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Sunday Chronicle headliners 22 Oct 2017 A musical soup for t ...

A musical soup for the troubled soul

Published Oct 22, 2017, 12:48 am IST
Updated Oct 22, 2017, 12:48 am IST
A mantra is a combination of certain sounds.
A mantra is a combination of certain sounds. And the sound waves these voices generate in the atmosphere brings about changes in the person.
 A mantra is a combination of certain sounds. And the sound waves these voices generate in the atmosphere brings about changes in the person.

The first thing that Dr Evelet Sequeira does when someone visits her for sound therapy is run through his or her playlist. The reason is simple: the practice gives her an understanding of what is going on in their mind, how and what they think, and more.  “The playlist they have on their phone contributes a lot to their thought process. It not only makes or breaks their day but also affects moments that encompass their day,” she says. 

Dr Evelet, who has been a sound therapist since 2013, works mainly with Tibetan bowls. For her, sound and music are really interesting; especially how they affect our behaviour. And that is exactly what persuaded her to become a sound therapist.


Going back to explaining how exactly examining a music playlist helps her to gauge the behaviour and thought process of a person, Evelet says that people follow certain listening habits for specific moods. For instance, she says that someone who is suicidal is more likely to listen to metal, death metal, hard rock, and music along those lines. Although she is quick to add that these are only generic inferences. “Every person is different and many might just enjoy metal music. But getting an idea of what they listen to on a daily basis gives me a head start about how to deal with them,” she clarifies. 

Evelet explains how sound and vibrations affect the human thought process, “Music therapy is a part of sound therapy, where sound is like an all encompassing entity that is used differently.”

Sound and music work in mysterious ways, and is perceived differently as well. What could mean sad and depressive to one could simply be enjoyable to other. Not only are the implications of sound and music on mood but also on several other things.

Ayesha Mehta, a speech therapist, mainly works with children. But her work doesn’t just end there. As a speech therapist, she fuses the benefits of music to guide kids who come to her with certain blockages in their speech abilities. “Several children who come to me have difficulty speaking,” she begins. “They don’t speak at all or have a long, long delay in their speech and language skills. For instance, a child of four years old could be showing the speech skills of a two year old when they approach me.”

She recalls an incident where a young girl had come with her mum with a peculiar problem — selective mutism. “Selective mutism is a really interesting problem, where the person in question goes completely mute in front of certain people, or in certain social situations,” she begins explaining, adding that it could be triggered by several factors differing from individual to individual. 

“So this girl used to go completely mute in school — she used to refuse to talk, she didn’t talk to her teachers, or even to her peers,” says Ayesha. “When her mum bought her to me, she was herself surprised by her daughter’s behaviour, because she used to see the kid chirping at home,” she adds. 

Ayesha fuses the benefits of music to her body of work. “Music is universal and every child perceives it positively,” she explains. The speech therapist mainly modifies the intonations of words that open up blockages in these children’s minds and throats. 

When one speaks of music and sound therapy, it isn’t just limited to piano, violin or Tibetan bowls. Chanting also has a role to play. 

Anuradha Paudwal, who has lent her voice to several renditions of chants, says that when combined with the right notes and ragas, these chants often give off a vibe that changes people. “A mantra is a combination of certain sounds. And the sound waves that these voices generate in the atmosphere brings about changes in the person. Especially when music is combined with the mantras, certain ragas have certain attributes that benefits the person listening to it,” she explains. 

Adding an example, Anuradha elaborates how the Ram Raksha Stotra, a Sanskrit hymn, positively affects the mood of a person and also the space around him. “It is usually chanted in the saanj bela (the evening). When one has that melancholic feeling, chanting this a few times makes all the difference,” she says.