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KonkNaija Media | May 2, 2016

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Music Therapy to Promote Emotional Health & Traditional Healing in Nigeria

Music Therapy to Promote Emotional Health & Traditional Healing in Nigeria

| On 18, Feb 2013

In the African tradition, music accompanies Africans from the cradle to the grave. It is a well-known fact that music is employed abundantly in every stage of life and virtually every event in people’s existence. Music is played and enjoyed in African societies at various social, ritual and ceremonial occasions.

Clinical music therapy was introduced in Nigeria in 1985 by Prof. Mereni. He came to music therapy by the way of musicology and through music psychology and aesthetics. He then undertook his practical work under Frau Dr. Posch at the Salzburg Neurological Hospital in Austria.

Prof Mereni then worked both in clinical practice and as a music therapy lecturer in Florence (Italy) under the aegis of Ce.Tom – the central body controlling Music therapy awareness and practice in the province of Tuscany in Italy.

He is a member British Society for Music Therapy, an Honorary Fellow of Imaginative Music therapy (Trento- Italy), the co-founder of the (APSI) Association for Psycho-Therapy and Holistic Science (Vioterra- Italy) and the founder of the Music Therapy Association of Nigeria (MUTAN). He runs the Gemma -Regis Center for Music Therapy and also did music therapy consultancy at Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba at the request of Dr. Malomo. He is currently the Head of Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos, Akoka-Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.

The Journey Ahead

The journey of creating music therapy practice in Nigeria, despite its potential, is challenging. It is piloted by only a handful of people and as yet, the real lack of facilities for research, infrastructure and lack of support and assistance from organizations both in the private and public sectors has hindered the growth of this discipline. We expect the planned music therapy program in the University Of Lagos, Akoka-Yaba, Lagos State (for a diploma and postgraduate degree in music therapy) to be established soon, as it will promote and encourage the study and certification of music therapy in Nigeria. It will encourage research with various populations and promote relationships with international music therapy associations. 


“My experience with children at Tenderloving Childcare, Ikoyi- Lagos, Nigeria (creche and preschool) is quite unique. Music therapy is incorporated in the school’s program to care for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children to overcoming learning difficulties and to encourage the development of the children as a whole.. ” -Olayinka Ogunlade

Publications on Music Therapy in Nigeria

Adedeji, F. (1998). The theology and practice of music therapy among Nigerian indigenous churches: Christ Apostolic Church as a case study. Journal of Arts and Ideas, 1, 34-55.

Agwu, K.K. & Okoye, I.J. (2007). The effect of music on the anxiety levels of patients undergoing Hysterosalphingography. Radiography, 13(2), 122-125.

Aluede, C.O. (2005). An assessment of healing in traditional African belief and modern day pentecostal churches. Nigerian Journal of Christian Studies, 1(1), 93-106.

Aluede, C.O. (2006). Music therapy in traditional African Societies: Origin, Basis and Application in Nigeria.Journal of Human Ecology, 20(1), 31-35.

Aluede, Charles O. & Iyeh, M. A. (2008). Music and dance therapy in Nigeria: The task before the potential Nigerian music therapists in the twenty first century. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved April 3, 2008, from

Aluede, C.O. (2008). Music as therapy by the Iyayi society of Edo Sate, Nigeria. Unpublished Ph.D thesis at the Institute of African Studies: University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Aluede, C.O. & Ekewenu, D. B. (2009). Healing Through Music and Dance in the Bible: Its scope, competence and implication for Nigerian contemporary music healersStudies on Ethnomedicine 3(2), 159-163.

Aluede, C.O. & Eregare E.A. (2008). Music therapy and language: An examination of the therapeutic potency of selected Iyayi songs of the Esan, Edo state, Nigeria. A paper presented at the 8th National Conference of the Association of Nigerian Musicologists (ANM), department of Music Adeniran Ogusanyan College of Education Otto/Ijanikin on 2nd 6th June 2008.

Elder, J.D. (1976). African traditional music and ritual healing: A matter for serious research. Symposium on Nigerian Traditional Music, Institute of African studies, University of Ibadan.

Gbadegesin, E.O. (2003). Textual interpretation of therapeutic songs used in Nigerian hospitals: a case study of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-IfeNigerian Music Review, 4, 125-138.
Idamoyibo, A.O. (2007). Therapeutic songs used in Yoruba Christian healing homes: The Cherubim and Seraphim Church of Oshogbo as a case study. Nigerian Music Review, (7&8), 13-25.
Iyeh, M.A. & Aluede, C.O. (2006). An exploration of the therapeutic potency of music in Ichu-Ulor festival of Asaba people. Nigerian Journal of Musicology, 1(1), 124-142.
Mereni, A. E (1991). Musicoterapia per il recupero degli amalati psicofisici. Florence (Italy) Centro Toscano Per la Musicoterapia.

Mereni, A. E (1992). Musicoterapia – salute educazione nella Communita Europea. Italian Journal for Music Therapy, (P.U.M edition of Educazione Permanente), 105 – 109.

Mereni, A. E (1996). Kinesis and Katharsis. In Walter Ziefreund (Ed.), Therapien in Zusammenspiel der Kunste (pp. 277 – 297) (Monographs). Tübingen (Germany): Attepto Press.

Mereni, A.E. (1996). Kinesis and Kartharsis: (Part l)Traditional African concept of second/motion: its implication for and application in music therapy. British Journal of Music therapy. 10(1), 17-20.

Mereni, A. E (1996): Kinesis und Katharsis: (Part ll) The traditional causal theory of ailments. British Journal of Music therapy. 10(1), 20-23.

Mereni, A. E (1996): Kinesis und Katharsis: (Part III): Classification of African music therapy. British Journal of Music therapy. 10(2), 78-90.

Mereni, A. E. (1997). Philosophical foundation of traditional music therapy in African culture. Paper presented at the International Centre for African Music and Dance. University of Ghana. Sept. 3 – 5.

Mereni, A. E. (n.d.) Contatto In musicoterapia: esperienze Africane. , In F. Angeli Contatto (Ed.), Communicazione, Autismo. (A series of the encyclopedia, Pedagogia ed educazione speciale), (94-103), Millano.

Mereni, A. E (2002) Music therapy service in the treatment efforts of psychiatric patients. Yaba – Lagos (Nigeria) Psychiatric Hospital.

Mereni, A.E. (2004). Music therapy, concept scope and competence. Lagos: Apex Books Limited.

Mereni, A.E. (2004). Music therapy in medical history. Lagos. Apex Books Limited.

Mereni, A. E. (n.d.) Acoustic pollution and nervous diseases: Agents, symptoms and remedial measures.

Mereni, A.E (2007). Psychosis and neurosis: Towards a music therapeutical pathology. Interlink Journal of Arts (Unizik, Awka).

Mokwunyei, J.N. (1997). A Comparative Profile of Music and Healing in Two African Locations: Nigeria and Ghana. International Centre for African Music and Dance. University of Ghana. Sept. 3 – 5.

Nwokenna, E.N. (2006). Music therapy Intervention in the Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties of the Child: A Social Commitment in Nigeria. A paper presented at the Sixth Annual Musicological Society of Nigeria Held Between 9th to 13th May, 2006 at The Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.

Nzewi, M. (2002). Backcloth to music and healing in traditional african society. Voices: A World Forum for Music therapy. Retrieved April 3, 2008.

Ogunlade, O. A. (2011). Music therapy with persons living with HIV/AIDS, Unpublished Masters’ thesis. Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Omibiyi-Obidike, M.A. (1998). Music and healing among the Yoruba: Arts in the service of medicine. African Notes. 22 (1×2), 1-53.


culled from Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy

image credits Voices online

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