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Community Writing | Music can release people from their traumas | Mary’s Story

Hello there! Here’s the latest from our brave young people writing the letter they have always wanted to write, as part of our Community Writing Project sharing stories from our community. Our writer this week is Mary, a Beijing-based high schooler, who wrote a letter “to her parents” about a recent moving experience she had with music.

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To my dearest parents,

It's been quite a while since the last time I wrote to you. Last week, I attended an online session called “anonymous pen-pals”, where students write letters anonymously. It turned out to be great. Many students got to express their feelings freely. However, some students still couldn’t express themselves well and were still hiding their inner feelings deep inside their minds. My best friend Catherine is one of these students.

On the last school day of sophomore, I saw Catherine walk straight out of the classroom during class time without the teacher’s permission. Watching her walking out of the room, I knew it was the bipolar disorder that gave her a panic attack. It was not the first time. I learned from a psychology lecture that bipolar disorder can increase a person’s blood pressure and could potentially lead to this kind of panic attack. I was sad about what happened to my friend, but I couldn’t do anything to help her. So I went to talk with my psychology teacher, and she advised me to play the piano for my friend. I did as the teacher told me, and with my music playing, Catherine was able to calm down. Music’s calming effect drives me to dive into how music can release people from their traumas and help them step out of their experiences.

I asked my teacher about the power of music, and she told me about music therapy. She even introduced me to a Music Therapy program in Sabah, Malaysia. With great interest, I attended the program last summer and learned about basic music therapy with the local music therapist. The most memorable concept that I was taught is tuning in—patients and the therapist reach a musical harmony in melody and pitch. When practicing tuning in, I came to realize that music therapy uses music as a form of communication to guide patients to express their feelings. Without verbal communication, people use different instruments and tones to play harmonious music with a beautiful melody and perfect pitch. Tuning-in also means using different melodies and rhythms to stimulate different human emotions and to help music therapists understand patients’ traumas.

When you heard that I will attend the program in Malaysia, you didn’t support me because you were concerned about my safety. However, I actually learned a lot during those music therapy workshops. I really hope that you can understand my wish and support my decisions in the future.



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