Music & Time: International Perspectives

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

World Congress of Music Therapy

Conference Location

Vienna, Austria

Peer Review



Sears asserted that music demands time-ordered behavior. Upon close examination of his writings, it is evident that he is not referring to “moving to the beat.” Rather, his theory is based on time perception as it relates to both biological and psychological health. He contends that time holds the key to normal biological functions as well as psychological. Illness, be it physical or emotional, then is understood to disrupt or disorder time perception. The converse is also true, distorted time perceptions can lead to physical or emotional illness. Sears’ theory suggests that melody and rhythm can serve as a “…therapeutic tool for correcting temporal disintegration” (Sears, 2007, p. 141). He also acknowledges the cultural aspects of time, noting that individuals often perceive time differently and that difference is to be respected.

In this workshop, we will provide an overview of Sears’s conception of time including an overview of the temporal states that inform his theory. We will present various perspectives on Sears’ theory as it relates to clinical practice and cultural norms. Through the use of clinical case material, each presenter will discuss how time distortions or misperceptions are manifest in various mental and physical disorders. This will be followed by a discussion of how music recalibrates time perception. There will be time at the end for further discussion of the concepts and clinical case material that have been presented.


Arts and Humanities | Music

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