This psychologist and coach has helped musicians to face the creative process.
Historically, the use of music is one of the characteristics that distinguishes us from other animal species.
This is not a superficial feature about our psychology, precisely; we experience the properties of misical through basic mental processes in the functioning of our brain, to the point that we can use rhythms and melodies as a complement to psychotherapy.
In this article we interview Fernando Callejo, CEO and co-founder of the Madrid UPAD Psychology and Coaching psychological assistance center, which works with both music students and professional musicians seeking psychological care and solutions to creative blocks, as well as with patients who they benefit from music therapy.
Interview with Fernando Callejo: music as a form of expression
In his psychology center, Fernando Callejo works with a constant relationship with music and the performing arts. The musical is both in forms of psychological intervention, such as music therapy, and also in the focus of the needs of some clients and patients dedicated to music and creativity.
In this interview, Fernando tells us about his experience at UPAD Psychology and Coaching as a psychologist and coach.
The use of music and what we would today call the performing arts is one of the oldest social activities in human history. What do we know about its origin?
The truth is that there are quite a few theories about the origin of music, since the first musical instruments found in archaeological sites correspond to Prehistory.
Many philosophers, historians and musicologists comment that music as such is produced with song, which is why they believe that it was discovered at a time similar to the appearance of language. Other studies indicate that the musical expression appeared in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
As for the performing arts, it seems that the origin is located in the Greek theater, but as with music, it is difficult to specify an origin of both.
What things do we know thanks to the research field of Music Psychology?
The study of music has opened many fields as far as science is concerned. Today we find musicologists, psychologists and music therapists conducting, among other research, the influence of music on emotions or how music can alleviate the negative effects of cancer.
In the field of physical and intellectual disability, great advances are also being seen, because as I mentioned at the beginning, Music can serve as a form of expression.
What is most fascinating about the way the human brain processes music?
When I work with professional musicians, on the one hand, what impresses me the most is the creative ability to compose lyrics and melodies that express what they feel, and on the other hand, the ethereal conversations we have when we talk about how to convey what they create. Honestly, it is bestial to analyze the language of these privileged people.
Another of the qualities of music is that it is beyond words. Does this represent a disadvantage when it comes to giving it the importance it deserves in the educational system?
Not at all, or at least I don’t think so. In the end, music is a form of expression for many people who cannot find words to explain what they feel. Music therapy teaches us this.
There is so much diversity in the world that it would be good if schools began to work, on a compulsory basis, other forms of language as one more subject. An example could be sign language.
The problem that we find in our educational system regarding Music is that it is not taken seriously, it does not have the importance that it should have. There are people who do not like Mathematics, History or Science, but who is not interested in Music? It is something universal, and as such we should treat it.
In the same way in which the passage of the centuries has changed our culture, surely our way of living music has changed in the last centuries, or even in the last decades. Where are these changes most noticeable?
I think the change lies in accessibility. Today it is easier to come up with different types of music. This makes people have more freedom to choose what suits us the most. Another thing is to analyze where musical tastes and fashions are heading … it seems that nowadays “anyone” can make music.
But come on, answering the question I think the key is that it is becoming easier to access all kinds of music … commercial, rock, classical, etc.
And in terms of the therapeutic applications of music, how is it used to improve the well-being of clients?
At UPAD we work with many musicians, both on a therapeutic level and in their personal and professional development.
We meet people who have a lot to transmit but who are trapped or mistreated by their saboteur or because the world around them paralyzes them.
They tend to show certain insecurities (which diminish their self-confidence) in the face of new projects, such as facing the composition of a new album or the fact of how they want to develop a tour. Many others come to our psychologist center in Madrid to prepare auditions or concerts that have a lot of weight in order to face the following professional challenges.
Our objective is aimed at achieving high levels of performance (what I do), satisfaction (what I think) and well-being (what I feel), working on five psychological skills that we consider basic when working with any
What type of public goes to UPAD Psychology and Coaching to work in the musical field?
We truly meet all kinds of profiles, from children and adolescents studying at a conservatory to musicians with proven professional careers.
In the first case, they are future musicians who are developing their skills and who often find themselves in situations in which feeling evaluated, such as an audition or a test to enter a chamber group, causes them difficulty in the coping with it.
In these cases we try to work on the basis of their personality and self-confidence through strategies such as goal setting (SMART) for motivation, or Jacobson’s progressive relaxation to control activation.
In the case that they are professional musicians, whether they are oboists of a quartet, violinists of a chamber group, guitarists of a rock group or singer-songwriters, we draw up an action plan aimed at fostering their creativity and building their confidence, among others, with the aim that they themselves design their future as they have always dreamed of. We always teach them that the difference between a dream and a goal is a date. Where they see problems, we see challenges.