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Music Therapy

Posted Dec 15 2010 1:12pm

A couple of months ago, Dr TL asked about my progress in getting a digital piano.

When I was a child, I played the piano and it gave me great deal of comforts and strength in my spirit.

I have a very old piano, which I purchased through eBay when I really needed to play it and feel the comfort again. For my disappointment, it cannot be tuned and cannot be fixed. As it has been more than 20 years since I played the piano last time, it still gave me the comfort I desperately needed.

After a while, the original ecstatic excitement has disappeared and out of tune notes and some silent keys started stressing me, instead of comforting.

Cut a long story short, Dr TL took up piano as his hobby. We sometimes talked about it. Now that I have a piano buddy, the frustration of not having tuned keys only escalated.

Then, I started considering getting a digital piano. Dr TL encouraged that having properly tuned piano would be good for my soul and my life. My friend strongly agreed with what Dr TL told me.

First, I got very scared of spending a big amount of money on non-essential item. Slowly, I was getting convinced that a good working piano is essential in my life. I started checking digital piano models, reviews and prices. Yet, I still didn’t have the courage to actually buy it.

When I was struggling with depression a couple of months ago, I finally decided to get the digital piano. I knew Dr TL is right about me and piano. (Well, he is always right…) I need a tuned piano in my life. I don’t have the same passion for art or craft as many of my friends do. If I search deep inside of my heart, I could call piano as my passion.

Dr TL was excited for me about the decision and played a part in it. He asked about my progress in finding the piano. I also found a strange comfort in having a “piano buddy”.

The piano project gave me much needed break-through in my life. About the time I became serious about the piano, my condition started showing slight improvement. I used the little extra energy to tidying up the study where piano was going to be placed.

It was a strange period. Whenever I felt the little extra energy, I worked on reorganising my place. Then, I had to rest extra due to post exertional malaise or payback.

The piano project gave me tasks and purpose in my life. It also gave me a joy of talking about it with my piano buddy.

Finally, I purchased it. It was delivered. It was assembled. I had to wait for a couple of days before I could finally touch its keys due to another payback. It took me another few weeks to get used to the new piano, slightly heavier touch on keys, and properly tuned notes.

Time I can sit in front of the piano is still very limited. Although, I’m spending more time outside of the bed these days, I still need to rest a lot. And everyday essential tasks take up most of my out of the bed time.

It’s Music Therapy, Dr TL explains with big happy smile. It is also used for stroke rehabilitation. It can help rehabilitating neurological problems. I’m also interested in neurology/brain, our conversation sometimes drifted to different topics. It was also fascinating. (He has well of knowledge about everything, and I can enjoy and learn by just listening to it.) It also keeps me out from depression. Therapy is not just playing the piano, but also talking about music, thoughts that are relating music, challenges, using it as social medium, and anything can be a therapy.

Frankly speaking, any form of art is used as therapy; drawing, painting, craft, music, dancing (if you could), and etc…

To be honest, I don’t feel what we are practising is “therapy”, but simple joy for what it brings to my life. I’m consciously allowing myself to just enjoy, although I know it’s part of the therapy.

I mainly taught myself after I was pulled out from piano lessens at early age. Sadly, I cannot play as I used to. With ME/CFS, I don’t have strength and continuing energy that are required for satisfactory performance. My fingers also have good days and bad days. And my fingers’ good day is an indication of better cognitive function. (Well…, I cannot say it for sure, but has some correlations.)

I can still play a short and slow music. I like wondering what was in composer’s mind when they produced the piece. I visualise what they were seeing, feeling, hoping, hiding, and etc. Mozart just had fun with his flying fingers when he was a child, and his father kept the record of what he just played. Beethoven has written pieces for women he fell in love with.

Dr TL is teaching himself as well. He doesn’t have enough time to play. However, he is making progress and he enjoys it whenever he has a chance to play. I haven’t heard him play yet, but hoping I could listen to it one day.

We are not aiming to become a concert pianists. We are simply finding joy of music and joy of sharing it.

I’m also refreshing my knowledge of music theory. I studied music in Japanese long time ago. I forgot most of it. So, I’m re-learning it in English, which is a nice challenge. It is strange that learning it in English gives me better understanding. Of course, my progress is very slow as I hardly find extra time in the day.

Playing the piano gave me comfort and strength in spirit when I was a child. Playing the piano now also gives joy of sharing. This time, I’m not alone.

Music is slowly coming back to my life.







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