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My Path into Music Therapy

For Academic Bio, please scroll down. 

Ten years ago, I graduated in a Masters in Singing. My focus at the time was artistic, resulting in a very fruitful and professionally satisfying period of performances and intense collaboration in creative projects of a very varied nature. However, aside from my artistic vocation, I have been curious since an early age about a dimension of music that goes beyond aesthetics.

In fact, music, from the beginning of its earliest manifestations, has been a means for members of human communities to connect, to meet at the most intimate and profound level: lullabies, for example, are one of the fundamental love expressions at hand for caregivers to connect with newborns. In this context, at the beginning of life, music is not only a palpable expression of care and love, but it can also have a calming and soothing effect. Also, towards the end of life, music is widely recognised as an extremely valuable bridge to the eldest in our communities. Many of our elderly are afflicted by dementia, Alzheimer or other neurological degenerative disorders, so that they eventually lose their verbal functions, often well before the appearance of other cognitive constraints and the final dilution of the very conscience of the self.

I have witnessed this sort of degenerative processes in my family, when, as adolescent, I used to sing to my grandfather during his last stages of dementia. It struck me how he could follow melodies and even mumble parts of lyrics despite having lost his speech long ago. Furthermore, my singing would have an influence over his facial expression and breathing patterns. Although I did not grasp the underlying workings of this phenomenon, this experience moved me profoundly.

That is why, when years later, as a teacher, I observed the impact that voice lessons could have on emotion regulation and stress relief, I resolved to further explore the potential health benefits of music. The opportunity to realise it arose in 2016, when I enrolled in a Master in Music Therapy at CODARTS, Rotterdam.

The subsequent three and a half years of training as music therapist were very intense, transformative and enriching, not only from a knowledge acquisition perspective, but also at a deeper, introspective level. Through that period, I got to acquire fundamental knowledge across many different disciplines ranging from physiology, through neurology to psychology. Additionally, I had the chance to further develop artistic skills such as improvisation and composition, as well as getting familiar with other musical instruments. I also got the opportunity to integrate all that knowledge in a patient-centered way, responsively and adaptively interacting with each patient, in a unique, context-specific way.

Towards the end of the Masters, my activities focused on the specific needs of patients being at the beginning or at the end of life and of those accompanying them:

On the one hand, the theme of my thesis was the role of music therapy in NICUs (Neonatal Intensive Care Units). This research was supported to a substantial extent by the Sant Joan de Déu hospital, in Barcelona in collaboration with Associació Ressò, led by Núria Bonet. My main interest was the clinical use of music therapy in the framework of pregnancy and premature newborns (see abstract of the master thesis here), for whom the impact of music therapy has been proven as key in the reinforcement of attachment between caregiver(s) and the baby. Newborns spending the first weeks or even months of their lives in a NICU are subject to necessary but unfortunately painful treatments while being deprived of skin-to-skin contact. These circumstances may have detrimental consequences on said attachment. In this clinical setting, interactive live music therapy is a powerful tool to mitigate the traumatic effects that premature birth could originate. Furthermore, the benefit of an early intervention of that kind spans beyond said psychological aspect of attachment: consistent evidence hints at the supportive role of music therapy towards neurological development of the infant, as well as at its impact on the speed and extent of maturation at a cognitive, behavioural and motor level.

On the other, a nine-months internship within a multi-disciplinary team at a nursing home in Den Haag under the supervision of Harry van den Berghe, was a very positive and inspiring experience that has defined my current trajectory as music therapist. Since March 2020, I am a proud member of said team, where curiosity for the most recent developments in research often leads us to apply novel ideas on treatment strategies during the sessions with our patients.

Music Therapy: Bio
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Lecture at the 7th International Conference of the IAMM, May 2022, Athens, Greece

Music Therapy: Image
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Conference at Miracles of Music with Psychologist Maria Stella. November 2019

During this lecture, Maria and I presented the possible benefits of Music Therapy at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or at other complex situations where attachment may be compromised. We discussed the importance of enabling a secure attachment (Bowlby / Schore) and how music therapy - especially the use of voice - has been found to inhibit stress and fear responses and encourage social behaviour (Porges), as well as how this is crucial for the child's optimal neurodevelopment (Shoemark; Ettenberger & Beltran, Haslbeck, Loewy).

If you are interested in such a workshop or conference, do not hesitate to contact me.

Music Therapy: Welcome

Academic Bio

Workshop at: HU Amersfoort "The inextricable physio-psychological link between singing and wellbeing" December 2022, Amersfoort, NL

Attendee at: ArtEZ, First Sounds: Rhythm, Breath, Lullaby (RBL) Tier 2 - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Training, November, 2022, Enschede, NL

Lecture at: the International Conference of the International Association for Music and Medicine "Music Therapy at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit - Sant Joan de Déu Pediatrics Hospital, Barcelona" May, 2022, Athens, Greece

Workshop during the International Congress of the International Association for Music and Medicine "The inextricable physio-psychological link between singing and wellbeing" May, 2022, Athens, Greece

ArtEZ, Training Certificate -follow up Integrative Music and Medicine "Music and Medicine" April-June, 2022, Enschede, NL

ArtEZ, Training Certificate "Music and Medicine" April, 2022, Enschede, NL

Lecture at: Codarts, Thesis presentation to first year Music & Dance Therapy graduate students, Jan. 2021, Rotterdam, NL

Attendee at: NICU Webinars by Music Therapy Consulting - Petra Kern, Jan. 2021, USA 

Attendee at: Intergenerational Trauma Conference - Action Trauma, Jan. 2021, Belfast, UK

Codarts, - Master Degree in Music Therapy, 2020, Rotterdam, NL

- Thesis: Music Therapy at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Supervisor: Kathinka Poismans. Jan. 2020

Attendee at: Trauma Summit 2020 - Action Trauma LTD – 22nd & 23rd June, 2020, Belfast, UK

Attendee at: Round Table on Music Therapy in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit – Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research – November 2020, Cambridge, UK

ArtEZ, Training Certificate “Music Therapy in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit” level 1, 2018, Enschede, NL

Estill Voice International, - Certified Course, level 1&2, 2012, Amsterdam, NL

Koninklijk Conservatorium, - Master of Music, solozang, 2010, Den Haag, NL

- Professors: Barbara Hannigan, Maria Acda, Peter Kooij, Michael Chance, Jill Feldman, Carolien Drewes

Koninklijk Conservatorium, - Bachelor of Music, solozang, 2008, Den Haag, NL

- Professors: Gerda van Zelm, Peter Kooij, Michael Chance, Jill Feldman, Carolien Drewes

Conservatori de Vila-seca, - Bachelor of Music, singing, 2004, Catalunya, ES

- Professors: Enriqueta Tarrés, Alba R. Forasté, Alan Branch, Heidrun Bergander

Conservatori del Liceu, - Pedagogy course, 2003, Barcelona, Catalunya, ES

Federació Catalana d’Entitats Corals, - choir conducting degree, 2003, Barcelona, Catalunya, ES

Conservatori de Vila-seca, - Bachelor of Music, violin 2000, Catalunya, ES

- Professor: Evelio Tieles.

Music Therapy: Bio
Music Therapy: Pro Gallery
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