Book Review: Roots of Musicality – Music Therapy and Personal Development

Daniel Perret

Jessica Kingsley: (2005) ISBN 1843103362

This is a book that explores the profound relationship between music and the human spirit. It honours and celebrates the uniqueness of the individual while also gently challenging us to look beyond the fetters that often drag noisily behind us, keeping us from experiencing our true self in all its abundance. Daniel adopts a holistic approach to healing encompassing the spiritual, physical and psycho-energetic systems, giving particular prominence to the role of spirituality and our inborn qualities.

Through the many lived examples of his work with autistic and behaviourally challenging children in action, Daniel illustrates beautifully how sensitive musical intervention can offer the key that can unlock the inner barriers to a person’s inner resources and creativity. He also demonstrates how the development of a deep felt and intuitive knowledge of self, music, subtle anatomy and of the human spirit can create the nourishing conditions that can help bring about improved balance, harmony and lasting healing within ourselves and those with whom we may work with in a teaching or therapeutic capacity.

In his dealing with the study of energy and subtle anatomy, Daniel banishes any myths or false promises that often surround this way of working. He challenges the reader to “check out ” for themselves “even if it might take years”, what is involved. Far from a “quick fix” he illustrates time and again how much time and patient dedication is often required if any lasting change/healing is to take place.

Daniel explores both the individual and global dimensions of musicality and what it means. Furthermore he explores our biological and cultural musicality with its many sounds and rhythms and illustrates how the very musicality and rhythm of our hearts, breathing and digestion unite to create our own innate symphony. On a cultural level, he underlines how our own musicality is influenced by what we are exposed to, be that in school, at home, on the radio or television.

In exploring the concept of “harmony” Daniel makes the connection between musical “harmony” with that of harmony within the wider realm of the natural world. He perceives harmony not as a partial phenomenon but more a culmination of “all there is”. He challenges the reader to come to an understanding of, to question and participate in global harmonisation, which embraces our interconnectedness with our planet, and all people throughout the world.  Daniel incorporates the ancient wisdom of the Greek and Indian system of the “five elements” (that is earth, water, fire air and space) within his work and shows clearly how invaluable this way of working can be in helping create a seamless bridge between the inner and outer worlds of spirit, intuition and intellect.

Daniel suggests that it is through our thirst for harmony and wish to grow and develop that our innate musicality becomes transformed. He suggests that when we express ourselves musically in a spontaneous way we always communicate “something” which is a fingerprint of our own uniqueness and way of being within the world. Just as in his book “Sound healing with the five elements” (2005) Daniel explores the concepts of neuro-musical thresholds and how these can be observed in our expression, movements, way of talking and sound of our voice.

In his development of the impact of sound in its many forms he speaks of how sound  impacts not only our musculature but also our heart. Music can move us to happiness, tears, it can propel us to dance, sing, and tap our feet or clap. It can transport us to other times or places. Within the world of cinema and television it is used as a powerful tool to “set the scene”, for it can conjure up images of wild storms or tranquil lakes. Music is an often hidden catalyst interwoven into the very fabric of our everyday lives that awakens our feelings, emotions and imagination.

This is a very practical and accessible book filled with great depth, warmth, clarity and hope. It integrates the clinical with the intuitive traditional wisdom relating to sound, music and the human spirit. It poses many profound questions and encourages us to open ourselves to “the bigger picture” so that we may release ourselves from our fears and set our spirits free, to embrace our innate qualities, our creativeness; to be fully alive. This is a book that will be of interest to a wide audience. Whether it is for personal development, as a resource for therapists and teachers, for those working with sound, music and the creative arts or for musicians; it offers a breath of fresh air and clear practical suggestions of how we might proceed.

Patricia Bourke is an accredited member of I.A.H.I.P and works as a psychotherapist in private practice in Kilcock, Co Kildare and in Crumlin Social Services, Dublin.