Ouwe Kusserd and Music Therapy student Christian Maliy spread the love
Music can be a tool to assist others with the challenges of life. That is what the Music Therapy course is all about. But what does this look like in practice? And which target groups in particular can you support through music therapy? Christian Maliy (26) is in his fourth year of Music Therapy studies and tries to work with “as many different target groups as possible, because truly, every experience is unique.”
From a young age, Christian has always wondered what motivates someone to get moving. Because of his open-minded attitude, innate musicality and strong desire to help others, the combination of musician and therapist fits him like a glove. "Finding meaning and connection are the most basic and important needs in life. Making music can help either create or find that sense of meaning. It connects people and breaks down barriers made by language. The fact that I can help others this way is really wonderful."
Christian enjoys the diversity of experiences he gets in the various settings in which he has worked. Last year, he created a theatre performance called Parki Party for people living with Parkinson's disease. He also rented a house at a care institution in exchange for music therapy for the elderly and had unique and meaningful experiences himself during the internship component of his study course. Christian: "One of my clients during my internship was Ms. A. She has Huntington's disease and lives at the care facility where I was interning. Huntington's is a rare hereditary brain disorder which causes brain cells to die, making tasks such as talking, walking and thinking increasingly more difficult. In the Netherlands, only around 1,700 people have the disease, so it doesn’t necessarily go without saying that as a music therapist, you will end up working with someone with Huntington’s disease. Before working with Ms. A, I learned what I could about the disease, with some help from my health teacher. “
In the flow
“The first meeting with Ms. A was quite a success. From the first moment we clicked well. We are both open people, so we felt comfortable immediately with each other. Ms. A is also a musical and creative person, so that always quickly got us in the flow. Songwriting seemed to come naturally for her, and we ended up writing a new song practically every week. Through these songs, Ms. A got the chance to organize and express her feelings. The song “Ik houd van jou” (I love you) is based on how she spoke and expressed love. She told me one time: “Once corona is over, I’m going to come after you and I’m going to kiss you.” We turned that into a song we wrote together. I came to understand her as a person so incredibly full of love, who always wanted to give cuddles and kisses to others. The artistic name she gave herself Ouwe Kusserd (The Old Kisser) was very appropriate for her, haha! She never really came after me, by the way!”
“I’m going to be famous!”
“Recording this song was a spontaneous idea. I love trying new things and luckily I had that freedom this time. Ms. A was also enthusiastic about making a music video and once she saw the finished video, she beamed and said: ‘I’m going to be famous!’ I think making this video was also an important part of her therapy. It gives a person a deep feeling of satisfaction, knowing that they have created something with someone else and are also able to show that to even more people. It’s very meaningful. You can also connect with other people with Huntington's disease this way, and those around them too, and spread the positive, loving message of Ms. A."
Lots to discover
Christian wants to gain more practical experience in the months that lie ahead, ideally with more diverse target groups. Christian: “I am working on a sequel to the Parki Party. At the Point for Parkison's Twente event, we want to put on a theater performance, and I also want to establish a small artists’ association for artists with Parkinson’s. In the meantime, I have discovered a new target group: kids! At the moment I’m working with foster children, refugee children and with kids in primary school. This has also opened another world for me, there is still so much to discover!”