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Music Therapy column: Tune in and start the journey

Tameside Radio's Music Therapy may not profess to offer professional therapy, but offers so much more than just the chance to kick off your shoes and relax...

So far in my musings in this column I’ve talked a lot about the ‘music’ side of our show, but maybe a little less about the ‘therapy’ side of things, writes Michael Taylor.

Neil came up with the name, and I think it’s genius. Why would you listen to our show on a Sunday night when you could be watching a detective drama on BBC, or Britain’s Got the Pop Factor on Ice, or whatever?

I digress, it’s genius because that’s the place many of us are on a Sunday night, a time to unwind and get your head in a different space. 

Put your phone away, forget about what’s mithering you and go with our flow.

Music can have an unbelievable ability to shift your mood and take you to another mental place. 

We want that place to be happy, reflective, one of empathy and love. It might not always be familiar, because we also want it to make people feel calmer and happier.

That’s what’s also behind our philosophy of ‘no such thing as a guilty pleasure’. If we like it, we’ll play it.

Neil, one of the most clued up people I know, can drop a Japanese house music track next to Simply Red, an Ibiza club classic, right after Dire Straits. And I’m exactly the same, but not as cool.

And context is everything. Take Kevin Rowland’s version of The Greatest Love of All – to me it’s the most brittle, proud, brave rendition I’ve ever heard. Others think he sounds like a warbling pub singer. 

I love Kev, and knowing where he was when he first recorded that, at the very bottom, I can’t hear the words ‘they can’t take my personal dignity’ without welling up. It’s raw inspiration.

But here’s a disclaimer. Neither me or Neil are mental health professionals. 

We have a sensitivity to mental health issues and want to get it right, but we’ll never claim that our approach can serve as a cure or a catch all. 

We aren’t radio therapists, we don’t aspire to be like Fraiser Craine from the 90s’ TV series. We just play music.

I was chuffed to hear Dr Richard Bircher on this station – Dr Rick is godfather to one of my sons and a lovely, lovely man. 

Stalybridge GP Richard Bircher 

He’s qualified to talk about this kind of thing, we’re just playing you music that might help. 

If you need help with a condition, go and see him, or if you aren’t lucky enough to live in Stalybridge, then your own GP can start you on that path to help.

It should go without saying, but it needs saying, sadly. There are a lot of memes on social media that put out bad advice and misdiagnoses on mental health conditions. 

There are too many unqualified so-called experts who set themselves up as agents of support, or quasi therapists, without any qualifications to do so. 

I worry sometimes that some of these people use mental health issues as the latest marketing gimmick to lure in vulnerable people. That’s what I’m trying to say, I think. 

Music is therapy. It has a power, a magic, a pathway to parts of your consciousness that defies explanation. 

We want to share that with you, to help you on your way to a better place. It can’t end with us, but if it starts, then that’s just great.

You can listen to Michael Taylor and Neil Summers on Music Therapy on Tameside Radio 103.6FM on Sunday evenings from 9pm to 11pm. Click here to subscribe and catch up on previous shows.

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