Finding their inner music

By Chen Nan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-29 08:47:17

Finding their inner music
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Such is the potential of music therapy. Ever since a group of Chinese musicians came back from overseas, bringing modern theory and technique back to China in the early 1980s, music therapy has developed fast. It has been used by many hospitals in China, especially in the mental health field, according to Cui Yong, chief doctor of the rehabilitation center of Huilongguan Hospital, which was among the first hospitals in China to embrace it.

He notes that some universities, such as Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and Northeast Normal University in Changchun, Jilin province, offer a major to train music therapists.

"I can see a growing need for music therapists from the increasing number of people who have come to my studio," says Ma Xiao, 24, who became a music therapy volunteer in Xi'an when he was 18 and later founded KBL Music Therapy Studio in 2011.

His clients range from children with emotional problems, autism and cerebral palsy to students with examination anxiety. Now, three music therapists are working at Ma's studio and they have treated nearly 300 children with the stimulation of sound.

According to the statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million Chinese have various forms of mental disorder and 16 million of them are severely mentally ill.

Ma says his father, who is the director of a Xi'an-based public hospital, motivated him to make music therapy his career. After studying the piano at Xi'an Music Conservatory, Ma went to the Central Conservatory of Music in the capital for further training.

Besides helping children with emotional problems, Ma also has cooperated with hospitals in Xi'an, treating cancer patients and women with postpartum depression.

Ma uses the waist drum, a widely used folk instrument of northwestern China.

"Patients feel familiar about the instrument and they have the urge to play it. That's what we want, their active response and participation," says Ma, who uses a mix of improvisation and proven techniques.

Ma says that music therapy is an emerging field in China and many people still know little about it. He is working with Xi'an Music Conservatory to launch a music therapy major.

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