How to Play the Talking Drum in Seven Days

How to Play the Talking Drum in Seven Days
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Monday, 6 September 2021



DJ Irawo: The Maverick

My parents unsuccessfully tried to prevent me from sharing my mental health stories online.

Whenever my parents took me for my psychiatric sessions at the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital at Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun state, I would try to take pictures and videos of myself walking by the trees.

Those trees are beautiful and peaceful.

The ambience of that hospital is serene, soothing and calming.

Soon, I would love to visit the doctors and patients.

I would love to show myself to the doctors as a product of their intellectual efforts.

I would love to show myself to the patients as encouragement of what would be if they take their medicine and therapy according to prescription.

I would love to shoot a music video in that environment too.

As I was saying, they said that I was disgracing their family.

So, I stopped using my parents' names on my wall.

I have stopped using my ex-husband's name even before our marriage packed up.

I am Irawo Drummer!

AKA Drum Jamming Irawo!

AKA Disc Jockey Irawo!

Let me disgrace myself by myself.

After a second chance to live, I no longer care about disgrace or anything of that nature.

My aim is to bring light to the issue of mental health in Nigeria.

I am not ashamed to share my story.

I am a living testimony that one can still live a purposeful life after depression, suicidal attempts and divorce.

Check out my Cool Vibe videos about music therapy and mental health via these links:


Musically yours,

DJ Irawo




An introduction ceremony in the Yoruba tradition is a day where the family of a fiancé visits the family of his fiancée for a  formal introduction.

After the ceremony, it is deemed that the fiancé and fiancée are ‘legally’ engaged and marriage plans can then be fixed.

Aderemi (not real name) fell into a depression on the day of her introduction ceremony.

While guests were seated in the living room awaiting the arrival of her fiancé and his family, she was responding to an SOS conversation. Her fiancé had called to call off their relationship.

When her mother realized that her daughter was taking too long in her room, she decided to check on her and found her slumped on the ground.

Chaos! Havoc! Pandemonium!

Two weeks after this incident, her widowed mother visited me to ask for my advice about how to get her treated. She was aware that I was living with my parents while recuperating from a failed suicide attempt and going through my divorce proceedings.

She told me that her daughter had been given a break from work and was at home simply staring into space.

I advised her to register her daughter at any of the following psychiatric hospitals:

  1. Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja
  2. Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital,Yaba, Lagos State
  3. Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State

We agreed on LUTH and ended our conversation on a good note only for me to hear afterwards that she took her daughter to a white-garment church for spiritual cleansing.

The young lady was taken to a beach at night and beaten till her body peeled.

She had to agree to the interrogations by the prophet and his prayer warriors that she was totally free so that she could escape their spiritual fangs.

The situation got worse.

She decided to pack a few things and stayed with a friend for a few weeks. She felt better and was able to return to work.

Afterwards, she came home, packed her remaining things and bade farewell to her mother.

Her mother came back to ask us what she should do about her daughter who had clearly disowned her.

It is a waste of time to give this woman another piece of advice. It is too late.

So, why do many Nigerians feel that mental health problem is a spiritual problem?

David in Saul’s Service – 1 Samuel 14-23

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul and an evil[a] spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better and the evil spirit would leave him.

My problems with the above Bible passage are listed below:

1.   Why would God, who calls Himself, our father bring such a drastic sickness on one of His children for committing a sin?

2.   Why would he favour one child at the detriment of another (favouring David over Saul when it is clear that He is the one that made Saul to behave in such a manner)? Is he teaching us favouritism?

3.   Is this the reason why white-garment churches and indeed many Christians believe that mental health issues have roots in evil spirits and put the patients who ought to be loved and cared for through torture?

The only positive part of this passage is that music was able to soothe Saul and brighten up his mood.

Clearly, music therapy started from here.

It irks me when people tell mentally challenged people that evil spirits are tormenting them and that is the reason why they have mental health issues.

They call them sinners who need to atone for their sins and lock them up in churches and mosques to get help through series of prayers.

These children and adults are sexually molested by the people who were contracted to pray for them and they end up leaving these gas chambers with more problems than the ones that brought them there in the first place.

Why are Nigerians the only ones that are seeing evil spirits?!

In my opinion, religion has done more harm than good to humanity in this country and it keeps on getting worse.

Every day, Nigeria keeps getting dragged closer into a dungeon despite the existence of a million religious organizations in this nation but my people are too blind to realise it.

Countries with zero or less religions are doing better than Nigeria in terms of economic, scientific and technological developments but my people will go to church to pray for jobs inside once-upon-a-time factories-cum-churches.

How do we break away from this mentality?

As for me, humanity is my religion.

You may also read one of my blog posts titled: World Mental Health Day 2020

Read another story about another white-garment-church-beating from my brother-in-law in this two-part story, The One Way Street to Depression

Musically yours,

DJ Irawo

Sunday, 5 September 2021



How I Discovered the Benefits of Music Therapy for Pregnancy, Childbirth and Postpartum Depression

After birthing my first son on August 26, 2002 at the Apapa General Hospital, Lagos, I suffered from postpartum depression.

He weighed 3.75kg at birth and it was a very painful experience for me.

At that time, I did not know what it was called. I just thought that I was weighed down with trying to adjust to my wifely and motherhood duties and juggling my undergraduate lectures and professional examinations in accounting together.

My plate was full!

I did not get treatment for it because I did not know that I had a problem but I could not explain why I was usually moody. 

However, I have always loved to listen to music and I did just that on a regular basis and it helped to brighten up my mood whenever I felt sad.

I was tempted to drop out of school but after much thought, I pulled myself together. 

I decided to defer my professional examination and took things easy upon the realization that I had to share my time with my baby and my husband.

I flunked all my courses in my final year. My grades dropped from the first class. I was tired of school. 

Eventually, I graduated with a second class upper with no carryovers. I did not really care because I was already having doubts about pursuing a career in accounting but I did not want to disappoint my parents.

Two years after childbirth, I was given a Jehovah witness magazine by a preaching couple who came by my house.

One of the topics in that magazine was postpartum depression. That was when I realized that what I suffered from two years ago was postpartum depression.

So, I went online to learn more about it and I discovered other types of depression such as bipolar disorder. 

I also discovered that I could listen to organized music to help ease the anxiety.

I decided to consult a psychiatrist at the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro, Ogun State. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and given anti-depressants.

This happened because I did not get treated the post partum depression treated on time.

Armed with this knowledge, I was able to prepare myself for psychiatric treatment after I had a painful miscarriage in 2006. 

The miscarriage happened in church. I had just completed my National Youth Service in Lagos. 

I had wanted to get up to go with the choir to the podium to render a special number. As I got up, I almost fainted as blood gushed out of me like a tap. I was rushed home by some of the choristers.

I took a bath and lay down on the couch. After a while, I felt like urinating. As I got up to go to the toilet, I felt a thud in my pant. What could it be? Did I just defecate in my pant?

I doubted it. The thud came from my vagina. I knew it.

Slowly, I pulled down my pant and there it was….a foetus. It must have been about six weeks old. It was already formed into a baby with a head but no arms and legs.

I let out a sharp cry and cried for a while. Afterwards, I got a tissue paper, put the foetus in it and kept it in a bowl in front of the bathroom. I wanted my husband to see it when he came back from church with our son before flushing it down the toilet.

I fell into a depression afterwards. Music came to the rescue. In addition, my spirit was lifted after I got an invitation by the Nigerian Navy for an aptitude test. I had applied for a short service career with the Nigerian Navy after rejecting Access Bank’s job offer. I was already bored with my bank job. I was looking for something exciting. 

I came second in the Lagos test and I was invited to Onne, Port Harcourt for another series of written tests, physical tests, health tests and oral interviews. I excelled in all these tests but I began to feel funny shortly after I got back home.

I went for a blood test and I was sure that no matter how well I performed at the other tests, I must have failed the Navy urine and blood tests because I was pregnant again.

I often fell sick and could not apply for another job. So, I stayed at home and applied for a music scholarship at the Pencils Film and Television Institute (PEFTI) after I watched the advertisement on Silverbird Television whilst watching cartoons with my son.

I was the only one selected for music. So, I began music school with my bulgy belly.

For my second childbirth on June 5, 2007 at the Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos, I was prepared. 

I listened to a lot of music during my pregnancy. Before my delivery date I had prepared playlists that I listened to via my phone and earphone to help ease the tension.

I had induced labour for my first and second childbirths as these babies refused to come out. They wanted to build mansions inside of me.

As I waited to get induced by the doctor, I was anxious. So, I brought out my headphones and tried to listen to the radio. 

The conversations on the radio talk show were distracting and made me uncomfortable. I needed to focus. So, I switched to my music playlist.

The first playlist were songs that I loved: a blend of hip hop and soul music.  

After the doctor induced me, I began to feel pains and then I began to feel uncomfortable with the lyrics of the music. I just wanted to hear the melody and rhythm of the music. So, I switched to another playlist that consisted of jazz music without lyrics.

My mother told me to remove my earphones so that I would be comfortable. I did not listen to her. Besides, the screams of the other women in the labour ward were distracting. She did not know that I was comfortable listening to my music instead of the distracting screams around me.

These women were screaming at the top of their lungs about the pain that they were going through. It seemed as though they were first-time mothers.

In that ward, there were five women in labour including me. I was the last patient to come into the ward.

The woman by my left-hand side had been there the evening before. I met her crying and screaming at intervals when I got into the ward.

The woman by my right was brought in by her husband in the early hours of that morning.

One of the two women across the room, obviously, a Muslim woman was screaming, “Allahuakba!” and at intervals, she would curse her husband for impregnating her and vow never to allow him to touch her again.

Afterwards, she exclaimed that she was tired of the labour pains and that she would opt for a caesarian operation. The nurses tried in vain to calm her down and explain to her that having a CS was expensive but her mind was made up.

The fifth lady was simply shouting, “Jesus!!!” and then she would begin to wail.

As the labour pains grew worse, I carefully removed my earphones and phone and put them in my bag. 

I removed all of my clothing. I just wanted to be naked and comfortable.

I did not bring any drum with me but I needed something to distract me.

So, I drew one of the side cupboards close to me and began to beat heavily on the table beside me to divert my attention away from the pain that I was going through.

One of the nurses said I was disturbing the peace of the hospital. I ignored her and continued drumming. At least, I was not shouting like the other women.

I did this for the next three hours until the doctor came to check on me and said it was time to push. 

My second baby weighed 4.5kg. The doctor said that if she had known that my baby was going to be that big, she would have suggested that I had it via CS.

I did not need a CS. Music gave me the power to push.

It was shortly after my third childbirth that realized that choosing between natural birth and a CS is like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The ward where I was placed was full of women who had just had CS. 

Some of them would wail as the wound below their stomach was being treated by the nurses and I would begin to cry.

I told my husband to come and get me quickly. I could not stand the gory sight anymore.

It would have been so nice if they had music to help ease their pain. 

Unfortunately, I could not do that for them. I had to take care of my baby and myself as I had become very weak.

As I was saying, I gave birth before the four women that I met at the ward.

The Muslim woman had been whisked to the theatre for a CS after she continued to persist.

The woman on my left side too decided to opt for a CS and my mother asked her if her husband could afford it. No, he could not. He had just lost his job and she was a first-time mum. 

She was motivated by me. I asked her if she wanted to use my music method and she replied in affirmation.

So, I played my playlists via speaker and told her to concentrate on the music and soon, she was delivered of a baby girl.

After two weeks of childbirth, I discovered that I had begun to suffer the same symptoms that I suffered after my first baby and after the miscarriage in addition to being forgetful.

I found it difficult to comprehend conversations. I had to keep my children close to me so that I would remember to take care of them.

Music school final examination was coming up. I had it deferred by a month so that I could get treated. I could not study. I had forgotten everything that I was taught or probably ever knew.

So, I consulted a psychiatrist at Marcy Children’s Hospital. He diagnosed anti-depressants that would not hinder my breastfeeding. I also supported my recovery with music therapy.

I repeated the psychiatry visits and music therapy for myself for my third son who weighed 4kg at birth. I had him at Ifako General Hospital.

From my labour and natural childbirth experiences, I have discovered that music:

1. Helped me to be focused.   

2.   Gave me a distraction from my pain.

3.   Helped me to maintain my breathing pace according to the rhythm and beat of the music

4.    Acted as a stimulus for my relaxation before, during and after childbirth.

5. Can help to reduce the death of women during childbirth.

Thus, from my experience and observation, I can confidently affirm that music therapy support can contribute to the successful outcome of both natural and CS childbirths by reducing anxiety, pain, creating a positive ambience and support throughout a childbirth experience.

Do you have any music therapy experience? Kindly share in the comment secton.


Musically yours,

DJ Irawo



Music Therapy in Nigeria by DJ Irawo

Music therapy is the clinical use of music to remedy medical problems.

Music therapists use music to creatively help their clients address social, emotional or physical difficulties via listening, singing, dancing and composing music.

The purpose of music therapy is not to teach clients how to sing or play a musical instrument but to communicate with them through music especially where words fail in order to support them and facilitate positive changes in their behaviour, communication and wellbeing.

Clients who need music therapy services include children and adults of all ages either as individuals or in groups and who are affected by injuries, illnesses, disabilities and challenges.

These clients may suffer from the following challenges or illnesses:

1.   Addiction
2.   Autism
3.   Dementia
4.   Down Syndrome
5.   Cerebral Palsy
6.   Alzheimer
7.   Addiction
8.   Brain injury
9.   Stroke
10.          Mental Illness such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts
11. Childbirth, etc

Benefits of Music Therapy

1.   It can help improve confidence, independence, concentration and communication skills.
2.   Different styles of music can have a significant effect on a person’s mood very quickly by helping clients to experience and process a wide range of emotions such as excitement, sadness, calmness, happiness and thoughtfulness.
3.   It can be used to communicate with clients where words are impossible or not enough.
4.   It enables clients to express themselves in a creative way.
5.   It introduces clients to different cultures as different genres of music can be enjoyed during a music therapy session.
6.   Learning and practising a piece of music can improve memory skills, coordination, reading, comprehension and arithmetical skills.
7.   Music helps in the activation and development of the brain. The pitch, tempo, rhythm, melody and lyrics are processed by different areas of the brain.
For instance,
· The cerebellum processes the rhythm
· The frontal lobes decode the emotional signals created by the music
· A small portion of the temporal lobe helps understand the pitch of music
· The frontal lobes decode the emotional signals created by the music
· The nucleus accumbens can produce strong physical signs such as goose pimples when it hears powerful music.
8.   It is used to support talk therapy and medicinal diagnosis.
9.   It is not a cure for depression and other illnesses. However, it offers short-term and long-term benefits that can enable a client to cope with his or her current medical condition.
10. Music can help bring back good memories that will relax a client. Songs that bring back bad memories are discontinued.

How to Become a Music Therapist

The title of MUSIC THERAPIST is a title protected by law and can only be used by registered practitioners.
This law does not apply to Nigeria as it is a new career here.

For now, the rendering of my music therapy service is based on my musical talent, mental health experience and research.
Currently, there are no music therapy schools at the diploma and degrees levels in Nigeria and there are less than ten music therapists in Nigeria.

These music therapists had to study the course outside of Nigeria and join foreign professional bodies to boost their knowledge in this profession.

However, music therapy has been included as part of the courses taught in the Music Psychology Graduate Degree Program and also as an elective course for the Master of Music Education students at the Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos.
Music therapy is practised by health and music professionals in other countries including South Africa.
To become a music therapist in the United Kingdom, one must be registered with the Health and Care Council (HCPC). This involves completing professional training at the postgraduate level at one of the following institutions approved by the HCPC:
1.     Anglia Ruskin University
2.     Guildhall School of Music & Drama
3.     Nordoff Robbins - course validated by Goldsmiths, University of London
4.     Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
5.     University of Derby
6.     University of Roehampton
7.     University of South Wales
8.     University of the West of England, Bristol

Graduates from these programs are eligible for HCPC registration. 

Once qualified, one can also join the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) as a practitioner member.

Courses last for two years (full time) and three to four years (part-time). Clinical placements form part of the training and cover a range of work settings and client groups.

A music therapy student will need a high level of practical musicianship, personal and interpersonal skills to get on a training course.

Even if you do not have a first degree in music, you may be considered if your degree is in another health-related or social work course such as psychology, sociology or guidance and counselling as long as you can show proficiency in musical performance.

An equivalent professional qualification or extensive experience in a related field may also be acceptable.

If you do not have a degree, you will have to prove that you have the necessary academic skills to work at master’s level.

The application process includes a written application, an interview and an audition.

However, individual music therapy schools may have different entry requirements.

In addition, you may need to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. 

This is an executive non-departmental public body that is established and empowered to help organizations make safer recruitment decisions by conducting checks on an individual’s criminal record.

I have a degree in accounting and a certificate in music. I do not qualify to study music therapy and I am not ready to do any first degree anymore or master's anymore. 

I just want to make money!!!!

Cost of Studying Music Therapy 

To study music therapy in the United Kingdom, be ready to spend at least €18,350 on tuition excluding the cost of accommodation, food, clothing, books, stationery, personal hygiene, telephone, travel, socializing and miscellaneous costs.  

Skills Required to be a Music Therapy

1. Communication skills to liaise with other medical and educational professionals, parents, relatives and care workers.
2. Personal maturity and emotional stability to deal with challenging situations.
3. Ability to empathize with clients of all ages and with wide-ranging needs.
4. Flexibility and adaptability - sessions cannot be rigidly pre-planned as you need to respond to the needs of your client.
5. Patience - music therapy is not exclusively results-based and progress may be slow
6. Respect for client’s confidentiality
7. A high level of self-reflection and self-awareness
9. If working in private practice, you will also need business and administration skills.

Salary of a Music Therapist

A music publisher in the United States earns between $31,000 and $152, 000 per annum. 

So, what is stopping you from becoming a music therapist?

Let me know in the comment section.

Musically yours,
DJ Irawo