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5 Reasons Why Music Therapy Works for Non-musicians

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Music therapy welcomes non-musicians. If you think you have to be “good at music” to get “good music therapy”, that is not true. Here are 5 reasons why music therapy works for those who consider themselves “unmusical”.

1. We all are musical

The word “musician” commonly refers to a person who is skilled in music; who can play a musical instrument at a high standard, read music, and understand music theory.

However, being a non-musician does not mean you are not musical.

Science today understands that we all are musical. Honing, a leading professor of music cognition, explains that ‘all humans share a predisposition for music, just like we have for language’ (The Origins of Musicality, 2018). He tells us that not everyone is a “musician” but everyone has musicality. This view is supported by developmental psychology, cognitive biology, neuroscience, and the field of music cognition.

It is scientifically proven that we all have innate musicality, which is exactly why music therapy is for people in all walks of life.

2. In fact, we have been always musical since the birth

When we were a baby, vocalization was a crucial tool to communicate with our caregivers. We were “eloquent” before words. We and our caregiver used timing, timbre, and melody to build a relationship. Malloch studies this caregiver and baby vocal interaction and coins the term “Communicative musicality”. He explains ‘Communicative musicality is the art of human companionable communication. […] It is the vehicle which carries emotion from one to the other’ (Mothers and Infants and Communicative Musicality, 1999).

Learning from Day 1, we have been using this skill in our later life. We all use this technique to make our communication effective if we are conscious or not. Examples are countless; we use loud enough voices to show confidence in a job interview, or we slow down our speech when delivering an important message to our friend.

So, even if you think you are not musical, you have the innate ability to play music.

3. There is no “wrong” or “right” way to play music

Music therapy appreciates however you play music, unlike conventional music education where you should play in a certain way. We all are different, therefore, we all have different musicality. Music therapists are there to support you to explore your own musicality.

4. Playing music in front of people can be nerve-wracking, and that’s okay

Yet, there is something that tingles people to say “Yes, I can play music”. Some might say “I can’t sing”, even if they enjoy singing when alone. Others might say “I am not musical at all”, even if they are good at keeping the rhythm by clapping hands for musicians.

One of the explanations could be performance anxiety, otherwise known as stage fright. Some people experience it when they have to perform a specific task, such as a music performance. There is a book thoroughly examining music performance anxiety from a psychological point of view (The Psychology of Music Performance Anxiety, 2011). Kenny, the author, explains that it is a widely experienced phenomenon, even Chopin suffered for it, and it can be treated.

Music therapy is not a music performance. If playing music is something “too much” for you, it might be useful to remember that there is nobody to judge your musicality in a music therapy session.

5. Listening to music together is another therapeutic activity

Passive engagement with music (listening) is no less than active engagement (playing). This is because, fundamentally, how music is used in music therapy is based on your need. We all know certain music reminds us of a certain time, people, and emotions. If it seems useful to listen to a song that you cherished during a difficult time, listening to it together in a session can be a useful therapeutic experience.

Would you like to see how OKUKO can support you to look after your mental health? Please get in touch with us via contact form or email ( The steps below would be then followed. Book an Assessment Session (We will suggest potential dates for an assessment session for you.) Assessment Session/s (An assessment session aims for both of us to see how music therapy could meet your needs. It would be helpful for us to know the reason/s why you would like to have music therapy. There would be also a chance for us to play music together.)

Consent Form (After the assessment, if you agree to start a course of music therapy, we will ask you to fill in a consent form and will discuss a start date with you.) Start Music Therapy


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