are many, many roads that lead to Rome. There is no need to stay on the same boring path in life if you can improvise along the way. Who would have ever thought that music theory could so easily evolve to music therapy? But, if there were any skills well suited to seeking a healthy emotional state, it would be improv. There’s no doubt about it.