Mercedes College Music Therapy

Acclaimed for his outstanding achievements as a multi award winning sitarist, composer, and music director, Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh began playing the start when he was barely four years old. He was declared a child prodigy by Pt. Ravi Shankar at the age of eight and trained under the maestro himself for many years. He was conferred a doctorate in Sanskrit for his research into Samaveda and he has a family heritage over many generations in Ayurveda.

Hearing about the marvelous benefits of music therapy and Dr. Sardeshmukh's mastery in the field, several staff members expressed an interest in inviting him to the College. In October 2001, students ranging in age from 10 to 17 years met Dr. Sardeshmukh for the first time when he conducted several group music therapy sessions.

and strongly believes that music therapy has helped to combat the stresses felt by these young people in their final year of schooling. Sessions were originally held at the end of the school year as students prepared for their final exams, but this year, in response to requests from students, it was decided to offer a session at the very beginning of the year as well.

Students listen to music for approximately thirty minutes and then they have an opportunity to discuss their observations with Dr. Sardeshmukh. Wonderful conversation always follows and everyone has the chance to share in his or her own way. The students are always fascinated to learn about the effects that the music vibrations have on the body on a cellular level and to have their physical response explained in a scientific manner.

Students frequently ask how they can find balance in their lives saying that they often feel very tired. Conversation is then focused on the need for a healthy diet, restful sleep and exercise. Dr. Sardeshmukh suggests good home cooked meals offer the best foundation for creating more energy.

Many of 1200 students who make up our student body have experienced music therapy and some will have been lucky enough to have had more than one session. These students have found it easier to relax and surrender to the music during subsequent sessions, thus consciously experiencing some of the benefits to be had through amazing music therapy. We have all been impressed over the years with the insightful feedback that we have received from students and teachers following the sessions.

Already this year, Dr. Sardeshmukh has conducted sessions for the Year 12 students and during his next visit in June, all students in the Middle School, will be attending. Due to the overwhelming response from Year 12 students, Dr. Sardeshmukh will now be working with them each time he visits the College.

In February this year Mrs. Josi Babozetta, our Inclusive Education Coordinator and Gifted & Talented Program Consultant, hosted a music therapy session at the college for students and teachers from the Torrens Gifted and Talented cluster group. It was a wonderful opportunity for representatives from ten Catholic Colleges from Adelaide to come together for their first experience of music therapy and they very much enjoyed meeting Dr Sardeshmukh and having the chance to chat informally about the benefits of this therapy. We trust that it will support the students, helping them to have a more confident and focused approach to their studies.

Even the youngest members of the college community met Dr Sardeshmukh when he paid a surprise visit to their classroom last year. During the term they had enjoyed learning about different aspects of life in countries around the world including India and when they received this impromptu visit, their studies suddenly came to life! The children were very curious and managed to keep Dr Sardeshmukh occupied with an endless stream of wonderful questions, these being brought to an end by a lively piece of music on the sitar. Hearing the music, the children immediately began singing, dancing, and clapping, totally involved in the music, no fear, no inhibitions - just pure joy.

This beautiful childlike state is undoubtedly something that we would all like to experience. Music therapy helps us on a journey of self-realization and a return to our natural state.

Debbie Goss.

Photo - The Torrens Cluster Group for Gifted and Talented Students and their teachers joined with Dr Sardeshmukh.

November, 2005

Information: Preston Struthers, Adelaide