Ming Yuan Low, MA, MT-BC, began playing piano when he was six years old in Malaysia, and learned at an early age the power of music to bring people together.
Low, a research fellow and PhD candidate in the Creative Arts Therapies Department, is a self-proclaimed introvert. But in high school, as the official national anthem piano player, he saw how easy it was to meet people when they requested he play pop songs beforehand. “Music allowed me to make connections with other people,” he says.
Low, a Chinese-Malaysian and founding committee member of the Malaysian Music Therapy Association, is exploring “the intersection of Chinese philosophies on health and music therapy” and "the intersection of neurodiversity and music therapy" in his doctoral work.
Low believes the predominant Western approach to music therapy and other healthcare fields focuses too much on billable treatment for illness. The Chinese philosophy, on the other hand, comes from a point of wellness.
“The intersection happens where we view the creative arts as a way to cultivate health, instead of an intervention to treat a disability or illness.”
ENGAGING IN MUSICMAKING
Low is using his experiences as a certified practitioner working with autistic clients at the Nordoff- Robbins Center for Music Therapy at New York University as building blocks for his PhD dissertation.
“With autism, what weʼre starting to understand is that communication styles are different than what society expects,” Low says. “Musicmaking is a great way to understand each other without explicitly asking them to conform to majority standards of communication, while honoring their unique autistic identities and voice.”