Through the magic of music and song, the motion picture "AMY" depicts how a young girl broke through her world of silence with the use of a form of "music therapy" as her primary tool of communication. Music therapy, in general, entails the use of music to restore, maintain, and improve emotional, physical, and spiritual health and well-being. The goals and objectives of music therapy include improving communicative, emotional, social, academic, and motor skills.
Dr. Clive Robbins , of the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy at New York University, applies the principles related to music therapy to treat many of his patients. Dr. Robbins claims, "Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential development. Music has a lot of universality. You bypass so many barriers to communication, and it seems to reach more of the child than anything else."
Further, Dr. Oliver Sacks, a world-renowned clinical professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, explains the benefits of music therapy in treating his patients. The motion picture "AMY" excitingly demonstrates these principles and benefits. The use of language alone only activates the left-hemisphere of the brain, the language center of the brain. However, when music is played, both the right and left hemispheres light up and react.
Dr. Sacks says that "Because so many billions of neurons are firing when music is heard, it is more likely that the brain will be encouraged to move language tasks from the left hemisphere of the brain to the right hemisphere." Sacks emphasizes the importance of music in treating patients, "What I’m trying to drive at is that for me music is more than language. It is language which symbolizes reality. They are words which are used to represent real things. Music IS reality. It doesn’t symbolize anything. It communicates directly with the emotions and it expresses itself through sound. Music is also intellectual. The complexity of thought which goes into the composition of sounds to produce is extraordinary. "
Sacks proposes five fundamental functions of music and its use as communication:
- Music, like all other artistic pursuits, exercises our need to imagine and create.
- Music is an emotive form of expression and communication which has no equivalent.
- Music makes a fundamental contribution to our physical, intellectual and emotional well-being because music is fun.
- Music plays a major role in identification, establishment, consolidation and evolution of social and cultural groups. Music helps us identify ourselves as individuals and as part of a group.
- Music provides us with a knowledge of the ‘connectedness’ humans have with the universe.
We hope that through the power and beauty of song, the motion picture "AMY" may help to encourage this type of alternative communication therapy as a source of healing.