Dr. Meenakshi Ravi – Meera Center for Music Therapy Education and Research, Bangalore
Dr. Meenakshi Ravi is a professional musician, music therapist, counsellor and executive director of the Therapy Center. She holds a masters degree in Social Work, Carnatic Music, Doctorate on “Psychosocial profile of women with marital discord and counselling intervention” from Bangalore University and proficiency in Carnatic Classical Vocal Music.
She did professional counselling for more than 3000 individuals and imparted Carnatic music training for more than 300 students in Meera Music Center. A constant and continuous musical journey and professional experience in the field of mental health empowered her to explore Carnatic Music in three dimensions;
1. Music as a promoter of human values.
2. As a promoter of mental health as a therapeutic intervention/curative
3. As a medium for spiritual growth/Nadayoga.
Meera music center was started in 1987 with the objective of imparting music training to children at various levels. Mridangam, a percussion instrument was also taught. Besides teaching music in various forms like bhajans, classical music, slokas/Sanskrit hymns, light music, folk music, devotional music, the importance of creating awareness was strongly felt along with the impact of learning music on the student’s personality and the holistic health of the student.
Dr Meenakshi says, “The entry of children with special needs to our music school paved a strong footing to administer music as a therapeutic intervention. Added to this, the experiences as a professional counsellor enabled me to use music as a tool for clientele for emotional catharsis, experience joy, positive and optimistic thinking.”
Since almost 20 years, Carnatic music has been administered as a therapeutic measure for children with various challenges such as Autism, ADHD, Drown Syndrome, Mental Retardation, Psychological and behavioural problems, Hyperactive, Dyslexia cerebral palsy etc.,
Mission of the institution:
· Music therapy for specially-abled children and individuals with varied health issues.
· Production of therapeutic CD’s.
· Publish books, magazines and journals relating to music therapy.
· Research centre.
· Music therapy training programme.
· Organising therapeutic music concerts, conference, awareness programmes, workshops and symposiums.
· Our centre has been rendering services in all these areas. Music undoubtedly is one of the most supplementary, alternative therapies for special children.
When asked about the role of music therapy in treating autism, she explained that, music plays a very significant role in treating autism because of its therapeutic qualities. It relaxes the mind, heals emotions, modifies mood, activates imagination, promotes memories, increase joy/happiness, inculcates positivity and optimism, awakens our feelings, energizes our body, stimulates our brain, ignites our soul, expands our thinking, helps us to sleep, helps us to wake up, helps us to meditate.
She specifies that teaching method varies from child to child. Teaching method is designed individually according to the degree of autism, sitting tolerance and ability to learn.
What kind of change you see in a child through these music sessions?
· The joy of singing enhances to a great an extent.
· Improvement in sitting tolerance and calmness.
· Improvement in eye-to-eye contact and relevant response.
· Progress in self-esteem and self-confidence.
· Improvement in social interactions.
Though there are so many memories to share with, she fondly recalls one for us, about 16 years old Ananth-
“Severely autistic, came to music therapy about 2 years back. He never looked at me, spoke to me, bending down his head just listen to my singing for a month. Whatever I taught was recorded, he regularly used to listen at home. After a month, he looked at me and started singing. Wonderful melodious voice poured out series of songs that were taught.
Very good rapport was established. Ever since, his learning of Carnatic classical music, devotional songs, bhajans, folk music etc. has enabled him to perform on the stage, lift his head with confidence, enjoy his singing, gain applause and recognition from audience. It is most satisfying and a meaningful experience to see the joy in his parent’s eyes. Thanks to music therapy.”
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