How Music Helps in Music Therapy and Everyday Life: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

How Music Helps in Music Therapy and Everyday Life

1st Edition

By Gary Ansdell


376 pages

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Why is music so important to most of us? How does music help us both in our everyday lives, and in the more specialist context of music therapy? This book suggests a new way of approaching these topical questions, drawing from Ansdell's long experience as a music therapist, and from the latest thinking on music in everyday life. Vibrant and moving examples from music therapy situations are twinned with the stories of 'ordinary' people who describe how music helps them within their everyday lives. Together this complementary material leads Ansdell to present a new interdisciplinary framework showing how musical experiences can help all of us build and negotiate identities, make intimate non-verbal relationships, belong together in community, and find moments of transcendence and meaning. How Music Helps is not just a book about music therapy. It has the more ambitious aim to promote (from a music therapist's perspective) a better understanding of 'music and change' in our personal and social life. Ansdell's theoretical synthesis links the tradition of Nordoff-Robbins music therapy and its recent developments in Community Music Therapy to contemporary music sociology and music studies. This book will be relevant to practitioners, academics, and researchers looking for a broad-based theoretical perspective to guide further study and policy in music, well-being, and health.


’How Music Helps represents a fascinating and thought-provoking investigation into the importance of music in the lives of people. With a philosophical orientation that will resonate with many of us who are advocates of the social-cultural impact of music and music making, Ansdell expertly weaves person-centered narratives and theoretical reflection. A first rate book from an author who is continuing the legacy of Nordoff and Robbins by always thinking musically within the music therapy context’. Lee Higgins, Boston University, USA ’With ecological sensitivity as subject and method, Gary Ansdell has produced an exquisite guide to the exploration of music’s help in music therapy and in everyday life. The question of how music helps is approached by elaborations of where and when music helps, for people in specific situations. This is food for our theoretical imagination and a stimulating invitation to interdisciplinary work.’ Brynjulf Stige, University of Bergen, Norway ’Ansdell's newest music therapy book is not a research study, a theory or practice handbook, or a textbook for music therapists. It is instead an eco-phenomenology of the benefits of music, exploring where, when, and how music helps people make connections in order to heal and grow … Ansdell provides useful diagrams, an appendix about his method, and extensive scholarly apparatus. For anyone in the healing professions, this book demonstrates that all musicians can benefit from the experiences of healing that come from making music for themselves and with other people. …Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.’ Choice ’… a complex and thoroughly enriching, challenging and inspiring reading experience. I highly recommend this book to any music therapist, musician and music lover. Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education

About the Author

Dr Gary Ansdell is an experienced music therapist, trainer and researcher - currently Director of Education at the music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. He has published widely in the fields of music, music therapy, and music and health/wellbeing, and is co-editor, with the music sociologist Tia DeNora, of the Ashgate Series Music and Change: Ecological Perspectives.

About the Series

Music and Change: Ecological Perspectives

Music and Change: Ecological Perspectives, is a cross-disciplinary, topic-led series for scholars and practitioners. Its aim is to explore the question of how, where and when music makes a difference. If music is a dynamic ingredient of change, what are the processes and mechanisms associated with music’s powers, and how can ecological perspectives help us to understand music in action? Book proposals are welcome in any of the following areas: healthcare, social policy, political activism, psychiatry, embodiment, mind and consciousness, community relations, education and informal learning, management and organizational cultures, trauma, memory and commemoration, theories of action, self-help, conflict and conflict resolution, the life course, spirituality and religion, disability studies, palliative care, social criticism, governance, resistance, protest, and utopian communities.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology