Whether it’s jazz, folk, rap or rock that soothes your soul, it is universally acknowledged that music is good for you. In all its guises, music has been helping people find inner peace, boosting creativity, inspiring change, and bringing tribes of like-minded people together for millennia. In recent years, the practice of music therapy has evolved to directly help those living with poor mental health.
Someone who knows the benefits of music therapy firsthand is Centre of Excellence student, Alankrita Verma. “Music is the only catalyst by which I can express what, and who, I really am,” the 24-year-old told Centre of Excellence. Alankrita is a self-taught vocalist whose range includes pop, pop-rock, folk-rock, soul and R&B. Singing, she says, is a great passion in life to which she has given her all.
But singing has also given much back to Alankrita by helping to boost her confidence and self-esteem. She explained, “I was body-shamed badly and suffered from depression for eight years due to low self-esteem, judgements from people and body love issues. Music healed me in ways that I could not have imagined. It made me accept myself and helped me in getting comfortable in my own skin. It changed my overall personality and made me a fearless and confident woman.”
It is no wonder that Alankrita says lyrics and emotion are central to her singing. Through her own experience, Alankrita came to understand that music plays a very important role in our lives and has a positive effect on our well being. However, she was unaware that music therapy existed within the science of psychology.
Alankrita, who is from Uttar Pradesh in India, explained that music therapy is still being established in her country. But after she enrolled on a master’s programme in psychology, she was introduced to music therapy concepts. It attracted her more than other forms of therapy and so she decided to delve deeper.
Alankrita enrolled on the Centre of Excellence Music Therapy Diploma Course. On her learning journey, she gained knowledge about the life of a music therapist and what music therapy is all about. Moreover, the course helped Alankrita broaden her knowledge about the different kinds of music therapy and the kinds of music that can be used in treating clients, as well as existing research and debates relevant to the subject.
Of the course, Alankrita said, “My learning experience was amazing and the result was fruitful. All my queries were considered and very well answered. I did many eLearning courses earlier but doing the course from CoE provided me with in-depth knowledge of the topics that I could complete in my own time and pace.”
Alankrita also complimented the “excellent” study materials and “vast range of interesting courses to choose from”, adding, “The best thing about CoE is that they listen to students’ suggestions about courses and they actually implement them in their new program courses.”
Alankrita enjoyed her first course so much, she has since enrolled on the Neuropsychology Diploma Course with Centre of Excellence and a research training program to gain a better understanding of writing research papers, having gained a Bachelor of Science degree in botany, zoology and chemistry. The music therapy course “enabled me to identify knowledge gaps and helped me in the theoretical base of research” as well as identify her research topic.
After writing her paper, Alankrita recalled, “I was excited and nervous to think about whether my paper would be selected or rejected by the International Journal of Indian Psychology (IJIP) as it went through tough peer reviews.”
Alankrita was thrilled to receive news that her paper, A Gender Study on the Effect of Music, had been selected for publication. She said, “I couldn't believe that I wrote my first research paper on the topic in which the only background I have is a music therapy diploma from CoE!”
Alankrita then successfully submitted a review paper on Music Therapy and Mental Health that examines the role of music therapy in wellbeing delivered by therapists and the obstacles to healing.
Alankrita said, “The case studies included in the Music Therapy Diploma Course helped me gain knowledge that I was able to implement in my research and I also discussed the problems and drawbacks music therapists are facing, which I studied in this course.”
For Alankrita, who was awarded Runner Up in the Centre of Excellence Awards 2021, music therapy really boils down to the joy, beauty, and life-changing magic of song.
She said, “Whenever we listen to our favourite song, our brain produces a hormone called dopamine, which makes us feel good and happy. When people want to escape from the negativity around the world they listen to music. It is said throughout history that music has a healing and therapeutic property.”
You can hear Alankrita discuss her work in the video below:
Now she is armed with the knowledge she has gained from her studies, Alankrita can use science to explain the benefits of music therapy — from a reduction in anxiety, stress and depression to boosting our memory and lightening our mood.
Recalling the personal traumas that led her to embark on this journey, Alankrita wanted to leave her fellow CoE students with this message: “In the end, I just want to say that people will tell you that you cannot achieve anything in your life. Even the closest ones will try to degrade and demotivate you. But always remember one thing: Don't be scared to dream big, listen to your heart and always believe in yourself. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.”